Editor’s Letter

Posted on January 6, 2011 – 4:57 AM | by OldManFoster
  • Share

Putting this issue together has been a real trip down memory lane.

Talking about Sacramento art with Beth Jones and Lynda Jolley for the article on JAYJAY brought back near-forgotten memories of my first trip to a ‘real’ art gallery in Sacramento – Lynda’s Big Art on L Street.  I had gone out on a Second Saturday to see a show by one of my fellow Tower Records store artists, Galelyn Williams.  I liked the show, but felt woefully unable to fully appreciate her assemblage works – it was one of the first times I’d encountered non-narrative art, and I did not know what to make of it at all.   Two decades later, I’ve gone from skeptic to unabashed conceptual art fan, Tower Records is long gone, and Williams has been living on the east coast for at least a decade – but is still showing with Jolley.

Back in those days, I, like Galelyn, was making a living painting displays for one of Russ Solomon’s Tower Records stores, but I really considered myself more of a cartoonist and graphic artist.  I’d had a very short-lived career as a ‘professional’ comic book artist in the mid eighties, but I was much more serious about my newspaper comic strip-styled work, specifically a strip called Little Orphan Anton, inspired equally by the classic Little Orphan Annie strip and a local musician named Anton Barbeau.  Since I had no publishing outlet for Anton I’d simply make three or four dozen photocopies of each new episode and anonymously post them up on telephone poles around Midtown in the middle of the night.

Little Orphan Anton circa 1990

Midnight flyering runs were familiar territory for me, having spent the late eighties as one of Barbeau’s two semi-official ‘poster guys.’  My pal Stan Tindall and I had gone from being Anton Barbeau fans to poster designers simply by volunteering to draw and print the posters ourselves.  Stan and I shared a predilection for sixties psychedelic art which Barbeau encouraged and tolerated in equal measure – chiding us only when the Fillmore poster-style lettering on our posters was completely illegible; Anton may have been playing at Café Montreal or Mansion Cellars, but you’d never have known it from our Haight-Ashbury-inspired graphics.  Telephone pole flyering had a quasi-legal status at the time, so we tended to post our wares in the middle of the night, with one eye over our shoulders, a practice I carried over into my Little Orphan Anton postings.

To his credit, Anton rarely complained about the trials I put him through in the strip, or about the fact that I didn’t sign them, leaving him as the most obvious ‘point person’ for any complaints. I can only remember one problem – when I made fun of another anonymous Midtown flyer-poster who was lobbying against disinvestment in South Africa’s then-Apartheid government, and Barbeau got an angry phone call or two from him.  After that I put my home phone number on the strips.

Anton and I have lost touch a few times over the intervening decades, so it was a treat to hear from him recently and to receive a copy of his latest record – the Psychedelic Mynde of Moses, reviewed by Dennis Yudt here.   While we were chatting I also asked if he’d be interested in contributing the ‘Musical Chairs’ column for this issue.  He happily obliged and dashed off his picks for his fave records of the past ten years, and dead-on the word count too!  Anton may be based in Oxford, but he’s still a Midtowner at heart.


Post a Comment