Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Toxic Tiki wrapup and pseudonymity VOTE!

The Lobsterboy Toxic Tiki Party is over. If you missed it, you missed it! Don’t worry, there will be others, and I will be here to keep you up to date on all of the scenic scoop. Before I go to the blow by blow of the event, I want to tease you with a challenge. You see, I know that the Betweenthetines readership is small. And I know that deep down some of you voyeuristic types actually want to be involved. So I am soliciting your advice by inviting you to post a comment about a “rebranding” issue I am considering. See the last paragraph of this post for details.

Bouncing quickly back from the wheel debacle, I set about laying out the old cyc from Theater Two to paint the Lobsterboy review banner. I worked up several designs on Thursday night and presented Lobs with two options, Friday lunchtime. It came down to a choice between the squid and the whale and a polluted riverbed. Lobs had always discouraged me from a design that would distract from the show, so I was certain that he would pick the more “backdropy” riverbed. But to my surprise, he chose the squid and the whale. He asked if they could look more “stoned” or something, and I immediately seized on the idea of making the whale more like an old time fight promoter and the squid a drunken dockworker, in order to keep the E.C. Segar (Popeye comics) feel. I added a derby, cigar, martini, anchor tattoo, and presto!

Since I was using the old cyc the material was very thin. So when I put air under the drop after priming (in order to keep it from sticking to the paper/homasote) it floated a good 18” up off the floor. Consequentially, this stretched it out somewhat, and I never got that tightness that I usually look for (in fact, it fell back and wrinkled quite a bit…) but overall it made the drop look more “old timey” and “underwatery”…

I brushed up the tikis and reworked the knife effect by swapping out the aluminum plate (that never got carved for Tom Sawyer) for a steel one I ground and shaped myself. I was finished with everything Saturday night just in time for a celebratory steak dinner at Outback and a trip out to the Moai lounge!

Scott and Jen at the Moai lounge are just fantastic. They are a real connective tissue that the tiki community needs out here. I saw lots of familiar faces and was able to pass out a few comics too. As it turns out, much of my announcing the show had not fallen on deaf ears…half of the party pledged to be there the next day!

Scenery for the Lobsterboy Toxic Tiki Party
Cut luan flats 4'x8' and Muslin backdrop 12'x12'

The day of the show was clear and other than having to wait for the world cup to stop we loaded in smoothly. There were some sound issues and even bigger lighting issues, but overall the tech side of the show was in capable hands (I think I made fast friends with Mr. esoteric, who was a big hit at the show). The curtain was held for Lucky, since she got lost on her way from NYC…and the audience filled up. I was surprised and flattered that so many folks I had asked to come actually showed up.

The show was pretty good, and Lobs seemed to be on his game (sometimes when the audience isn’t into the show, he can fall flat) and the first half flew by. The second half had the knife throw number in it, which, lets face it, sucked. The knife didn’t have the spring in it that it had when it was aluminum and the body language wasn’t 100%...and once the thing had been triggered, it went “thwup”, and there was silence. The audience didn’t know how to react, hell; Lobsterboy didn’t plan that far ahead. Anyway, we should get style points for trying…

Once the show ended, the back door to the theater was opened. It was raining so hard that you could not see across the street. I decided that strike would have to wait till the rain had cleared, after Attack of the Giant Leeches. The rain did not let up. I unfortunately had to press Scott and Mike into service getting the truck loaded and unloaded in the rain. We then spent a long time trying to get home. At one point we were being waved through a flooded intersection on the Mall by a police officer who was standing in knee height water. I misjudged the flooded road and rolled right over the curbs…

Got home and found that we had ¾” water in the basement! This happened the next day, even deeper! I am going to spend the rest of this week talking to contractors about how to fix my basement (along with everyone else in the DC metro area)

I have been procrastinating on getting the final designs in for FIDDLER this week. I just need a break for psychological reasons….fortunately the meeting was moved to Friday (on account of me)

Okay kids, here’s the last paragraph. I have been considering ratcheting up my efforts at branding my work, which is practically nonexistent now. I was struck by the fact that when Lobs gave me a shout-out at the show, that “the sets were designed by Jared Davis” the words didn’t have any “ring” to it (especially since everyone else in the show had pseudonyms: Lobsterboy, Cardgirl, Fullbladder, Lucky, Kitty Victorian). So I have been toying with the idea of chucking it all and giving myself a recognizable nickname which can double as a kind of brand. I want to change from “Jared Davis” at to a punchy/catchy name by dropping the first two letters of my first name to get “Red”. (I’ll let that soak in for a second)… Okay, I don’t want to go to some one name thing like Bono or Madonna, but “Red Davis” has a snap to it. Or Jared “Red” Davis, could work too. With the name change would also come the change of website. Some of the contenders are: ,, and . But someone has suggested that I go with and just use the Red thing for show pseudonyms...NOW HERES YOUR PART! I am opening a two stage contest. Over the course of this next week I will be accepting nominations for stage name and website name (website name must be available as a domain name…I have been using Next week, once the judges make a decision on the final contenders, the voting will begin. Just like American Idol…America, you be the judge!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Remastered, Comics and Wheel, Drop

You would hope that the craziness would ramp up and then die off…but it just seems to keep coming. This week was definitely a high-water mark for craziness. It really started with a very early trip to the airport to drop KT off to go to Detroit. I used the rest of that day to finish the Lobster Comic. I am proud to report that I pushed the send button sometime around 7PM, thereby completing another project. The comic turned out well, I think the writing came together with the images, and it is a proper parody of the religious pamphlet without becoming viscous. They are being sold for $0.25 at the show, or you just might find one under the wiper of your car!
Lobsterboy Comic Episode One
Print it and cut it out...fold it whichever way you think makes sense...

I took a short break from the comic to have an initial production meeting for Night of the Living Dead with Landless Theatre. There are some technical issues with the show (they need to barricade themselves into the farmhouse, so they will need something solid to bang against…which will be hard if the set needs to be struck every night, for example) but I think that it will be a very fun production overall. The Director doesn’t want to do it campy, which I happen to agree with, but that will be difficult to pull off around Halloween, when people are expecting to go for camp…

After that (same day!) I went to the Cinema and Drafthouse, to look at their main drape…it looks like my technical theater skills will finally pay off…I am being contracted to fix the ancient thing….

The opening for Remastered at Studioneight (which is how I spell it, but the website is which is not as much letter sharing fun as my spelling) was perhaps a bit mellower than I had anticipated. It was quite hot in the gallery, and I was sweating bullets, which caused me to be much less social than I should have been…Unfortunately, my Laocoon did not sell. But I don’t feel that bad because I understand that sales were slow across the board. Perhaps people will have a second bite at the apple at the closing reception on July 1. I will permit myself to wonder aloud about Studioneight’s strategy…perhaps theme shows like this one need even more marketing than they are currently doing, in order to give people a chance to “get” it. I also was not really able to market it on my own this time around because I have been so busy (And that my name does not appear anywhere on the website, or by extension, I assume, the press packs…)

Chagall-esque backdrop for Fiddler on the Roof and Joseph and the... 32'X24'
It may not look like much while being stapled on the floor, but its going to add a lot to the show!

The day after the Remastered show I started work on my Chagallesque backdrop for FIDDLER and JOSEPH…I am proud to say that it can be checked off the list as finished as of Tuesday.

Wheel of Death before its retirement

On Wednesday, Lobs and Co. came to test the wheel (and prospectively rehearse with it). After much debate and a few test runs, the wheel has been cut. We determined that it was not 100% safe, and it was not operating as we would have liked. (i.e. it did not rotate freely, and the straps did not hold the person in well enough to keep them from slipping out) I am not really disappointed. I know that the structure of the wheel is well built, and can be used again. I have learned a lot making this contraption. When I start to make the Mark II, I will make the wheel itself out of steel, and provide a “rollercoaster-like” harness for the pilot. Hopefully I will have the kinks out of it by Halloween! To be honest, Lobs seemed even more disappointed than me. But they have a great backup skit that involves my giant Tiki cutouts…

So, that has been the week that was…Next week I’ll be giving you the wrap-up of how the Lobsterboy show went! (Last ditch plug: Lobsterboy Toxic Tiki Party at the Cinema and Drafthouse in Arlington VA, SUNDAY NITE June 25!!!!! More info @

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Don't trust Greeks with oversized horse art!

Laocoon (after Hagesandros, Athenodoros and Polydoros of Rhodes)
Cut paper and Acrylic on Canvas, 48"x36" 2006

Isn’t it a great feeling when one of your projects is finally complete? This week marked the completion of the Laocoon. It was looking kinda dicey for a while there, I was pasting large areas of paper one morning at a time for a few weeks, putting off the moment when I would have to deal with the face of my poor priest of Poseidon. The lessons learned about the spacemen were: A. I can paint realistically if I have the object in front of me, or a bunch of great photos (but Apollo spacemen are not easy to find) B. Realistic rendering makes things too serious. I am a painter of “the Funky”. I need not pretend otherwise. Consequentially, I put off the face for as long as possible. In the end I wound up putting an art deco helmet (perhaps a bit too “rocketman”, admittedly) in order to keep the expression up to the viewer. (Although I confess that moving around the cut paper eyes to create different expressions of distress, presented a whole new set of problems)

You can come by Studioneight this Saturday and check it out in the flesh. I guarantee that the crappy phone photo does not do it justice! (be sure to read the artists statement…it’s a cute piece of writing, if I do say so myself) I just hope that someone has a fish tank or spaceman themed sushi bar to put it in…

The other business of the week entailed, making progress on the wheel, vectorworks drawing of the proscenium of the Cinema & Drafthouse, Watercolor elevations of the JOSEPH set, finished first draft of FIDDLER, and a very productive meeting with Gabe.

As it turns out, I think that the meeting with Gabe was the best move for the Lobsterboy comics. We pared down the original script so that it stuck pretty close to the parody of the Jack Chick religious pamphlets. If I can get them done by Friday, they’ll be hilarious.

I also received my pipe and drape last night. I am really excited about being able to paint backdrops for these shows…and now I don’t have to ask for such a large investment from the artists! Yay!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Mostly this week has been dominated by the yard sale. It went well, however I was surprised at how much a difference being in Petworth created. We hardly sold anything before 10am. But through bursts of activity we sold almost everything, collectively making around $450…

Getting life back together after vacation is hard, and filled with little things that you wouldn’t mention as bothersome because they are routine. This week had lots of that, but I think I am over the hump by now (even though it’s Thursday, not Wednesday when I am writing this).

Painters elevation for Fiddler on the Roof
Colored pencil on paper

I finished, or “handed in” the designs for JOSEPH. It was really just dimensioning what I had already drawn. I don’t know how some designers do it without a computer…After that, I hit the ground running and did the painters elevation for the Chagall-esque Annatevka. Hopefully this will be sufficient for Chris, because I will not be pleased if I have to change it….

On Saturday we went to see Pirates of Penzance at Wolf Trap. It was a good show overall, but I think that G&S should be done in a small theater, not the 103’ monster stage at Wolf Trap. Unfortunately, Malcolm (the Director of the TAP production this Fall), who had sold me on the idea of designing with the carrot: “An all flown Pirates…” saw all of the lovely, truck-and-bus platforming (which, incidentally, they did not use!) has now decided that he needs “levels”…

Every director I have ever worked with has wanted “levels”.

I also dropped the ball this week. I usually don’t miss deadlines. I have gotten very good at meeting them. In fact, it’s a matter of pride for me. But I do have this, shall we say, biological need to be “slobbolicious” for a whole day, about once a month (perhaps a bit more). I need a day of doing absolutely nothing. It just so happened, that my drawings for the lobster comic were due on Monday…and I was “slobbolicious” all day. I think it has worked out for the best. Part of my, er, blockage was due to the length of the script. I have scheduled a meeting with Gabe to talk about editing it down, with hopes of getting it done by next Friday (6/16)…

This week is crunch time for the Laocoon. I will have pictures of it completed by the next posting, because by then it will be at Studioneight, waiting to be hung …

Thursday, June 01, 2006

My Maine man, Hasui

I’ve been to Maine and back since my last post. KT and I went to Adams Wedding, where we saw many people that we don’t get to see regularly. Maine itself was a bit like upper Michigan, which means it’s a nice place to visit, but… We also got a chance to make tiki road trip pay for itself...Left is a picture of me at the BALI HAI near Boston...(and Right, just for fun, is a picture of me, making devilish hand jestures, and KT in evil regalia at the role playing party)

Before we left I got a chance to catch the opening at the Gallery Plan B. There was a group show of prints, mostly, but the work had a very conservative feel, if not timid. It was odd to hear feedback about the blog, and a bit awkward since I only had so much to say that hadn’t been said on the blog…which is why I won’t bump up the postings to twice a week (despite requests to the contrary). One of the things that I got out of that particular show was that there are so few places that emerging artists can show regularly in this town. I know that Plan B has a lot of faculty from surrounding art programs, which is a nice way to keep “publishing” (instead of perishing) but for the emerging artist, the pickin’s are slim. (While I’m thinking about it: shout out to Molly Ruppert, for keepin’ it real with ArtRomp!)

On the way back from Maine, we stopped in Boston (which KT has declared a personal vendetta against) and popped into the MFA. It was better than I remembered (the $15 admission is kinda steep!) and I was able to get a close look at the Rubens (the one with the Arab) which was so big in my youth. I was blown away by the murals by Sargent. It heartens me to know that he was able to convert his style to a simpler, bolder, more theatrical mode in order to make the work look good from a distance.
Kawase Hasui Ushinku Marsh and Summer Clouds
c. 1930's Woodblock Print on Paper 5"x7"

In Maine I scored a Hasui print, a small sepia toned landscape of a marsh with summer clouds for $40 at an Antique market. I looked it up when I got home. Its one of the ones in Robert O. Muller’s collection, that just went for $150 at auction…but the money is not what it’s about, it’s a really charming print. There is something about Hasui’s method of constructing the print that gives it that summery, déjà vu look…and here he is able to do it without color! (I found on this trip that KT does not share my enthusiasm for Shin Hanga prints…)

On the Lobs front: A bonus feature has been added to the June 25th show…after the show, they will be screening ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES!!!!! Get your tickets now!