Fine Cartoon Art

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Posts Tagged ‘john tebeau’

Posted by jtebeau on July 27, 2012

(The following is a little write-up by Brooklyn arts reporter Stephanie Thompson on the recent show I have in Park Slope which ends Friday. Thanks, Steph!)

Who Will Save Us?

The Art of John Tebeau

It could be the bacon or the inviting open doors that draws one first into the new Dizzy’s Diner on the corner of President St. and Park Slope’s bustling 5th Ave. But once inside, the bold poster-style art that screams from the walls is the big star.

The arresting images by John Tebeau, up until July 27, immediately bring a warm smile of recognition followed by a giggle at the artist’s sly clever twists on the

“!978” acrylic on canvas

familiar. In the powerful illustrated montage, 1978, there is the full white-toothed smile and solid stand-up breasts of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, power bracelets braced and ready. There is Steve Martin, mouth and eyes open wide, an arrow through his head. There is Cap’n Crunch and the Play-Do primary-colored O-faced grin of Mr. Bill. There too are the gun-toting feather-haired girls of Charlie’s Angels, the Grease logo and John Belushi’s mug atop a “College” sweatshirt. There they all are and there we are, those of us who remember, brought back to a comfortable time and place, secure.

As a longtime illustrator and packaging designer, Mr. Tebeau clearly understands the power of icons and symbols to motivate emotions and drive people to action.

“I try to inspire or excite people with iconography, I want my art to be useful,” Mr. Tebeau said in the same earnest winking tone of his fabulously entertaining images. “If it makes somebody feel better or focuses them in a way, great, then it’s worked.”

"Stroh's (that 70s Brew)"

And it has. The blue-skinned James Bond depiction, the purple-hued Duke Ellington, the orangey-red rendering of Star Trek’s Uhura, not to mention the Stroh’s beer can, all goose the diner-goer to stop mid-bite of bacon and reflect on the great motivational power of heroes, superheroes and icons from a certain place and time in history. Time past always seems better, more hopeful somehow. We can see the changes that artists make more easily with hindsight.

Mr. Tebeau’s work is inspired by artists Peter Max, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso whose bold posters reflected what he calls thejoyous optimism” of San Francisco in the fast-changing ‘60s and ‘70s.

By hearkening back to that time, Mr. Tebeau well captures that optimism and the necessity of bringing it back again.

“It’s easy to get distracted in life, especially the way it is now, with a lot of stimulus and not all of it good,” he said. For Mr. Tebeau personally and, he believes, universally, images and icons offer up necessary inspiration and focus to drive one’s intended life work.

“I see work as a form of salvation, although maybe that sounds too religious,” Mr. Tebeau said. “But ‘work’ is what you’re supposed to do in life. John D. Rockefeller said, ‘If you want the key to happiness, find something you do fairly well and do it with all your heart and soul.’”

As the regulated work world morphs more and more into unstructured freelance, necessitating greater self-motivation, Mr. Tebeau’s suggestion is actually faith-based: we need to trust and believe in a fair bit of divine intervention.

In Universe, Mr. Tebeau reflects the hand of God offering Adam an Ace of Hearts.

Divine Intervention

“It’s about good luck and love and the divine, about the unlikely opportunities and interventions that can come into your life that you need to seize and claim, that can help motivate you,” he said.

It is reflective of Mr. Tebeau’s own great joyous optimism that he believes this can happen to people, to anyone.

“If you focus on a vision of what you want, you can bring it to yourself, draw it to you…” he said.

As proof, he offers up the story of an investigative journalist who asked him for a rendering of his hero, Edward R. Murrow. After hanging the image over his

Murrow-Five-Ways

work space, the man went on to win three Edward R. Murrow awards.

Mr. Tebeau is commissioned for such work but also wants to inspire more widely with his images.

“Art doesn’t work if no one sees it,” Mr. Tebeau says, grateful extending thanks to Dizzy’s owner Matheo Pisciotta and his wife, Mary Fraioli.

The couple works with Park Slope-based art curating service Radar Curatorial to set up shows featuring local artists like Mr. Tebeau every three months at the new location on 5th Ave. as well as on the original location at 9th St. and 8th Ave.

“We have such amazing talent in Brooklyn, it’s great to support them,” Ms. Fraioli said.

Her husband agrees. “I say, ‘Buy art, save lives.’” Is the saving just of the starving artists, or is it ourselves, that is the question.

The couple has featured the art and music of staff as well as that of friends and neighbors since they first opened their doors in 1997, among those they gave their start the now well-renown photographer Lori Berkowitz.  More recently, they formalized the effort by hiring Michele Jaslow and Spring Hofeldt of Radar and offering wait-staff a 5% commission for any art they sell.

Visit Dizzy’s for the bacon, for sure, but think of buying some salve for the soul as well.

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Come For the Hash, Stay for the Paintings

Posted by jtebeau on April 13, 2012

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Make No Mistake. You WILL.

I think I got that right. Or maybe it’s come for the PAINTINGS and stay for the hash. The hash (corned beef, not you know, Turkish) is damn good. Really damn good. (Yes, I have to swear.) House-made, the meat all shreddy and complex, the taters and onions a little crispy n caramelized from the grill. Best I’ve had in NYC, ever.

Okay, I digress. The point is, with the help of Spring and Michele of Radar Curatorial, I’ve got a show hanging for at least the next four months at the new Dizzy’s (the FINER diner) in Park Slope, corner of Fifth Ave. and President St.

The place looks great, too. The walls are a warm yellow (couldn’t be better for these particular paintings), and Matheo and Mary have installed a long diner-counter-style formica bar that would make George Bailey himself swell with pride, while Archie and Betty and Veronica watched Jughead go into a food coma after his thirteenth bacon (it’s BROOKLYN!) double cheeseburger as Norman Rockwell painted the whole damn scene. Oh, and Don Draper is in the corner booth, smoking a Lucky and grimly slurping Grandad on the rocks. Wait. That was Freddy’s drink. Never mind. You know. If you don’t, don’t ask. Freddy had problems.

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Dizzy's Excellent Bar.

But anyway, the restaurant opens this weekend, and on an upcoming Thursday (yeah, you’ll be notified) Matheo and Mary will cook up a dynamite prix-fix menu for a night to stop by and check out the art. I’ll be there… in the corner booth with Don. NO! Kidding. I’m KIDDING. Come ON. Not there. Not with him. Not never.

I’ll be at Dizzy’s on 5th, though, probably wearing my Rydell High varsity jacket and saying stuff like “swell” and “so’s your old man.” Will I rebuckle my knickerbockers BELOW THE KNEE? Will I be telling JOKES from “CAP’N BILLY’S WHIZ BAG?” That remains to be seen. Be there or be square, all reet? 23-skiddoo, daddios.

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Spring and Michele, hangin' tuff

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Note the outdoor seating area. Yeah? Like that? Yeah!

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Hemingway’s Advice: “Finish What You Start.”

Posted by jtebeau on March 28, 2012

Hard to think of Hemingway now and not conjure up how Woody Allen had him portrayed in Midnight in Paris. That doesn’t detract, though, it just distracts. He said some wise things, many involving work. On how to write, he is reported to have said, “Write every day and finish what you start.” Substitute a different verb for “write” and it can be applied to any endeavor. Good advice, sir. Give that man an illustrated quotation.

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Your Life is YOUR Life…. REMEMBER THAT.

Posted by jtebeau on March 5, 2012

Serendipity strikes again, and while I was dithering as to what quote to use for my first piece for The Quote Project, Mark Braun posted a video of Tom Waits reading a poem by Bukowski. That’s like peanut butter and chocolate: it works. Waits’ voice and Bukowski’s sentiments. A fitting combo. Like gravel and sand and fly ash and slag making concrete. Rough ingredients mix together to create a strong result. So I pulled the first line to make my first piece.

I wanted to make it pretty quickly, as it was a busy week. The idea was to get the job done.

First some inking:

Then some red:

And finally some yellow:

And the inspiration. Take it away, Tom!

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Who Was It Who Had that Awesome Quote?

Posted by jtebeau on February 14, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve finally gotten my feet back under me after the holidays. I’m serious. We were in New Orleans till the week of Thanksgiving, then there’s the big feast day, and the kickoff to the best time of the year — the filet, if you will — here in New York. The holiday season, from Thanksgiving week to New Year’s and beyond. Super Bowl? The Giants? Whew. Seriously. Enough. Time to get back to work. Fun’s fun, but . . . .

SO, I’m gearing up for another “series” project. Not birds (they’re forbidden at this post-Portlandia point in time, right?), not food, but this time . . . great quotations. Hand-lettered, maybe even illustrated, if the spirit moves me. Definitely a juicy project, right? I like to read a good line. I love a clever turn of the phrase. And wisdom? In the immortal words of Ted Nugent, “Wisdom f*ckin’ ROCKS, dude.” And when you throw in color, fonts, design and layout? Forget it. There’s enough there for ten lifetimes of devoted work.

And the pool from which to draw? Come on. It’s huge. (Or “yooge” as we say in New York, for some reason.) YOOOOOGE. We can cover anything from Hunter S. Thompson’s “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me,” to Goethe’s (possibly misattributed) “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” And who could forget Mark Twain’s famous “That’s what she said?” Yes, good stuff, that.

Courtesy T-Shirt Lunatic

Anyway, I’ve done this before (see below) and have a mess of quotes to plumb, ones I’ve jotted down over the years, but I’m open to suggestions. Got any favorite quotes you’d like to see illustrated, or illuminated, as the monks did in days of yore? This one below was a quote from the HBO mini-series about John Adams, and Alan Janesch commissioned it from me a couple years ago. Thanks again, Alan!

Hit me with your suggestions, and I’ll get on a few of them. I promise. I’ll run a couple of my ideas by you, too, next week. Keep your eyes peeled.

"Rejoice, Evermore" from John Adams via the always-watchable Paul Giamatti as America's favorite cranky Yankee


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The Erstwhile Jackson Brewery: a Postcard from New Orleans

Posted by jtebeau on June 8, 2011

New Orleans’ French Quarter does indeed imply beer, beer, and might I add, more beer. And years back, it was well-stocked with fresh suds from the Jackson Brewery, kitty-corner from Jackson Square on Decatur Street. According to Wikipedia:

“Constructed in 1891, it originally was the central brewery for Jax Beer, and in the 1960s was the 10th-largest brewery in the country. But in the 1970s, the company owning the brewery went bankrupt, and in the 1980s the building was purchased and turned into space for shops and restaurants.”

Aw, nuts. Another casualty of modernity. Whattaya gonna do? I drew the lovable old hulk.

"The Mighty Jackson Brewery" by John Tebeau ©2011

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Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop: Another NOLA Favorite and Another Postcard from New Orleans

Posted by jtebeau on June 6, 2011

"Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop" by John Tebeau © 2011

Yeah, Jean LaFitte. What a guy. Murder, robbery, pillage and murder. He liked murder. It’s alleged that he and his bother used a “blacksmith shop” as a front. A Legitimate Business, if you will. A place to hold sit-downs, make deals and, probably, party.

The joint (now a pub) sits at the quiet end of Bourbon Street, and is a fan favorite to this day. I rendered this little picture in ink from a photo I took recently. Enjoy, and when you’re down in New Orleans, stop by Lafitte’s. Grab a cold drink and cop one of the chairs outside on the sidewalk, facing Bourbon. I recommend sunset time. Watch the sky fade from blue to pink to black as the clouds cruise overhead like plastic shopping bags blowing over the rooftops. Then make the short hike over to Frenchmen Street and catch some local jazz. The odds are strong that you’ll have an excellent evening.

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Another Postcard from New Orleans: the Statue of Robert E. Lee

Posted by jtebeau on May 31, 2011

New Orleans is a city of contradictions.

At one time it was the most racially liberal city in the south. Then, after the Civil War, the tide turned. Post-Reconstruction the Confederacy was re-glorified with a vengeance. This meant statues. TONS of statues, and of course one of Robert E. Lee. It’s atop a doric column at Lee Circle, near downtown, and recently I was eye-level with General Lee, so I snapped a picture. Here’s my interpretation of that shot, rendered in pen, ink and watercolor:

Lee Statue at Sunset

I took the photo at an event on the rooftop of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There was a fine little cocktail party up there, and the sun was setting gently, the sky behind the general peacefully aglow. Lee stands like he won the war, one foot perched audaciously over the edge of his platform. Modernity is audacious, too. It intrudes on this stately scene in the form of the streetlight to the right.

Lee Circle from an actual old postcard:

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“Liuzza’s” – My First Postcard from New Orleans

Posted by jtebeau on May 21, 2011

"Liuzza's" 2011, John Tebeau

What’s the first thing one should do when attending the famed New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival? Run to the Acura stage and get good seats for the unique jazz stylings of Sonic Youth or Bon Jovi? NO! You FIRST stop at Liuzza’s for a Bloody Mary, foo.’ How many times I gotta tell you that….

Anyway, this little 5″ by 7″ painting (watercolor and ink on heavy acid-free paper) is first in a series I’ll be doing called Postcards from New Orleans. Any other subjects you’d like to recommend? Recommend away, mes amis! Recommend away….

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The Empire State Building is FINISHED

Posted by jtebeau on April 19, 2011

… as in completed. Done. My drawing of it.

Finished yesterday in about 12.5 months less time than it took to build the original, which still stands proud at 34th and Fifth Avenue. The Pride of the City. The Big Monkey. The ESB.

It will be for sale, too. I’m setting up a website called “Postcards from NY,” where I’ll either auction it off or sell it at a set price. More on that later. For now, ladies and gentleman, I give you…

THE BIG MONKEY!

(crowd cheers, flashbulbs pop, chains break, crowd gasps, etc….)

"The Big Monkey" J. Tebeau © 2011

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