Friday, July 30, 2010

Secret Project: What Lasts

Album Cover - What Lasts
The album cover

For a good part of early 2010 I had a "secret" project in the works. Last week that project saw the public eye for the first time when the band These United States released their new album What Lasts.

Back in February, through the new wonderland of social media, I was contacted by the lead singer and amazing lyricist of These United States, Jesse Elliott. Him and the crew were in search of someone to come up with artwork for their next album, had heard about my work (thank you MsBojangles), and wanted to know if I'd be willing to take a crack at it.

My answer: Hell Yes.

A couple weeks later a package arrived at our door here in Buenos Aires. In it was the band's first three albums. Over the months that followed, whether I was working on the cd package, the vinyl, or the t-shirts, it was those tunes that were rambling through my ear buds, and I'm sure slightly shaping what was coming to life.

A big thanks to the whole T.U.S. crew for making this thing a blast to work on. And an especially big shout out to Sarah Law. I couldn't have done what I did without her amazing photography. The pics below are a sampling of some of the work created for the project. I'd show you more...but now you've got one more reason to pick up their new album.

What Lasts - The full painting for the album cover
What Lasts - original painting created for album cover

Jesse Elliott - These United States
Colored pencil drawing of Jesse Elliott of These United States

Justin Craig - These United States
Colored pencil drawing of Justin Craig of These United States

Colin Kellogg - These United States
Colored pencil drawing of Colin Kellogg of These United States
Robby Cosenza - These United States
Colored pencil drawing of Robby Cosenza of These United States
J. Tom Hnatow - These United States
Colored pencil drawing of J. Tom Hnatow of These United States
These United States T-shirt
T-shirt designed for the release of the album

You can purchase all of your These United States goods at their online store here.

Currently Reading:
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates
by Tom Robbins

Currently Listening To:
Song: What Lasts (listen)
Artist: These United States (official website)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DANK Video | "Orange Gorilla" | Music by Johnossi

I was overdue for a gorilla painting...and even more so for an orange one.

Music In The Video
Sweden has its share of bands making serious noise these days. Out of the mix one of my definite faves is Johnossi, a duo out of Stockholm, consisting of John Engelbert (songwriter, singer, guitarist) and Oskar "Ossi" Bonde (drummer, percussionist, singer). Fresh off the release of their third album Mavericks, their tunes are bouncing off my studio walls more and more. The song in the video, "Man Must Dance" can be found on their self-titled debut album (Amazon, iTunes).

Check out the latest news and info on them at following places: Official Website and

Orange Gorilla

Currently Reading:
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates
by Tom Robbins

Currently Listening To:
Song: Bobby (listen)
Artist: Johnossi (official website)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Danko Art Studio - The Alamo

The Bar Below the Studio

Studio LocationStudio Interior #1Studio Interior #2Out the Studio Window
Click on above images to enlarge.

For this past year my art studio has also been known as the living room in our apartment. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages of working at home. On the plus side no one would care if the only thing I wore to work was a feathered headdress and moon boots. On the down side, work and home life have an easy way of blending together making it difficult to focus and/or un-focus.

Last week though we decided to make a change. My canvases and paints now occupy a space I rent 19 blocks away on the 3rd floor of an old building in the neighborhood of Recoleta. The faded yellow room that I now dump my creative revelations and failures into sits atop two flights of worn creaky stairs, and was formerly part of a hostel that, until recently, filled both the second and third floors. As my easels moved into the 10" x 10" (3m x 3m) former dormitory, two simple wooden beds moved out.

In a bit of irony, not only only does my studio reside in a former hostel, but on the first floor lives an old bar owned by Americans called El Alamo. The whole thing has me feeling a bit like Davy Crockett when I head to work each morning.

I've only been here a week, but I have a feeling some good things are gonna come out of this room.

Currently Reading:
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates
by Tom Robbins

Currently Listening To:
Song: Now We Can See (listen)
Artist: The Thermals (website)

For more on how I first ended up in Buenos Aires check out the first post of Harmony and Dissonance.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Lost Blog Post: A Midnight Ride - Part 2

A few weeks ago the power went out in 3 or 4 adjacent neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. One of those neighborhoods my friend (aka Hobozero) lived in. This blog post is the second part of the story of us riding our bikes after midnight through the blacked out area, the Dead Zone. Do you need to read Part 1 to know what's going on. Nah...probably not. But if you want to read it you can check it out here.

Captain's log: South American Stardate: Friday June 4rd, 2010 - 12:00AM

Regardless if it's a weekday or not, midnight is early in Buenos Aires, and the four lane one way Avenida outside my apartment building was still bustling with cars and people. We merged onto it with our bikes and set off straight towards the Dead Zone, which sat in blackness 35 blocks away. The night was cool but not cold, and the sky was overcast with a fog that seemed to be getting heavier. Weather-wise, it was a good/eerie/unpredictable night to ride.

We pedaled on for about 8 blocks before my back wheel came out of alignment and the knobby tire started rubbing against the frame. My pre-ride tuneup equaled FAIL. After pulling off to a street corner and assessing/guessing how rideable my bike was I decided to push on and live with the knobbed vibrations and loss of acceleration. While it was much like riding with the brake on, my curiosity one-upped turning back.

As we got closer to the dead zone we began to notice traffic cops controlling intersections and huge generators dispersed along the thoroughfare to keep street lights and some random store fronts on. Further down we began to notice that the side streets were completely black and before long the only lights we saw were those of passing cars. We had made it to the Dead Zone.

There were not marauding bands of looters here like we had imagined, but there was a whisper of disquieting energy that hung in the night air. In general it felt somewhat unsafe to be out. Buildings rose up in darkness on either side of us, silhouetted against a greenish purple sky. There was almost no one out on the streets, and when someone was spotted I questioned to myself why they were out. My imagination haphazardly danced with the darkness and the only conclusions I came up with (based mostly of my collective exposure to American pop culture and the media) were that ONLY looters, terrorists and zombies would be out at 1 in the morning wondering through this eerie quiet darkness. Well that and two thirty-something white guys on bikes who just got done watching The Shining.

What were we searching for in the Dead Zone? Neither of us really knew, but we searched on. The further into the darkness we went the quieter it seemed to get. Down the narrow side streets only the echo of my vibrating tire could be heard. We eventually made our way to a bridge near Hobozero's apartment. It crosses over an old abandoned train yard. We paused at the apex and stared into the ghosted tracks and burned out cars below. Even if the power was on this place would be absent of light. Just then a motorcycle with two riders came up the bridge, killed its engine and glided in silence slowly past us. We drew a poignant stare. I thought to myself, "Zombies can't drive so they must be terrorists." Without waiting to see what they needed, we pedaled off in the opposite direction.

I should say that mine and Hobozero's riding styles varied at times. With exception of my back tire I rode for the most part in silence. In contrast Hobozero felt the need to yell out into the darkness during the quietest moments...and it was always magically entertaining.

As we rode on the fog fully settled in and a dense mist added a shimmer to the streets. It was about this time when the roman candle in my backpack began calling to me a la Tell Tale Heart. "We must light it soon" I yelled back over judder of my wheel to Hobozero. It was about 2am we when found a suitable launch pad - the middle of silent intersection. We surveyed the area, planned our escape route, and then sat in the shadows for a few minutes waiting for a couple of wayfarers (zombies?) to pass on by. Since my bike was slower we decided Hobozero would do the honors of lighting it and while I got 20 yard headstart. Within seconds of setting up, there was one flash and an echoing kaboom. I waited for balls of flaming neon color to fly up into the air but it never happened. What we thought was a Roman candle was actually a confetti bomb full of baby blue and white paper, Argentina's colors. We biked off mildly amused, but mostly disappointed in this uncharacteristically weak Argentine firework display.

Within a few blocks we found ourselves out of the Dead Zone and back in the bright lights of the metropolis. The mist now had officially turned to rain. Three hours of pedaling had us both starving so we decided to make one more stop for 3am pizza. We locked up our bikes, and ducked out of the rain into old dive bar. I don't remember its name, or the street it was on, but it had a great local feel. As we sat at our table by wall, in a dining room empty of patrons except us, we noticed an interesting photo hanging nearby. It was a black and white shot of an intersection crowded with cars and people somewhere in America. Upon further inspection we procured that it was a photo of Welch, West Virgina in 1940's. (A once bustling coal town that is now all but empty.) We wondered how this photo came to be randomly hanging in a dive bar in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

After inhaling the pizza we biked home in the rain, my back wheel still vibrating. So did we find what we looking for tonight? Well, we weren't really looking for anything in particular. Maybe just randomness and/or chaos. The chaos (looters, terrorists, zombies) never really turned up, but the randomness, and exploratory hang time with a friend, was enough to make the ride worth it.

Currently Reading:
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates
by Tom Robbins

Currently Listening To:
Song: Ode to Sunshine (listen)
Artist: Delta Spirit (website)

For more on how I first ended up in Buenos Aires check out the first post of Harmony and Dissonance.