Wednesday, May 18, 2011

EARLY WORKS FROM CHICO/ 'The Splendor of Chapman' by Eric Whollem, 1975/ Earth pigments, casein and watercolor on paper/ A Pictographic Abstraction/ CONTEMPORARY ART

The Splendor of Chapman
by Eric Whollem
mixed media on paper
6 3/16" x 4 3/8"
Collection of the artist

Memories of Chico, California

Back in the 1970's I lived off and on in Chico, which is the
cultural hub of Butte County, California. I used to enjoy the
little cafes in town, especially the ones with open mike, such as
Nellies'  and Aunt Martha's on 3rd Avenue. I put a few of my poems
to music in those days, and accompanied myself on the dulcimer, taking
try at musical performance art.

Canadian jazz singer, Cheryl Hodge, went so far as getting me a spot
on local Chico community TV, playing my dulcimer.


I used to read my poetry at the poetry events in the Student Union
at the Chico State Univertsity. In later  years I briefly belonged to
the Chico Poetry Group. There I would share my poetry with poets
that included Chico's always controversial 'street poetess,' Jessica


I had a few exhibits of my paintings in Chico, at venues such as
the Moorehead Gallery and various cafes such as Nimshew Station.
One of the paintings exhibited at Nimshew Station was entitled,
'Root Angel,' a large visionary acrylic painting on panel, which was
later sold in Berkeley to Jose Arguelles, the well-known author, whose
writings deal with anthropology and metaphysics. Arguelles, a teacher
at the San Francisco Art Institute, was also the creator of the first
Whole Earth Festival in Davis.

In the 1980's I exhibited my sculptures and paintings at Art, Etc. in
an event that incorporated a video installation of my experimental
animation. I set up two monitors that played simultaneously side by side,
showing abstract animation art with atonal music. The sound from the
two monitors, each showing different tapes, created an overdubbing of
auditory material. Some of the animation shown was 'The Wilcox
Tapes,' fractal collage animation that utilized mixed media paints
on paper cut-outs set on moving plexiglas panels, videotaped using
negative feedback and unusual camera angles. Russ Dunn, a popular
underground playwrite, was my mentor in videography.

Mr. Dunn's plays, such as 'Lullabyes of Eye-gypt,' and 'Car Hops in
Bondage,' a rollicking spoof, were enthusiastically received by the
Chico audience back in the 1970's.

In the 1990's, prompted by Marycarol Dean, a fixture on the Chico
comedy stage, I exhibited some of my ceramic wallpieces at 1078
Gallery in downtown Chico.


This painting is a small work dedicated to Chapmantown, a
suburb of Chico where I lived for a while in a little house on
Little Chico Creek. Depicted is my own fantasy portrait of the
original Mr. Chapman.

Chapmantown is referenced in a blues song by Howlin' Wolf, where
he describes himself arriving into town looking for an old girlfriend.
She has moved away. He sits on the curb and drinks a bottle of wine.

This painting is a mixed media work that incorporates earth
and casein glue and watercolor. I began gathering natural
earths in 1973 to make paint.


See more about my EARTH PAINTS on these links:

Posts about my ABSTRACT ART may be found here:

Whimsical Abstractions Video.                              

Those interested in JOSE ARGUELLES may enjoy this link:
A biographical article about Arguelles may also be found on Wikipedia.

CHERYL HODGE'S main website may be found on this link:


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