HOORAY FOR ME! I finally have a fucking BLARRG like millions of other narcissistic idiots out there...

I will be filling it with all sorts of nonsense that I personally find amusing, disgusting, entertaining and most likely a little boring. I may even use it as a platform to subject you to my personal artwork, just like EVERY other miserable, aspiring artist out there in internet land. I can't guarantee that it will be an enjoyable experience for you - what I CAN guarantee is that it won't change the world in anyway shape or form.

In fact, I feel kinda sorry for you for stumbling onto this little speck on the World Wide Web, with millions of BLOGS and PORN WEBSITES vying for your precious time, you're wasting it here reading dopey shit. GO AWAY! Do something productive...make a sandwich, build a blanket fort, sit on the toilet and actually read a BOOK...Christ, do anything but hang around here.

That being said, if you have accidentally stumbled onto this site, feel free to poke around and make a comment or two if so inclined. Maybe I'll respond...or not, depends on my mood that day.

I look forward to wasting your time. -KEMO

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Rat Fink's Revenge

October 26, 2006 was a pretty BIG day for me. 

It was kind of a tipping point for me as an artist, of sorts. 

Had you told an 11 year old, Kenny Morgan, one day he'd be involved in a gallery show celebrating the life and art of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth (one of his idols) in Los Angeles,  California...he would have laughed in your face. 

But it happened. It was kinda cosmic in the way that it transpired, let me explain.

In 1991 I was working at MATTEL and became friends with another like minded misfit named David Chodosh. David was working with the Nickelodeon group and I was bouncing from Disney preschool to male action (where I thought the grass would be greener). We found that we had very similar interests etc. and became friends. While at MATTEL I noticed that a lot of us had things going on in the 'outside world'. David was ALWAYS developing and inventing all sorts of cool shit, and I was starting a collectible/model kit company called Barker Brothers with my college friend Dan Platt. In 1994, we change the name from Barker Brothers to Sideshow Productions, and I started making plans to leave MATTEL. Fast forward to 2004/2005, both David and I have left MATTEL years earlier, and we reconnect. I find out that he's been managing Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth's licensing and making some cool Rat Fink toys. Sideshow Collectibles (as we are now called) begins to distribute some of his action figures, and we end up making a giant 5' tall fiberglass Rat Fink collectible statue...I was in heaven.

In 2005 I make my exit from Sideshow. I'm burnt out, needing a break and looking for more fulfilling experiences. That fulfilling experience would become my first ever Group Art Show, and I have to thank David for it. Since David had been managing the Roth Licensing with Ilene (Roth's widow), he was always looking for new ways to keep Roth's work alive and current. Well, he helped to pull off one the coolest damn events I ever had the pleasure of being involved with - a Rat Fink Gallery Show WITHIN a Gallery Show celebrating Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, at the world renowned Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles! 

The event was called: Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth ... The Original Rat Fink. This was going to be one hell of a show, it was going to include for the first time the largest collection of Roth's custom vehicles, a retrospective of his screen printed and airbrushed shirts/sweatshirts, the water decals & toys, the infamous REVELL model kits (that got us hooked on Rat Fink) and a special screening of the documentary by Ron Mann: TALES OF THE RAT FINK, all under one roof!

It was going to be a great retrospective for one of my heroes, and I got to be a part of it.

We decided that the best way to honor Roth, would be to to create his iconic alter ego, Rat Fink, in model kit form and have 100 different artists do THEIR interpretation of him. But we needed a new Rat Fink sculpture, so that's when I called in a huge favor to my friend and Sideshow Collectibles collaborator, Oluf Hartvigson to do the job. Luckily for all of us he agreed and thought it would be a fun thing to do. He felt that doing a digital sculpt would be the quickest and easiest way to get it done and get the approvals, and we agreed. BUT, since this was in the early days of ZBrush, and printing/output resolution wasn't as good as it is today, the final 'sculpt' was going to need a little fine tuning, courtesy of some sculpting wax. It was a combination of old & new school collectible making. Oluf knocked it out of the park and provided us with the perfect 'blank slate' Rat Fink that the artists would be able to have fun with. I took those masters and sent them to my contacts in China and had copies made for all our artists to use as their foundation...and started the clock.

This what they got

That damn clock ticked a lot faster than I had hoped. 

Since we wanted to have a book available for the opening on October 26, that meant everyone was gonna have to bust their asses to get their Finks done in time to be photographed so they could make it into the book. Unfortunately for some, they didn't make it...I BARELY made it. Because we all know that MOST artists suck at time management and wait until the last minute to finish shit...that meant someone had to babysit a bunch of temperamental artists, and that task fell on David. I honestly felt bad for him having to deal with all that shit, but the guy did it, I don't know how, but he did.

We teamed up with an amazing design studio in town called Tornado Design to layout/print the book. Let me just say, the name of their studio is PERFECT! Al Quattrocchi & Jeff Smith pulled off the impossible putting this book together. They were literally a friggin' tornado. They got images right up until the last minute...mine being one of them. 

I should point out that the late delivery of my images wasn't ENTIRELY my fault. I had finished my piece in time for my scheduled photoshoot...nearly killed me, but I got it done. On the day of the shoot, I get in my car with my boxed piece, put it on the passenger seat and make my way down PCH from Thousand Oaks to the South Bay...about an hour drive. Well, I get to Santa Monica and stop at a light...but the guy behind me doesn't notice. I hear screeching tires, I brace for the worst, and like a cartoon his car comes to a stop and BARELY touches my rear bumper. Well, you would have thought I got slammed by a big rig based on how the box on the passenger seat reacted. It went flying into my dashboard, causing my Rat Fink Statue to 'kinda' explode. I was fucking heartbroken. 

I had to somehow fix my piece.

It also meant that I wouldn't be able to get my piece photographed in time to get it in the book. I was fucking devastated. I was going to miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity of being in a gallery book with some of my art heroes. FUCK ME. Then I remembered that I had taken some progress pictures to share with a few friends on my shitty digital camera. The piece wasn't 100% complete in those photos, but at least I had something. I sent my shitty photos to the guys at Tornado Design, they laughed, but they put them in the book. So, now my horribly photographed Rat Fink is in an amazing gallery publication with some of my heroes for eternity. Better than nothing I suppose.

My glorious page with the shitty photos of my unfinished piece.

Here is how it actually looked in the show-once I repaired all the damage.

A few shots that no one could see...

We decided that it would be a great idea to do a limited run of Rat Fink Model Kits, and offer them for sale so people could be inspired and create their own. So the guys from Tornado Designs knocked it out of the parlance again and put together a really cool collector edition for the fans. 

...and this is what you got:

Collectible Poster

Slip case that could double as a display stand

Book from the show

I share a spread with Mark Mothersbaugh, how cool is that?!

Certificate of authenticity

...last but not least - the infamous Rat Fink Kit sculpted by Oluf Hartvigson

The show was a huge success and I like to think that everyone that experienced it, had a great time. In the end I was pretty happy with the results, I didn't feel TOO insecure displaying my piece along with guys like: Glenn Barr, Dave Burk, Craola, Adam Cruz, Dirty Donny, Ron English, Gary Panter, Rockin' Jelly Bean, The Pizz, Chet Zar...shit, fucking everyone! Being involved in something like this was a dream for me, and I have David to thank...so THANK YOU, David! It was quite the baptism into the LA Group Art Show machine.

Hell, I even signed a bunch a books, I felt like a rock star for a few minutes that night. You can't beat that.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Christina's World

I love this painting.

I love this painting so much I want to share it with some of you. Over the years I have been able to discover new images surrounding it's creation and it's subject- Christina Olson. I've spent hours upon hours reading pretentious Art Critic essays/thesis/reviews that bored the shit out of me, so you don't have to. I usually find that if a piece of art moves me, that's all that matters, not some art critic's bullshit. This painting moved me from the first time I saw it in an art book in college, I don't know why or how - it just did, maybe it was the composition that knocked me out? I don't know. So this post will most likely be filled with bullet points and pictures only, and maybe a rambling paragraph or two depending on my mood...but most of all, pictures.

Let's get the first bit of rambling out of the way.

Living in Southern California makes it kinda difficult to visit the museums in New York City that I love so much. As luck would have it,  I found myself there last year for business.  I was working New York Comic Con so I tried to schedule in some museum/gallery time during our 1 day off. My number one priority was to view Gustav Klimt's: Adele Bloch-Bauer I at the Neue Galerie. 

I have never seen this painting in person and being a huge Klimt fan, I was looking forward to the opportunity of standing in front of it and losing my shit...it's one of my favorite paintings of all time.

Gustav Klimt Adele Bloch-Bauer I 1907
Oil, Gold & Silver on Canvas 54" x 54" 

But it wasn't meant to be...the fucking gallery was closed on the one day we had free. I was devastated. That meant I'd have to wait until I made my way to New York again...

Luckily my coworker wanted to visit MoMA and see a few favorite paintings, Van Gogh's: The Starry Night & Andrew Wyeth's: Christina's World...which I had totally forgotten was in their collection. I also remembered that they had a gorgeous Klimt painting in their collection, so I guess it wasn't going to be a bad day after all.

Gustav Klimt Hope II 1907-08
Oil, Gold & Platinum on Canvas 43 1/2" x 43 1/2"

The last time I had seen Christina's World was in 1998, so I was really excited to see it again. Unfortunately, my excitement quickly turned to frustration once I found myself in front of the painting. Let me just say, the location of the painting sucks. I hate that they have it displayed in what is basically the walkway that surrounds the escalators. It doesn't provide you with space to stand and admire the painting without a parade of people walking in front of you on their way to one of the gallery rooms. So I waited for my moment and took a few photos as best I could, trying not to capture any fat heads or glares etc.

Andrew Wyeth Christina's World 1948
Tempera on panel, 32 1/4" x 47 3/4"

Simply put it's a masterpiece of what is called: 'Magic Realism', "which is a genre of narrative fiction and more broadly, art (painting) that, while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, expresses a primarily realistic view of the real world while also adding magical elements" (thank you Wikipedia for watered down definition)

I've collected a series of images that show the creation of Christina's World, and other paintings that Wyeth produced of Christina in her later years that I'd like to share...enjoy.

Alvaro Olson (Christina's brother) & Andrew Wyeth

This photograph was taken by Betsy James, whom Andrew met in 1939 while visiting Maine, and would eventually marry. It was Betsy who introduced Andrew to Alvaro Olson and his sister Christina, whom she had known since she was 10 years old. 

Anna Christina Olson & Katie (Hathorn) Olson

This is a photograph of Christina and her mother taken in 1918, shortly after Christina's trip to Boston where she learned more about her increasing disability. She suffered from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and was told that her condition would never improve. 

This is the first watercolor study that Wyeth did of the Olson house. It is said that Christina watched from the window and was amused to see Wyeth sitting on top of his car painting a picture of her house.

Another watercolor study of the Olson house.


More studies/paintings of the Olson house in Wyeth's muted earth tone palette, with the altering of the actual landscape to create a better composition.

Pencil studies: The arms and hands are Christina's but the body is Betsy's; the dress was from Christina's closet; the shoe from the Wyeth house and the hair is based on the memory of his aunt's. 

Nine years after meeting the Olson's, Wyeth spent the summer of 1948 in an upstairs room of the Olson House painting Christina's World. It is said he worked on that painting for weeks from eight o'clock in the morning until five-thirty in the evening. Working in the Olson house, Wyeth became very close to Alvaro & Christina and had a deep admiration for her determination and enduring nature. This was a woman who limited use of her legs and could not walk, so she dragged herself around the house doing the cooking and cleaning and never complained. Her respect and approval mattered deeply and he was worried what her reaction would be to the painting. 

Well, Alvaro and Christina were invited over to the Wyeth's home for dinner one evening, where the painting hung over the couch...ignored throughout dinner. When Andrew and Christina were alone he asked her what she thought and she raised her fingers to her mouth in a hushing motion. Wyeth would go on to paint many more of Christina, but she would always say that this one was her favorite.

Wyeth displayed Christina's World in 1937 at Macbeth Gallery as part of his one-man exhibition of watercolors. The exhibit was a success, but Christina's World received little attention from critics at the time which caused Wyeth to become deeply depressed and view the work as a complete failure. But Alfred Barr, the founding director of MoMA, thought differently and bought it in December 1948 for $1800 and hung it a show titled: American Paintings from the Museum Collection. It has become one of the most famous paintings in the museum's history and an icon of American art, and as a result, is rarely loaned out.

The following group of images are sketches, studies and photographs of Christina, for the other paintings that Wyeth would do of her prior to her death. Some amazing works.

Christina sitting in front of her window.

Christina and Andrew

Study for Christina's first portrait

Study for Christina's first portrait

Door study for Christina's first portrait

Hair study for Christina's first portrait

Final portrait painting

Andrew, Alvaro & Christina in the kitchen

Christina's cat, study for Miss Olson

Miss Olson painting 1952

Andrew, Alvaro & Christina in the kitchen

Christina in the kitchen

Christina Haircut


Pencil study

Pencil study

Color study

Christina looking at photographs that Betsy took.

Rough color study for a portrait

Various portrait studies

This would be the final portrait of Christina before she died, titled Anna Christina
(May 3, 1893 - January 27, 1968)

Wyeth paid tribute to Alvaro and Christina with this final painting, it's a portrait of sorts. Alvaro is represented by his blueberry basket and Christina is represented by the scrap of her pink dress, that she wore in the painting Christina's World. This is also one of my favorite Andrew Wyeth paintings of all time. It's a wonderful memory of his two friends.

Wyeth's sketch of Christina's grave the day before her funeral.

It seems fitting that Wyeth is buried here, at the Olson house with Christina.

Alvaro and Christina

The house as it appears today.

Well that's it for now, hope I didn't bore you too much...