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The Dark Bob on Art, Music, Punk and Posterity

'Humor is a difficult thing to juggle as a fine artist. You can be ignored for being funny. You can be criticized for it, but it’s always a line I like to walk.'

The Dark Bob is a versatile and prolific artist and musician, whose songs are a major contribution to the soundtrack of “Young Turks.” He joined Michael Delgado of A.G. Geiger Fine Art Books for the latest podcast of “A.G. Geiger Presents, Tales From the LA Art Underworld.”

 

As half of the seminal Los Angeles performance art duo Bob and Bob, The Dark Bob discusses the genesis of the team’s partnership in the early 1970s.

 

“We had a large punk audience. Our shows were attended by people who would show their love for us by spitting on us and throwing firecrackers down our suits … an expression of affection in those days.”

 

He also tells Delgado of the challenges of working together for decades thereafter. “There’s a reason there aren’t a lot of art teams,” The Dark Bob says, “because art is a deep expression of one’s unique neuroses. So putting two people together and trying to find that depth of personal neuroses is tricky. We just happened to click.”

 

Bob and Bob’s work — paintings, writing, music and performances — have always combined artistic expression with political commentary and humor. And now, the team’s files have been accepted into The Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art.

Podcast Features "Young Turks" Director Stephen Seemayer

On a recent episode of Corridor Cast, Stephen Seemayer discusses his career as an artist and landlord in downtown L.A., as well as his feature documentaries — “Young Turks” and “Tales of the American” — about the genesis of the Los Angeles Arts District.


Seemayer moved downtown from the San Fernando Valley in 1976, turning an abandoned brothel on the second floor of a building at 9th & Central into a 16-room artist compound, complete with darkroom and a screening room.


As a performance artist, filmmaker, painter and photographer, his often controversial work  has been exhibited all over the United States.


His late mother, Lynne Westmore Bloom, was the notorious creator of the Pink Lady of Malibu — a monumental feat of guerrilla art in 1966 — and on Corridor Cast, he recounts  growing up with the eccentric and rule-breaking artist.

Stephen Seemayer's New Documentary Now on Amazon Prime

“Tales of the American” — a new documentary about the Downtown Los Angeles arts scene from the makers of “Young Turks” and Executive Producer Michael Connelly — is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.


“Tales of the American” tells the story of the American Hotel, located at the heart of what has come to be called the Arts District. Built in 1905 as the city’s first hotel for African-Americans, the modest brick building at the corner of Traction and Hewitt has always been a haven for society’s outcasts, a magnet for colorful characters and a hotbed of creative energy.


From 1980-2001, it was the home of Al's Bar, a legendary dive featured in "Young Turks," where punk bands like Black Flag, X and Nirvana played before finding fame and fortune.


Narrated by public radio personality John Rabe, “Tales of the American” features archival photos and footage, and interviews with artists, musicians and others who lived, worked or played at the American Hotel. Filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson have captured the history of a landmark, and the free spirit of a creative community now facing the challenges of overdevelopment and gentrification.

Harry Bosch in the Arts District

In Michael Connelly’s best-selling novel, “The Wrong Side of Goodbye,” iconic detective Harry Bosch follows the trail of his case into L.A.’s Arts District. He’s a private eye now, after being forced out of the LAPD, and his investigation draws him to Traction Avenue and landmarks such as the American Hotel and the triangle lot between 3rd & Rose. 

Bosch is one of the great characters of mystery fiction, right up there with Philip Marlowe, and like Marlowe’s creator, Raymond Chandler, Connelly paints a haunting and vivid picture of Los Angeles and the Southland in all his Bosch books, including “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.” As the New York Times writes, “the settings will be etched into the Bosch road map of California life.”

Pamela Wilson and Stephen Seemayer, filmmakers of “Young Turks” and “Tales of the American,” are very proud and honored to have shared some insights with Michael Connelly in the preparation of this book.

“Tales of the American” and “Young Turks” can be viewed on digital platforms including Amazon Prime, which also is producing the TV series, “Bosch,” now filming its fifth season.

Photo by Mark DeLong

Michael Connelly

Ageless Beauty

People magazine, in its style section, features an article on Gillean McLeod, who once played drums and other instruments as a member of the Party Boys, a seminal Los Angeles punk band featured in "Young Turks."

The 60-year-old McLeod, a stylist and model, is breaking boundaries in a new ad campaign for H&M swimwear.

'I sort of take pride in not doing Botox or any of that face stuff. That look just seems so forced and strange to me. I am happy with the way I am. And I am here, you know? Doing a swimwear shoot today!'

Downtown Pioneers

In two recent articles, Los Angeles Times writer Carolina A. Miranda reminds Angelenos that there were artists, galleries and others in the Arts District before it was called the Arts District.

Performance artist Stephen Seemayer in a still from his documentary "Young Turks."

Stephen Seemayer, artist, filmmaker: "It was very bleak. There wasn’t crack yet. There wasn’t AIDS. But there was a sense of desolation. It was so desolate that even the cops didn’t really want to deal with you. I was 3 to 4 blocks away from the Newton Division and it’s famous in the LAPD. They were called the 'Shootin’ Newton.' I was like 22 at the time. I would be there at my studio and they’d see me out of my car and they’d roust me and said, 'What are you doing in this neighborhood?' And I’d say, 'I live here.' And they’d say, 'Get out!'"

Performance artist Gronk Nicandro on the roof of his downtown loft.

More great music from The Dark Bob, this time in collaboration with Lewis MacAdams. Produced & arranged by the dynamic duo, "Good Grief" features DJ Bonebrake on drums, Nels Cline on guitar, Danny Frankel on percussion and Ryan Zin on bass, with Mike Bolger, Michael Intriere, Glenn Nishida & Jack Skelley.

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