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The Devil Has Work For Idle Hands: The Art of John Seabury

On November 29, 2012, in News, by Dire Wolf

The Art of John Seabury at Steven Wolf Fine Arts 11/17/12

Steven Wolf Fine Arts will host The Devil has Work for Idle Hands, the first-ever exhi­bi­tion of John Seabury’s draw­ings. The Berke­ley artist first came to promi­nence in the music under­ground of the 1970s with a series of fly­ers adver­tis­ing his band the Psy­cotic Pineap­ple. He has since gone on to acclaim as a designer of posters for rock clubs and rock bands and he con­tin­ues to per­form on stage as well.

In Seabury’s draw­ings, soul­ful, freakish-looking males dwell in skewed land­scapes along­side gor­geous and dis­turb­ing females. Faces and bod­ies are pushed to extreme lim­its, and land­scapes are infused with dime-store para­noia. Seabury has a beau­ti­ful, obses­sive line born from the hor­ror vacuii of psy­che­delic posters and the grotesque car­toon­ing of under­ground comics. There is a sur­re­al­ist dis­so­nance and a wise-cracking punch line in every­thing he does as though Sal­vador Dali had loaned his pen to Curly from the Three Stooges. It’s out­ra­geous dex­ter­ity com­bined with arrested adolescence.

Dur­ing his 35-year career, Seabury has exper­i­mented with sculp­ture and print­ing: his etch­ings are remark­able for the way they clas­si­cize weird­ness, and his mono­prints make clever use of the castoffs from his com­mer­cial music projects. His ceramic por­traits are as out­landish and highly resolved as his draw­ings. But it is the fly­ers from Psy­chotic Pineap­ple that stand out for their aggres­sively obnox­ious char­ac­ter, his­tor­i­cal time­li­ness and sus­tained narrative.

Psy­cotic Pineap­ple was cre­ated in 1974 by two mem­bers of the Berke­ley power pop band Rubi­noos as an out­let for the wise-ass energy that they couldn’t secrete into their main­stream music. When Rubi­noos took off, leav­ing no time for the irrev­er­ent side project, Pineap­ple was deeded to four musi­cian friends of the band, includ­ing John Seabury. With stripped-down pre-punk prankster-pop charm­ers like I Wanna Get Rid of You, and She’s Boss, the band attacked any pre­tense that remained from the days of utopian, hip­pie rock and roll. Their loud, scary, chaotic shows, which included a nut job dressed as a pineap­ple, baited the audi­ence in a way that would soon become com­mon in punk rock, and almost always insured that they would not be invited back.

The fly­ers chron­i­cle the Pineapple’s trans­gres­sive antics like a comic strip dis­sem­i­nated inter­mit­tently on the street. The Pineap­ple, as his first name implies, has no bound­aries, no sense of right and wrong, and no lim­its. He is the ego-maniacal rock star in a fun house mir­ror, a dark cel­e­bra­tion of the libido at all costs, a logo run amok in a world of con­sumer plea­sures. After see­ing a flyer and a show the only ques­tion left for the audi­ence was, what would the pineap­ple do next?

The exhi­bi­tion coin­cides with two other Psy­cotic Pineap­ple events: a reunion show Decem­ber 9th at the Bot­tom of the Hill; and the re-release on CD of the Pineapple’s sole album, Where’s the Party? in a 48 page, hard­bound, full color, art book pack­age designed Hugh Brown. The book con­tains hilar­i­ous pho­tos, Seabury graph­ics, per­sonal rem­i­nis­cences by the band and an essay by fel­low trav­eler Roger Clark, of Lit­tle Roger and the Goosebumps.

For more infor­ma­tion please con­tact Steven Wolf Fine Arts at 415.263.3677 or email stevenwolffinearts@gmail.com

Novem­ber 17 – Jan­u­ary 5, 2013
Open­ing Recep­tion:
Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 17, 6-8pm

Gallery Hours:
Wednes­day – Fri­day 10:30–5:30
Sat­ur­day 11:00–5:00

Steven Wolf Fine Arts
2747 19th Street, A
San Fran­cisco, CA 94110
415–263-3677

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