The History and Present of Picklebird Redux

Okay, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Around 14 years ago, Picklebird: Los Angeles Alternative Art Magazine launched as the Internet’s first online hub for West Coat Outsider, Visionary, Self-taught, Lowbrow, and Alternative art. We had various writers submitting reviews, How-tos, advice, and Feature Spotlights, as well as a calendar events of music and exhibitions going on around Southern California. We liked to focus on artists that didn’t get their fair shake in getting much exposure. Any press was good press, as we saw it.

Our articles also had comment sections which, at times, got very heated, and ultimately caused us to shut down the site as it was. We had one recurring columnist that wrote about Ebay. He had a rather rough sense of humor, and many Ebay artists took offense. We apologize for these misunderstandings and offensive comments and would like to reiterate that Picklebird is no longer operating under an online publication platform.

We have continued to use the domain name as a format for our collection database.

Since 1989, the partnership of Picklebird has been collecting both fine art, rare books and manuscripts that have been in need of cataloging. This has been a long undertaking and we are still in the process of finishing, during which, we have found we have an excess of items that will be going up for auction in the coming months.

Please bear with us as we continue to streamline the site, the database and our auctions as they are announced on our blog. These items will most likely be going up on Ebay very soon to fund further cataloging of the collection.

Thank you for your patience.

Had some time today

We actually had a little time this morning to get the database up into working capacity. The few entries that are inside are now updated and working. What a relief! Now it’s all about entering all the images and information about each one, and taking pictures of most of them. All in our “spare” time, which is scarce. At least there are a couple dozen entries so far and I wanted to post the first two acquisitions to show young collectors that starting a collection is fun and easy.

The very first thing I bought was at a yard sale in 1993. I bought two sculptures with a friend of mine for $10. They were interesting enough and the artist was unknown. The people having the yard sale knew nothing about the art, only that their parents had the two items in the home for many years and they hated them.

At the time, my friend and I were in a band together and we were close to starving and we had an idea to go yard sailing, pick up some funky items and sell them at the Fairfax High School flea market on Sundays for a huge markup to make extra money – which never panned out. We wound up keeping all the cool stuff for ourselves.

This sculpture grew on me and I don’t know what happened to the other. We either sold it or my partner in crime kept it. This one is made to hang on a wall. It is about 12 inches high and 4.5 inches wide and 2 inches thick. It is made with some kind of clay resin, but I really can not identify the medium, but it weighs a ton.


Another first piece I bought off the internet. It was 1996, back when it wasn’t all that easy to find art on the internet – can you imagine a time? I found a guy who was making art however. He was in the military as a historic writer for the Air Force in New Mexico. He was making these “reliefs” on canvas and one in particular caught my eye. There was something Aboriginal about it, and I have to admit it also reminded me a bit of Snoopy. It is called “Ram” but I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I called it “Snoopy the Ram” and he thought it was so cute, he agreed to changing it – since I was going to buy it. I think I paid him $350 after all was said and done. It is 21 x 24 x 3 inches and it’s made with dry clay, dirt and paint mixture. Any time it’s moved, if not careful, a little bit of it flakes off, so I had to encase it in a sort of shadow box-like frame.















Greg Henneman is now a Master Sgt Fighter Wing Historian for the United States Air Force. He lives in New Mexico with his wife and kids. He still makes art.

We have over 100 pieces of art in our collection. I don’t know, maybe more. We won’t know until we finish this database one day. Thanks for sharing these little peeks with us along the way! I hope it won’t take forever before we post again.

Happy Spring!


Paved with Good Intentions

We haven’t posted anything since the beginning of the year. It’s a shame really. By this time we had hoped the database would be completed and all the while, the blog would be featuring a new artists every couple of weeks, getting a buzz going on, receiving comments, getting our name out and about, connecting to other blogs, inserting ourselves back into the the art world and genre at large, and just generally being a participant of the world wide web. It’s not fun to have to sit here and type out a disappointing blog post with no great new to report, or no news at all the report for that matter. I can only tell you of the grand plans we have for Picklebird and what it is to be one day – one fine day. Intentions are good, but didn’t someone say once that all roads to Hell are paved with good intentions? Or something like that, Yes?

Well, I refuse to let this all go to hell in a hand basket! Or, as I like to say, a henbesket. Yeah, you heard me right. We’re a little strange here. We have odd little inside jokes that I myself don’t even understand. They are weird for the sake of weird.

Believe it or not it took a good year (part time of course – we have lives and other things going on ya know) to get the database in order. It took a long time to build it into a custom system specifically for our particular collection to accept each entry and the future fate of each piece, because boy do we have plans. Database building takes just as much vision and planning as any art form really. It’s a thing of its own. You have to plan ahead or else you have to rebuild the thing every time you want to make a major change – so the trick is to think big. Artists: take note. When you are thinking about documenting your work into some kind of database, don’t just think about title, medium, size, and price. Think about the big picture. Like, future resales and appraisals, museum loans, conservations… Think about it as if you are creating the provenance for this artwork for the person who acquired it 100 years from now. Make their life easy!

Once the tables and fields and cross references were all in line, we were finally ready to enter data. Piece of cake, eh? try documenting hundreds of artworks in your “spare time,” photograph it, describe it, and enter all the information about where you got it, what you paid for it and all the detective work on it before YOU got YOUR hands on it. Yeah, not something you can do on a daily basis. This is something that could take many hours – and so, maybe you spend an hour a week, a few hours a month… Maybe life just gets in the way and it’s an overwhelming task. A year goes by and you see that a couple dozen pieces are entered and you wonder if this project will ever be the fantastic Wonka Factory you envisioned.  And who cares about it but you?

What are these intentions anyway?

Well one day, once the collection is online and completely viewable to everyone and anyone, with all the information about the works and the artist – like an online museum, Picklebird could have access to connect to venues and co-curate a real life exhibition; find new artists to add to the collection; auction off a piece once and a while to fund a new artist’s work, like a small grant or award. One day, we hope to become a real foundation that helps to support emerging artists that are a little outside the mainstream. If that means we become a 501(c)(3), then that’s what we’ll do.  Until then it’s like a poor man’s Menil Collection without the nice buildings.

Not too poor though, despite the horrible economy, within the last year we were able to add a little bit to the collection for 2010. More Charles Bukowski (prints, signed limited editions), Sam Cherry (signed photographs), Tibor Jankay (original painting), and  a James Scott drawing.

Clint Griffin

We got this little treasure at the first ArtLa fair in 2005, from Katharine Mulherin‘s booth. It was created by Clint Griffin and is called, “Eastern Drifts.”  It’s 6.5 x 17 inches, house paint on distressed wood. It’s the whole wide world! We hope to get more work by Clint in the future.

b. 1973 Clint Griffin grew up with his brother Scott on a farm in southern Ontario. Since childhood they have been making art and constructing together elaborate “set-ups,” using action figures and assorted salvaged objects. Using discarded photographs of unknown people collected from the garbage at his local photo store, Griffin composes collages. He also employs wax-based encaustic paints, ballpoint pen and graphite. Fascinated by images of people in groups who in all likelihood were unaware of being photographed, Griffin says, “I am surprised in the space where people meet, surprised we do not knock into each other.” Clint Griffin attended the Ontario School of Art and Design.

Eastern Drifts
6.5 x 17 inches

Not Dead Yet

Did Picklebird drop off the face of the earth? I’m sure you must be wondering. No, we are not dead yet. In fact, alive and well. It’s been over a year since this blog has been updated, and in that year we here at Picklebird have experienced three deaths in the family. The project was then put on hold, but we are recovering. Additionally with the economic crisis, very few artists have been added to the collection over the last fiscal year. However, with a new year in its beginnings, we plan to live again. We hope to get back on track in the next couple months.

In the meantime, if you are in the Los Angeles area, we recommend you attend the Arroyo Arts Collective: Recovery Discovery Tour for northeast LA on Sunday, November 22, 2009 where you can see tons of spectacular work from some of the best artists and artisans in town. Being the week before Thanksgiving, it’s a great way to get super deals on art as holiday gifts directly from the creators themselves.

Max Schumann

Max Schumann

Hailing from the Bread and Puppet launch of the Cheap Art movement, New York City based Max Schumann paints political and consumerist propaganda on ordinary cardboard cut from shipping cartons, frequently copying images again and again. It is akin to the persistent repetitions of news media and advertisements that permeate our culture. His expressionistic scenes copied from various newspapers, magazine covers, and films are sometimes overlaid with text, giving new meaning to items, articles and views being focused upon. What we like maybe most of all is how he audaciously includes a price at the lower left-hand corner of his paintings, affordable enough to bring a piece of an entire experience back to your home. This particular piece was purchased for five dollars from a show from 2005 at Track 16 Gallery called Fear Dust: Fallout of the Invasion which featured artists such as Lida Abdul, Karl McDade, Monica Van den Dool, and Yoko Ono.


Hello All!

This morning we sent out a “we’re back!” email message to the old mailing list to see which emails were still good and also to invite people over to see what we’re doing around here. You may have noticed that some of the links are starting to work and going to new pages. It’s all going to take some time as we are working on these things in our “spare” time, which is really a funny concept when you apply it to the life of a picklebird.

So if you are coming back, or are new PLEASE, join the mailing list so we can update you when we get our ducks in line. Even if you recently got an email from us, please join again anyway so we can make sure we have an organized list for the future.

Feel free to start posting comments to the blog. We welcome all your feedback and silly messages.

Nikki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle was born in 1930 in France to a wealthy family who then lost their fortune in the stock market crash. She relocated to New York City, where she went to school and began an eclectic, artistic career. She was a fashion model, a painter, an actress, and a world traveler until 1953, when she suffered a nervous breakdown. She recovered largely because of her focus on painting, where she refined her unique, self-taught style.
After 1955, she discovers the work of Antonio Gaudí and is inspired to create her own sculpture garden using found objects and a variety of other source materials.

During the 1960s, she became known around the world for her Shooting paintings – bullets penetrated paint containers which spilled their contents over the painting. De Sait Phalle traveled around the world performing shooting session, while also becoming friends with artists Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Larry Rivers and his wife Clarice Rivers, with whom she collaborated with.

She is also known for her sculptures known as “Nanas” which are archetypal female figures, the proverbial everywoman. These freely posed forms, made of papier-mâché, yarn, and cloth were exhibited at the Alexander Iolas Gallery in Paris, and for this show, Iolas published her first artist books that includes her handwritten words in combination with her drawings.

Nikki de Saint Phalle died in 2002 in her home in California. Her life was filled with enormous beauty that continues to spread and inspire lots and lots of art and artists everywhere. She is a one of a kind and we are lucky to have one of her books that is signed by her from 1987, back when people were just starting to learn about the AIDS epidemic. Nikki created this wonderful publication with Dr. Silvio Barandun to help with spreading the education about the disease. It is a 52-page, full-color hardcover book which is displayed proudly in our library.

Been Away

Hello to all, large and small! Sorry we’ve been away neglecting our new Picklebird project. It’s because we’ve been bamboozled with other immediate projects that needed to get done. Our feets are truly in too many waters, but do not fret. We have not forgotten the bird, as it will be a sort of life-long project to document and organize the collection. We got a lot of stuff ya know.

We are trying to learn a new content management software and it is very different from coding from scratch. In the end it will be easier to maintain, but learning how everything works is becoming increasingly time-consuming. In the meantime, we are keeping you updated on our progress. And it is an organic process of building a springboard for not just an art and book collection, but a virtual home for a vast network of the artists we love.

We want to share the joy of collecting with the world. Perhaps you are reading this and wondering how you too can start a collection of your own. Passing the torch is something we have in mind, as well as many other ambitious endeavors to help out artists and connect collectors to those artists. One of the other things we are working on is a new mission statement for this overall project, so that we can focus and streamline our goals.

Thanks for reading and being part of the process. And thank you for bearing with the intermittent appearances of the elusive picklebird.

Yuichiro Roy Kunisaki Mafune

We love this beautiful vase by Yuichiro Roy Kunisaki, purchased just last year at the picturesque Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, Ca., where Roy thrives in his studio. He is hands-down the hardest working studio artist on their premises with a vast collection of work like no other California potter. This vase stands about 8 inches high and we don’t only love it because it had a bird in it. It’s a stunning work of pottery.

Roy is Japanese born, and attended Cal State University Long Beach from 1994-1997. He has been working at Angels Gate since 1998 and his work sells like hotcakes at every open studios tour. He has mastered a brush technique inspired by nature, cycles of aquatic ecosystems, Japanese ethnicity and California life style. He also teaches workshops at different cultural centers all over California.

Here’s a link to an interview with him at Angels Gate Cultural Center.

Roy has exhibited with Little Tokyo Clay Works, The Craft and Folk Museum, The Folk Tree, FT Art Gallery, and Icaan Gallery.