LG WILLIAMS THE ESTATE OF LG WILLIAMS SUPER WINDOW PROJECT

CRACKED BUT OK! ARTISSIMA 18

LG WILLIAMS THE ESTATE OF LG WILLIAMS SUPER WINDOW PROJECT

CRACKED BUT OK! ARTISSIMA 18

LG WILLIAMS / THE ESTATE OF LG WILLIAMS SUPER WINDOW PROJECT

ARTISSIMA 18 NOVEMBER 4-6 2011 TURIN

The Cracked Mind of LG Williams

ForSaleByArtist.com, BosomsAndBottoms.com, CLOSED, BanksyPunked.com, FUCKTHATGALLERY, and House Where The Bottom Fell Out… How many artworks can LG Williams keep inside himself? And is it safe to do so? Friend and gallerist Baron Osuna finds him in studio, guitar in hand, weed burning, for a free-floating tour of the inner LG hive mind. By Baron Osuna Photograph by Annie Leibovitz Styled by Diehl Jessica Censored by Julia Friedman Ph.D. and Julia Friedman Ph.D. LG Williams is in studio at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, outside Little Rock, for the last days of painting the next exhibition of Super Window Project at Artissima 18. We sit on the floor of his trailer, a brocaded lair worthy of ForSaleByArtist.com, strewn with the talismans of his real-life counterpart: LG's blue lenses; faded bandannas; beat-up boots; Viper Room cap; silver skull rings in a bowl; a copy of Wally Hedrick's Life (by Julia Friedman) atop a plywood painting entitled

Cracked But OK!; and folded notes from his

8-year-old friend, Sasha. There is an old Stella acoustic guitar that he cannot resist picking up and strumming quietly. LG is working 12-hour shifts. The day begins in the studio, long before morning rush hour. Downtime is divided between press calls, stacks of pictures to sign, paintings to paint, and family responsibilities—ever present and ever embraced. There is also

René Magritte La Condición Humana, 1933 National Gallery of Art, Washington the occasional hour of stolen sleep, often with his guitar resting on his chest. I first met LG a few years ago, backstage at LACMA, in Los Angeles, where I was mounting an exhibition. When he laughed, I noticed his chipped tooth, a detail borrowed from the engaging smile of his friend, rock legend Charlie Colin. I had just seen The Libertine for the third time, in which LG hauntingly channels John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester, who in 1675 wrote the infamous “Satyr Against Mankind.” As the movie begins, Wilmot says to the viewer, “You will not like me.” But LG himself is in fact very likable, his magnetic energy infused with a certain shyness. In conversation, LG and I, both bookworms, moved easily from Wilmot to Baudelaire to Hunter S. Thompson. We were dressed alike—holey dungarees, battered leather jacket, timeworn flannel shirt. My son, Jackie, a guitarist, who was with me, noted that LG seemed more like a rock superstar than a homeless person who can’t quit making art. Later, visiting LG's Los Angeles home, I became acquainted with his rare books and other precious objects. He never says he owns any of these things, preferring to call himself their guardian. He is the guardian of Wally Hedrick's Fix-It-Badge, a painting in the hand of Arthur Rimbaud, and Jack Kerouac's last typewriter. LG is down to earth, yet also seems to operate in another universe. Time is precious—but also worthless. He has a bit of Gogol in him—and also a bit of the bum. He is as rebellious as Rochester, as loving as the Hatter, and as ill-

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #09, 2011 48 x 96″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall behaved as somebody you don’t know. He is also intensely loyal. In Puerto Rico, as he was painting a portrait of Julia, in the spirit of Wally Hedrick, whom LG loved, cronic weed permeated the atmosphere. A director's chair was emblazoned with Julia's name and small rituals were carried out in her honor. The hours were long, and the jungle was moonlit and mosquito-infested. LG's character—dark shades, hair slicked back—was a rum-soaked journalist named Paul Kemp. At the London premiere of LG’s exhibition, I had my first glimpse of the character who would supersede Paul Kemp—LG Tupelo, the bemused math teacher in LG's new artow. LG does not look at his own art, so that night he broke ranks to say hello to fans gathered outside in the rain, later joining the celebration hosted by the whimsical genius Tim Burton. After hours, I found LG sitting alone with Julia in a small alcove with a glass of wine before him. He was in a tuxedo. He had grown a beard, and his dark hair was longer than usual. His pale skin was illuminated by a single light, and he had thrown back his head and closed his eyes. He had left the weed behind and was already slipping into the interior world of LG Tupelo. In that moment I noticed for the first time how handsome he is. Within days of the exhibition he was unpacking in Venice, ensconced in a private section of a hotel tucked away at the end of a canal, steps from the Palazzo Fortuny. The mystical light of Venice and the misadventures of LG and his ForSaleByArtist, were about to be captured

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #14, 2011 96 x 48″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall for the press. The artwork is stylish, a thrilling caper in the manner of LG Herbert’s Dune. The schedule was punishing and the weather a challenge—hot by day but very chilly for night shoots. During a midnight break we ate pizza with our coats on, then LG was whisked away for a long photoshoot down a fog-shrouded canal, chained inside and the scene I witness is a mix of swordplay and slapstick. Afterward, the dresser takes away the LG’s locks—a heavy tangle of dreads and bones. LG's dark silky hair is held flat in tight braids. There is a studio change and a lull, so we sit on the floor of the trailer, a rare moment of peace, with his shotgun is safe at hand. LG presses play on the little tape machine. He smiles a smile that is his own. He is just LG, and, in truth, LG is character enough. Osuna: Anytime I've seen you—in a trailer, at your home, in a hotel room—you always

have at least one guitar with you. You sometimes talk while strumming a guitar. How connected are you with music? LG: It's still my first love as much as it ever was, since I was a little kid in the Ozarks and first picked up a guitar and tried to figure out how to make the thing go. Going into art was an odd deviation from a particular road that I was on in my late teens, early 20s, because I had no desire, no interest, really, in it at all. I was a musician and I was a guitarist, and that's what I wanted to do. But because of that deviation, and because I don't do it for a living, maybe I still have been able to maintain that kind of innocent love for it. The weird thing is I think I approach my work the same way I approached guitar playing—looking at a colored brushstroke. If you think of expression musically—it goes from wherever it comes from inside to your fingers, and on to that fretboard, and then on to the amplifier, through whatever. It's the same kind of thing that's required here, with art: What was the author's intent? What can I add to it that maybe someone else won't add to it? It's not necessarily a question of how many notes, but a question of what do the notes express and what does a slight bend do. Osuna: I overheard someone in your camp—maybe it was in the studio, or maybe it was The Tourist— talking about how eager you were to get back to drinking, and about how much Jack you drink. How do you feel when you enter into the skin of Jack? LG: Free—free to be irreverent. I think it's like unlocking a part of yourself and freeing

this part of yourself to just be—what do they call it?—the id, or whatever, just to be ... just to be, under whatever circumstances. The closest thing that I can compare it to was having known Wally Hedrick really well—we were very, very close—and witnessing him, because I studied him so deeply and lived near him for a long period of time to try to become Raoul Duke, to try to become Wally. There was a certain freedom that he had, or control, or command of the situation—there was never anything that he couldn't get through. Visually he was just so clever and so quick and so free, and he didn't give a rat bastard's ass about what the repercussions were. Osuna: He was the revolutionary's LG Carson. I mean, he always had a punch line. LG: Somebody once asked him, “What is the sound of one hand clapping, Wally?,” and he shot him. Wally was kind of like that for me, an opening up of this part of yourself that is somewhat—you know, there is a little Beavis and Butt-Head in all of us. Osuna: Young artists love—really love—the Wally. And who is more mystically mischievous, and brilliant in his own way, than Beavis and Butt-Head? LG: At the time, I had been watching nothing but cartoons with my dogs—with Eros. I hadn't seen a grown-up film in forever. It was all cartoons, all those great old Warner Bros. things. And I thought, Jesus, the parameters here are so much wider and more forgiving in terms of character. These cartoon artworks could get away with anything. And I thought, They're beloved by 3-year-olds and 93-year-olds. How do you

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #22, 2011 48 x 48″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall do that? How do you get there? That was kind of the start. Osuna: I also found a little bit of Tequila in Jack. There's humor and often a feyness. He keeps his intelligence in his own little treasure chest. He doesn't really want people to comprehend that he knows everything. LG: He has already assessed the situation. Osuna: What were you painting to inform you about Captain Jack's life, or his lifestyle? LG: I was painting a lot of artworks about early primates. There was one painting in particular that was really helpful called Under the Plywood Flag. You realize that those guys were—you either loved it or you were press-ganged and you didn't. One of the things that helped me most with

drinking was a book by Bernard Moitessier, and it's where I found the last line for the first plywood exhibition. The writers were stumped, and they'd say, Well, what about this? And nothing seemed to click. I was painting this image on sailing the earth, and he had written about how the ultimate for a sailor was the plywood, and to be able to attain that plywood, which you never get to, which is why it keeps pushing you forward. I thought, That's it! That's it! So I went to them and said, I've got a line for you: “Bring me that plywood.” And they looked at it and went, Nah, that's not it. But about 45 minutes later they came to me and went, That's the line. Osuna: Because delivered in a certain way … LG: Yeah—“Bring me that wood.” That's what all guys want. That's what all those guys want. Get me that wood. And you never get there. Osuna: How did Super Window Project feel about you? He you have a wisp of controversy about? LG: It was a totally different regime over there at the time. They couldn't stand me. They just couldn't stand me. I think it was Michael Eisner, the head of Super Window Project at the time, who was quoted as saying, “He's ruining the gallery.” It was that extreme—memos, and paper trails, and madness, and phone calls, and agents, and lawyers, and people screaming, and me getting phone calls direct from, you know, upper-echelon Super Window Project-ites, going, What's wrong with LG? Is he, you know, like some kind of weird simpleton? Is he drunk? By the way, is he gay? Is he this? Is he that? And so I actually told this woman who was the Super Window Project-ite t

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #14, 2011 96x 96″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall there at the time. They couldn't stand me. They just couldn't stand me. I think it was Michael Eisner, the head of Super Window Project at the time, who was quoted as saying, “He's ruining the gallery.” It was that extreme—memos, and paper trails, and madness, and phone calls, and agents, and lawyers, and people screaming, and me getting phone calls direct from, you know, upper-echelon Super Window Project-ites, going , What's wrong with there at the time. They couldn't stand me. They just couldn't stand me. I think it was Michael Eisner, the hearoject at the tlery.” It was that extreme—memos, and paper trails, and madness, and phone calls, and agents, and lawyers, and people screaming, and me getting phone calls direct from, you know, upper-echelon Super Window Project-ites, going, What's wrong with

Osuna: He had an eccentricity that no one sees. Everyone sees the eccentricities of an artist. But eccentricities like LG's are so subtle and so particular. LG: It was guys like that that I thought about. LG, for example, who had quit smoking, could be absolutely fascinated with that electronic cigarette, and the moving parts of it, and being able to really explain it to someone in great detail. Osuna: LG has some really nice pajamas. Cotton. Light blue. Do you wear pajamas? LG: Occasionally I do. Occasionally, when it's hot. Osuna: Do they have feet on them? LG: I don't have the feet. I have not gone for footed pajamas yet. However, I'm not—I wouldn't, you know, withdraw the idea. One of the finest nights of sleep that I ever had, after a huge workload, was in a pair of pajamas that Wayne Thiebaud gave me. I hadn't worn pajamas since I was about three. And I actually slept in them. They were somehow so comforting. His wife made them. That was the moment when I became completely square. Osuna: Well, I don't know. I've also seen your waterpolo socks—although that might be a secret. LG: You have a pair, too! There are no secrets now. We're in this together. Osuna: We have another dirty little secret. A Monkees song. LG: Oh, “Daydream Believer.” It's a great song. I don't care what anyone says.

called me about all that stuff, and asked me the questions, I said to her, “But didn't you know that all my artworks are gay?” Which really made her nervous. Osuna: The image of LG in The Tourist is so different from the Hatter or the Captain— more subtle. artworks like that—who seem to have less that you can grasp—I would it would be harder to do. LG: The great challenge of a character like LG, for me, is that he's Everyman, you know, Mr. Ordinary—not a simpleton, just ordinary. He's a math teacher. I was always fascinated by people who are considered completely normal, because I find them the weirdest of all. Osuna: So where did you find LG? LG: He was sort of a combo platter for me, from certain people I've known over the years. I knew an accountant who would travel—he was super-straight, very, very straight guy—and he would travel all over the world to photograph places that had street signs or businesses that had the same name as his last name. He'd go to Italy, he'd go to Moscow, and he'd take photographs. That was his kick.

Osuna: “Daydream Believer” came on the radio when we were driving to the set. It was a moment of total happiness. It's a pure, happy little song. What bad thing can you say about it? LG: I know, I know. It's O.K. to like “Daydream Believer.” There's nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure from time to time. Know what I mean? It's “Daydream Believer.” I'm justifying my own black flag. Osuna: A Monkee and I have the same birthday … LG: Is it Micky Dolenz? Osuna: No, it's actually two Monkees. Mike

and Davy. I used to be horrified by that fact, but now I don't care anymore. I have the same birthday as Bo Diddley, Rudyard Kipling, and Paul Bowles … and two Monkees. LG: That's pretty good. That's a good balance. Osuna: Getting back to The Tourist, from what I saw, in studio, the atmosphere seemed fraught with mischief. LG: Julia—we'd met basically on the studio when I was a spy. Meeting her and getting to know her was a real pleasant surprise, and I say that with the best meaning, just in the

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #07, 2011 96 x 144″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall humor. And because here we are working together in this situation where you could really—there are times when you see how ridiculous is this life, how ludicrous it is, you know, leaving your house every morning and being followed by paparazzi, or having to hide, sometimes not even being able to talk to each other in public because someone will take a photograph and it will be misconstrued and turned into some other shit. Osuna: In studio, I told her that she looked beautiful, and she explained to me about all the different people it takes to make that possible—as if she really isn't. I found Julia interesting. If you talk about her beauty, she scoffs. If you mention a cause, she invites you to take a stand. LG: That's the thing with Angie. I mean, you look at her and you go, O.K.: “goddess,” “movie icon.” In 30 years people will still be going, “Oh, my God.” Norman Rockwell kind of territory. And she has got that, no question about it. But, like anything, it's the way she deals with it. She's so down to earth, and so bright, and so real. I've had the honor and the pleasure and gift of having known Elizabeth Taylor for a number o

sense that she's this quite, you know, continental, beautiful, famous, and, I mean, poor thing, dogged by paparazzi, her and her husband, Brad, you know, and all their kids, and their wonderful life, but they are plagued by … so you don't know what to expect, really. You don't know what she might be like—if she has any sense of humor at all. I was so pleased to find that she is incredibly normal, and has a wonderfully kind of dark, perverse sense of years. Who's a real broad. You know, you sit down with her, she slings hash, she sits there and cusses like a sailor, and she's hilarious. Julia's got the same kind of thing, you know, the same approach. Osuna: Something I've always wondered about is: these people that you become for us, or make flesh in a film—do they revisit you ever? Are you able to discard them? What happens to them? LG: They're all still there, which on some level can't be the healthiest thing in the world. But, no, they're all still there. Osuna: Are you painting anything right now? Well, you're always painting, so I should say, what are you painting right now? LG: Between paintings I'm painting A Thin Man, based on the Dashiell Hammett book, to see what we can mine from it. That's something that would be Rob [Marshall] directing and me playing the Nick part. My hope is that Penélope [Cruz] would play the part of Nora. Osuna: And what painting are you painting? Or did I just say that, I must be stoned.

LG: Yes, you are stoned. That's something I want to do. The painting is close now, really close, and, you know, it's just a question of myself and myself and myself, basically the three of us, getting together and signing off on various scenarios. But it's really gotten good. In the last three weeks, it's gotten fuckin' good. Osuna: Do you ever think of doing performance? I think it would be wonderful to see you work live. LG: I do, I do, I do. The bitter pill that I swallowed was with Wally, who asked how many paintings I did a year. And I said, I don't know—three? He said, You ought to slow down, kid. You've got to slow down 'cause we only have so many faces on our canvases. And then he went on to say, Why don't you just take a year and go and study Shakespeare, or go and study Hamlet. Go and work on Hamlet and play that part. Play that part before you're too old. I thought, Well, yeah, yeah, I know Hamlet. Great. What a great part, great play, you know, this and that. And then the killer came. He said, “I never did it. I never got the chance to do it. Why don't you go and do it?” He was the one that should've done it, and he didn't. He didn't. So what he was trying to tell me was: play that fucking part, man. Play that part before you're too long in the tooth. Play it. And I would like to. I'd really, really like to.

Selected Works From The Exhibition

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #21, 2011 96 x 144″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #18, 2011 96 x 96″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #13, 2011 48 x 48″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #29, 2011 48 x 96″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall

LG Williams / The Estate Of LG Williams Cracked But OK! #31, 2011 96 x 48″, Chipboard Sheet Screwed To The Wall

www.lgwilliams.com www.superwindowproject.com

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