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David Felton Chats with Bob Neuwirth
Legends collide when the renowned writer David Felton catches up with the iconic musician, artist and writer Bob Neuwirth, to talk about Neuwirth's new art exhibit. They'll be talking in length at the Track 16 Gallery in LA on Tuesday, June 7th.
LEAD PHOTO CREDIT: Larry Bercow | Grace Felton
Artist and composer Bob Neuwirth and writer David Felton have shared mutual friends for more than 30 years. Sharing mutual friends has become something of an artform in these high-tech networking times, but Neuwirth was one of the form's earliest pioneers.
Bob Neuwirth is a legendary singer, songwriter, producer, performer, painter, improviser, collaborator, and instigator. He has run around with the likes of Edie Sedgwick, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Michael McClure, John Cale, and Bob Dylan, even appearing with Dylan in D.A. Pennebaker's landmark cinema verite, Don't Look Back. His work is praised around the world and across generations, from taking part in the historic Newport Folk festival to making music with Kris Kristofferson, Tom Russell, and K.D. Lang.
David Felton has spent his life experimenting with new forms of journalism and television writing. At the Los Angeles Times he won a Pulitzer Prize for his work covering the first Watts uprising and wrote a three-act play documenting the Summer of Love. At Rolling Stone Magazine his five-part study of Charles Manson, including a pre-trial interview, won the National Magazine Award. He edited Hunter S. Thompson's seminal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Felton produced and wrote MTV: the Reagan Years for public television and helped develop the Beavis and Butt-Head show, which as everyone knows remains one of the best shows in TV history.
In recent years he has run MTV Labs to encourage creative experimentation by the employees of MTV Networks. He is the author of Mindfuckers: a Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America.
Felton will interview Neuwirth June 7th as part of Live Talks Los Angeles in front of a live audience at Track 16, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, where a retrospective of Bob's painting career is being shown.
Neuwirth and Felton have agreed to do a practice interview for Kotori.
Felton: A few months ago, Steve Martin was booed during an interview at the 92nd Street Y because he just talked about art and didn't give any juicy, gossipy details from his career. Are you planning to take that high academic road at the expense of the audience?
Neuwirth: No, I don't think so. I'll just try to be honest yet entertaining. But you have my permission to ask about any area.
Felton: Well, that's a relief. So how did your Track 16 retrospective come about?
Neuwirth: It came about at a Christmas party a couple of years ago, as a result of a conversation between Kristine McKenna and Mary Dean. Kristine put in two years of hard work, including visiting my studio in New York and finding the Track 16 venue.
Felton: The exhibit features work from your 45-year career as an artist. How did these 16 canvases make the cut?
Neuwirth: The pictures were selected by Kristine and included only canvases - no water colors or drawings. They represent her overview. I let her have free reign and selection. She has experience in curating shows.
Felton: Are these paintings for sale? How do you go about figuring what to charge for a work?
Neuwirth: Yes most of them are for sale. I find an Ouija board is helpful.
Felton: Actually, I just noticed all the pieces on your website cost $1,500. So do you just, like, keep painting until you reach "$1,500"?
Neuwirth: Well what you are seeing on the website, they are not paintings - they are collages. They are small works approximately 12-by-9 inches.
Felton: The title of your retrospective is "Overs & Unders." What's that all about? Why the fucking ampersand?
Neuwirth: Ampersands are prettier than plus signs. As for the title, a friend of mine thought it up. I don't know what she was thinking.
Felton: On the Track 16 website there's a picture of you as a very young man in a wildly decorated suit, looking like a cross between Spike Jones and Harold of Harold and Maude. Could you maybe put this in context?
Neuwirth: It was my grandfather's silk pajamas that I found in his attic. There were some hallucinogens involved as I recall.
Felton: Would you say this retrospective is a good summation of your artistic vision and journey?
Neuwirth: I would say that it is a truncated summation. It doesn't include, for instance, any watercolors, pastels, drawings, sculpture, or film. Other than that, it's a fair sampling.
Felton: Finally, just so your fans don't get pissed off like they did with Steve Martin, could you please tease us with one superficial, salacious anecdote from your sordid career that you'll be discussing at the Live Talks LA, Track 16 Gallery interview June 7th?
Neuwirth: I am not at liberty to reveal that information. But you can always ask.
*Photo of Neuwirth by Laura Heffington; photo of Felton by Annie Leibovitz