Spoke Art x Blunt Graffix: “Dead Rockstars” Art Exhibit in Oakland [PREVIEW]

Blunt Graffix – “Dead Rockstars”

Spoke Art x Blunt Graffix: “Dead Rockstars”
Curated by Matt Dye

Oakland Art Murmer
Telegraph: 2318 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94612

Opening: Friday April 6, 2012 – 6pm to 10pm
On view the month of April 30th

As human beings attempting to survive on this ridiculous and trying planet, the impending doom related to our dwindling time here is constantly looming over us.  Even if you aren’t the type to obsess over such inevitabilities, the news media will be sure to remind you and, if they fail to do so, then reality will eventually set in via the news of some passing loved one or even a distant acquaintance.  Don’t know anyone… at all?  Are you a reclusive hermit with no contact with the outside world?  Well, how’s that back doing?  How’s your hair, bones, and skin holding up?  One day it’s gonna be curtains folks and there’s not too much that can be done about it.  While we might all be in the same boat as far as our mortality is concerned, the main factors that differentiate us from each other are our perspectives and just exactly how much time we still have left in our respective hour glasses.  Throughout the progression (and/or regression) of our lives, our perspectives can change, as well as our health.  In fact, our health can have a direct and profound effect on our perspectives and vice versa.  Some people are content with just trying to survive as long as possible, catching the occasional prime-time sitcom, driving like a reckless asshole, or blowing their retail paychecks on a name brand handbag to zing a little momentary buzz through their life force.  Others focus intently on their offspring and/or world issues, hoping to leave the Earth a better place than they entered it, for the benefit of future generations.  Some just wanna rock the fuck out.

The ways that we approach life vary as widely as our individual theories about the purpose and “meaning” behind it, but most of us seem to want to receive at least a minor level of acknowledgement, at one point or another, even if it’s just the acknowledgement that we do, in fact, exist at all.  “How much time/life do I have left in me to pull something big and noticeable off?”  “How much time do I have left to even make a simple yet longstanding impact on the realm that I’m leaving behind?”  For some people, just the idea of their conceptual existence and what that means to them can even be larger than the preservation of their physical existence.  For them, the idea of persisting through time as a powerful memory trumps the idea of simply surviving in their physical form as an unsung nobody.  Dying can make you a star, even if you’re not around to reap the benefits from it.  Some wingnut motherfuckers have even gone as far as firing off weapons in public, picking off random casualties, just so that their names could appear in print and, often times, be quickly forgotten; ironically, overshadowed by the nature of their extreme and misguided obsessions (I don’t know those Columbine kids’ names or remember their faces).  Nothing else epitomizes the live fast, die young, become immortalized on a T-Shirt scenario quite like the dead rockstar and tomorrow our friends at Spokeart will be presenting a new group art exhibit, curated by regular contributor/collaborator Matt Dye of Blunt Graffix, that will pay tribute to these icons, which have often forced us to consider our own mortality, while dreaming about ways in which our own memories might live on forever.

The dead rockstar will always be an intrinsically fascinating subject.  More than just another expired human vessel, or any typical celebrity, the term “rockstar” is so loaded that it brings with it the implication that the way that the person lived must be tied directly to the way that they died.  “They just rocked too hard, bro!  That’s it bro! And then, bro… they just died bro.  Their heart just gave out and they disintegrated.  It’s a fucking scientific anomaly, lifelong chum and trustworthy cohort.”  Sometimes it almost feels as if each of us has a life force which recedes in the same manner as a Super Nintendo Street Fighter energy bar and that those iconic rockstars must have experienced such a high concentration of living in such a short period of time that they simply burned through it all too quickly.  The filament fizzed out.  They had no more rocking available in them.  The well was dry.  But, of course, that’s just an exaggeration and a perceived image.  The term “rockstar” in itself, often refers to much more of an attitude and lifestyle than it does to the genre or even music at all.  Hard living Country stars like Johnny Cash easily fall under this category and some would argue that the lavish lifestyles of specific Rappers have made them the rockstars of recent decades.  Both are also paid tribute to in this upcoming exhibit.  Arguably, overdosed comedians like John Belushi or certain athletes and actors could even fall under the “rockstar” label, as well.  They, however, are not featured and will have to get their own show.

But, the most intriguing character of all might be the super young rockstar tragedies like that of Randy Rhoads, which leave the world wondering about what might have been.  Even with those who had slightly more time to establish themselves, such as Kurt Cobain, it still makes one speculate about which directions their lives and work might have continued in.  Or how about his comical former pseudo-“nemesis”, Axl Rose?  Imagine if he had went out prior to Use Your Illusion and compare the “what could have been” to the what actually became.  Then consider Axl‘s former background singer-turned-frontman, Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon and ask yourself how much his death actually amplified his popularity and to what degree it was warranted.

For the Spoke Art  x Blunt Graffix presented exhibit, “Dead Rockstars: A Tribute to the Mortal Gods of Sound” a selection of some of the finest international poster artists in the game today are paying tribute to the dead musical legends that have inspired them.  The obvious names like John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix are undoubtedly represented, but so are lesser known names like musician/producer, Lowell George of Little Feat fame.  There is even more than one contribution paying homage to each Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) and Wendy O Williams (The Plasmatics).  Unfortunately, what you won’t find yet is a Wesley Willis print of someone sucking a caribou’s ass or a piece with Eddie Hazel‘s head substituted on the Maggot Brain cover art, but they should keep that in mind for next time (along with Ike Turner, Cliff Burton, Dennis Wilson, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan) because there is definitely more than enough potential material for another show or two based around such an immediately attention grabbing theme.

When I was in junior high school, it was the cool shit to wear a Malcolm X hat.  I’m talking about white kids sporting them.  Around highschool, Che Guevara shirts broke through.  In college…?  I don’t know… maybe, Haile Sellasie.  The point is that very few of those people rocking that gear knew very much, if anything, about the lives, beliefs, or accomplishments of the people that they were promoting through their clothing, but those figures had become icons.  They were more than individuals, they were symbols.  The problem is that, in situations such as that, the symbols had managed to drift far enough away from the story, message, and history, that they were appropriated as empty logos, almost like a Nike swoosh.  For the “Dead Rockstars” show, the contributors will be channeling their true and pure affinity for the musicians that they’ve found connections with and attempting to infuse their designs with that energy, in an attempt to return the well deserved potency and substance to their subjects.  And if the result yields nothing other than a really cool poster, then fuck it.  At least it’s a hell of a lot better than the same played out image of Bob Marley with a spliff that graces the walls of dorm rooms everywhere.

Check out our sample images after the following event details:

via press release:

Spoke Art Gallery is proud to host the third stop on the Blunt Graffix touring “Dead Rockstars” exhibit, following showings in Eugene, OR and Seattle, WA. The exhibit will open during the monthly Oakland Art Murmur and will continue to be on view until April 30th at a special pop up location inside Telegraph, located at 2318 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA.

“Dead Rockstars” features an all star roster of international poster artists paying homage to their favorite mortal musicians in an accessible and fun viewing of affordable art. Prints will be available online on Monday, April 9th via Spoke Art (www.spoke-art.com) and Blunt Graffix (http://bluntgraffix.com/)

Show Information:

What: Spoke Art and Blunt Graffix present: “Dead Rockstars: A Tribute to the Mortal Gods of Sound”

When: Friday, April 6th, 6pm to 10pm

Where: Telegraph: 2318 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA 94612

About Spoke Art:

Spoke Art was founded in 2010 by curator and arts writer Ken Harman. In just two short years, Spoke Art has quickly become one of San Francisco’s premier art gallery and retail boutiques, with a strong specialty in emerging and established painters, sculptors and pop artists.

For further information, please visit www.spoke-art.com

About Blunt Graffix:

Blunt Graffix was established in 2001 by artist Matt Dye. With the focus on graphic design for the music industry, B.G. Designed for such acts as The Cramps, The Melvins, Henry Rollins and Big daddy Kane to name a few…

In 2007 Matt and Molly mae joined forces and started producing original mixed media and screenprinted art works. B.G. has exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Osaka and Tokyo.

For further information, please visit http://bluntgraffix.com/.

[click images to enlarge]


Lastleaf Printing

“Robert Johnson”

Two color prints
Edition of 50

Rhys Cooper

“Fallen Spirit”

edition of 150
$50 each

Justin Hampton

“Where are you now?”

One color screen print on 100 lb stock measuring
25.25 ” x 30″
Signed and numbered
Edition of only 75 copies



 “Punk Rock Warlord”

26″ x 20″


“27 Club” Morrison

4.625″ x 5.375″ (four prints total in set)
Edition of 200

Jim Mazza


25″ x 19″
Edition of 40
Artist: Jim Mazza

Joshua Budich


3-color (including a very metallic-gold) screenprints
limited-editions of 100
(55 of each available at the show)
signed & numbered

AJ Masthay


Retro Outlaw Studios (Brent Cheshire)

“Sinking Stone”

8″ x 24


Ben Thomas

“Jimi Hendrix”

Printed on Hanenmuhle 310 gsm bright white photorag
16.5 x 23.5
Edition of 4

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - Flickr - YouTube