Friday, September 13, 2013

"Around Town" a Blast from the Past!

While straightening up, I stumbled over a stack of clippings from my 7(?) year run doing doodles for Rick Kogan's "Around Town" Chicago Tribune column that ran every Sunday in the Arts section.
It was alot of fun to do and Rick was kind eno
ugh to be happy with anything I came up with.
What follows are a smattering from the 100's and hundreds to choose from!
I saw Russ Meyer at the old McClurg Court theatre in downtown Chicago when he had a 3+ hour show where he pretty much screened his favorite 20 minute segment from each of his films and then did a Q&A with Roger Ebert. He was working on his "Breast of…" autobiography at the time and I asked him if he needed a cover painting. He said no thanks.
It never hurts to try!

I was paid $50 a piece to start, but by year 7 my services had become so invaluable to the Trib, that my salary had rocketed to $50 an illo.

Here's one in tribute to Amy Payne and the opening of her new store!

Here's one about Chicago's "The Alley," your place for all "shocking" fashions.
Funny story- around this time, the owner of The Alley asked me to design a bunch of t-shirts that he would sell at his shops. No money up front, but I'd get a percentage. When I saw them printed, my eyes bugged out, they were the most blurry off register blobby mess ever. Instead of just telling him this, and seeing if the problem could be corrected, I decided to sue for $500 a design. I do not know why I made this assbackwads decision, but I remember that when practicing my speech to the judge, it seemed to make sense. When I actually delivered that speech, the judge responded, "I'm guessing you make a better artist than a lawyer."
So, a 20+ year late apology goes out to the Alley, from a wiser Mitch O'Connell!

It turns out there are other artists in Chicago, and they seem to have figured out how to be immensely popular, exhibited in museums and sell their art for a Biz-zillion dollars each. I keep asking Mr. Tony Fitzpatrick how this is done, but he refuses to tell me!
Actually he was nice enough to trade me a fancy framed color etching for this doodle, which I still have hanging in the living room.

The Good 'Ol Days, when movies only cost 25 cents to watch!To see my photo reference (and the following 5 blogs after this one)-
What Rick is thinking of.

Personally, Rick had an Astaire fashion timelessness, and as you can see, so did I. My long flowing mullet, Joan Crawford fullback padded shoulders set off with a bolo tie, are as understatedly tasteful now as they were back then!

I vaguely remember standing at the Tribune offices dropping off a job just as AD Tom Heinz got off the phone with an artist that had turned down doing the illustrations for this new column. Since I was there, Tom said he was looking for a "New Yorker kinda loose sketchy feel" for these illustrations. Could I handle that? I responded "Of Course!" I then went on to draw 'em in the same stiff and straight way I always drew.
Oh Mitch, you lovable scamp!

Any day you get to draw Tammy Fay Bakker is a good day.

This was an article about gallery openings, and even though Rick didn't mention a group show I was in, I snuck in myself (in suit) and other artists in the show including Heather MacAdams, George Hansen (pictured) and Shane Swank and Tony Fitzpatrick were in it too (not pictured).
Of course I made sure that Gig's "Potato Chip" aka "Lil Puddles" big eyed dog has an appearance in at least 1 out of 3 of my illustrations.

The wordsmith himself.
On the wall behind Rick is a Post-It with "Call Mitch" scrawled. The art was due at 5pm Thursday, so at around 2pm those days, repeated calls were put in for just a hint of what it was I was supposed to draw. Pretty please?!
Now Rick is even more of a Chicago institution with dozens of radio shows, television appearances, live events and who knows what else.
Would it kill him to mention my book at some point?

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