I'm excited to announce that I'm having a gallery show at my favorite bookstore, Alley Cat Books in San Francisco. A bunch of prints (framed and otherwise) will be on sale, and I'll bring a stack of books down as well. Several of the prints that are no longer available on the website will be available at the opening. These are the last (of those) prints, friends. Get 'em while you still can. Ferdinand (below) is one of those prints. I opened up the flat file, and there's only two left. They are at the bookstore now.
The opening is February 16 from 7-9 pm at Alley Cat Books, 3036 24th St, San Francisco. The show will run through the month of February.
As always, we're cooking up a nice little surprise for those of you who can be there.
Happy New Year. I am very glad to share this new site with you, and some very good news. Three pieces of mine were accepted into this year's Society of Illustrators 30 contest in the Poster, Kids Book, and Surface Design categories. See the accepted pieces below, and a big THANK YOU to the judges!
This piece was created for Oakland Animal Services.
This poster was created for Camper and Cracker's Winter 2016 shows.
The release party for my new kids' book ABC Oakland is on April 29 at Oaklandish, 1444 Broadway (between 14th and 15th) from 5-7 pm.
ABC Oakland is a collaborative venture between myself, Heyday, and Oaklandish. The Book is itself a celebration of Oakland, its iconic monuments, and its storied history, that is fun for younger audiences and adults alike. ABC Oakland highlights everything from famous streets and boulevard such as Broadway Avenue, to Children's Fairyland and other icons, to the Ohlone people, who have lived in what is modern-day Oakland since before Spanish colonization. Michael, Heyday and Oaklandish all wanted to make this book a fully educational body that simultaneously celebrates the Town's history and people.
In order to make this book accessible to all of the Town's children, Oaklandish and Heyday are teaming up with the Oakland Unified School District to provide a copy of 'ABC Oakland' to every kindergarten classroom in the city!
In addition to the book's release, I am teaming up with Oaklandish on a t-shirt collaboration that will be in-store the day of the event.
So please join us from 5-7pm on the 29th to celebrate ABC Oakland, listen to live music by Special Ghosts, and pick up your own copy of ABC Oakland! Here's the book trailer (thank you to Andy for his patience and iphone skillz):
Also: Meet me at Children's Fairyland on Saturday May 6 for Turn the Page, a children's book festival featuring 25 local artists and illustrators! I will be on hand to sign books all day, from 10-4.
More ABC Oakland: A is for Aviary, a home for the birds; B is for Broadway, from College to Third. C is for Cranes standing tall in the sky; D is for Dogs, wagging tails, saying “hi!” On May 26 at 7 pm, I will be hosting a fun-filled PJ Party at Diesel Book’s Oakland location! Kids are encouraged to come ready to party in their PJs and excited for cookies and milk. Look for: Milk. Cookies. Drawing. Singing!
Even more ABC Oakland: Laurel Books has generously offered to host another ABC Oakland event at their lovely shop right on Broadway and 14th Street on May 27 at 2:00 pm (which is the day after the Diesel event)! I have a feeling we'll be attempting to draw their beautiful building. Maybe I'll bring a bunch of sketchpads and we can walk around the building. There will probably be: Lots more Drawing. Even more Singing!
See you at one (or more) of these events, and thanks!
Making the posts is great fun, and I've hardly even had time to make newsletters, let alone posts. That said, we have a new Wertzeen coming out tomorrow at 8am. If you haven't subscribed (heh, like anyone actually reads this thing), you should do so. That will get you the latest bits, bites and hoo-hahs.
In the meantime, you can look at this list of links I prepared for my students at CCA; there's some goody-goodies in there.
Oh: I just added a few new prints to the shop page. That page is very well attended to. It has a staff.
Exactly one year ago we adopted this 56-pound ball of pure energy named Blue. The photo on the left was taken by Amanda Jones about a week after we had adopted her (for a cover shoot for The Bark magazine), and we were still getting to know her. We still are. She is affectionate, exuberant, lovely, goofy, and frustrating. You know: a puppy. It's lots of work (naturally).
Well, (as my dear Grandfather once said) Blue is two years old now. It's time that she get herself a job. Since she has no thumbs, she's going to have to get creative. To pay for her care and feeding (read: trail walks), I've started a redbubble shop featuring some of my designs. I've ordered a few of the products, and I'm happy to report that the quality is top-notch. Peep some samples below.
are you sitting comfortably? Good. Let me tell you a story.
Back in 2011 (my, how time flies), Jim Winters and I set out to make a follow-up book to his artists' book Queen for a Day. Jim Worked up a set of coats-of-arms, and I did portraits of my favorite queens. We hand printed the whole shebang at Inky Oxnard Studios on Rives BFK and trimmed and glued the prints into accordion-folded books. Behold.
On the left, my queens (interspersed with Jim's coats-of-arms) :
The B-52's. Siouxsie Sioux. Elizabeth Taylor from the movie Boom. Lynda Barry. Helen Lawson from the movie Valley of the Dolls. Pepper LaBeija. Rosalind Russell from Auntie Mame.
If you don't know who they are, then you haven't lived.
These are the colorful, talented, quirky, smart-as-a-whip ladies who inspire me to keep on making stuff every day.
come along on a weird trip to a planet without men!
If you know me at all, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Phillip R. Ford's epic drag queen space adventure Vegas in Space starring the ever-glamourous Doris Fish. You can imagine my thrill when I was asked by Peaches Christ herself to create a commemorative poster to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this sparkly gem of a movie. Nat Swope from Bloom Press and I decided that neon colors were a must (see below for the final print).
San Francisco is the city where New Wave will never die. Generations of inspired weirdoes flock here to hot glue things to other things at 3 am. If you listen close (even now) you can hear the neon ghosts on Market Street singing. Vegas in Space is truly a magical gem of a film, a sparkling time machine, an anarchic mishmash of glitter, glamour, and girlinium. Thanks to Peaches Christ for bringing it back to to the big screen, and for asking me to participate.
For the film’s 25th anniversary, Frameline, in association with Peaches Christ Productions and Troma Entertainment, is proud to present a fully fledged celebration of the movie that took us to the stars. Featuring an accompanying pre-show with Vegas in Space cast and crew in person, including director Phillip R. Ford, Miss X, Ramona Fischer, Lori Naslund, Timmy Spence, Kate Guthorn, Silvana Nova, and Connie Champagne! Get your tickets here.
This movie took nine years to complete. Phil Ford documented the entire production here.
I have a weird history with this film: in 2007, artist Jim Winters and myself made a set of prints of the legendary Doris Fish. The wood-frame screens (there were several!) were found in a box on the streets of San Francisco. I believe that Doris herself made the screens, and they found their way into Jim’s hands. With Philip Ford’s blessing, Jim and I created a set of prints using the screens and some spraypaint and donated a set of the prints and the screens to the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.
I'm excited to announce that I will be showing along with illustrator (and mensch) Josh Ellingson at the first-ever show at Mule Gallery in the lovely North beach district of San Francisco from January 20th through February 26. The opening is on February 5, from 6-9 pm. This event is part of North Beach's First Fridays gallery walk. Join us?
Josh Ellingson & Michael Wertz
Jan 20th-Feb 26th, 2016
Opening Feb 5th, 6-9pm
80 Fresno St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
I'll be showing a bunch of the Some Wags prints : see below. All prints are framed & ready to move. We'll also have a small collection of unframed prints for sale.
This year's Posters design for the CVB/Cracker shows are done, ladies and gentlepeople, and I'm very excited about them. Here it is. It's a portrait of our favorite unwilling participant, Patty Hearst, aka Tania.
Here's my contributions to this year's Post-It Show at Giant Robot in Los Angeles. Thanks to Isabel Samaras for the hook-up and Mark Todd for inviting me! the show opens December 5. All post-its sell for $25!
I'm very excited. SomeWags has been printed, prepped, and hung on the walls of the oh-so-pink-and-pretty Glama-Rama Salon and Gallery in Oakland. The opening is this Saturday night, October 17, from 6-9 pm. The address is 6399 Telegraph Avenue near the corner of Alcatraz. It should be a hoot. I think there will be a short set of music by our band Special Ghosts (featuring AJ Pinecone and Isabel Samaras), as well as some uke and singing by my nephew Kellen Wertz. Punch and Pie! This is a show of new two-color screenprints created with paper stencils under a big tent on my back deck. PRINTING IN HEAT AND WIND CHALLENGE: ACCEPTED. To see some snaps of the work in progress, head over to m'Instergrahams to see #somewags in action.
this month I interviewed one of my very favorite musicians, Karry Walker from Ultralash. Based out of Oakland, California, Ultralash is a folk electronica project made up by Karry Walker with a revolving cast of characters both real and imagined. Karry has several musical projects (we'll learn more about those in a bit), but Ultralash is her solo project. Her new album, A River Listless, is wildly compelling, atmospheric, spooky. I wanted to know more (and so will you), and so I asked.
Here you go.
Q: Can you describe Ultralash for a new listener? Who is Ultralash?
A: Ultralash is a character based on this young girl I used to see riding around in my neighborhood on a low rider BMX bike with a banana seat. She had freckles and flaming red hair, and she always had this huge backpack on. She would ride down the street on her way to wherever, and one day when I was sitting out on the front porch having a smoke it occurred to me that she was perfectly Ultralash. It was one of those moments when I didn't try to question what came out of me. I just went with it.
About 5 years later I walked into a bank and there she was, working as a bank teller. All the spark in her had been tucked away or discarded, as she greeted the customers in her black bank suit and bright, contrived smile. It was a sad day for me, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. It happens every day, to all girls who grow to be young women, unless you are extraordinarily vigilant about protecting that light within you from the pressures of conformity.
Q: How did you begin A River Listless? Did you set out to make a concept record, and/or did the concept arrive as you wrote?
A: Well, one day I was looking at my iTunes music collection. It contained a huge lot of recordings I had made over a period of about 10 years and I thought "geez what is all this stuff?" Most of it didn't even have names, just numbers and dates. So I began listening to the recordings, and then I thought "hey, some of this stuff is pretty good. I should catalog it." So I created two folders named "Light" and "Dark" and I just started shoving stuff into each of the folders based on my first impression.
When I was done doing that, sez me to myself "Let's make a record." So I flipped a coin - Heads for Light, Tails for Dark. Tails. So then I started listening in earnest, stitching together the tracks that told a story. I never really know where it's going. The story reveals itself as I work on it, and it's based purely on what makes me happy as I listen - what makes the little hairs rise up on the back of my neck.
Later, just like when you try to tell someone about a dream you had, the plot presents itself. I always have mixed feelings about this part, because it can become confined by it prematurely. I have my ideas about what that plot is, and there are certain elements built into the finished album that are my own meaningful bits, but those are personal.
The final decision to dispense with track numbers came after Myles Boisen and I mixed the record. Determining where one song ended and another began was proving difficult. Around that time I was with a friend and we were talking about how visual artists - painters, sculptors, film-makers get to have installations - a one time showing of their work. It was then that I came up with the idea of doing it as a sound installation - one complete composition, listened to one time. Several songs are available for download online for anyone who would like to listen in a shuffle.
Q: What was the timeline for this record? Did it all happen at once, or was it gradual? Both?
A: Fits and starts. The labeling project began in 2011. I stitched together a rough mix of about half of it in the next couple of months. Then I abandoned the project for a while because I was involved in other music projects like She Mob, an all girl garage rock band fronted by Joy Sue Hutchinson. I played bass, which I'd never done before! That resulted in recording She Mob's album Right In The Head.
I was also writing songs with Myles Boisen for a ukelele/slide guitar duet we call The Hollywood Laundrette. That also resulted in an album with brilliantly illustrated cover art by Michael Wertz!
But I didn't pick up the Ultralash project again in earnest until a year ago, April. I was reeling emotionally from some personal changes, so I threw myself back into the project to distract me from my own misery. And it did, because hey. There's working on yer shit, and then there's working on yer shit. And the latter has always, without exception, been more productive. At least for me.
Q: What's your writing process like? Acoustic guitar and recorder? Piano? Notebook? What's your best time of day to make music?
A: I daydream a lot. Occasionally there's something in that stream of consciousness that's worth writing down. And if I'm lucky and paying attention, I will. Some of my most favorite lyrics were written in less than a minute, and most of my favorites were written in ten. It's just a matter of paying attention at the right time. Often it happens when I'm outside on the front porch having a smoke. But my favorite time to record acoustic songs is first thing in the morning, sitting up against the wall, dog at the foot of the bed. That's how I recorded two songs on A River Listless. I used Garage Band to record "Skin." I used my iPhone voice memo app to record "Do You Ever Think About Me."
Q: Upcoming shows or events? What should we know?
A: I'm throwing around ideas and footage for a music video for Terminal Velocity, one of the songs on A River Listless.
I'm also currently working on a contemporary remix of Kitka. Kitka is an internationally renowned women's choir who perform traditional Eastern European women's music. The Ultralash remix should be released sometime in the latter part of this year.
So there she is, folks. I'd like to thank Karry for the interview, and for all her beautiful music.