Top 10 artists
Slow road to Arts DEVO I grew up in Redding, in an environment fairly devoid of artistic and cultural influence. Poor white trash would be an unkind, but not entirely inaccurate, way to frame the circumstances of my youth, but thanks to the influence of music, specifically the Columbia House Record Club (“13 records or tapes for $1”), MTV and my Uncle Craig’s vinyl collection, the sights and sounds of the bigger world leaked into my sheltered sphere.
KISS jumpstarted me at an early age, putting the idea into my head of humans having the ability to bring whatever new, loud, colorful worlds that they could dream up into being, which led me to other theatrical musical performers in the years that followed—Queen, Adam Ant, Prince, a bunch of hair-metal bands. Then, in the middle of high school, I caught a whiff of the warm, dark atmosphere bubbling up from the American South thanks to an up-and-coming jangly, mumbling and mysterious “college-rock” band called R.E.M., and into the underground I went, seeking various music and film alternatives (and trying my hand at creating my own) before college and its art and lit classes clued me into the rest of the continuum.
Looking back, there were a lot of brushes with art that began to stoke the flame that craved something “other”—other people, places, ideas and cultures. A dubbed cassette of the Beat Street soundtrack and demos of some of the related dance moves from a kid on my paper route; the unavoidable and unmistakable magic of Michael Jackson and Thriller; and the very fortuitous high-school reading-list choice of W. Somerset Maugham’s wanderlust-inducing The Razor’s Edge.
All that is to say, for the sake of something different at this list-making time of year, I’ve decided to make a (ridiculously restrictive) list—that doesn’t include such elemental building blocks of mine as Shakespeare, Hemingway, Gordon Gano, Toni Morrison, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Calvin Johnson, Hieronymus Bosch, Elvis Costello, the Beats or the spirits of Harry Smith’s “old weird America”—of the 10 artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers to whom I was eventually led and who ended up making the biggest impression on me and how I interact with the world and you readers. (Send me yours!)
Arts DEVO’s top 10 artists of all time:
1. David Lynch
2. Walt Whitman
3. Sonic Youth and The Velvet Underground
4. Pablo Picasso
5. Rainier Maria Rilke
6. Jonathan Richman
7. Leonard Cohen
8. Bob Dylan
9. Stanley Kubrick
10. Facteur Ferdinand Cheval (French mailman and builder of the visionary environment Palais Idéal)
As the world fest twirls Big news from the Nor Cal festival circuit: Cal WorldFest, the family-friendly world-music festival founded by longtime Chico music promoter Dan DeWayne and his wife, Christine Meyers, has been sold to Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts. After 18 years of producing the popular summer festival at the Nevada City Fairgrounds, DeWayne and Meyers’ Maple Creek Presents will hand the reins to the local cultural center, which will take over starting with next summer’s fest, happening July 16-19.
Correction In last week’s column, I incorrectly said that Muir Hughes was resigning from the Chico Arts Commission. In fact, Hughes is not resigning; she has instead reached the end of her four-year term. The error has been corrected online.