Victor Gastelum, known for the artwork he did for numerous punk rock flyers, cover art for SST records and a slew of Calexico releases as well as collaborative work with Josh Bayer and Raymond Pettibon among others branches out with his first collection of abstract images in this book with longtime friend Robert Vodicka, the former label manager at New Alliance Records. Vodicka’s behind the scenes work in a number of music scenes in Southern California is a hidden history whose iceberg tip surfaces in the text of the book. Gastelum and Vodicka used chance procedures to match the specific images to the text. The book also features an interview with Gastelum and Vodicka, conducted by Dennis Callaci of Bamboo Dart Press and Shrimper Records. The book is available direct from us here or everywhere else. Below is an excerpt from the interview from the book.
The subtext of how and why these pieces were created adds an emotional punch. Victor, this is a new form for you. I recall you mentioning when your father was hospitalized that you bought some pens and a notebook to have something to do as you bedsat. That you couldn’t focus on reading or anything else.
Victor Gastelum: Yeah, I had a notebook at hand on a visit and I started drawing small circles, as small as I could, until I filled up the page. At first I tried to draw things, like Nick Blinko does; crucifixes and things in the little circles, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even imagine how he [Blinko] does what he does, so then I just started drawing abstractly. I liked it. I got into it. I filled up a couple of sketchbooks and I liked that I could do it anywhere. I looked forward to waiting in line at the pharmacy. I was like, “Oh, fifteen minutes; I’m going to go sit and draw for fifteen minutes.” I drew while waiting for appointments; while waiting for the doctors to come in. Any time I had to wait, it was something fun I could do. I had been doing these drawings and maybe I shared them with Robert. He 34 had sent me a list of words—something he had been doing—and said that if I found any use for them to use them. I had thought of self-publishing a book of my abstract pieces, but then I thought that these could go together. I thought we were doing something similar on our own in our free time. He had done a lot of writing for music ad copy and liner notes, as well as being a writer by profession; a real technical writer. I am a graphic artist. I do commercial art as well. This utilized both skills we have, but in an abstract way. I saw that they went together. I didn’t understand it at first, but then we came up with a format of how to put the two together.
In initial conversations, one of you mentioned that the book was going to consist of fake band names ascribed to each of Victor’s works. It could still be read as such, but it’s become something larger than that in my eyes.
Robert Vodicka: At some point I was making up band names to entertain myself. I was putting words together that I thought were interesting juxtapositions; interesting word play. I think it started with band names. I’m not sure if that started first, or if they were two parallel vectors, but it expanded into me writing things down that occurred to me. Prior to the pandemic, I was driving around Illinois for work quite a bit, so to entertain myself on long boring 35 drives, I would think of these things and when I got where I was going, I would try to write them down before I forgot them.