Look Up Gospel Choir

This is the blog for LOOKUPGOSPELCHOIR.COM, which is the official art website of Ryan Callis.

Saturday, April 18, 2015



This piece that I titled "Ah Um" based on the classic Mingus record was made by essentially writing the words AH and UM on the canvas and then building an image out of that framework using colors and shapes and colors and shapes.  But in researching a bit I ran across Lake Michigan having never heard of it existing.  A metaphor for my find of design giant S. Neil Fujita, who somehow had gone over my radar for all these years.  His work I know, and I own some of it, and invented things I've taken for granted for years, like the Columbia Records logo and pressing sticker designs on many of my records.  The freaking Godfather cover and puppeteer hand logo.  Daaamn.  And that Mingus was no slouch himself.  

But back to the painting.  It's not my favorite, but it led to some cool discoveries as my art making usually does.








The Fist Fight, oil and acrylic on canvas, 24” x 36”, 2012/2015

Fist fights are super interesting to me in that when applied well, a punch can possess phenomenal energy, or can look super silly when done by inexperienced people in rapid motion.  I once saw two cholo's in high school, whoop a rival gang members ass in such graceful and quick flow, that it looked like dancing.  I also like the old Jack Dempsy type of 30's, bad motion picture camera work type of fast boxing footage.  I tried to capture that motion.  

The second aspect of the piece that I like, or find humor or interest in, is that the figures, which seem and look male, look like they could be kissing.  I have oft found it humorous how super homo erotic, two tough guys, face to face, and then eventually "getting physical" do the same dance and ritual as mating animals.  That MMA, Pro Wrestling, and just plain fighting, are the pastimes of so many macho, hetero, tough guys, is very ironic to me.  I think it's all...well....kind of gay (not that there's anything wrong with that!!!).  

But aesthetically I like the idea of old Tom Waits song type, smokey, boozy, boxing halls.  That's where this painting is birthed, and then phychedilicized.  That would have been cool to watch I suppose.  Or goofy 60's pro wrestling, or remember the GLOW girls when we were kids???  But I digress....



Living out in the desert his year has yielded some really nice visual experiences.  This piece (above) was inspired by looking out off of the vista view point on Hwy. 74 half way up the mountain from Palm Desert.  Over our year out here I now feel as though I get it, I get the whole draw of the desert landscape and the super trippy atmosphere and vibrations of being one of very few living things in a moon landscape.  Huge skies...

Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle, and of course , the O'Keefer among many have sung the desert draw...


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Geoff McFetridge made this for a Patagonia store the year.  Fully functional surf mobile.  So rad....


Monday, March 17, 2014

Another paper work from my series on the Dan Carlin podcast I listened to about WWI...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'll start posting these pieces.  They were made while listening to a really intense podcast on WWI and the ramifications of an old world European mindset facing the modern insanity of the German army.  In short, these Russian or French soldiers would run onto the battle field, en masse, wearing old fashioned decorative uniforms, and marching in order, and would get mowed down by German field guns.  These old world armies were fighting in a style that Napolean would have used 100 years before.  More French soldiers died in the first two days of war, then Americans died in the entirety of the Vietnam war.  Whaaaaa?????  Dan Carlin's Hardcore History….

This piece is 10" x 14", oil and acrylic on Arches watercolor paper.  I dig how the soldier, with calm French cool, is looking at his new ventilated skull….

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I was thinking about Plato's cave after this all began to come together.  I was/am also looking at a lot of Van Gogh right now, and I think he looks a lot like me.  So one of these figures is me, the other might be Vincy.  The image outside of the cave is that enlightening answer to it all:  It's OK!!!  Jesus has our back suckas….

9" x 12", oil, acrylic, and collage on canvas board, 2014

surfing in baja