“The Hermit’s Sceptre” is based on a scene from the 1976 Led Zeppelin concert film, “The Song Remains the Same”. Back in 1981, when I was eleven years old, I begged my mom and dad to take me to see the midnight (and only) showing of “The Song Remains the Same”. I had been a Zep head for a couple of years and had the soundtrack in steady rotation, along with every other Led Zeppelin album… At one point in my life, I could recite every single Zep track in order from their 1st all the way to “In Through the Out Door” without missing a beat. Anyways, I had some Led Zeppelin issues, and there were no VCRs yet, so the only way I’d see it was having my folks take me.

     One of the reasons I wanted to see it so bad is I knew there were segments in the film that showed the fellas in “fantasy” scenes…for example, John Bonham’s drum solo in “Moby Dick” featured a montage of the man working on his farm, playing with his kids, riding his race cars etc… this turned out to be the most authentic “fantasy” of the film, mainly because Bonzo kept it real. The other guys- they went for it and did some crazy shit  -like Robert Plant stabbing medieval prison guards to save a beautiful blonde maiden,and  John Paul Jones riding a horse through the cemetery wearing a  phantom mask. Even manager of the band, Peter grant, got in on the fun with a sequence of him portrayed as an Al Capone type, spraying a machine gun into a group of poker playing gangster werewolves. A head get’s shot off at the neck in one shot, where at least 6 different colored streams of blood shoots up in the air like Buckingham Fountain.

   But the most famous of the vignettes is Jimmy Page’s, who cemented his love of Satan and drugs and… being alone. A weird kind of lonely, wrapped up in mysticism and vocation. Jimmy’s scene accompanies a long, drawn out violin bow guitar solo in the middle of “Dazed and Confused”. We see him on stage, where he strikes the strings and points up in one motion, setting off a different colored stage light. Then the film cuts away, to a dark mist covered mountain.

     As a kid who hadn’t seen the film, what came next was supposedly of such epic, legendary proportions, that if you never saw it, there’s no way you could really be a true Zeppelin fan. You see, in this scene, Jimmy climbs the mountain, laboring. As he looks up, he can see a faint looking figure, who appears to be wearing a monk’s robe with a hood on. As Jimmy get’s closer, we see who it is. The Hermit of the Mountain. He holds a lantern in one hand and a sceptre in the other. We get a close-up of the Hermit’s face, and he looks pretty ancient…until, out of nowhere, the special effects kick it into high gear and the face starts getting younger, ten years a second, and lo and behold, it’s Jimmy Page. The interesting aspect of this scene is that the face somehow turns into a fetus, that’s how young they go. Then it’s just lightning, and the process goes into reverse as Jimmy get’s old again… Meanwhile the guitar’s bow sound begins getting drowned out by Bonzo’s great crashing cymbals, signaling the dramatic end of the violin bow solo, and BAM. The Hermit raises his sceptre above his head and waves it left and right, leaving a visual recording of a technicolor acid track in it’s wake, beautiful flourescent blues, pinks, yellows… worth the price of admission all by itself.

     My parents took me to that midnight show. They tolerated the incredibly loud volume (they were classical fans), they tolerated the crazy teens smoking weed in every possible seat in that theater, and they told me they enjoyed it when it was over. Only criticism? They just couldn’t understand why it had to be that loud.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sarm8rzdY3Y 

     I’m pleased to announce my participation in a fantastic group show with Bridgitte Buckley, Merkled Studios and Manifold for the summer of 2012. My new installation, “The Hermit’s Sceptre” will be on view, along with some new paintings until October 4th at Manifold, 4426 N. Ravenswood. To learn about the amazing work Manifold does and get info for a viewing, check out : http://www.manifoldchicago.com/manifold/on-exhibit/ 

     I’m pleased to announce my participation in a fantastic group show with Bridgitte Buckley, Merkled Studios and Manifold for the summer of 2012. My new installation, “The Hermit’s Sceptre” will be on view, along with some new paintings until October 4th at Manifold, 4426 N. Ravenswood. To learn about the amazing work Manifold does and get info for a viewing, check out : http://www.manifoldchicago.com/manifold/on-exhibit/ 

Interview with Jesse De La Pena on Vocalo 89.3

Really love this interview with one of my nearest and dearest friends. Jesse and I met each other when we both just turned 16 during a bus transfer, I had just jumped on a bus he completely destroyed with Griffin…that vinagery smell of show dye blasted you in the face when the doors slung open, and Jesse was jumping out the back…jogging… Yo, what’s up Ease? “Whattup Cas, check out the back ceiling!” EASE EASE EASE… 15-20 times, everywhere, backs of seats, windows, the guardrail at the middle of the bus, completely EASED. That was 1986. Anyways… this is fun to listen to. Hope you enjoy it too. Here’s to 2012.

http://www.mixcloud.com/JDLP/chicago-artist-james-jankowiak-casper-interview-on-vocalo-895fm-w-jdlp

“Sweet Leaf” is my tribute to 1970s heavy metal music and psychedelic culture. The work is also meant to physically challenge the eye’s ability to perceive the reality presented to the viewer. I use my materials as a substitute for paint… most viewers need a few seconds to process that it’s hundreds of strips of tape, as opposed to wallpaper, for example. I decided to leave the top of the piece raw to reveal that reality. Working in a space divided into thirds made a music based work feel natural, as the wall count synchronizes with Tony Iommi’s classic guitar riff.”


Thank you.

I’m winding down… it’s been a stressful, yet productive week of installing at Johalla Projects. Show’s 21 hours away and everything is done… Thanks to Chiara No, Emily Barnes, Conner (?) and the Clemons brothers, Justin and Anthony… I managed to create an 18’ x 14’ x 18’ x 9’ installation entirely made of colored tape, one inch at a time. It took four full days of work, and each one of you propelled me forward not only with the insane amount of labor but the fearless, confident attitude I love to deal with when thrown into such a potentially chaotic situation. You all not only carried me physically, but emotionally and intellectually.

I have to express an extra dash of gratitude to the Clemons brothers though. It was really special for me to have former After School Matters students be my assistants… I’ve known you guys for 5 years and taught you freshman to senior year in HS and will always cherish the memories of your incredibly sophisticated drawing and painting skills. But the greatest thing for a teacher to see is you incredible guys stayed on the path, and am honored that I had a part in that. You both have what it takes to succeed at anything you pursue… Thanks fellas. It was a pleasure working with you, you kicked some serious ass. 

Untitled   Acrylic on paper   9” x 8”   2012

Untitled   Acrylic on paper   9” x 8”   2012