At the Outsider Art Fair / Booth A4 / January 27 - 29, 2012
7 West 34th St @ 5th Avenue NYC, NY 10001
Show hours: Preview: Thursday January 26, 6:30 - 9 PM
Friday 11 am - 8 pm, Saturday 11 am - 7 pm, Sunday 11 am - 6 pm
Notes on Lee Groban from Aron Packer
There's so much to say about Lee but I will try to keep it short. I knew Lee for 37 years. I met him on the beach in Rogers Park, reading a poem about soup skin... and making various sound effects to go with said poem. We struck up a conversation, and he always blew my mind with his reading, and then really blew my mind when he showed me his visual art. I have a great interest in folk and outsider art, and Lee would be more of a self-taught type of outsider artist, as he didn't really live in a vacuum. He was aware of everything and saw everything and made a note of it. And he kept all his notes! But let's talk about Lee's art. He was influenced by his time... the sixties and seventies, and all of the underground comic art and poster art that came with the territory. Besides observing it... He started to make it. He knew Skip Williamson, and probably knew a few other underground comic luminaries.... And as he was of this time... Went off and did his own thing. His work had many elements. There is always word play, and making straight and distorted jokes and puns right on the page... To the spreading and splaying out of words... To the point that they would be illegible! And then there are the map pieces. Using the ancient cultures that Lee was always inserting into the Cure for Insomnia (Lee's 5000 page epic poem), Lee would also reference maps of some of these long forgotten villages.... And use them for the basis of an art piece. Using the streets as a visual maze for the ground of the image, he then would improvise with all possible embellishments. From a press release I wrote in 94', I said his work was, "psychedelic, organic, and illustrative and resounding with hidden....
messages, demonstrating Groban's complicated organized mind. Exploring ideas like freedom, education, and employment, along with non-sequitur commentary, Groban proposes stream of consciousness observations in our theater of life." I still believe that to this day. As Lee always said to me at the end of any updating conversation we had..... That's all for now.
Notes on Lee Groban from Lee's sister, Deborah Groban Olson
Lee embraced the world's people in a unique fashion. He tried to individually recognize as many of them as possible. His interests were vast and his knowledge deep. He spent his entire life researching genealogies of tribes and communities throughout the globe. This required him to continually teach himself new languages. He was fluent in English, Russian, Spanish and French. He had a working knowledge Arabic, Chinese, Basque, Hebrew, Portuguese, most Romance and Slavic languages. These enabled his successful research on the customs, clothes, food, alphabets, currency, languages, art, music and tribal structures of the diverse peoples of the world. For example, he did research in all the languages of Azerbejan and many languages of indigenous peoples in the Americas and Asia. Lee sought to share his these unique interests through his poetry, performances, prose and visual art.
Lee also had an ironic, witty, cartoonish sense of humor, that came out in every line. His 5,000 page epic poem "The Cure for Insomnia" can be best understood as a series of 1 or 2 page stories. The top of each page is an ironic, bizarre discussion of a mundane and universal experience, like soup skin or looking for a job, followed by his homage to individuals from a unique community to whom he would introduce you "by the beard of ..........., it's a drag."
His universalist interests are much reflected in his art. He spoke of the "avante garde architecture" of his paintings. The architecture was generally a distortion of a word or phrase from some language. It was usually the theme of the piece. Buried in the piece are other words or phrases reflecting on the same topic, shown with Lee's bizarre humorous commentary.
Art influences I have heard acknowledged by Lee - Mad Magazine, R. Crumb, Escher, Edward Hopper, Charlie Chaplin, and Frank Zappa.