Thursday, September 18, 2014


Spring  Is In The  Air :  Copyright  Bucklee Bell .

What   beautiful   beings  human animals  really are . Carrying  that  organic  computer around in the top of our heads. My philosophy of art is “Everything goes”. You can use whatever materials  and  tools you have to "mine your mind" and see what comes out of that brain upstairs. "No Rules" ;  everything  depends  on the eye of  the  beholder . What is  art?  You can design skyscrapers  that reach into the sky, you can paint  cats for the  rest of  your life  or  you can weld  huge metal and  plastic  monstrosities  that  fight  each other , or possibly use a microscope to tattoo " Love is all  you need " on a fly’s ass . Art  is  whatever  you  think  it  is.

Thus  read  the artist’s statement    in  the  2012  catalogue   for  an  exhibition of his   paintings  entitled  OFF THE WALL , staged by  the  Faculty of Fine  Arts   at   Chiangmai  University, Thailand  . He went on to say his first awareness of personally meaningful art was discovered in  the works  of surrealists , in particular  Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, May Ray and Yves Tanguy ; throw  Picasso into  the mix.
By Peter Simon
 In 1967-1970 ,   Bucklee was  a stand out   player  in the Underground Comix movement  in  San  Francisco and  Berkeley, California  ,  under the  name  Buckwheat Florida, Jnr. An example of his black and white  pen and ink art of  that  period  follows.

 In  1969, his work  featured  in  the  joint   Undergound  Comix  Show  at the Sy  Lowinsky Gallery ,Berkeley.  One  of  those  who rose to  fame  and  notoriety  from  that  period , Robert Crumb , recalled  that  Buckley  Bell’s  drawings  inspired  and  blew  his  mind .  Of  Crumb,  described  as    a counterculture cartoonist who dropped  LSD and  for  four decades, it has been said,  his  style  and  satirical tone   shocked,  entertained ,  titillated  and  challenged , this   was  seen  as   high  praise.
A  recent article  by  Steve Burgess  in  Salon  asked if  Crumb , who invented the  sexy comic  character Fritz  the Cat  , was  the Bruegel of  the  times  or  suffering  from  juvenile vision.
Bucklee and Crumb did not meet in person . Bucklee was told that Crumb  had  said  he wanted to meet him . However,  because  each one  was  distracted  at a  special Comix  event , they  failed to do so .  As   Bucklee put it , this was because ,  Crumb , raunchy singer-songwriter  Janis Joplin  and   others were "schmoozing"  and he (Bucklee)  was high on  wrong drugs , paranoid,  and  left.

Joplin's  psychedelic Porsche  convertible  the  morning she  was  found dead due to a drug overdose. Known as  the Queen  of Psychedelic , she  was  27.  Crumb  had  designed   the  cover  of  one  of  her  albums .

  In following years  Crumb had a comic called Facts O'  Life  Funnies  -hippie sex education, women's rights  - in  which  Buckwheat Florida and girlfriend , Strawberry Fields,  who  got  preggers , figured. Because of  this, Bucklee was not  sure if  Crumb regarded him as  a hick .  Later on , through  a French bookdealer , he  corresponded  with Crumb who  critiqued  his  art , which was appreciated . In  what  could  be  regarded as "revenge" for Crumb having sent him up in 1970,  Bucklee  provided  the  following  painting . 
Copyright Bucklee Bell
Entitled   ATTACK ON R. CRUMB'S  PICNIC  , it shows Crumb and comic artist Aline Kominsky , Crumb's wife  , she armed with  a  swat,  telling Robert   Fritz  the  randy cat seems to   have outlived his time as  a throw rug ; there are more insects  invading  the outing  than  in a Hitchcock horror movie;  ants  are  stealing hotdogs;  tits  are  mentioned in an article; is  that a  crank handle in  the  snake's mouth ? The reclining man  with the long  flowing beard  is  a Crumb character , Mr Natural ; other Crumb  creations  are in  the  fabulous  mix. Bucklee was inspired by a joint cartoon Aline  and  Robert  drew  for   New Yorker .
Little Darwin contacted  Bucklee , 69, in  Chiangmai where he and his  wife run Kesorn Arts which sells ethnic arts and antiques...textiles, silver jewellery  and  trappings of various tribes . His  artwork is  shown  in  various  galleries .

 Bucklee  was  born  in   North   Florida, the   Deep South,  the  day  before  the  Germans  surrendered - Adolf  and  Eva safely ensconced in  their U-boat on  the  way south , as he put it .  
About  eight , he   realised whites  did not treat  black  people nicely , which affected him as  the years went  by. In 1963 , a Baptist Christian boy, he went to Florida State University in Tallahassee , possibly  thinking  of  being  a missionary  to  Africa.  But alas , after long all night " meaning of life in  the cosmos " ramblings  with  some interesting students , he dropped  "  fantasy  based religion  by the wayside".  After  that , he got into student government  and state  politics  by  1965, reading  Ginsberg , Keroauc  and  writing  poetry. 

Then   he "got lucky" and  with  a  roommate , who was  returning home,  went  to  San Francisco  where  he  watched the  beatnik  to hippie era unfold  before his eyes. " I  was  in over my head . I loved  to doodle  and when I  was  zonked   Don Schenker, publisher of Yellow Dog Underground  Comix, saw my books and printed my art in several issues." 

In 1969  Bucklee  published  his own comic , Suds , under the  catchy monicker Buckwheat Florida, Jnr. Suds it  was  that so  impressed Crumb .   In the l970s  Bucklee  moved  to the mountains of North California to get away  from big city life. During that time he got into the  habit of using uppers  to do art work and  as a result both his art and  body suffered . In 1977, his daughter  was  born and he swore off “bad drugs” because  he  wanted to see  her grow  up.  For  years  he  had  lost  the  desire to  do  art .
He can be contacted at

 NEXT: A visit to Thailand  sets  him on a  new  course in  life as  a  renowned  bead  expert  and author on the subject  with  a  renewed  interest  in  painting, often expressing  strong views  about  politics , war  and  the  environment .