About three years ago, painter and sound artist Steve Roden said he began to think back on all the things that had influenced him as a kid. "People would ask me where my sense of color comes from, and so I started to look at the stuff I was immersed in in childhood," he recalls. "I was into a lot of the late '60s and early '70s Marvel and DC Comics. I didn't read them. I just looked at the pictures, and I'd try to copy them."
That search led Roden to the Internet, where he stumbled on a piece of French footage from 1972, in which legendary comics artists Neal Adams (of Superman and Batman fame), Joe Kubert (who did Sgt. Rock and Hawkman), and Moebius (born Jean Giraud), the French artist who did the preliminary designs for the movie "Alien," are sitting around having a sketch jam in some anonymous-looking conference room.
The video is 13 minutes long and is narrated in French. But no matter, for it's really about the zen act of watching three creative masters engaging in the simple act of making monsters and cowboys.
"It's three artists working together on the same piece of paper, which is rare," says Roden. "Plus, there's the synthesizer music, which is pretty fantastic."
The instrumentation, interestingly, ties into something that Roden is also exploring in his work: This Saturday, the artist is holding a performance in an underground racquetball court in Santa Ana, where he will create a sound piece using an old modular synthesizer.
"It's an instrument that is very new to me," he says. "It's very stubborn, and we're totally not friends and this is going to be my first real solo performance using it."
No matter. If it sounds even remotely as twangy as the soundtrack for this video, I can totally get behind it.
"Santa Ana Sites #5: Steve Roden — A Sound Performance," takes place Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the racquetball court at 205 N. Sycamore St., Santa Ana, grandcentralartcenter.com. RSVP required.