Gary Lucas   Don Van Vliet Artwork  
  "Abstract Composition"

Signed Van Vliet 79

ink, watercolour, graphite, and colored pencil on paper

This beauty was given to me as a gift by Don Van Vliet in 1979 in the pre-production sessions that would produce the album "Doc at the Radar Station" (1980, Virgin Records). In that period I had become very friendly with Kurt Loder, who at that time was a senior editor at Rolling Stone Magazine, who had famously put Don on their cover in 1970. Kurt was a huge Beefheart fanatic, and had previously hung out and interviewed Don who spoke very highly of him to me. I rang Kurt at the magazine and excitedly discussed our forthcoming album, which was a new deal for Don after extricating himself from a lawsuit over his last album "Shiny Beast", which had been controversially released on two different labels (Virgin and Warner Bothers). This would be his first for Virgin Records solely, and was ear-marked to come out on Virgin/Atlantic in the States. I told Kurt that Don had just sent me a beautiful new abstract drawing as a gift, and Kurt said "Bring it on over here to Rolling Stone, and maybe we can re-produce it in our Random Notes section to help draw attention to Don's new album in progress." I followed up with him and that is how this drawing first appeared in Rolling Stone. It is one of the liveliest and most colorful Van Vliet drawings Iíve ever seen, and it contains many signature hidden faces in profile in the midst of the seemingly chaotic energy; it is teeming with life, insectival and otherwise. A good visual representation of some of Don's more radical compositions such as "Steal Softly Through Sunshine, Steal Softly Through Snow" from "Trout Mask Replica".