The FunkZone Podcast with Ted Mills







October 2014
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Howdy everyfunkabody!

Today we sit down with a fixture of Santa Barbara's art scene, whether you've seen his brutal but cartoony canvases, gone to his annual Reindeer Art Show, know him for his early '80s band The Tan, or just met him around town.


As of September 2014, he became the head of the Santa Barbara Arts Fund, which helps place teens with mentors from printmaking to sculptors. Brad is a guy who thinks out of the box naturally, being raised by two artists, abstract expressionist Ken Nack and "naive" artist Joan Main. You'll see how he turns the entire interview into a statement of his art in the's clever!


Topics include:
His journey to the Arts Fund and the rewards of curating
The Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation
The Arts Fund's mission and an example from one of its interns
Growing up with artistic parents and Chicago vs New York in the 1940s/1950s art scene
A traumatic story of childhood spaghetti
The beginnings of The Tan and the Santa Barbara music scene, circa early '80s
Recording with Robbie Krieger of the Doors
How being in a band is like having war buddies
How painting is like telling a story
How an office job might be the best thing
The dramatic end of the banana tarantula story


Brad Nack has a website here
For more info on the Santa Barbara Arts Fund check here
And because nothing dies on the Internet, The Tan has a webpage with audio! Relive the hair days/dyes!


Object of Knowledge, a work by Ken Nack, Brad's father

Direct download: Episode_011_Brad_Nack.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 6:23pm PDT

Hello Folks and Funky Peeps!

On today's podcast I sit down with philosopher Tam Hunt to talk about Panpsychism, a school of thought that tries to collect science and spirituality together and find a common ground. When Tam's book "Eco, Ero, Eros" came past my desk I was intrigued for two reasons: he was taking the macro/micro ideas found in Buddhism and linking it to science in fascinating ways, and he had a few things to say about creativity...on a molecular level. I gave him a call and despite neither of us knowing each other, we set up an interview quickly. I hope you enjoy our chat and check out his book.

Topics discussed in this podcast:
The mind-body “problem” and panpsychism
Does everything “think” or have subjectivity? Where does “mind” emerge?
Alfred North Whitehead and the birth of panpsychism
How Tam went from being a Materialist to his current philosophy
How philosophy still affects us every day…even if you are a physicist
How science, spirituality and philosophy can all work together
Modern science’s current ideas about our place in the universe
Tam’s biography, Cornwall, UK, and time in the army and San Diego
What is post-modern environmentalism
“How New-Agey am I?”
The next book: How to craft a rational spirituality?
How religion evolves…but does not accept that it does
Tam’s spiritual journey out of atheism
His experiences with acid and marijuana
Burning Man and crowd-based consciousness experiment
The Institute of Noetic Sciences
Einstein’s assumption about the speed of light and the “block universe idea”
Free will…do we have it?
The philosophical concept of creativity, or the EROS

I also asked Tam to recommend his top ten favorite books:
1) Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are
2) Douglas R. Hofstadter and Dan Dennett, The Mind's I
3) Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach
4) David Ray Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot
5) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Human Phenomenon
6) Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World
7) Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality
8) David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind
9) Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul
10) Tam Hunt, Eco, Ego, Eros
(I see what you did there, Tam!)

EEE one page cover Kirkus

Mr. Hunt lives in Santa Barbara and runs Community Renewable Solutions LLC. Let me just cut and paste from his site: "Hunt is an attorney with substantial experience in California regulatory law and policy, specializing in renewable energy and energy efficiency policy. His regulatory work takes him to the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, the California Air Resources Board, and occasionally to Sacramento to watch sausage-making in action. He is also a Lecturer in climate change law and policy and renewable energy law and policy at UC Santa Barbara."

So, yeah, he's doing good work.

By the way, subscribers to the podcast now receive my weekly newsletter "Friday Document Dump" (guess when it comes out!). Blatantly borrowing an idea from another podcaster, I provide 10 links to things I found interesting this week, from essays to artist portfolios, videos and more. Look for it!!

Direct download: 10_Episode_010_Tam_Hunt.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 8:07pm PDT

Good day to you all, Funkee Homosapiens!

Dug Uyesaka has been making art in Santa Barbara since the '70s and trained under an impressive roster of instructors during his time at UCSB. A really swell guy to talk to, I've seen Dug out and about in SB since I started hanging around the wine-and-cheese peeps that congregate at art openings, and he's always got time to talk. So that made her perfect podcast invitation material. But because information about him is scant, I used this interview to really unearth his background, and by gum we did!

Guided by Voices

In this chat we go into a lot of Californian and American history, then wind up talking about art and teaching.

Topics discussed include:
Being born in Fresno and his earliest drawing efforts
Dug’s dad’s job and Fresno’s Chinatown
Being a sansei, a third-generation Japanese-American
The Forestiere Underground Gardens
The San Joaquin Valley and the drought
How Dug’s family went into the internment camps in Jerome, AK and Poston, AZ
The aftermath of internment
Going to UCSB and his teachers: William Dole, Howard Fenton, Bob Thomas, Richard Ross, Guy Williams Ciel Bergman, Michael Dvortcsak
Living in I.V. during the mid-‘70s and Dug’s listening list as an undergrad
Dug’s disastrous post-Tom Petty date
Dug’s interest in ink on paper
Cy Twombly
Mark Tobey
The Slingshot Gallery “Outsider art” and Jeff Koons
Being an artist model for Jack Tworkov and Alfred Leslie
Random people met while working at the BottleShop: Stuart Whitman and Playboy Playmate Kym Herrin
Working for Andrew Davis and Robert Zemeckis
Transition to Laguna Blanca School and the fun of teaching children
Artist and friend Michael Blaha
The Santa Barbara arts community and the Funkzone
Being interdisciplinary and working with history
What he’d like to borrow from his students and how he thinks his students see him
Bringing his pets into his art


Dug really doesn't have much of a web presence...maybe he'll ask one of his students to bash together a site for him. Hey, it's what we call extra credit in the teaching biz. In the meantime, here's his Facebook page.

Direct download: 09_Episode_009_Dug_Uyesaka.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 6:48pm PDT

Welcome back, Funky people!

Derek Harrison is a painter in the John Singer Sargent school of realism, but painting 21st century women. Starting late (in his 20s), he got into art through tattooing and, trying to really polish his craft, got into oil painting and techniques of the old masters.

A month ago, he did a live painting at Santa Barbara Art Foundry, and we got talking and soon I was grabbing my microphones and computer and setting up shop in his State Street studio for this hour-long chat.

Topics talked about include:

The new studio, right next to the old studio
Why 1st Thursdays in Santa Barbara aren’t as good
What Santa Barbara needs to borrow from Pasadena and Los Angeles’ art scene
Michael Husser and the Equator cafe
Sullivan Goss and Waterhouse galleries in Santa Barbara
Growing up in Denver and Steamboat Springs
Getting started painting at 20 and the idea of “God-given talent”
Ghost World and Art School Confidential
The resurgence in art schools for realism
The early Impressionists, especially Monet
How a desk job led to his first canvas work
Does comic book art lead to ideas of how art is made in young people?
How working at a tattoo shop taught him fundamentals of realism
“Biomechanical” tattoos
Jer Clarke’s influence on Harrison
Jeff Gogue’s tattoo work
Shawn Barber’s workshops and how he learned about color
Jeremy Lipking
Sean Cheetham
The learning curve of realist painting, and when he got his style
How hard it is to find models
His methods of working with models
His current challenges in painting
Harrison’s top five artists
One of his favorite models, Samantha
His most successful methods of selling art
Matt Kennedy and La Luz de Jesus Gallery and Harrison’s big break
Harrison’s daily routine

You can check out Derek's site here.

Direct download: Episode_008_Derek_Harrison.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 7:23pm PDT

Welcome back funkmeisters!

Sue Van Horsen wanted to make art all her life, but career and family came first until her 40s when she turned to graphic design after decades in youth counseling. After that second career, a few years ago she went into her third, into assemblage, print making, and homemade guitar making. I first saw VanHorsen's work at Wall Space gallery, a mix of kitschy objects with menacing, punky attachments, along with a playable exhibit of her guitar work.

On my first visit to her house, she had amplified a cactus so one could play the spines though an amp. That's when I realized Van Horsen's mind thinks very differently to most people. I was happy to have her show in SPECIMEN, the 2013 show I curated at the SB Arts Fund.

Her guitars are selling very well, but it's such a small fraction of what she makes. We check in with Sue and talk to her about her life, career, the state of art in Santa Barbara, and if anything can be done for a town that apparently doesn't like "edgy" art. Van Horsen has some opinions, and it's quite a funny chat. It's a big longer than usual, but I think it's worth it.

She has a piece on display this Friday (12/5/14) at Roy Restaurant, 7 W. Carrillo St. as part of Michael Long's curated Prohibition-themed art show. I am one of the co-creators of Repeal Day Santa Barbara, so I hope the evening goes really well and see some of you there.

Topics discussed in this podcast

The history of Sue’s 1920 era house on the Westside
The end of one career and the beginning of Sue’s graphic designer career
And how that turned into an art career
Her classes with Elaine LeVasseur, printmaker
Being a collector since childhood
Growing up in Lakewood, CA, home of Black Flag and Suburban Lawns (kind of)
Connecting back with estranged family members in her 30s
A traumatic but hilarious anecdote about homemade clothing from high school
Reinventing herself in high school
Her stint at Cerritos City College
The influence of Warhol, Jasper Johns.
Why the Avengers was better in black and white
How art is who you are, not what you do
Living among oil derricks in Lakewood and beyond
Finding the Presbyterian church in her 20s and coming to Santa Barbara
The more freewheeling days of Santa Barbara, Fiesta, in the 1990s
How she got into guitar making, starting with cigar boxes
Being diagnosed with Parkinsons at 42
 Being a “crafty mom”
How bad printmaking turned into her first show at Elsie’s
A roundabout explanation of the “Bun-a-Minute” assemblage
“Your art is too edgy”
How we know Santa Barbara is still so conservative, and an anecdote about the Rocky Horror Picture Show
The movie scene in Santa Barbara and the art scene
The future of the Funk Zone
Exposure, overexposure, and “art shock”
The fate of the Funk Zone’s Artist Village
A version of such a thing in San Diego
“Creepy is how this country rolls”

You can see Sue's art here.


Direct download: 007_Sue_Van_Horsen.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 11:41pm PDT

Welcome back funky peeps!

In this episode I sit down with the enigmatic (and very tall) Skye Gwilliam and we talk about street art, gallery art, and whether there’s really any difference.

Skye owns a gallery in the FunkZone called Gone Gallery and occasionally he’s let me set up shop in the main space and record some of these podcasts. Gotta give him a big thanks for being one of the people that helped this podcast ship sail.

Skye’s style is easily identifiable when it turns up in galleries here or on the sides of buildings. His simple line, Leger-meets-Haring works are always inventive, and his work habits are to be envied. (Like Haring, he’s unstoppable, always working.)

This was a casual, laid back chat, and I hope you groove on it.

Topics discussed include:

The origins of Skye’s studio space
How the FunkZone changed rapidly
The evolution of Skye’s “sad businessman” tag
Skye’s work ethic and how his loss of vestibular function has focused him on art
The etymology of Gwilliam and his family tree
Growing up in Ojai
The punk rock and hip hop influence in Skye’s work
How Skye started drawing in public and leaving his work out there
The PetroChem oil refinery, one of Skye’s first places to “work”
Street artists vs. gang members
Negative responses to street art in the FunkZone
The Danny Swan “beef”
His high school years
His brief time in hotel and restaurant management
Skye’s writing vs. his art
John Federico, Skye’s friend who pushed him into art
The influence of Keith Haring, Basquiat and David Choe
Ribbon-ism, Skye’s all-white paintings
The transition from street art to gallery art
How Skye cast someone else to play him at an art opening
His trip to Greece
A list of inspiring dilapidated places
Skye’s best times to work
The art of the social

His website is here and his Tumblr is here

If you can’t see the embedded podcast above, here are other ways to listen:

  • Listen to it on iTunes
  • Download this episode here

You can also follow me on Twitter
Or read my arts writing at
Or check out my art here (warning NSFW):
ALSO! Repeal Day is coming up, would you like to celebrate with us? Well then:

Subscribe to our show on iTunes (still working on this! Both iTunes and Libsyn have not been helpful!)

Or for non-iTunes people out there, subscribe to our RSS Feed

Lastly, our theme tune is brought to you by Raw Vegan.

Include photo of businessman

Direct download: 006_Skye_Gwilliam.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 10:35pm PDT

Welcome back Funk Zonerz!

This episode we sit down with beer and brewery columnist Sean Lewis, who not only writes a weekly column for the Santa Barbara News-Press, but has just released a book on microbreweries in America and the people behind the craft, called "We Make Beer" from St. Martin's Press.

I know that I like beer, but apart from that little else, so the book informed me a lot, as did this hour long chat about the writing of his book and Lewis' many thoughts on the craft, the industry, and his cross-country drive that led to his first book agent and deal. It's a chat that's guaranteed to make you thirsty! Santa Barbara has a lot of exciting breweries, and we talk about them too.

Topics discussed include:

* The end of Pabst Blue Ribbon's trendiness
* Sean's move to Boston and its beer history
* His evolution from Keystone Lite to better beers
* His first attempts at home brewing
* Writing for Beer Advocate
* The learning curve for writers and for brewers
* Firestone Walker using wine barrels to ferment wine
* Jeffers Richardson
* New Albion Brewery, Jack McAuliffe as the birthplace of microbrewing
* Sam Adams, Pete's Wicked Ale, and Anchor Steam
* How Sean Lewis pitched his book to publishers
* Sean's cross-country trip and remote breweries: Brew Kettle in Cleveland, OH and Nebraska Brewing Co.
* Brewmaster Paul Kavulak
* Levels of competition in the beer business
* Tom Acitelli's "The Audacity of Hops"
* Maureen Ogle "Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer"
* How Budweiser is actually good in terms of consistency
* Why it's impossible to recreate century-old beer
* How Sean made his book more marketable
* State by state tax laws, and how that affects brewing
* Santa Barbara's brewing scene and its growth since 2006
* Kevin Pratt, A.J. Stoll, Paul Rey, James, David, Bucky and Diana Burge
* Why Firestone Walker Pale 31 is Sean's favorite
* Whether brewers are good business people
* Why there aren't tech bros in microbrewery
* Why cool labels are a bad sign
* Sean's least favorite beer trends
* German, British, and Belgian beers
* Five breweries across the country you have to try

Sean Lewis' book can be found here:

His website is here and his Twitter is here

Direct download: 005_Sean_Lewis.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 1:49am PDT

Episode 004: Alvaro Rojas

Welcome back Funketeers! It's hard enough in Santa Barbara to run one restaurant but restauranteur Alvarado Rojas ran up until recently three of Santa Barbara's funnest restaurants: Alcazar on the Mesa, Milk & Honey downtown, and the Bourbon Room out in "No-Leta" the area east of Goleta. The latter he just recently signed over to his partner. All three are warm, cozy gathering places with great cocktails and menus that bop between tapas, hearty main courses, and comfort food like pizza and hamburgers (at Bourbon Room especially.)

In this episode we sat down with Al to talk about his history of creating restaurants in Santa Barbara and his remarkable success rate. After the interview, Al made me a fan-freakin'-tastic duck carnitas slider as a thank you. I can't send that out to our listeners, but I can include his father's recipe for carnitas below.

Topics include:

* A rundown of Al’s current businesses
* His recent Europe trip, including thoughts on Berlin, the Latin Quarter in Paris, and his favorite meal of the trip
* Growing up son of Mexican immigrants in Palo Alto
* His dad’s history of cooking and comfort food
* How carnitas is the cousin to duck confit
* Learning the kitchen at his dad’s restaurant
* Living in Isla Vista
* Dropping out and opening his first restaurant in Santa Barbara
* The learning curve as a young restauranteur
* What closed his first business, Chilangos
* What led to his next tapas-based restaurant
* What he learned about tapas only by going to Spain
* The joy of Spanish culture
* How the more restaurants you open, the more intimidating
* The major changes in Santa Barbara’s culinary scene since Chilangos
* The secret skills of Dutch Garden’s owner
* What will be trendy in five years in Santa Barbara
* Why restaurants fail and why you shouldn’t trace trends
* The reasons behind the wood-fire pizza glut in SB
* Where Al funnels his creativity and dancing salsa
* The brief reign of LOFT in the FunkZone
* Al recommends his menu favorites

Direct download: Episode_004_Alvaro_Rojas.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 9:11pm PDT

Episode 003: Wallace Piatt

Howdy, FunkZone Podcast listeners! I'm really excited about this third episode because I got to have a sit down with the wild man of Santa Barbara art, Wallace Piatt. (Pronounced like Hyatt Hotels with a P).

As you'll hear, Wallace came in to art at a weird angle, having owned a cool used clothing store "True Grit" with his partner Jill Johnson for years on State Street. That led to screenprinting and that led to art and his current pop art style that borrows liberally from Lichtenstein and Warhol, but with his own complex spin. He incorporates cultural icons, Native American history, and advertising ephemera into his colorful work. In his heyday, he probably could have drank Peter O'Toole under the table, but despite a heart attack, he's still with us and focused on creating art these days, non-stop.

He does not suffer fools gladly and speaks his mind. Yes, there's a lot of swearing in this episode. Buckle up!!

Topics include:
    •    Life in the Container Village
    •    Growing up Catholic in Santa Maria
    •    His dad's life as a school building, his mom's as a real estate agent
    •    Mathematics and poetry before art
    •    His trip to Europe, the rave scene and seeing Warhol for the first time
    •    The evolution of the FunkZone
    •    Waiting tables in Santa Barbara, especially Palminteri's
    •    The Japanese man who helped Wallace and Jill kick off True Grit
    •    How State Street changed over the years
    •    The legacy of True Grit, and Santa Barbara's lack of fashion
    •    The art of trashing T-shirt
    •    How a broken heart and bitterness started his painting career
    •    Getting in drugs and drink later in life
    •    Gay clubbing in Santa Barbara back in the day
    •    Marijuana as the worst drug ever
    •    Sobering up and making art
    •    How to sell (or not) art in Santa Barbara
    •    The problems of gallery representation
    •    The lessons of retail
    •    The benefits of Instagram, the death of Facebook

You can find Wallace at his website:

Direct download: Episode_003_Wallace_Piatt.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 9:15pm PDT

Lindsey Ross began exploring old and alternative methods of photography at Brooks Institute and since then has gone on to focus of the wet collodion process. At the moment she is rockin' the FunkZone at La Chambre Photographique, where she creates modern portraits that look like they come from the mid 19th century. She joins a sub-culture of photographers who choose to leave behind digital and embrace old technologies.

In this jolly chat, we talk about her work, life and working in the FunkZone.

Topics include:

The meticulous nature of old photographic technology
Her experience at Fort Hayes School of the Arts, Columbus Ohio
How collodion reminds her of her childhood
Working with intuition and her learning curve
The toxicity of the process
Carlton Watkins' landscape photographs
How a technology's limitations become its aesthetic signature
Her Little Mermaid commission
Her early life in the midwest
Her undergrad studies in Theology at Denison University
How she convinced her family to go to church
Her move to Wyoming and how rural people don't conform to stereotypes
Her stint in journalism and covering local politics
How moving to Isla Vista changed her art path
Brooks Institute and her faux journalist experience
How her art annoyed a National Geographic photographer
The unavoidable whimsy of Santa Barbara
The evolution of the FunkZone

You can find Lindsey at her two websites:

Direct download: 002_Lindsey_Ross.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 4:35pm PDT

#001 R. Nelson Parrish

Hi folks!

In this inaugural broadcast of the Funk Zone Podcast I sat down with fine artist and resin-master (resin-ator?) R. Nelson Parrish in his Boat Yard studios and talked about his life, career, influences, and life in Santa Barbara by way of Alaska.

In this episode we talked about:
* The history of Boat Yard Studios, and life in SoCo (that’s “South of Cota” St.)
* Color theory
* How Parrish went from business to photography in University of Nevada at Reno
* What a “typical” Reno student is and/or was
* Parrish’s Olympic dreams
* Why art is a drug
* How film critic Howard Rosenberg changed his life
* Working and welding in Alaska
* Parrish’s cross-country trip and the mixtape he had that whole trip
* How the Internet has changed the art business
* How Alaska teaches self-sufficiency
* How Parrish’s granddad started Alaska’s university system
* Why Alaska offers a school in understanding color and time
* The influence of John McCracken, minimalism, Finish Fetish and Light & Space
* The idea and promise of the Perfect Object
* Visiting Marfa, Texas
* Designing a giant Les Paul guitar for the Sunset Strip
* How surfboards and their mythology influenced his totem series
* How Gerhard Richter changed the course of Parrish’s life and career
* The limits of gallery representation
* Parrish’s yearly challenge, physically and mentally
* How the selfie is changing everything, especial in Southern California

You can learn more about R. Nelson Parrish at his website:

Direct download: 01_001__R._Nelson_Parrish_1.mp3
Category:creativity -- posted at: 3:32pm PDT