BIOSPHERE (UNDER CONSTRUCTION)

 The role of the Artist is to make revolution irresistible.

Jim Mazzeo

Jim Mazzeo draws on the experienced and images of his generation’s artistic frontier, and thrusts his work beyond the boundaries of painting and fine art. Years of painting with light and years of living with nature at the ocean’s edge push his abstract composition and his vivid colors beyond the psychedelic, beyond the engagingly primitive.

Born in 1944 in the east Bay of Oakland , California Mazzeo attended the California College of Arts and Crafts. The first day of the New year in 1967 brought Maz to Chicago with the 1st traveling one-man psychedelic light show and band, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. His lights were first called the “American Dream” which changed to the “California Spectrum”. The major reason behind the change was more bookings with California on the posters! Later in ’67 he moved to Boston where he designed the lighting and décor for the popular club, “Cross Town Bus”, which served as the prototype for “The Electric Circus,” New York City’s most popular night club for the mid 1960’s. He also performed light shows for the most progressive bands of the period, including The Doors, Frank Zappa and the mothers of Invention, Moby Grape and Buffalo Springfield. He and Andy Warhol melded their light shows, in a montage, for The Velvet Underground and Nico.

As a student, Mazzeo was invited to participate in The living Arts Program at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, under the direction of Phillip Hoffer. As the culmination of 18 months in the program, Mazzeo executed a series of abstract pen-and-ink drawings. Returning to California in 1969, he resumed his art studies at Canada College, in Woodside.

In 1971 Mazzeo joined the musical force of Neil Young to design and construct sets and costumes for Neil’s first feature film, “Journey Through the Past”. Mazzeo subsequently has been commissioned by Neil to create many other artistic works , including paintings, sculptures, chandeliers—and a metal sculpted fireplace for the singers California Ranch. Neil is the largest single collector of Mazzeo works. In the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, Mazzeo lent his talents to managing bands on world tours, and in 1986 played the “visuals” for Neil Young w/Crazy Horse.

His participation in the high energy and intense creativity of the rock music world have honed Mazzeo’s creative expression. In this first public showing his work reminds us of nothing that is ordinary or common.

 

BIO Chronology

Jim Mazzeo


1944 Born Oakland, California. Grew up in the golden hills of Hollister California.

1947 Got Busted and returned home by Hollister police after found on tricycle cruising Main Street with hundreds of Hells Angles on motorcycles during their “three day takeover” of the small central California town.

1953 Family moved 50 miles north to San Jose, CA. Mazzeo’s home was on the edge of a 700 acre cherry orchard which backed up to the “haunted” Winchester Mystery house.

1958-62 studied drama and art all four years at Campbell High School. San Jose, CA. Mazzeo’s art teacher, John Quigley, was a big influence on him. Mazzeo’s senior year, Quigley entered three of Mazzeo’s paintings in a major show of more than 700 artists. All three received awards. At the Valley Fair amateur art contest, Mazzeo received “best of show”, “honorable mention” and “first place- abstract art” for tissue paper collage. The interest level generated at the show initiated the first sales of Mazzeo’s art works.

1962-66 Mazzeo joins the U.S. Coast Guard. A four year obligation, for three years he was a sonarman aboard a 95 foot Search and Rescue boat. The vessel was tied off a pier at the end of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. During this period, Mazzeo moved into North Beach, Ca with Margo St. James (the cities number one underground hostess). Through Margo’s cultural festivities, Mazzeo was befriended and inspired by cultural heroes such as Bill Graham, Ken Kesey, Alan Watts, Varga, Roger Sommers, Gary Synder, PigPen, Steve Mann, Mose Allison, Melvin Belli, Paul Kressner, Lenny Bruce, Lawrence Ferlingetti and others. Living and socializing with this diverse group was a real influence Mazzeo continues to exhibit to this day. This was the type of boat I was stationed aboard from 1963 to 1966 .....a 95 foot Search and Rescue boat with a 15 man crew...my search area was outside the Golden Gate Bridge and from Point Reyes to Monterey and out to 150 miles offshore...we never went to rescue someone in blue sky sunny weather...always when it was storming with monster winds and waves.
One rescue when it was horrendous all around us ,I asked my Captain.."who do they send out here to save us?" The 27 year old Lieutenant JG Captain looked at me and said in all seriousness "we only have orders to go and rescue,we do not have orders to return."


1965 Mazzeo is reassigned as a “dangerous cargo-man” to Port Chicago California to finish out his military career. He moves to Oakland’s College Avenue into a houseful of artists, in a quadplex called “ Benniwigs Palace”. Mazzeo is able to “sit in” at various classes at the California College of Arts and Crafts and furthers his artistic ability whenever possible.

1966 No longer constrained by Military circumstances, Mazzeo joins his first rock and roll band from Los Angeles. They were called “The West Coast Pop-Art Experimental Band”. In the process Mazzeo becomes the first one man psychedelic light show in the United States. This allows him to travel and play for many up and coming groups. From August to December Mazzeo would split his week between LA and Sausalito. He would play Friday nights at the Daisy Club in LA, a private club for actors and actresses, and Saturday nights at “The Other Place” a private club in Santa Monica for film producers and directors. Returning to Sausalito on Sundays, Mazzeo would play for the next five days aboard an old converted Ferry boat at Gate 5. The Ark, an after hours rock and roll jam club, featured newly formed bands such as Moby Grape, Janis Joplin, Buffalo Springfield, Lee Michaels, The Mothers of Invention and the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. They were all fed free Huevos Rancheros breakfast at three AM in the morning for in exchange for financial compensation.

1967 The West Pop Art Experimental Band with Mazzeo’s Dream Light Show signed a six month tour and services contract with Chicago’s Three Star Agency booking music shows throughout the Midwest. The agency would also use Mazzeo’s light show with their featured bookings, allowing Mazzeo to play with such greats as, Junior Wells and the All Stars, The Moody Blues, The Beach Boys, The Mothers of Invention and the Animals. It was the Animals first appearance in the U. S., which took place at Northwestern University.

July ’67 Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, passing through Chicago, grabs Mazzeo and takes Him to live with them at the Chelsea Hotel in Greenwich Village, NYC. In the Village they played six nights a week at the Garrick Theatre shocking and enchanting audiences. During this time Maz met and was to become lifelong friends with Paul Butterfield. Through Butterfield Mazzeo was introduced to Michael Kropp who was partners with John Fishback, and Ian Haims. They hired Mazzeo to help design a psychedelic night club in Boston called the Crosstown Bus. Mazzeo moves to Boston and plays his lightshow, still called “The American Dream”, nightly at the new club. The club feature fantastic psychedelic posters created by James McCracken, who Mazzeo deems “a genius”. They become fast friends. Mazzeo is able to call upon his boyhood buddy and fellow great West Coast Artist, Jim Phillips, from Santa Cruz California. McCracken Mazzeo and Phillips create artworks and light effects. The Crosstown Bus was to become the prototype club and inspiration for the world famous “Electric Circus club” in NYC. Through Mazzeo’s friendship with Jim Morrison, the club was able to book the Doors for five nights of performances. That was the Doors first appearance on the East Coast.

It was during this time Andy Warhol and his light show joined forces with Mazzeo’s light show in order to fill a large theatre in Boston. They played together four nights with the Velvet Underground and Nico. Corruption closed the Crosstown Bus-Mazzeo and fellow artist James McCracken were invited to join “Livings Arts” program run by Mr. Phillip Hoffer and Cary Welch out of the Fogg museum at Harvard University. They called themselves “The Laughing Academy”.

That first Boston winter Mazzeo becomes a sidekick disc jockey with Tom Gamache and his Uncle T’s Freedom Machine radio program. Playing great music two hours a night, from 12 midnight to 2 a.m., their early broadcasts were from MIT in Cambridge on their five watt campus fm station. Uncle T’s Freedom Machine became so popular they were soon offered their nightly slot at Boston Universities FM Station “WBUR”, and its 50,000 watts. They were heard 7 nights a week 12 midnight to 2 am over five Northeastern States. Mazzeo would invite his musician friends to be on the program. These events included live interviews with such artists as Janis Joplin, The Mothers of Invention, Junior Wells, James Garrison, Jeremy Stagg and Archie Schepp. The Mothers of Invention took over the entire radio program every night for seven days straight! Janis got drunk and smashed her first album over the radio microphone. She did not like her first album, just released, which she felt was rushed into production. Uncle T, Mazzeo, McCracken, Bill Cummerford and Steve Canty started a band in which no one was allowed too know how to play their instruments. Mazzeo and McCracken would sing-chant words and phrases unknown to all peoples on earth. They called their group The Entire Navy. They would record every night from 2am to 4 am at WBUR’s recording studio. Uncle T would play the results as background fill for the radio program. They got lots of radio play and finished their short career performing for 5,000 people at a Bostom Commons Summer benefit concert for an underground newspaper, The Avatar.

August ’68 Mazzeo and McCracken travel to an abandoned logging mill in mountains above Palo Alto California. They intend to start an artist retreat they call “Star Hill Academy For Anything”. They have 1800 acres of redwoods overseeing the Pacific Ocean, an ideal situation. This becomes a commune with over 40 people and children living an alternative lifestyle. 

McCracken & Mazzeo
STARHILL ACADEMY
FOR ANYTHING 1969


1969 Mazzeo attends Cañada College in Woodside California where he writes poetry and publishes a student poetry magazine called “Live-Evil”. Mazzeo and McCracken build a house along with Roger Summers up at Lake Tahoe’s Fallen Leaf Lake. Mazzeo Lives in a Sioux Indian tee pee at the edge of Desolation Valley.

1970 Maze and McCracken continue to live at the Star Hill Academy for Anything commune. They create a forge to cast metal and a blacksmith type studio and produce many works and sculptures. Mazzeo begins to build custom wood burning stoves one of which is illustrated in the book “Handmade Houses, a guide to the Woodbutchers Art”.



1971 Mazzeo and Neil Young become close friends. Mazzeo moves to Neil’s ranch down the hill from Star Hill. Mazzeo and McCracken work together with Neil on his first film “Journey Through the Past”. Mazzeo does all set designs, costume designs as well as set construction while McCracken makes the films miniatures and props.

1973 Mazzeo tours with Neil’s Harvest band “The Stray Gaitors”. While on tour Mazzeo becomes close friends with Linda Ronstadt.

1974 Mazzeo, now Neil’s road manager, tours with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young World on their first world tour.

1975 Mazzeo and Steven Stills travel together on Still’s solo tour, after which Mazzeo and Neil move to Malibu California. Mazzeo does Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Zuma album cover and songbook. These images were to remain scattered throughout Neil’s shows for the next twenty years. Mazzeo accepts an offer to be the bands road manager on their “Last Waltz” good bye tour which lasted one year and finished in 1976.

1976 Thanksgiving at the Fillmore show “The Last Waltz” was “The Bands” last performance. Filmed by Marty Scorsese, it is considered to be one of the finest Rock and Roll concert films of all time.

After the last Waltz, Neil and Mazzeo take off in Neil’s bus for Nashville and Florida. Neil writes a bunch of great songs.

1977 Mazzeo and Neil move into Santa Cruz considered by both of them as an “art attack”. They gather Bob Mosley of Moby Grape, Johnny Cravioto, drummer and vocalist for the corvettes and Jeff Blackburn of Blackburn and Snow and become a summer surf band called “Ducks”! The summer of Ducks in Santa Cruz 1977 was a magic time...in addition to us playing shows that got the town quacking , our local yatch designer
Bill Lee and his team at Wizard Yatchs built a very fast sailboat called ☆☆☆MERLIN☆☆☆
to enter in the Trans Pacific race to Hawaii. ..Merlin set a record time of 8 days 11 hours and 1 minute...that record remained unbroken from 1977 to1997! A 2,560 mile race to Hawaii with Merlin averaging 265 miles a day.....
Wizard Yatch's motto has always,been ,"Fast is Fun".
So now, Bill has bought Merlin back and the boat is at our marina...I Snapped a quick shot of her today to share with you because she's a historic racer and I think Fast is not only Fun but also Beautiful.

 

James Mazzeo's photo.


1978 Mazzeo stays in Santa Cruz and starts a rock and roll publishing company called “Third Reef Music”. He publishes a song on the “Snails” first album.

1979 Moves back to Malibu where he works for while with pal Nick St. Nicholas in the band “Steppenwolf”. At the end of the year, Mazzeo returns to Santa Cruz.

1980 Mazzeo learns how to sail. He reconnects with his love of the ocean. Mazzeo’s close friend Paul Ziegler (a musician who spent some time with Hot Tuna) had a small teak ketch “Mary Anne. He and Mazzeo spent much time on Monterey Bay. Mazzeo became quite proficient at sailing, and buys his first boat “Spindrift”, a Catalina 22 on a trailer.

1981 Mazzeo starts “The Lucky Duck Boat works” and tries building a trailerable 26’ St. Pierre Dory with a ten horse diesel for costal cruising or fishing.

1982 Mazzeo lives in Santa Cruz. He enjoys spending time flying kites and sailing boats.

1983 Mazzeo promotes local shows.

1984 Coconut Grove: Flora Purim Concert. Flora, a singer who gained recognition with Miles Davis, performed along with her South American percussionist husband, Aierto.

1985 Mazzeo promotes The Blue Notes 3 days of shows.

1986 On tour, Mazzeo plays visuals with Neil Young and Crazy Horse in their concert called “In a Rusted out Garage”.

1987 Mazzeo buys “Seaway”, a 42’, 1936, John Alden canoe-stern ketch. Living aboard, he spends the year restoring the vessel to its original condition.

1988 Sets sail for Mexico. Upon arrival in San Diego, Seaway’s engine blows up. Mazzeo and his friends spend the next ten weeks and all their money on a new engine. They cancel their plans for Mexico, returning to Santa Cruz.

1989 Mazzeo designs major new light show for Neil Young’s “Lost Dogs” tour of Japan, Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. Mazzeo calls his new light show “Traveling Light”. His paintings and drawings, which are loosely animated through multiple projectors, seem to dance along with the songs.

1990 Moto Haru Sano, a very popular Japanese singer and songwriter sees Mazzeo and Neil’s “Lost Dogs” concert in Tokyo and hires Mazzeo to design a separate light show for his 90 show tour of Japan. Mazzeo calls this light show “Napoleon Fish”. The light show and Mazzeo’s artworks are a huge success all over Japan. Moto writes a song that tells of Him and Mazzeo and his old boat back in Santa Cruz. The song is titled “The Circle” and is a hit in Japan. Mazzeo’s artwork continues to develop a warm relationship with his Japanese patrons and friends.

1990 With the beginning of worldwide acceptance, Mazzeo seriously digs in and begins to paint on canvas full time completing over 20 works. In the same year Mazzeo gets married and tries to find employment in the “real world”. He is forced to sell his boat. Becoming sidetracked, failing normalcy, 1993 ends in divorce and begins a renewed self-pledge to put all his time and energy into his art.

January 1994 Mazzeo paints with great passion and inner strength. He is ready to be called “Artist”.

1994-1999 Mazzeo paints for long periods of 10-14 hrs a day, seven days a week for the next five years. Needing a break from painting, Mazzeo would sculpt three dimensional cardboard sculptures. These cardboard sculptures have delighted just about everyone who has seen them.

Issue date: December 16, 1998

WOODSIDE: Last picture show -- Jim Mazzeo art show marks end of era at Village Pub restaurant

By MARION SOFTKY

Branches of cactus in psychedelic hues twine and almost spill out of the frame on the wall of the Village Pub. Its spines droop forlornly.

The painting with the whimsical name -- "Don't Forget to Water the Cactus" -- is part of an exhibit of paintings by Santa Cruz artist Jim Mazzeo at the Village Pub in Woodside until the end of December.

The show marks the end of an era. The venerable Village Pub, a Woodside institution for 40 years, will close its doors at the end of this year. A new owner, JMA Properties of Cupertino, has bought the building and will go to the Woodside Planning Commission in January with plans to remodel and expand the building, and to reopen a new "Village Pub," with a different operator, sometime next summer.

Meanwhile, the twisting arms of "Don't Forget to Water the Cactus" evoke a colorful patch of county history, when artists, hippies, school kids, hikers and free spirits converged at the Star Hill Academy for Anything at the old Wickett saw mill west of Skyline.

Linking this odd mix is artist Jim Mazzeo, an ebullient survivor of the hippie era with an earful of wild stories about people most of us have only heard of, and wall-fulls of vivid paintings briefly on display at the Pub.

The opening of Mr. Mazzeo's show at the Pub on December 5 drew an eclectic mix of people from over the hill and out of the past.

Jim Wickett, who ran the Star Hill Academy for Anything at his father's old lumber mill in the 1970s, was there with his wife, electronic-commerce guru Magdalena Yesil, and a handsome son. Jim Wickett is now living in Atherton and is a venture capitalist with Bay Partners in Cupertino. But he still has the ranch, where he raises llamas and emus. He recently sold his yaks.

Rock star Neil Young and his wife, Pegi, are longtime friends and colleagues of Mr. Mazzeo. Mr. Young is also a major collector of his work. "It gives me a good feeling," he says. "It has playfulness and lightness, but underneath it's dead serious."

A highlight of the opening of Mr. Mazzeo's show was the auctioning of his painting "Sacred Cow" to benefit The Bridge School in Hillsborough. He is also donating 10 percent of all sales to The Bridge School.

Opened in 1987, The Bridge School is sponsored in part by the Youngs to help their son, Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy, and other children with severe speech and physical problems, using computer-assisted techniques. About 75 children have graduated, and one is in his first year at San Francisco State University, says director Michael Kimbarow. "In many, many cases these children are academically capable," says Dr. Kimbarow. "We help them realize their full potential and become successful members of the community."

Sandy Castle

A group of abstract paintings, vaguely resembling a cross between germs and chains, bears another of Mr. Mazzeo's offbeat titles: "Dilem-millennium."

Does this have anything to do with the Y2K problem? someone asks.

"Why 2K?" Mr. Mazzeo shoots back. "Silly computers can do anything in the world but count from 1999 to 2000. Any 2-year-old can do that."

Mr. Mazzeo is better known in the world of rock music as "Sandy Castle," the name he used over the years he managed rock bands and created spectacular light shows to go with the music.

Two years of managing world tours for The Band culminated in a rock concert and film, "The Last Waltz," directed by Martin Scorcese. He also did art and light shows with artist Andy Warhol.

Mr. Mazzeo has loved art ever since he was growing up in a cherry orchard near the Winchester Mystery House and won a prize for art at Campbell High School. Later, for 18 months, he participated in the Living Arts Program of Harvard's Fogg Museum in Boston under Philip Hoffer. There he ran a group called the Laughing Academy.

What Mr. Mazzeo most likes to talk about is his experience in the early 1960s in the Coast Guard in San Francisco. By day he would practice search and rescue on a 95-foot vessel, and the rest of the time he hung out on the San Francisco scene.

He shared a flat with Margo St. James, noted for founding the prostitutes' union called Coyote, and two other call girls. "When the girls had money, they bought gold leaf and put it up in the bathroom," he says.

Mr. Mazzeo also remembers the time Ms. St. James hid beat icon Ken Kesey when he was hiding from federal agents.

About 1968 Mr. Mazzeo and some friends moved to John Wickett's former lumber mill to form an artists' commune. Shortly afterward, Jim Wickett, fresh out of Woodside High School, got the property and built a house around the platform holding the band saw. The house itself was memorable; the bandsaw, painted in psychedelic style, dominated the living room; the bed protruded out of the wall; and a firemen's pole connected two levels.

As Mr. Mazzeo tells it, Kendall Whiting built a seven-room tree house way up a redwood tree, connected to the shop in the old mill by a cable and gondola. The ride down was pretty exciting, he says.

By 1971, Mr. Mazzeo moved down the hill to Neil Young's, but they kept using the Wickett place for projects -- like holding concerts in the sawdust burner, and filming parts of Neil Young's movie, "Journey through the Past."

Mr. Mazzeo gleefully recalls the finale to that movie, when Neil Young played a Steinway concert grand piano inside the sawdust burner lit by an open fire. The sawdust burner, for those who don't know, is a monstrous rusty iron cone, which -- according to Jim Wickett -- has superb acoustics and was occasionally used for concerts.

"I built such a great pyramid-shaped fire that it caught a $50,000 grand piano," Mr. Mazzeo chortles. "The black finish literally bubbled."

Star Hill reunion

Another reminder of the crazy days at the Star Hill Academy for Anything appeared at the reunion in the form of a frosted pastry flying saucer. A creation of pastry cook Louise MacLaughin, the decadent, chocolate-and-cream-filled UFO recalled another episode in filming Neil Young's movie.

At Star Hill, Mr. Mazzeo turned his creative energies to creating a UFO to crash in the film. "I built the first religious space capsule -- 'Cruca-14,'" he says. "We had to crash and burn it."

But the Star Hill Academy was much more than high jinks and hippies. Jim Wickett founded it with Dr. David Schwartz, then head of adolescent mental health for San Mateo County, to educate young people about outdoors and art and living with nature. "We had the goal of changing how young people looked at life," he says. "We wanted to teach kids where their roots are."

Through the 1970s thousands of children came over the hill to take nature hikes, or grind wheat and bake bread, or cast sculptures in a foundry. The program that started out serving troubled kids and kids on probation expanded to include the Nueva Day School, San Mateo public schools, and nature trips led by Olive Mayer of Woodside. "Yellow bus-loads of kids would come up every week," Mr. Wickett recalls.

Now that Mr. Wickett has gone mainstream, the ranch is mostly home to wildlife, llamas and emus.

Why emus? "Emus are incredible, prehistoric birds," says Mr. Wickett. "They are friendly, inquisitive and lay gorgeous emerald-green eggs. You can scramble them and have 15 friends over for a one-egg omelet."

Issue date: December 16, 1998

 

 

WOODSIDE: Last picture show -- Jim Mazzeo art show marks end of era at Village Pub restaurant

 

By MARION SOFTKY

Branches of cactus in psychedelic hues twine and almost spill out of the frame on the wall of the Village Pub. Its spines droop forlornly.

The painting with the whimsical name -- "Don't Forget to Water the Cactus" -- is part of an exhibit of paintings by Santa Cruz artist Jim Mazzeo at the Village Pub in Woodside until the end of December.

The show marks the end of an era. The venerable Village Pub, a Woodside institution for 40 years, will close its doors at the end of this year. A new owner, JMA Properties of Cupertino, has bought the building and will go to the Woodside Planning Commission in January with plans to remodel and expand the building, and to reopen a new "Village Pub," with a different operator, sometime next summer.

Meanwhile, the twisting arms of "Don't Forget to Water the Cactus" evoke a colorful patch of county history, when artists, hippies, school kids, hikers and free spirits converged at the Star Hill Academy for Anything at the old Wickett saw mill west of Skyline.

Linking this odd mix is artist Jim Mazzeo, an ebullient survivor of the hippie era with an earful of wild stories about people most of us have only heard of, and wall-fulls of vivid paintings briefly on display at the Pub.

The opening of Mr. Mazzeo's show at the Pub on December 5 drew an eclectic mix of people from over the hill and out of the past.

Jim Wickett, who ran the Star Hill Academy for Anything at his father's old lumber mill in the 1970s, was there with his wife, electronic-commerce guru Magdalena Yesil, and a handsome son. Jim Wickett is now living in Atherton and is a venture capitalist with Bay Partners in Cupertino. But he still has the ranch, where he raises llamas and emus. He recently sold his yaks.

Rock star Neil Young and his wife, Pegi, are longtime friends and colleagues of Mr. Mazzeo. Mr. Young is also a major collector of his work. "It gives me a good feeling," he says. "It has playfulness and lightness, but underneath it's dead serious."

A highlight of the opening of Mr. Mazzeo's show was the auctioning of his painting "Sacred Cow" to benefit The Bridge School in Hillsborough. He is also donating 10 percent of all sales to The Bridge School.

Opened in 1987, The Bridge School is sponsored in part by the Youngs to help their son, Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy, and other children with severe speech and physical problems, using computer-assisted techniques. About 75 children have graduated, and one is in his first year at San Francisco State University, says director Michael Kimbarow. "In many, many cases these children are academically capable," says Dr. Kimbarow. "We help them realize their full potential and become successful members of the community."

Sandy Castle

A group of abstract paintings, vaguely resembling a cross between germs and chains, bears another of Mr. Mazzeo's offbeat titles: "Dilem-millennium."

Does this have anything to do with the Y2K problem? someone asks.

"Why 2K?" Mr. Mazzeo shoots back. "Silly computers can do anything in the world but count from 1999 to 2000. Any 2-year-old can do that."

Mr. Mazzeo is better known in the world of rock music as "Sandy Castle," the name he used over the years he managed rock bands and created spectacular light shows to go with the music.

Two years of managing world tours for The Band culminated in a rock concert and film, "The Last Waltz," directed by Martin Scorcese. He also did art and light shows with artist Andy Warhol.

Mr. Mazzeo has loved art ever since he was growing up in a cherry orchard near the Winchester Mystery House and won a prize for art at Campbell High School. Later, for 18 months, he participated in the Living Arts Program of Harvard's Fogg Museum in Boston under Philip Hoffer. There he ran a group called the Laughing Academy.

What Mr. Mazzeo most likes to talk about is his experience in the early 1960s in the Coast Guard in San Francisco. By day he would practice search and rescue on a 95-foot vessel, and the rest of the time he hung out on the San Francisco scene.

He shared a flat with Margo St. James, noted for founding the prostitutes' union called Coyote, and two other call girls. "When the girls had money, they bought gold leaf and put it up in the bathroom," he says.

Mr. Mazzeo also remembers the time Ms. St. James hid beat icon Ken Kesey when he was hiding from federal agents.

About 1968 Mr. Mazzeo and some friends moved to John Wickett's former lumber mill to form an artists' commune. Shortly afterward, Jim Wickett, fresh out of Woodside High School, got the property and built a house around the platform holding the band saw. The house itself was memorable; the bandsaw, painted in psychedelic style, dominated the living room; the bed protruded out of the wall; and a firemen's pole connected two levels.

As Mr. Mazzeo tells it, Kendall Whiting built a seven-room tree house way up a redwood tree, connected to the shop in the old mill by a cable and gondola. The ride down was pretty exciting, he says.

By 1971, Mr. Mazzeo moved down the hill to Neil Young's, but they kept using the Wickett place for projects -- like holding concerts in the sawdust burner, and filming parts of Neil Young's movie, "Journey through the Past."

Mr. Mazzeo gleefully recalls the finale to that movie, when Neil Young played a Steinway concert grand piano inside the sawdust burner lit by an open fire. The sawdust burner, for those who don't know, is a monstrous rusty iron cone, which -- according to Jim Wickett -- has superb acoustics and was occasionally used for concerts.

"I built such a great pyramid-shaped fire that it caught a $50,000 grand piano," Mr. Mazzeo chortles. "The black finish literally bubbled."

Star Hill reunion

Another reminder of the crazy days at the Star Hill Academy for Anything appeared at the reunion in the form of a frosted pastry flying saucer. A creation of pastry cook Louise MacLaughin, the decadent, chocolate-and-cream-filled UFO recalled another episode in filming Neil Young's movie.

At Star Hill, Mr. Mazzeo turned his creative energies to creating a UFO to crash in the film. "I built the first religious space capsule -- 'Cruca-14,'" he says. "We had to crash and burn it."

But the Star Hill Academy was much more than high jinks and hippies. Jim Wickett founded it with Dr. David Schwartz, then head of adolescent mental health for San Mateo County, to educate young people about outdoors and art and living with nature. "We had the goal of changing how young people looked at life," he says. "We wanted to teach kids where their roots are."

Through the 1970s thousands of children came over the hill to take nature hikes, or grind wheat and bake bread, or cast sculptures in a foundry. The program that started out serving troubled kids and kids on probation expanded to include the Nueva Day School, San Mateo public schools, and nature trips led by Olive Mayer of Woodside. "Yellow bus-loads of kids would come up every week," Mr. Wickett recalls.

Now that Mr. Wickett has gone mainstream, the ranch is mostly home to wildlife, llamas and emus.

Why emus? "Emus are incredible, prehistoric birds," says Mr. Wickett. "They are friendly, inquisitive and lay gorgeous emerald-green eggs. You can scramble them and have 15 friends over for a one-egg omelet."

 

For information on Mr. Mazzeo's paintings send him an email: [email protected]

Mr. Mazzeo is donating 10 percent of all sales to The Bridge School. For information or to donate directly to The Bridge School, call 696-7295.




 

1999 Mazzeo has his first one man exhibit/show at the Village Pub Restaurant in Woodside, California. The show lasts for one month and is highly successful giving Mazzeo renewed confidence that continues to this day.

2001 Mazzeo paints a series entitles “Fucking with Picasso” (Picasso by backlight) A 36 piece collection currently co-owned by Neil Young and Dale Djerassi.

2002 Mazzeo paints a huge 9’ tall x 12’ wide 9 panel piece entitled “A Circumference of Circumstance”.

Mazzeo ends 2002 as an actor in Neil Young’s “Greendale” DVD movie. Mazzeo plays Earl Green, a rejected artist, and father of Sun Green, the main character throughout the story.

2003 Mazzeo designs and builds a cardboard stage sets for final scene in Greendale. Cardboard trucks, cars, house, jail and a giant map of Alaska are shown throughout the movie. Mazzeo also does all Pen and Ink drawing, illustrating the story of “Greendale” as well as the entire Green family.

Mazzeo is preparing two different locations in San Francisco to blacklight show his most recent paintings. As window exhibits they are to shine over the sidewalks and streets of San Francisco nightly for all to enjoy into 2004. The first installation, viewable in mid August, is located at Peter Rundberg’s Fog City Leather at 2060 Union St. in San Francisco, CA.

And a second installation is currently being negotiated at “Fifty Crows Gallery on Folsome St, South of Market in San Francisco.

For a review of Jim Mazzeo's recent coverage--

 

SJ MERCURY Sept 3 2003

Rocker throws a party for an imaginary artist
By Brad Kava
Mercury News

 

Woodside resident rocker Neil Young threw a party last week for an imaginary painter, but the result was very real.

Unlike the character in Young's latest rock opera, ``Greendale,'' who never sold a painting, the real-life painter James Mazzeo, a former road manager for Young and other rock groups, has been getting from $17,000 to $30,000 for his psychedelic works.

The works are colorful and busy, with bright oranges and pinks, doodles come to life on wall-sized canvasses, with names like ``Circumference of Circumstance.''

The party at San Francisco's Linc Gallery gathered many of the 60 people touring in Young's ``Greendale'' stage show, a rock production that has all the charm of high school theater. It features Young's father, daughter and friends in key parts, a traveling magical mystery tour bigger even than Lyle Lovett's Large Band.

Under the name Bernard Shakey, Young has filmed a DVD to go with the work and plans to enter a longer version at film festivals in Toronto and Austin, Texas.

``I've been with Neil for 30 years,'' said Mazzeo, 59, who graduated from Campbell High School in 1962. ``I told him that we'd ride his wave for the first 30 years, being with his rock group, and we'd ride my wave the second 30.''

Mazzeo was the guy who lived with Young in Santa Cruz, back in 1977, when the rocker played in a surf band called the Ducks. A password that involved quacking like a duck would get you into the weekly shows at the Catalyst.

Other guests at the gallery included old Bezerkeley records star Jonathan Richman, who is known to a new generation as the minstrel in ``There's Something About Mary.''

Young has also hooked up with the band Echobrain, the Beatlesque outfit that former Metallica bassist Jason Newstedt used to play with.

August 11, 2006

Illustrator adds to "Greendale" books to create 'United States Series'



Neil Young and James Mazzeo's book "Greendale," which Young wrote and Santa Cruz resident Mazzeo illustrated, has turned into a project called "The United States Series."

Backed by Santa Cruz's Peoples Art Gallery, 51 "Greendale" books, one for each state plus the District of Columbia, have five of Mazzeo's original paintings added directly into the open pages, hand-signed by both Young and Mazzeo. The 51st book, dedicated to the District of Columbia, will be presented to the Smithsonian Institute.

In the 2003 film "Greendale," Mazzeo played the role of Earl Green, rejected artist and father to the character, Sun Green. The movie was filmed near Santa Cruz, up Highway 1, on Young's ranch in Woodside, around Pescadero and Half Moon Bay. The film focused on Mazzeo's art, which Young has been a collector of for many years. "Greendale" the book, a limited edition of 1,000, followed in 2004.

"The gallery bought the last 140 "Greendale" books that are all hand-signed by Neil Young," said Rebecca Kovan, co-director of The Peoples Art Gallery. "Each book is the canvas for the United States Series, which is of Mazzeo's illustration."

The "United States Series" is an act of art history, according to press materials sent by The Peoples Art Gallery, because the series records an artist placing original pieces of artwork within the pages of a book he previously illustrated. Accompanying the series are a number of limited edition prints and portfolios of Mazzeo's artwork.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to nonprofits: The Tibetan Cultural Center of Bloomington, Ind.; The Bridge School in Hillsborough; The Imagine Bus Project of San Francisco; and The Santa Cruz Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Three series will eventually be created by Mazzeo. In addition to the "United States Series," Mazzeo is working on a Peoples Series, which contains one original per "Greendale" book, and a Great World Cities Series, with 40 books and four originals per book.

COST: $7,500-$10,000, depending on state. The New York book will be auctioned at a future Sotheby's auction. Florida, Texas and California will be also auctioned once the rest are sold.

 

 

 

 

 
 
Photographs by Stephen Laufer

Oh Say Can You See: Aptos artist James Mazzeo, center, who contributed much of the artwork for--and stars in--Neil Young's 'Greendale,' poses with festival organizers Arlene Maltman, left, and Jane Sullivan.

Maz Appeal

Aptos artist James Mazzeo is at the center of Neil Young's vision for 'Greendale'

By Rebecca Patt

Not far from here in the fertile depths of Neil Young's imagination lies a coastal town of rugged green hills called Greendale, the namesake of the musical movie kicking off the Santa Cruz Film Festival on Thursday, May 13.

The movie's dialogue is a Neil Young soundtrack telling the story of Greendale, whose denizens include the Green family and assorted characters such as an art gallery owner named Lenore, a cop named Carmichael and the devil himself, who does a funky shimmy down the sidewalk in one of the movie's best scenes. The film has no sound other than the 10 tracks of the Greendale soundtrack, which the actors lip-sync in place of regular dialogue.

The plot has to do with a family saga, sudden murder, drug dealings and political and environmental activism, among other themes. Oh, and there's a gratuitous dancing cheerleader scene. Young said he wrote the songs in the car on the way over to the studio every morning.

"When I was writing these songs, I was very surprised. 'Cause I'd never written a song that had characters in it and then another song that had the same characters in it. And then another one, day after day," Young told audiences during a solo acoustic performance of Greendale in Dublin, Ireland. "I don't make this stuff up, really, so when it happens, it surprises me as much as anybody else."

If the end result is typical of Young's iconiclastic reputation, that suits Aptos artist James "Maz" Mazzeo just fine. A longtime friend of Young's, Mazzeo's paintings and pen-and-ink drawings are featured prominently throughout the film, and he plays the part of Earl Green.

"Neil likes working between the lines," says Mazzeo. "People have to work if they want to be a part of this thing, and the viewer has to be a part of the process. His art is not obvious. My art is not obvious."

Greendale Is Us

Greendale was filmed just a stretch up Highway 1 from Santa Cruz, around Pescadero, Half Moon Bay and Young's ranch in Woodside. Local pride will swell at seeing Grandma Green cruising around town past Duarte's Tavern. The house where the Green family lives--known as the Double E--is one of the homes on Young's property, and the hillside where Sun Green builds a big "No War" sign out of hay bales belongs to Young's neighbor Dale Djerassi, who also shot some brief footage in the film of oil drilling at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Young wrote, directed and filmed almost the entire movie with his own camera, a little hand-held super 8. The credits list the director as Bernard Shakey--a frequent alias of Young's. Shakey makes a very quick cameo in the film as Wayne Newton.

"Neil loves cameras. If Neil didn't write songs and play guitar, he'd probably be a cinematographer in Hollywood," says Mazzeo.

Greendale is not Young's first foray in pushing cinematic boundaries, although it's his most multifaceted project yet. The first Shakey Pictures production was called Journey Through the Past, and it sometimes used to show as an opener to the Woodstock movie. Featuring footage inspired by Young's dreams and hippie life in Topanga circa the early 1970s, it earned a reputation from the few who saw it as unwatchable and confusing.

Greendale is a multimedia blitz, encompassing the movie, the concert tour, the book and the CD, which comes with a DVD of Young performing acoustically in Dublin. Another DVD now out shows the making of Greendale, and yet another of the live concert is in the works.

According to Mazzeo, Young is especially interested in making DVDs because the sound quality is superior to CDs.

"If he can make an album with the newest and best in sound, the DVD-A five-channel sound, and he can be a cameraman too with the DVD visual, then ding-dong--it's time to make a DVD," says Mazzeo.

Maz-ive Attack

Mazzeo is now putting the finishing touches on over 140 pen-and-ink illustrations for the book of Greendale, which will likely be released in November along with the DVD of the film.

"In the back, there is a really nice supplement all about me and my artwork and my biography, which is really going to be a feather in my cap when it comes out," he says.

A playful and endearing guy with bright blue eyes, Mazzeo comes off like part magician and part beach bum. In the movie, Earl Green is seen dejectedly hauling his paintings--actually Mazzeo's--back and forth from his camper bus--which is actually Mazzeo's camper, as well.

Mazzeo is best known as the artist behind Young's 1975 Zuma album cover, a drawing of naked women and prehistoric birds which enjoyed the distinction of being selected by Rolling Stone as one of the most demented album covers of all time.

The song "Bandit," in which Young softly croons the chorus, "Someday you'll find everything you're looking for," is one of Greendale's instant classic tunes, and the song is supposedly written for Mazzeo. In it, Young sings, "You're hard to reach, no one can reach you, but I can reach you."

"And he can reach me, 'cause he's like my best friend, and he knows he can," says Mazzeo.

The two have been friends for over 30 years. They first met in 1966 in Sausalito at a club called the Ark, where Young was visiting with his band Buffalo Springfield and Mazzeo, tinkering with melted gelatin slides and food coloring, was pioneering the psychedelic light show concept for Moby Grape.

They got to be fast friends a few years later, when Young moved in next to Mazzeo's art commune in Palo Alto called Star Hill Academy for Anything, and in the next few years Mazzeo would move to Young's place and then go on tour with him as the road manager for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's world tour in 1974. The two have been housemates in Malibu, traveled across the country on Route 66, and they once attempted to drive across the Sahara in a 1934 Rolls Royce named Wembley. They never made it farther than Brussels, where the car blew up on them.