Friday, May 2, 2014

Molly's Turn: Our Friend Blake Herod Remembered

Blake Herod

Blake Herod,
friend, artist, craftsman, tinker, original member of the Roadoilers Motorcycle Club, and much much more, not the least -- devoted family man, died Friday April 25th, 2014.

Over the Hill by Blake Herod

Blake at the Roadoiler's headquarters
Easter Ride - Dubious Distinction Award
celebrating the Roadoilers Annual Easter ride
by Blake
When I met Blake he was a hale and hearty construction dude with a great sense of humor. A member of the Roadoiler Motorcycle Club with John Pedersen, along with other musicians and artists who loved old vintage motorcycles.  Over time he went through cancer, which he beat for a time,  a motorcycle accident which robbed him of the use of his right side of his body, then a raging infection within his body, and the return of cancer.   

Blake's courage and grace were extraordinary.  He'd been dealt many physical blows but never gave up on striving to look at the postive side of things. He didn't let this get the best of him but worked hard to develop his left hand and keep creating art for as long as he could.

Blake's Birthday card for J.P
Happy 50th John

I met him through my friends, John Pedersen and Judy Kaufman, when he admired a portrait of their dog, Gypsy, which I had painted.

Perry Fly, Blake and Bill at John & Judy's

Barbara, Blake, Donly Smith, and Bill in the background, at J & J's
if you look very closely to the far left you can see
a copy of the painting of Emma- ball on nose, I did for Blake

Three goofy dudes on New Years Eve

Blake asked me to do a portrait of his dog Emma. He invited me to visit him and Emma in his home in Santa Venticia. As I drove to his house it was obvious which  place was his in this land of 1960's homes. His was the one with the soaring tower, dramatic architecture and wonderful gardens.

In the driveway was a motorcycle that was designed to look like an an aardvark or rabbit or some such creature. It was covered in fake fur!  He showed me around, giving me a tour of his garage, which was a fantastic shop where he created wonderful fully drivable motorcycle-creatures and other fantastical artifacts.

Then to the garden where he proudly showed me his wife's Barbara's orchid hot house. She has the most incredable touch with orchids.

The house tour was inspiring to me, I loved his whimsical nature. For the stair banister leading to the master bedroom he used real branches from trees as the railings, the master bathroom's sink was an old 1920's washing machine he'd converted and there's a wonderful Mickey Mouse inspired art piece in there as well.  Everywhere I looked there's art created by him, his friends or by those he admired.  Blake took a very plain 1960's track house and created a very artistic home.

Emma for Blake by me

For the painting of Emma I took many pictures of her and her ball. She was a very happy dog and would sit for Blake with the ball balanced on her nose until he told her she was free to get it. When Emma died Blake and Barbara mourned deeply ........ and over time they found Smokey.

New pup Smokey

Blake's portrait of Smokey

For sometime now I have been looking for gentle walks to go on,  Blake invited me to walk with him around the levy near his house. It's a great place for walking, watching birds and having wonderful talks about art.  He told me of his growing up in the east bay, moving to Pennsylvinia and wanting to get back to the Bay Area as fast as he could.  He met Barbara back east in high school and was smitten. He told me she is his one true love.

Blake went to art school, got his degree, and then he and Barbara came home to the Bay Area. He felt he was always just behind the art movment, I know the feeling.  We had such wonderful talks on our walks, I really enjoyed them.  Whenever I'd visit Blake he loved to show me what he was working on, or had been doing, in his art studio.  I loved this connection with him.

When Amazing Grace Music Store moved to a new location (just down the street) a bunch of artist friends got together to make a book of art for John and Judy as a store warming gift. Below is Blake's contribution which he did left handed.

Front of Blakes piece,
click on image to make larger
detail of front

detail of front bottom

back of Blake's piece

top back

bottom back with pictures of Judy and John

About a year and a half ago Judy and I started going to a group focused on losing weight and Blake, who had gained a bit of weight due to his accident was interested in joining us.  So now there were the three us working the program, the three of us taking our walks, and Blake, dropping weight like there was no tomorrow. I am so glad he and Barbara got to go on several trips which he loved before the cancer took him away.

Blake Herod, the man who could do anything.

Everyone who knew him will miss him.

Tim, Blake's son, asked me to do a card for Blake
which would incorporate  important symbology of Blake's.
Blake wrote poetry, using Pinocchio as his protaganist,
loved to play with perspective and painted hills.


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  2. Larry, I'm not sure if you know me, but I'm a Disney comics editor with Fantagraphics Books. Would you be able to contact me at ramapith [at] gmail [dot] com? I need to write about Dick Shaw for an imminent volume that contains his work, and I've noticed that years ago, you did some writing/research on the Shaw family.
    Please get in touch when you can.
    David Gerstein