Poster for The Newg Fundraiser


New poster for the big fundraiser at the Newggenheim Museum today at 2pm, with works by Filthy Fluno and Chrome Underwood. Come one, come all, and support this worthwhile cause.

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Speaking of worthy causes……..


Freereed FreeNote, director of the Newggenheim Museum in Second Life, has announced that a big fundraising event for the museum will be held next Sunday, March 29th. To quote from the press release, the event “will feature new pieces by RL and SL artist (and NY Times celebrity), Filthy Fluno, in his continuing series “Adventures in a Virtual World” as well as wonderful new works by RL/SL artist Chrome Underwood from his new series “Soul Jam for the New Millenium”. The special event will run from 2 pm to 6:30 pm SLT with music for your listening, browsing and dancing pleasure DJs Chrighton Johin of the Savoy Jazz: 2:00 to 3:30 PM SLT, Ganymede Ceriaptrix of Savoy Jazz 3:30 to 5:00 PM SLT and Fumuzi Kanjon of Hot Sax Jazz Club 5:00 t0 6:30 PM SLT. Prizes Awarded for Best Costume at 6:30 PM

The Fundraiser will help cover the cost of keeping the Newggenheim – a fully functional, interactive museum with exhibitions by contemporary RL artists – alive in SL. The Newggenheim’s design is based a three dimensional model from the actual architectural plans of the RL Guggenheim Museum in New York City. In operation for 15 months in SL,the museum was created to provide an educational and cultural focus point in SL. In addition to mounting shows by RL/SL artists during that time, the Newggenheim has raised money for the Red Cross and the Henry Hippen Education Fund through art auctions. The Museum was also proud to participate in last year’s Diegoland float parade, where its float, designed and built by Dresden Dagger, captured the “Most Artistic” prize.”

I can’t think of a more worthy cause than contributing to the future of the Newggenheim in Second Life. The long range effects of Ms. Freenote’s selfess efforts on behalf of countless RL and SL artists cannot yet be fully measured, but if the recent six-page article in the New York Times about one of those artists, Filthy Fluno, is any measure, I think it is safe to say that her work will not go unnoticed. I also believe that it should not only be acknowledged, but rewarded – in kind. Please support this most worthy of causes.

All you kind, art-loving avatars out there can find “the newg” at

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New Paintings to Benefit Cancer Charity


Working on the cube gallery presentation of some of my new paintings on Locus Island, now up for sale to benefit the Relay for Life in Second Life cancer charity. According to Dusan Writer, one of the sponsors of the event, it is “One of the most inspiring stories in Second Life. …As a successful charity event that is now in its third year, this event is a demonstration of the power of community facilitated through virtual worlds and has raised significant money for the American Cancer Society.”

Two paintings, seven eleven and nine and a half, will be available until mid-April. Visit Locus Island at

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Got to get you into my life


OK. Hell, yes. Let’s put this in here. I did this a few weeks ago, but for some reason haven’t posted it until now. An important painting for me for a number of reasons… among them being, my first truly large scale image incorporating Second Life imagery as its central element; a merging of the old style and the new, which I have referred to several times in the past. My last body of work was a bridge to the new work, but this is where it all begins to come together. Also, continuing to focus on the human figure by way of the avatar. Finally, hot and cool come together here; sparks are flying all over the place. This piece is titled nine and a half, partly in honor of Mickey Rourke, but mainly because it was the ninth work in the series, and the second version of it. Still love ya, Mickey.

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Born 2B Wild


Contemplating Diebenkorn’s sketch of a seated nude, high above my warehouse loft. This was a few days after crashing through the roof of one of my artcubes in my 34 Ford roadster. Having overcome this unexpected trauma, I decided to stick to my chopper for cruising up there; just too damn dangerous for a car – notwithstanding the fact that there’s no helmet law in Second Life.

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Swing Low, Sweet Chariot


Yesterday I decided to build a transparent platform at about 4000 meters in the sky – 1000 meters above my warehouse studio, in fact, which obviously is 3000 meters above the ground. I like the privacy up there, the silence; it’s a bit of heaven, for an artist. At any rate, I needed this invisible platform to enable me to rez objects and then photograph them floating free, unencumbered, in the sky above, where I can turn day into night, or summon a burning desert heat at the snap of a finger. In Second Life, you see, it’s easy being God.

So, I built the platform, and then decided to rez up my glorious silver 1934 Ford custom hot rod, a gift from fellow SL artist AM Radio, just to see how she looked, ridin’ high, racin’ with the moon. But it didn’t look right. Something was missing. I then thought I’d dip into my collection of digitized Richard Diebenkorn drawings, blow one up to about 40 meters square, drop it onto a transparent panel, and, voila, a beautiful charcoal drawing of a nude floating in the afternoon sky, lines roughly scribbled on the clouds.

This was good. This was very good. Until, that is, the moment I decided that the hot rod should be within the drawing, not in front of it. That’s when it happened. You see, when you’re driving a highly sensitive and seductive work of art on an invisible platform high in the sky, there’s always the danger of forgetting exactly where the edge is; sort of like the tourist telling his wife to back up a bit at the edge of the Grand Canyon for a better picture. Suddenly I found myself plummeting earthward at a very high rate of speed, and hitting the damn brakes didn’t seem to do a damn thing. Nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the ride.

It doesn’t take very long to fall a thousand meters in a car, I discovered, and within an instant the entire ensemble slammed into a giant chrome art cube (see neo-cubism, below) resting on the roof of my studio. The car appeared to be lodged about three or four feet into the cube, facing straight down. Since I was relatively unscathed, and this was, after all, a photo shoot, I immediately jumped out and began taking pictures. Serendipity rules in Second Life, remember, and you have to be ready for it at all times if you’re an artist.

So, I didn’t find exactly what I had set out looking for when I began this effort, but then, neither did Christopher Columbus. Like him, I was quite happy with my discovery, the result of which is the digital painting above, hot rod blur, which is now hanging on the wall of my studio, and will soon be part of the upcoming digital exhibit in Santa Barbara (more about that later). As for my future work on the platform, I’ll be  wearing a parachute from now on, and may even rez a few guardrails up there. I’d wear a hard hat, but it might mess up my flexi-hair.

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Soul Jam for the New Millenium


After months of struggle, I think I finally got my groove back.

I had long ago won my battles with a horde of digital demons and a host of unbelievers, creating a body of work which proved to me (and many others, apparently) that the computer was an art medium to be reckoned with. In my view, a work called Origami settled the argument, once and for all,  whether digital art was Real Art – you know, world class art; big league art. Not the ‘push button art’ that many painters and printmakers have long derided it as. ‘Nuff said.

But that work was completed over three years ago.

Sensing a lack of interest in the work in So-Cal galleries I reached out to (ahhh, the look of horror on their faces when I mentioned the word digital), I put my photoshop files in storage and turned to writing. I was enjoying some success as a blogger and had gotten more than halfway through a memoir when I received a phone call…… I was asked to join a team of educators who were setting up shop in a place called Second Life, some sort of virtual world, from what I could tell. I vaguely recall reading Snow Crash back in the 90s, but other than that it was all a blank slate.

That call would change my life, though, and after months of wandering SL in search of art and artists, I began to realize that this was a new world full of artists – no, creatives – with a collective pool of creative energy unlike anything I had encountered in First Life (Meat Life, Real Life). I set about trying to find a new paradigm; a new art medium on its own terms – not something dragged in from the 20th century and superimposed on this brave new world, but something entirely new. Something that would capture the new consciousness that occurs when the human mind is set free in a virtual world.

Now, I can’t say that I’ve done that, or that I will be the one to even come close to it; but it is the task ahead of us, as I see it, and it will likely be a collaborative venture. I am, I fully realize, a mid-20th century guy, a 2D guy; one who still wants to have his giant pop expressionist paintings hanging on a gallery wall somewhere in downtown Manhattan, regardless of how they are arrived at; so, the heavy lifting I will leave to the artists of the future. For now, for me, it’s about fun… it’s the greatest adventure any artist could wish for: to be present at the dawning of a new era in human cultural evolution, and to be able to get my two cents in as it unfolds before our eyes.

So, as I see it, folks, we got a show to do; and this one looks like it’s gonna be a bitch.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Image at the top: first in a new series by Chrome Underwood, called Seven Eleven. Since this digital thing is basically a numbers game, the images will focus on the human form as ’embodied’ in the avatar, while the titles will acknowledge the fact they are all built of numbers – much like the intangible, immeasurable basis of human reality as seen in quantum theory, and that even stickier idea known as string theory. Hindus sum it all up with the word maya.

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Berlin is, quite simply, da bomb.

During the long flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam, where we caught a connecting flight to Berlin, my physical counterpart and I spent some time contemplating the significance of our long journey. One of the more interesting tidbits we stumbled upon was the fact that his father had entered Berlin as an American infantryman many years before and was at the center of the final decisive battle that crushed Hitler’s army, liberating Berlin and the rest of Europe from the Nazi nightmare. Now, at the dawn of a new century, his son was entering this vibrant cultural capital to participate in an international celebration made possible by that victory: the opening of an art exhibit at the Austrian Embassy. If only Daddy could see him now.

From the first evening we were there, it felt as though we had arrived at a large, cosmopolitan dinner party. The city itself, like all great cities, has an air of excitement about it, but Berlin seems to have a special kind of energy; it is filled with a sense of its own renewal. After all, how many metropolises have been bombed into oblivion, only to arise from the ashes a few decades later as a thriving center of art and commerce? This was indeed a special place with much history and you could smell it in the air; even under those cold, grey, snow-laden skies. Within hours we were enjoying wienerschnitzel and pilsner at Cafe Einstein with fellow Second Lifers KK Jewell and Jaynine Scarborough; and this was just the beginning. The following day we paid our respects at the Bauhaus Archive, just a few blocks from our room at the Hotel Berlin. The likes of Klee, Kandinsky and Mies Van Der Rohe had all walked and talked in these hallowed halls. What a country.

Later that evening we attended a dinner reception at the Twelve Apostles restaurant in East Berlin for the participating artists, generously provided by our host, noted architect Bernd Boetzel, aka Vision Planer. It was a real international cultural exchange, with El Bocho, a grafitti artist from Berlin; Mario Dalpra of Vienna; Iskren Iliev, a painter hailing from Bulgaria but now living in Vienna; Nina Maron, a painter from Vienna, Rob Steenhorst, a digital artist from the Netherlands, and yours truly, Chrome Underwood, frontin’ and maxin’ for the USA and Second Life. The words and the wine flowed in endless streams until the late hours of the night. We then climbed into the back of Rob’s van (haven’t done that in a few years) and headed out to visit Billy Wilder’s bar, where we finished off the evening’s adventure.


The following night found us at the Austrian Embassy, mingling with a pretty good-sized and highly-energized crowd in the upper level gallery. This had been preceded by a series of short performances by two well-known Austrian actors which, as far as I could tell, went over pretty well. I didn’t have a clue what they were saying, but it was a chance to sit back and listen to the German language in the raw; I found myself marveling at its expressiveness and, well, to be honest, its musicality. Without understanding a word, I was moved by it, as I might have been by a jazz performance. Perhaps I had seen too many sneering Nazi officers on the silver screen over the years; this went a long way toward correcting that imbalance.

Since there were  many, many wonderful experiences, too numerous to recount here, I will leave you with the impressions of an American artist in Berlin…..

Grey skies and light snow as we walk the streets of recent history; bullet holes in monuments, church towers stand alone and broken, filling the air with sadness, pride, hope and a bright new energy braced with knowledge of an awful truth. Standing near the door of a Spanish bistro in the cold East Berlin night, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes with my new German friends. Everyone looks good in black, it says on my bag of Dutch licorice. The Berlin Wall, the longest running art show in the world, where graffiti trumps the Cold War. Cheap trinkets at Checkpoint Charlie, memories of the death and resurrection of freedom bolted to facades all around us, twisted rebar and triumphant images of German artists. A luminous Brandenberg Gate suddenly appears in the night as we weave our way to the Austrian Embassy. Throngs of passionate visitors surrounding each tiny jewel of a painting at the Paul Klee exhibit; the unbearable heroic sadness of Kathe Kollwitz; the pristine purity of the Bauhaus Archive rusting in the snow, a woman whose makeup is ruined by tears. A golden angel staring pointlessly at the memory of France. The exhilaration of liberty in the soaring, dancing, singing buildings of the New Berlin, where hope is made of glass and steel, and embedded in the hearts of its people. Ich bin ein Berliner.


Images, from the top: anonymous graffiti on what’s left of the Berlin Wall; LoveDot, giclee print on aluminum by Rob Steenhorst; and another anonymous work on The Wall.

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First we lose Manhattan, then we take Berlin…


This week we fly to Berlin for the opening reception at the Austrian Embassy, the exhibit to follow at TowerVisions Gallery in RL and simultaneously in SL. There are six artists in the show; five from Europe, and one from Santa Barbara, California, an avatar named Chrome Underwood.  Uhh, that would be me. My master had his shot at an art career in Manhattan a few years back and blew it; now I’m picking up where he left off, and – according to him – I’m already doing a lot better than he ever did.

As for the work, it might help to insert a quote from the opening paragraph of my artist statement: “…. my goal was to move beyond my previous work – that is, digitally-sampled, multi-layered paintings – and work solely and exclusively with the visual tools and effects available within the virtual world of Second Life.” So, I’ve left behind the high concept, abstract-expressionist approach and started, virtually, from scratch. I decided to explore the most human element within Second Life – the one group of pixels that provides the most creative and visible expression of individual identity – the avatar. In a virtual world, I’ve returned to the human figure. See Juliette in Black, below.


I will do my best to put up a few posts while we’re there, but, hey, no guarantees;  like many stars, I’ll have to face a grueling schedule; receptions, interviews, dinners, paparazzi, all that stuff. But I’ll give it a shot.

Author’s note, added at 2:29pm: Many people have asked me how this exhibition in Berlin came about, so I thought I’d provide a brief explanation. Last October, a number of my digital paintings were on exhibit at a gallery in Second Life, and about a week after the show opened, I received an instant message from someone at the gallery who asked if I would be willing to come inworld and discuss my work with him.

I teleported over there and met a fellow named Vision Planer, who is actually a prominent architect in Berlin and an active advocate of Second Life and the arts. He said he was very impressed with the work and asked me if I would like to participate in an exhibition in Berlin in January, 2009. I agreed rather off-handedly, I must admit, because I thought he was talking about Second Life. He picked up on that immediately and added, No, no; this will be held at the Austrian Embassy in Berlin, Germany. The Real World. Naturally, my attitude about the show changed rather quickly. Avatars can smile, you know.

Author’s Note, added at 8:50am on Tuesday, January 27: I received the official announcement of the event by email this morning – in German – and decided to include it here, below, in all its google-translated splendor. Enjoy, and ponder its mysteries.

Austrian Cultural Forum Berlin

Ladies and gentlemen,

We want our event on 30 January 2009 in our house to your attention.
Reading – Dorothee Hartinger, Philipp Hauß – “In the head the World”

Dorothee Hartinger, born in Regensburg, in the Otto-Falckenberg School in Munich, was from 1999 to 2001 by Peter Stone for his monumental Faust invited staging and 2001 for her “Gretchen” with the German critics prize for theater awards. Since 2002, it is ensemble member at the Burgtheater and belongs to the new generation of young Viennese tradition house. This term also applies to Philip, born in 1980 Hauß, which is already at a young age moved to Vienna to attend the prestigious Max-Reinhardt-Seminar to study.

The artists come with support and in connection with the “King Lear” guest of the Castle Theater at the festival spielzeiteuropa Europe to Berlin and read texts by Ingeborg Bachmann, Elfriede Jelinek and Thomas Bernhard.

The event is organized by the famous Austrian scientist Dr. Klaus theater Dermutz moderated.

Following the reading of Dorothee Hartinger and Philipp Hauß there is the opening of the exhibition “REAL 6 x – 66 x SL”

6 x REAL stands for 6 original images from 6 different artists, the Austrian Embassy on 30.01.2009 will be issued.
66 x denotes the SL both 11 works of relevant artists in parallel for a period of about 3 months in a “virtual” Bethanienturm issued.

In cooperation with DU Diederichs Projektmanagement AG & Co. KG GmbH develops planufaktur a visionary project in Berlin – on a site with old trees and the tower of the Bethanienkirche in Berlin-Weissensee, a prestigious residential and office buildings emerge. The Pitlach Milan, Shanghai, planned architectural concept for the development Tower Visions Bethanienturm was on the 3D Internet platform Second Life (SL) are already realized. This virtual building serves as a marketing and communications platform, as well as exhibition space for art.

On the day of the event will be the original works in the presence of artists in the context of a reading at the Gallery of the embassy. Additionally, people interested in the art world via the Internet, the images into three-dimensional walk-rooms of the “virtual” exhibition in Second Life (plush avenue south) free view.

Further information on project development can be found at: or (free software download about 30 MB)

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OK, last shot of one of these cubes, I promise. After selecting the final dozen pieces for the Berlin show, I realized while writing the artist statement that the actual idea of the cube and its meaning could not be fully explained in words, and that I needed a good wide angle shot to give the viewer a sense of what it looks and feels like inside one of these things.

So, I took this photo to accompany the work and, hopefully, fill in the blanks that might remain after reading all the written material and, I’m certain, even after viewing the work. This is a shot of me on my chopper inside the Rock Star cube; the original image entitled Rock/Star/Gravity.

The images being exhibited in Berlin and, simultaneously, in Second Life, can be viewed at my flickr gallery. Comments gratefully accepted.

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