Artworks by Mark Vallen
Los Angeles 1977 punk scene veteran
artworks are accompanied by remarks from the artist:
back in the late 1970's before personal computers, cel phones,
MTV, the alternative music press, iPods, and the Internet - there
was punk rock. As an artist I've always been interested in oppositional
culture and the shock of the new, so when the punk rock movement
hit Los Angeles in the 70's, I immediately recognized it as fertile
ground for expressions of dissent and cultural insurrection and
wasted no time in joining the ranks of the "Blank Generation."
frequented the legendary Masque, L.A.'s infamous first punk club,
and saw many of the performances given by early bands like the
Germs, Deadbeats, Weirdos, Dickies, Black Randy and the Metro
Squad, Skulls, Flesh Eaters, X, and the Screamers.
worked a short stint at Slash
magazine (L.A.'s premiere punk propaganda journal), and played
a small role in working on The Decline of Western Civilization
(the 1980 documentary film on L.A.'s punk movement directed by
committed participation in all of this lead to a series of paintings
and drawings that not only documented the ferment, but actively
promoted and encouraged it. The artworks presented on this page
represent just some of the works accomplished during those tumultuous
years. I've included drawings that were published in Slash and
the LA WEEKLY as well as works that never made it outside of my
few of the works presented here are unfinished quick sketches
I did at some early punk shows.
a crazed punk rock court reporter sketch artist, I'd sometimes
take a drawing pad into the clubs. Under such chaotic circumstances
it was difficult to actually come up with any good drawings, but
on occasion I'd have some successes. Some of these sketches are
offered on these pages and I consider them to be the best works
I did as a punk war reporter. People found politics and each other
through the music - an international community was born that stood
outside of and against the status quo.
much has changed in the world since punk first reared its ugly
head, the original reasons for its rise still remain. Today as
we struggle to find new cultural forms with which to express our
outrage and discontent, we're experiencing a resurgence of punk.
New generations are running with the tattered banner of '77. Hopefully,
by examining the artifacts of a rebellious past offered on these
pages, new strategies for the battle against complacency can be
Vallen's permission, Robbie Fields of Posh Boy Music
used the artist's iconic 1980 Slash Magazine drawing
as cover art for a 2011 re-release of U.X.A's "Illusions
Of Grandeur" album (now retitled: "Come
Back To Haunt You" after the title of Vallen's
Slash illustration). Fields explains the move:
"Why the new look for a classic album? Posh Boy entrusted
the U.X.A. legacy to an Italian record company who decided
in their wisdom to release vinyl and compact disc versions
which favored the 1980 pre-release version of the album
and copied from a vinyl record rather than from master
tape or digital source master. Meanwhile, lead singer
DeDe Troit has distanced herself from this past chapter
of her life, in particular the song 'Death From Above'.
By removing her photographic portrait from the front
cover, we are furthering this process of creating 'distance'.
At the same time we have the wonderful opportunity of
giving new life to an iconic illustration from 1980,
'Come Back to Haunt You', the celebrated Mark
Vallen's interpretation of the words of Chief Seattle,
which originally graced the cover of the final issue
of Slash magazine and inspired multiple generations
to sport mohawk haircuts."
Vallen's 1980 Mohawk
appears as cover art for
re-release of classic punk rock recording:
To Haunt You
released in 1980 as
"Illusions Of Grandeur"
of Mark Vallen in 1978
makes a short appearance on one of the special features appearing
on the 30th Anniversary DVD edition of Sid & Nancy, Alex
Cox’s movie about British punk rocker Sid Vicious and his American
girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.
May of 2007, Vallen was asked to appear in the feature for the
MGM movie re-release and contribute his thoughts on Vicious,
the Sex Pistols, and the original punk rock explosion. The
invitation to appear in the feature documentary was based upon
Vallen's active participation as an artist in the early Los
Angeles punk scene.
find out more about the interview, as well as how to obtain
the 30th Anniversary DVD, read Vallen's blog post, Sid
Vicious & I.