Camp Chronicles (18): Art and Exercise with Jim Lee and Rikki Styxx

We are true to our word.  This is the penultimate post.  Thank you for sticking with us for three weeks.



Sierra Surf Music Camp was not about just music and performance.  Paul sought to interest those like Becky, Jean, Cheri, and others who did not come to camp to play music.  He also wanted to add some diversion for everybody.  His plan was for every camper -- musician, faux musician, and other -- to have a full and enjoyable experience.

When I was a kid, teachers knew that they could keep a class of energetic children busy by handing out paper, pencils, crayons, and paints.  Maybe Paul had the same experience.  He enlisted Jim Lee to hand out paper and paints and to share his artistic ideas, techniques, and insights with any camper who had a hankering to draw or paint. 

Becky, Jean, and Cheri were regulars for Surf Art.  But other campers snuck in to draw or paint.  Ivan of Ivan and the Terribles demonstrated his talents with line drawings which conjured up memories of Ed Roth and other practitioners of “low-brow art.”  Tim -- the Surf Miners drummer -- spent his free time on Sunday afternoon drawing away and clearing his mind for our performance.  Ferenc made use of Jim Lee’s water color pens to whet his artistic cravings.

Jim Lee is an artist who paints out of love for the process and his subject matter.  He studied art and printmaking in Guam, Portland, Monterey, and Rocklin.  Following his passions and his life experiences, his work blends surfing, Polynesian history, and Eastern philosophy.  But as a resident of the California foothills, he has been unable to resist the urge to paint landscapes.  The colors and textures of the foothills are Sirens for artists.

Mornings at camp began with stretching and other exercises which I assiduously avoided.  Rikki Styxx -- Dusty Watson’s wife -- was in charge.  Her contributions to camp life extended beyond her designated role of fitness director.  For two and a half days, she was a surf music fan and all-around assistant.  She lent a hand where needed and took photos.  Between her and Becky, a full album of photos exists.  She and some of the younger campers choreographed dance moves for the performances by the Surf Camp All-Stars and Paul Johnson.

Possibly unknown to most campers, Rikki Styxx is a musician of note in her own right.  We caught a glimpse of her talents when she joined Paul Johnson and his all-star band on Sunday night on drums for one tune.  Earlier this year, she drummed at Coachella with the band Kiss Kiss-Bang Bang.  Their song -- “Love Me Kill Me” -- was featured on Little Steven’s Underground Garage as the Coolest Song in the World.  Little Steven gets approximately one-half of my radio listening.

Yes, camp was not just about music.  It was about friendship, camaraderie, and fun.  As we drove home, Becky said, “I took my Kindle and expected to be bored.  But I never opened the Kindle and ran out of time to do everything that I wanted.”  By that anecdotal measure, Paul’s plan succeeded.

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