Nate Breindel is one serious Ringo Starr fan. "On June 28, I saw the Ringo Starr All-Starr Band for the ninth time," he said. "It was the first concert I attended when I was 14, back in 1994." And last Thursday night, he was invited to attend a VIP meet and greet at Chicago's Hard Rock Cafe to meet his idol and even get his art work signed. But what would he say after all of these years?
"When meeting Ringo for the first time, there were so many things I wanted to tell him, the most fundamental of which was, 'Thank you for being as accessible to the fans as you are.'" Breindel feels that many celebrities have a hands-off attitude when it comes to actually engaging with their followers. He insists that we should be "grateful" for artists like Ringo Starr.
And that night Breindel told Starr his story. "I told Ringo I had waited over 20 years to meet him, ever since I saw him in concert for the first time." He replied, "What were you, 11?"
"I was quick to answer '14, actually,' "and then I turned around to pose for a photo with the legend -- a moment I will remember for the rest of my life."
Breindel had many choices to make but he settled on a computer art piece entitled "Good Guy" from 2005. "It is in the classic mold of his early work -- face caricatures," he said. "I thought it was ironic (the face is actually of a somewhat sinister character) that the title and the whimsy, to which I was drawn, was similar to some Lennon doodles, perhaps Ringo's art style was influenced by his band mate."
Perhaps...Starr's art is constantly changing. He has created psychedelic peace signs, twisted pistols which advocate non-violence ("knot for peace"), animated, colorful characters with spiky hair and chic chapeaus as well as his current series in which he is often the central kahuna -- one alluring piece depicts a stark, black image of Starr wearing a bright red bandana over the lower part of his face. His fisherman's cap has a vivid star in the same hue. It's impossible to ignore Starr's penetrating eyes peeking our from under the brim. It's sort of a cross between Zorba, Che and Jessie James. Starr morphs into the outsider, the street artist. It's a fascinating transformation and it inspires dialogue.
Starr cites many influences: "I like Rembrandt, Van Gough, Shonberg, Condo and Max. The list is endless," the ex Beatle, drummer, actor and philanthropist, states. Starr originally began creating computer art when he had free time on tours and the habit stuck. Prior to his Chicago exhibit, he visited New Jersey and New York to launch his current series.
Since 2008, Starr has also visited the Hard Rock Cafe in Hamburg, Nashville, New York and Chicago on his July 7 birthday to invite his fans to engage in a moment of "peace and love." This year, he will be flashing the peace sign from Los Angeles at, like always, high noon. And since all proceeds of the art will go to the Lotus Foundation, started by Starr and his wife, model/actress Barbara Bach, it looks like many more wishes will soon be granted.