Mark Bode (left) with Buttercup painting and Tad Arbogast
I’m standing in Mark Bode’s living room. He points his finger to the floor: “It’s there, down under.” He’s talking about his first-ever tour to Australia, a two-week journey that will take him from Sydney to Melbourne on February 11th. Along the way he’ll be painting giant murals with Australian artists, exhibiting a new collection of original work, and performing cartoon concerts in both cities.
Bode lives in Daly City, California, and is the son of Vaughn Bode, the maverick cartoonist and graffiti guru, who died in ’75. He’s kept his father’s dynasty steaming along for two generations. Their legacy of oversexed lizards, mutants and Bode Broads has had an indelible effect on graffiti and street artists all over the globe.
Australia has the biggest graffiti community anywhere in the world outside the U.S. and Bode gets tons of fan mail from Aussie nation. The trip has been a dream, years in the making. Bode is traveling with Tad Arbogast; a friendship that goes back 30 years. Abrogast will do a lot of the fill-in and background work on Bode’s giant murals, which look to be some of his most ambitious ever.
“I’m most excited about painting the murals I’m about to paint because they’re two of the most difficult pieces in the arsenal,” Bode explains. One piece is “Whores of a Different Color,” from his “Lizard of Oz” comic book. The other is “Buttercup,” a sultry butterfly woman with a lizard in her lap. “Buttercup” is a piece that Vaughn Bode did in 1968, and the younger Bode re-painted in 2001.
“People are fighting to get a spot by me,” said Bode. He’ll paint 10 ft.x 10 ft. centerpieces flanked by the work of other artists. Bode’s shows will take place at China Heights, in Sydney, and House of Bricks, in Melbourne.
Australian spray can company Ironlak has donated 200 cans to the Bode tour. (And with ‘da Bode on tour, that’ll keep the Krylon fumes out of my hood for a couple of weeks.)
Photo: Angela Frucci