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Episode Art from BRIAN BLOMERTH’S MYCELLIUM WASSONII, Published by ANTHOLOGY EDITIONS
Psychedelics and art
The history of both are inseparable from each other. Wherein, to at least those of us raised in the Western world, the so-called psychedelic sixties and the incredible movements in music that came through LSD might be the first to come to mind. Such as Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, or that now-infamous LSD-infused Santana performance at Woodstock in 1969—which is one of the best live musical performances I’ve ever seen (on youtube, of course, as I was not alive to see it in person).
Beyond music, perhaps when considering psychedelics and art, you might think of the artwork of Peruvian artist and shaman Pablo Amaringo who helped to reveal and characterize the religious iconography of the visionary experience of ayahuasca to the wider world. Or the art of Alex Grey, whose Sacred Mirrors and Transfigurations series helped reflect and reveal the profound visual and ontological complexity of tryptamines to the experienced and un-experienced alike, launching a whole new era in visionary art.
Perhaps, you might even draw to mind an association between psychedelic history and art all the way back to paleolithic cave art supposedly emerging out of altered states of consciousness, plant-induced or otherwise.
Essentially, psychedelic history and art are interwoven in incredible and wondrous ways, which is why there is something particularly special feeling for me about other important events in psychedelic history being characterized in artistic form. This brings us to this episode’s interview as it is with cartoonist Brian Blomerth whose most recent work tells the story of Valentina and R. Gordon Wasson’s love affair with mushrooms and how it led them to Mexico, Maria Sabina, and the magic mushroom.
Brian Blomerth is an illustrator, cartoonist and musician based in Brooklyn. Blomerth has spent years combining classic underground art styles with his bitingly irreverent visual wit in zines, comics, and album covers. His previous foray into psychedelic history was through his 2019 full-length book Bicycle Day, “a historical account of the events of April 19, 1943, when Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann ingested an experimental dose of a new compound known as lysergic acid diethylamide and embarked on the world’s first acid trip.”
His most recent work is another full-length book titled Mycelium Wassoni, “a visual biography and a tragic love story” of “the lives and trips of R. Gordon and Valentina Wasson, the pioneering scientist couple responsible for popularizing the use of psychedelic mushrooms in the United States.” It is this book he is on the show to talk with us about for this episode.
Together we talk about Brian’s journey into drawing and comics, his artistic process, the intense journalistic research that went into both Mycelium Wassoni and Bicycle Day, the strange findings and complexities he uncovered during that research, and why making these cartoonist accounts of Psychedelic History matter to him.
Although this interview gets a bit chaotic at times, including some interruptions by Brian’s wily Pomeranian, this is a very fun interview, with lots of laughs and playfulness. I hope you enjoy it.
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Win Some Psychedelic Mushroom Art From Brian Blomerth and Adventures Through The Mind
Adventures Through The Mind Podcast, Brian Blomerth, and Anthology Editions are happy to offer you the chance to win this 18” x 24” limited edition print by Brian Blomerth.
The print commemorates the work of Roger Heim, a world-renowned botanist and collaborator of Valentina and Gordon Wasson who served as the inspiration for their momentous trips to Mexico and a key travel companion.
Heim’s watercolor paintings of the mushroom species collected on these journeys serves as the inspiration for the painted backgrounds in Mycelium Wassonii.
This print—depicting Heim at his easel, flanked by mycological illustrations and the figures of Valentina, Gordon, and the Mazatec curandera María Sabina—completes the book’s tribute to a figure of profound importance.
This unsigned edition of 200 is offset printed on 180gsm Fedrigoni Materica Limestone Paper.
(contest closes May 3, 2022)
- (0:00) Opening
- (2:07) GIVEAWAY CONTEST!
- (2:43) Episode overture
- (6:26) Patreon thanks
- (8:24) Interview begins
- (10:20) The history of dog people in comics
- (11:29) Brian Blomerth’s inspiration and journey into cartooning
- (13:26) What inspired Brian to explore psychedelics as a topic for his comics
- (16:16) The role psychedelics play in Brian Blomerth’s creative and artistic journey
- (17:09) Creative inspiration vs the grind in the artistic/creative process
- (20:33) The research involved in the production of Mycelium Wassoni
- (22:43) The easter eggs Brian has woven into the background of the art
- (25:14) Brian’s experience with mushrooms before producing this book
- (27:34) Exploring some history of R. Gordon and Valentina Wason
- (29:25) Why Brian chose to strongly feature Valentina Wasson’s part of the story
- (32:29) The strange discoveries Brian made while researching the Wasson story
- (34:24) The CIA controversy with R. Gordon Wasson, psilocybin mushrooms, and the differing opinions of how it unfolded
- (39:53) Some discussion around Wasson’s obsession with Soma
- (42:23) A review of the bicycle day story, and what we often get around about it
- (46:13) The powerful impact of couples in the psychedelic history
- (47:53) Maggie and the dolphin; and other stories of dolphin love
- (51:35) No person is an island
- (54:50) Follow up links and contact info
- (57:00) Closing