Blog: Self Portrait Woodcut

Loren Kantor, local woodcut artist, carves original woodcut prints inspired by his favorite cultural figures. (woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com)

I was born and raised in a Studio City neighborhood nicknamed "Hebrew Heights.” In those days, Traders Joe’s was Vendome Liquor, Fed Ex/Kinkos was Erwin’s Bootery and Bookstar was a functioning movie theater where I saw my first film Flipper. There was no outdoor farmers market.  Instead we had Bob the fruit man who drove around in a fluorescent yellow truck. We also had “Mac” the ice cream man who one August day suffered a heart attack and crashed his truck into a fire hydrant. While the neighborhood kids ransacked the truck for bomb pops and fudgsicles, me and my best friend Josh stared at Mac in horror.  “He’s dead,” Josh uttered. Mac opened his eyes and spat out, “I’m not dead you prick.  Go get help.”

I was a kvetcher as a boy, the type of kid who in little league was hit by a pitch on the shoulder and limped to first base.  I played sports year round with friends until the streetlights came on and in summers we hiked to the “auto graveyard” beneath Mulholland Drive searching for snakes and scorpions.  At age 10, I got in trouble at a synagogue-sponsored summer camp for claiming Sammy Davis Jr. as my favorite Jewish cultural figure. I was a bit of a prankster. I broke into people’s homes and rearranged their furniture and changed their answering machine messages (I never took anything). My teenage salvation was the music of Peter Gabriel, the writing of Henry Miller and the basketball genius of Magic Johnson.

In my 20's I had a succession of terrible jobs: customer service rep at an oven mitt factory, ditch-digger for a "Zombie Graveyard" B-Movie and supermarket food promoter for a black-eyed pea distributor (which required me to dress in a black-eyed pea costume). My worst job was as a urine carrier for a law firm. Prospective legal employees were required to take urine drug tests and it was my duty to transport the fluid from the law offices to a testing lab a mile away. Fortunately I never had any accidents though one guy offered me $100 to swap my piss for his.

For the past two decades I've worked in the film and music industries. I've embraced the "wisdom of letting go" and I've come to accept Hunter Thompson's eternal law of success: "When the dung clears and the dust settles, just be there." I took up woodcut & linocut carving a few years ago when my wife bought me a woodcutting set for my birthday. While carving my own image I realized I'm a genetic mutt. I have my father's lips, my mother's nose and my grandfather's eyes. I’m an avid Lakers fan, I'm a fanatic for coffee (Philz Coffee in San Francisco tops the list) and I still hike the “auto graveyard” though I no longer search for snakes. (woodcuttingfool.blogspot.com)

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