When it comes to the life and work of local resident Bruce Licher, I am embarrassed by my ignorance.
Licher, who runs the Independent Project Press in Bishop with his wife, the painter Karen Licher, is a well-known musician and graphic artist.
He was a founding member of Savage Republic, what Licher describes as an “avant grade, post-punk, surf psychedelia” band. Savage Republic produced several acclaimed albums in the ‘80s.
Licher and his bandmates met at art school at UCLA (where he also met his wife).
He learned letterpress printing while working on the album cover for Savage Republic’s first release.
“I got into letterpress because I wanted to package my music, make it into a fine piece of art,” said Licher.
Licher also founded his own record label, Independent Project Records, at the same time.
What is letterpress printing? In essence, it’s old-fashioned printing where each letter is an individual cast piece of metal. The raised pieces soak up the ink, which is then pressed into paper.
In Licher’s studio on Willow Street two blocks off Main, there are drawers upon drawers of various fonts and sizes.
The work is artisanal and labor-intensive.
“When I got into it, it was completely dying out,” said Licher, but letterpress has experienced a bit of a revival recently, pushing back against the crushing uniformity of … just about everything else.
Bruce’s longest standing client is the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. He has been producing the hotel’s stationery for about two decades.
In the late ‘80s, Licher was nominated for two Grammys for his album cover designs. He also used to produce REM’s Christmas fan package at the height of their popularity, where they’d press a 7” vinyl single and package it with a card or a poster.
The Lichers set up their first press in an old warehouse in downtown L.A. in 1984, but ultimately fled L.A. for Sedona, Ariz. in 1992. It was in Arizona where he also formed a new band, Scenic.
Scenic is an instrumental group, and as Licher described one album to the Alternative Press back in 1995, “While some could see Incident at Cima as a soundtrack for a non-existent film, it is intended more as music to listen to while experiencing the East Mojave Desert in person.”
Compare that observation to what he said in 2013 to Ned Raggett in an article which appears at www.redbullmusicacademy.com:
“I’m also working and have been for the last few years on several solo recording projects, one of which I started after I moved here to Bishop. My wife and I ended up buying a portable solar power unit because she liked to go out and do plein-air paintings, so in order for me to go along, I thought “Well you know, I’d like to be able to do something while I’m out there with her.” We conceived of the idea that I could do some plein-air recording! I got a twelve-track hard disc recorder and when we’ve gone out and done this, I would bring the solar power unit that powers everything and the recorder and my guitars and effects boxes. I started
creating this series of layered guitar and effects instrumental pieces which I’m calling Owens Valley Driving Music.
The goal is to record enough for a full album at various locations here in the Owens Valley, to create music that you can use to drive up and down Highway 395!”
Licher acknowledges that even during Savage Republic’s heyday, he could feel himself being pulled in this instrumental direction.
The Lichers have lived in the Eastern Sierra now for four years, and currently reside in Swall Meadows.
Karen Licher used to come to Mammoth with her family as a child and even worked at the Mountain for one ski season.
The Lichers became reacquainted with the Sierra when Karen’s mother, who lived in the Bay Area, took ill. The drive from Sedona would bring them through the Eastern Sierra, and each time, Karen felt more and more of a pull. Bruce recalls her saying, “I want to paint the Sierra. I want to live there.”
Downtown Bishop Chocolate Art Walk
The Lichers are the driving force behind this Friday’s downtown art walk in Bishop, which features about ten participating businesses.
The event will take place from 5-8 p.m. A handy map appears on page two.
As Bruce said, the original idea was to do an opening for his and Karen’s new gallery space only, but as he spoke to other people, he realized he could develop it into more of a community event.
“I wasn’t even thinking it was going to turn into as big of a thing as it has, and it’s taken a lot more of my time to arrange than I expected, at the expense of my regular work schedule, but that’s OK, I think, as the idea was for us to connect to the community after several years of hiding out doing our thing in the area,” said Bruce.
Joe Profita is the featured artist for the Lichers’ gallery opening. For more information about the art walk or the letterpress printing classes, call 760.873.3600.
Home energy efficiency workshop
Mono County Community Development, the Geothermal Institute of Mammoth and Sierra Eco Systems are co-sponsoring a home energy efficiency workshop next Friday, Nov. 22 from 2-5 p.m. in Suite Z (Minaret Mall).
I spoke with Bruce Sanguinetti of Sierra Eco Systems this week.
Sanguinetti, based out of Genoa, Nev., is a proponent of Geothermal Heat Pumps, or Ground Source Heat Pumps.
Sanguinetti estimates the cost of a geothermal system is about twice that of a traditional furnace, but he claims the payback time can be as little as five years.
He says that while 30% of Europe and 25% of Canada uses ground source energy, that figure is just 2% in the U.S.
Thus the need for outreach.
The biggest risk with geothermal heat systems is that a property may prove unsuitable, and there is expense in the exploratory drilling process.
Thus, said Sanguinetti, up to this time, homeowners have also had to be a bit like wildcatters in assuming that risk.
In a twist, Sierra Eco Systems offers to share that risk with homeowners. Thus far, Sanguinetti said eight of ten properties tested in Mammoth have proven viable.
“This is not new technology,” emphasized Sanguinetti. “It’s the same technology grandma used to store her roots.”
Whistler, meet Holler
While Town Clerk Jamie Gray confirmed to The Sheet that the Town is technologically capable of using Skype, Town Manager Dan Holler and Councilmembers Eastman and Lehman left Wednesday on a junket to Whistler. According to an Oct. 29 memorandum from Holler: “The purpose of the trip is twofold. First, we will be reviewing the development pattern that was undertaken as part of the Olympics and the following conversion of the area to more traditional users in a resort destination location. Second, we will be meeting with Mike Vance, who worked on the project and discussing similar applications to Mammoth Lakes. I will also be evaluating Mr. Vance as a potential consultant to assist the Town in the area of economic development.”
New G.M. @ Mammoth Disposal
Rick Vahl will be the new G.M. of Mammoth Disposal. I met him at the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce mixer on Tuesday.
Vahl and his wife are moving to Mammoth from Kodiak, Alaska.
The Sheet was told that Pat Fenton has been promoted within Waste Connections and will be working out of the San Luis Obispo region. He will be around and about for the next few months assisting Vahl in the management transition.
There’s been a lot said already about Mammoth Medical Missions detour trip to the Phillipines. We’ll do our reporting on that when they come home and we can get firsthand accounts.
Reminder: Phyllis Benham’s pot party is this Sunday from 12-5. See ad p. 23
Reminder: See Vons ad p. 3. Redeem $10 coupon if you spend $75 or more!