Paul McMahon

Born 1950, San Diego, CA
BA Fine Art; Pomona College, 1972
MS Art Education, Massachusetts College of Art, 1975
Ordination; Interfaith Minister, Center for the Living Earth, Bearsville, NY, 1996
Lives in Woodstock, NY since 1990

My life mission is to know the deepest truth. My career, or if you prefer ‘non-career,’ is remarkable not so much for the heights of my achievements as for their breadth. Oldest of four children, my parents took the family to hear Pete Seeger when I was about 11 and I decided that’s what I wanted to do. I started with banjo at 12 and by 15 was taking guitar lessons from Elvin Bishop, then playing with Paul Butterfield. Kismet led me to receive darshan from Pir Valayat, prominent Sufi sheik in 1969, my first experience of a holy person. All is blessing. The next year I heard a terrifying recitation of Hopi prophecies from Thomas Banyacya. Both events occurred at Pomona College, which is where I encountered the redoubtable Stanley Crouch, under whose influence I abandoned the blues and switched my attention to conceptual art. I started making art in 1970. My first teacher was Mowry Baden, second was James Turrell. Helene Winer was the gallery director.  Lawrence Weiner and John Baldessari lectured on their work at Pomona that same year. My first artworks come about because of an accident; a photography mistake.

                                       Crouch                                          Baden                                  Winer                              Turrell

Hal Glicksman assigned us the task of documenting Claremont architecture and I chose gas stations but badly overexposed my slides. I stacked them just to try to see more color and I liked what happened serendipitously. I mounted them, layered in single slide frames.

Claremont gas stations 1970                        Vermont 1971
I began playing with postcards in 1971. At first I paired them with one upside down looking for a seamless bleed from one to the other to make the transition from right side up to upside down disorienting. I was contemplating dropping out of Pomona until Helene Winer set me up with contacts for a semester abroad in London where I met Barbara Reise and David Askevold.
Through John Baldessari I met CalArts students Matt Mullican and Jim Welling in spring ’72. Later that year at the age of 22, bored and jonesing for conceptual art I began producing a series of over 30 one night shows of mostly conceptual and performance art at Project Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. on my salary at a gas station. These shows, mentioned in AVALANCHE, brought artists like Welling, Mullican, Dan Graham, Laurie Anderson (first Boston performance), David Salle (first solo show), Jack Goldstein and Lawrence Weiner from New York. In 1973 I went to Mass Art for an MS in Art Ed and passed the gas station job to James Welling.


Oily to bed, oily to rise     Assisting Matt Mullican performance imagining entering the picture which was then set on fire, 1973.   Charles Simonds Project Inc, 1974


Indian Summer   Matt Mullican, James Welling, Paul McMahon, Robert C. Morgan,  Project Inc, 1974, which included a half dozen or so pieces in the PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984, at the Metropolitan, 2009, among them David Salle (Coffee Drinkers) and James Welling (Rothko/Cocteau smoking)

Also in 1973 I started coloring onto newspaper photos with pastel as a way of exploring the mystery of visuality within the informational context of news.

Nixon Resigns 1974          Private Collection, Woodstock

Helene Winer hired me as Assistant Director at publicly funded Artist Space 1975-77 and I was involved in the formative stages of the scene which exploded on NY in the 80’s with Cindy Sherman, Michael Smith, Robert Longo, David Salle, Sherrie Levine and many others. Of my tenure David Salle said, “The key intelligence at Artists Space was always Paul McMahon and his intelligence was humor.”

Postcards with marker, collection Metropolitan Museum

In New York, the noise level in the art world was a lot higher than it was in Boston and the pastels were too small and subtle to be seen so I set about finding ‘louder’ ways to make art. One night in the fall of 1975, when Matt Mullican and David Salle were hanging out at my apt. at 110 Thompson St. I began writing on postcards. It felt like yelling.

In 1976 I began focusing more on line drawings and made a few small books. Originally stapled 8.5 x 11″ photocopies, six books were re-printed in 2014, sized 5 x 7″ with cardstock covers.



                                               Installation view, RESEMBLANCE
I showed pastels and postcard pieces in RESEMBLANCE, a group show at Hallwalls: with Matt Mullican, Troy Brauntuch and David Salle, April 1977

On 7/7/77 Helene fired me for good reasons and I left Artists Space and the art gallery biz to become an artist not an art administrator.

I made up this joke and a couple more not as good and delivered them in the floorshow of I’M WITH STUPID, a make-believe nightclub at the Kitchen in November 1977. Robert Longo booked the show.



Audience at I’M WITH STUPID, in November of 77 shot by Ericka Beckman. Left foreground: back to camera, foreground, Willoughby Sharp, above his head, Troy Brauntuch, above him Helene Winer with Susan Wyatt to her left. Right of WS, in front of pillar Mike Zwack, facing Nancy Dwyer, and Matt Mullican, yawning. Richard Prince is off camera right.

I tried unsuccessfully to write enough jokes for a standup routine but couldn’t and ended up writing songs. After the performance Barbara Ess asked me to join DAILY LIFE, a punk art band. When I quit they re-formed as The Static and released a very cool single produced by Dan Graham. I also played in Glenn Branca’s first two all guitar pieces. Glenny is one of the funnest guys ever and it was a pleasure and an honor to collaborate with them.

DAILY LIFE with scratched faces; Christine Hahn, Paul McMahon, Glenn Branca, Barbara Ess, photo Daile Kaplan, 1978 scratcher unknown.

Nancy Chunn and I organized the first PARTY CLUB at Franklin Furnace over Christmas-New Year’s 1978-9, for the ‘stragglers’ who, like us, weren’t going home for the holidays. It featured many performers in an impromptu social club format. Michael Smith did a James Brown bit involving a plunger and backbends. Maybe a diaper…

photo: Tom Otterness

Cindy Sherman was the coat-check girl. Our corporate sponsor of choice was Carling Black Label Beer, available free of charge. We all smoked cigarettes back then. Indoors.

A Band; Peter Moser, Joe Gone, Paul McMahon, Wharton Tiers, David McMahon  photo:James Welling        LOWLY WORM/NO LOVE Matt Mullican 45 Sleeve Design

Formed A BAND with Wharton Tiers playing my pop songs and his minimal compositions. We put out a 45 of LOWLY WORM on Nancy Records, with the sleeve designed by Matt Mullican. It was played first on DJ Alison’s ‘best of 1979’ review of indie releases on WPIX. Alison had a weekly show, then New York’s only ‘new wave’ show on commercial radio that we knew about.

David Salle, Michael Smith, Eric Fischl and Barbara Kruger, and Alan Moore on the far right. Dan Graham, back to camera.     My pix.

Battle of the Bands parties 135 Grand St. 1978-79; people chose up teams and everyone had to perform in a band. In his memoir BAD BOY Eric Fischl claims it was his idea, which is possible, though doubtful. Buy my book, MEME MOI, for the real story.

Ericka Beckman shot the film for German TV, of 10 No Wave Punk Art Bands playing at my and Nancy’s loft in 1979. Released on Souljazz UK, 2010; DVD and CD. Cover shows Glenn and Christine of The Static.

I starred in OUT OF HAND, a film by Ericka Beckman, 1980

In 1980 I invented the ROCK’N’ROLL PSYCHIATRIST; a completely improvisational act where I ask audience members to tell me their problems and they are always cured. And there’s a guarantee: “If your problem is not cured within your next seven lifetimes I will take it on as my own.” The songs seem to heal them. Many problems have been mysteriously cured, even car and money ones. I started appearing on the radio first on WBAI, then WFMU, also Manhattan Cable and CNBC-TV in the 80’s. In the 90s I often performed on WDST-FM on Doug Grunther’s Roundtable. In 1994 a German psychic invited me to perform at a New Age seminar because he believed I was channeling. Recently I’ve been appearing in yoga studios as the Rock’n’Roll Yoga Therapist.

I traveled to Europe in1981 as artist/songwriter in residence at Corps de Garde, an innovative residency in Groningen, Netherlands run by Van Lagestein, whose prescient ‘flyer’ was a bumpersticker advertising my performance 15 years before I started making bumperstickers.

Named this group show and did its poster.

Third 45; HOW I LOVE YOUR PAINTINGS b/w MOVIE STAR, EOS, 1981, photo by Robert Mapplethorpe, design by Anthony McCall. Full page print, ‘First Impression’, in INTERVIEW.

How I Love Your Paintings, LIVE! SHOW 1982     Simon Weasel  RIT 1983 photo: Robert C. Morgan

In 1982-83, with Nancy Chunn as my co-pilot I toured the US and Canada with ROCK’N’ROLL PSYCHIATRIST and SONG PAINTINGS, a solo musical art performance critical of the new and apparently more materialistic art world of the 80’s. This collaboration with Nancy was cute, amusing and pointedly satirical of the booming 80s artworld. I was not able to get the SONG PAINTINGS exhibited in a gallery or museum in NYC. I’m sure I could have tried harder, as usual. The tour put 11,000 miles on a rental car in 5 weeks and only broke even. Depressed to be back at my 6 AM job calling substitute teachers I wondered if I would always be small potatoes and spontaneously understood the formula for riddles and wrote 200 about potatoes before realizing I could write them about other subjects, too.

With Soupy Sales on COMEDY TONIGHT, Metromedia TV 1985

POTATO JOKES was published by Pocketbooks in 1984. Other joke writing gigs: MUPPET MAGAZINE and Workman Press, where I authored the hundreds of jokes in the PAGE-A-DAY JOKES, PUNS AND RIDDLES CALENDAR, 1984 and 1985, a humbling experience. In a giant potato costume I duelled one-liners with the legendary Soupy Sales. That was on COMEDY TONIGHT, which also featured Whoopi Goldberg in what may have been her first TV appearance. This led to a gig at the original Caroline’s Comedy Club. I also appeared on the JOE FRANKLIN SHOW and on news shows, notably with Morry Alter on WCBS-TV. He liked his piece so much he put it on his clip reel.

MILD STYLE, comic short of an incompetent white break-dancer, distributed by Coe Films and screened often on WNET-TV in NY, 1985-6. Shot by Ericka Beckman, edited by Tony Oursler.

I was the ‘disturbing’ clown in William Wegman and Michael Smith’s “World of Photography” 1985.

Also in 1985 I organized a show called FUNNY ART at the Concorde Gallery in Soho with William Wegman, Ed Ruscha, Komar & Melamid, Robert Cumming, Michael Smith, Jessica Diamond, Steve Gianakos, others.

Have a Nice Day (1977); this blurry photo of me was used on the FUNNY ART card, was later cropped and reprinted as a postcard by Fotofolio and has been distributed worldwide ever since. It was published as a print by Strother Elwood Editions and I used it on the cover of my eponymous LP on Neutral in 1986. I garnered a prestigious PRINT Annual design award for that LP design. My friends ‘the girls’ in the Art Dept at Henson insisted I enter it. I hated to part with the $10 entrance fee, but then I won the jackpot! In 1998 it appeared in a major photography show, Under/Exposed in the Stockholm subway system. The image was then used in Stockholm for a comedy book cover, and licensed for other commercial uses.

My first album PAUL McMAHON was released in 1986 on Neutral Records; Josh Baer and Glenn Branca’s label (best known for launching Sonic Youth). The cover design won a annual regional design award from PRINT. It also charted on WFMU, where I soon appeared monthly for a year on Bill Berger’s HIP BONE as the Rock’n’Roll Psychiatrist and thereafter often as a musical guest on the Glen Jones Show and the Music Faucet with Nick Hill. Produced by Mark Valenza and funded by Eric Fischl, the fine cast of musicians includes Philip Johnston and Dave Hofstra of the Microscopic Septet, who also backed me up at the Central Park Bandshell opening for Michael Smith.

Nancy and Paul continue throwing parties at 182 Grand St. especially on Thanksgiving and  January first. This Thanksgiving shot was reproduced in the PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 by Douglas Eklund, Yale University Press, 2009:

Jed Freeman, Susan Davis, Randy Freeman, Nancy Chunn, James Casebere, Allan McCollum, Ross ‘Chip’ Anderson, Carroll ‘Tip’ Dunham, Barbara Kruger, (Louise Lawler and Sherrie Levine obscured), Laurie Simmons, Ericka Beckman (foreground), Larry Diamond, Susan Morgan, Matt Mullican.

With Nancy Chunn I produced the second PARTY CLUB at Franklin Furnace in the fall of 1986; a performance art festival in a faux nightclub setting. This extravaganza featured many including Linda Montano, David Leslie, Syd Straw, Joey Arias, Diplomat Samurai Band, John Miller, Ronald Feldman, Microscopic Septet, Tim Maul, Pat Oleszco, Peter Blegvad, Happy Cat many more. I think only Michael Smith and I performed in both Party Clubs. Paula Court was the roving (polaroid) photographer.

In 1987 one of my volunteer workers, Michael Dorf, went on to found the Knitting Factory soon after, which I was the first to book during the early months of 1987, even before it was named.
My projects room show that year at White Columns got a rave review from Carlo McCormick in ARTFORUM.

THE SONG OF THE STATUES 1987 at HOME (now HERE), NY, and 1988 at the ICA, Boston
photo: Dorit Cypis                                      2nd album cover, 1988
I produced a quasi-operatic meditation on the subject of identity, SONG OF THE STATUES at Home, NY. Jon Pareles, writing in the NEW YORK TIMES called it,”…better than an hour of MTV.” It included collaborative works by Cindy Sherman/Michel Auder and Dorit Cypis. Masks and Puppets by Richard Curtis. A cassette album of the songs from this show was recorded by Don Hunerberg at the recording studio at Radio City Music Hall. SONG OF THE STATUES, Akashic Records and Tapes, funded by the Boston ICA, who produced the show in 1988. After the show a reporter named Paul McMahon interviewed me for a Back Bay neighborhood newspaper called The Mirror.

Mylar videos used as entre-actes at ICA performances of STATUES.

My performance of one of the songs from Song of the Statues, “Bang Your Crazy Head,” was praised in the DAILY NEWS review of MIKE’S TALENT SHOW, 1989 on Cinemax, hosted by Mike Smith, starring Lyle Lovett and Stephen Wright. Produced by the Kaminsky Brothers. Stephen Wright and I sat alone together in a small room for maybe 15 minutes. He was listening to the Cowboy Junkies on headphones and I thought I’d screw with his mind a little by not saying anything. It was hard. I’m such a fan.

Spring 1988: My father died on a Blue Moon by a lagoon in Florida. Nancy Chunn and I broke up after a decade and I took up with Peggy Preheim. That summer I received a very powerful healing massage from Eleanor Moore, which was followed in a day or two by erupting emotions which drove everyone away from me.  This set the stage for a dramatic Kundalini rising experience of vivid sensations and pictures, as I surrendered eventually merging with godhead; ‘realised’ ‘i’ am ‘one with everything’. The process began in a dream and woke me. When it was over I immediately got up and made a series of gouaches to record the imagery.

I had a two day a week job in the mailroom at Henson Associates for the 80s. I also did a little writing for Miss Piggy and concepting for Little Muppet Babies. These were wonderful people to work for. Jim Henson was an inspiration to watch, not only because of his works but also because of his synergistic business model and his astounding courage. He was constantly betting the farm and sometimes he lost big, but he kept right on going.


I think it was autumn 1988 when I had a dream which showed me how to market Mock Mouse (Nancy Chunn named it), the cat toy I invented in 1980 to play with Billie Blue. In the dream I was told I needed to use recycled cardstock for the boxes, and display the mice in the box without any other packaging. The box must have a picture of the earth and the initials E S P on it somewhere. I followed the instructions and it worked like a charm. The toys started flying off the shelves in Brooklyn. Pet toys became my main means of support until 2001, providing the meager essentials to support my spiritual quest in the 1990s. A second product, Ms.’Tick’ Mouse was invented around 1995, and eventually passed Mock Mouse in sales. Mock Mouse was my first successful micro-business, still successful and still micro.



Rock’n’Roll Psychiatrist was one of the original acts on KTV, the kids show on Sunday mornings on fledgling CNBC-TV; making up songs on the spot about the kids’ problems, dreams, etc  1989-90. Without consulting me the NBC lawyers changed the name to Rock’n’Roll Therapist. I didn’t find out until tape was rolling and I was about to perform. At first I was bugged but the truth is ‘Therapist’ is a better name for the act.

In 1989 I received initiation in Kriya Yoga and the darshan of Sri Hariharananda-Giri, disciple of Sri Yukteswar, guru of Yogananda. One time in a group meditation  the swami asked who is not seeing light? I raised my hand. He touched my crown chakra and I saw light inside my head.
Released my third album, ADULT CHILD on cassette, 1989. Produced by Richard Jean (Pianosaurus) with another fine cast of musicians, including Steve Bernstein and Bill Ruyle. It’s a diverse, genre-bending collection of songs around recovery issues and psychological healing, 1989, cover art by Peggy Preheim. The fourth album MR. PAUL MCMAHON, 1990, is 22 songs, mostly self-produced, mostly at Big Saw in Tucson, mostly solo acoustic. Photos: Paula Court. This album charts my journey of mental/emotional healing and recovery as it opened into a spiritual practice.
About this time my artwork shifts, reflecting a more shamanic orientation; notions of channeling, animism, dream content, feathers, found objects, synchronicity.

Heart Wand, Penis Root, the Queen and the King, Brooklyn 1988-90

I received a fellowship in New Genres from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990.
Late 1989: My meditation was interrupted at a significant moment by the telephone. It was  INTERVIEW magazine calling me out of the blue asking me to go right away to Las Vegas to interview Wayne Newton. On this trip my spiritual quest begins in earnest with a near-death rock climbing experience on Bell Rock, Sedona AZ 1/1/90. That night I was touched by the Goddess in my first sweat lodge and I have served Her ever since. I sought Native American teachings from Grandmother Twyla Nitsch of the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge on the Seneca reservation in NY. There I also met Grandfather Thundercloud, my mentor until his passing in 1995. He encouraged me to move to Woodstock, which I did later that year, after traveling to Wyoming to seek a vision with a mixed blood (Crow) Heyoka shaman named Two Feathers. I moved from Brooklyn to Woodstock to become an intern, later artist in residence and finally seminarian at the Wittenberg Center in Bearsville. I was ordained in 1996 as an Interfaith minister by Joseph ‘Beautiful Painted Arrow’ Rael and the Rev. Betsy Stang in the Wittenberg Sound Chamber.
In the spring of 1991 I taught at the San Francisco Art Institute as a visiting artist. I organized a faux night club called Club Sandwich for my class to present work in all media. On the way back east I visited the Hopi reservation in Arizona, and met Grandfather Titus Lemson. I gave him feathers and mailed more later. I was told that since the coal companies take so much of the water Hopiland became too dry and many of the birds left. A lot of the feathers they had were old and they couldn’t get more.

DECEMBER 10, 1992

Thomas Banyacya  speaking about the prophecy stone in the 1970s or 80s. With Onandaga Faithkeeper Oren Lyons, .

I became interested in Hopi prophecy in 1970 when I heard Thomas Banyacya. I saw him again again 22 years later, on December 10, 1992, when he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations, warning of the Day of Purification. Within minutes of his talk, New York City was hit by an unforecast ‘spirit storm.’ The song McMahon wrote about it was included on his fifth album, WALKING IN THE DAYS OF THE PROPHECIES. Produced by Marc Hayden and recorded at Applehead Studio with excellent local musicians, including Randy Ciarlante of The Band, the album was finished in 1994 and released on cassette. Woodstock artist funk artist Gina ‘G’ Funk produced 50 handmade collage sleeves for the cassette.

In December 1992-January 1993 I had three overlapping (all 3 open at once only one day) art shows in Soho, at Muranushi-Lederman, Horodner-Romley and Zand, and was favorably reviewed in the NEW YORK TIMES by Roberta Smith. I sold a lot of work at low prices, mostly to other artists. I offered to draw a picture of anything anyone wanted a picture of for $20. I drew a lot of pictures.

Pink Cloud   acrylic on wood panel   1991  16 x 22″  either this one or the other of this image was bought by Edward Albee who walked in off the street and we talked.

February ’93 I spent a month at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. I produced a lot of both visual and musical work and clarified ideas about process, working on both music and art daily. Virginia was hit with a rare snowstorm when I was there, creating amusing chaos.

1993 Road Trip: I flew west to work on helping to build a meditation chamber with Joseph “Beautiful Painted Arrow” Rael on the Southern Ute reservation in Colorado. I visited Hopi Grandfather Titus again, who was now living at his corn field on third mesa, which was growing well despite a long drought.

In 1994, in a story about the Woodstock 25th anniversary concert in Saugerties, pictures of me which I did not know were being taken showed up on the front page of HET PAROOL, Amsterdam’s daily newspaper. A copy of the paper came to me in a most unlikely way. Just before the festival a Japanese camera crew looking around for a representational Woodstock hippie filmed me in my apartment and aired it on Japanese TV.

With Magnolia Santibanez-Nava from 1994-5 I co-produced a weekly cable access show called DOGS ON PATROL which ran for about two years. We were eventually kicked off the air because of horrendous behavior by some young guests we failed to supervise closely enough. The show featured local musicians and productions of several plays and short pieces written and acted by McMahon, Santibanez, and friends.

St. John the Divine 1996
I started backing up Lakota singer/songwriter GAYLE TWO EAGLES.

I was ordained an Interfaith minister at the Wittenberg Center in the Sound Chamber by the Reverend Betsy Stang and Beautiful Painted Arrow aka the ‘sneaky shaman’ aka Joseph Rael, whose interdimensional teaching vehicle is metaphor. I never met a four I didn’t like.

I was struck by the irony of Woodstock getting the credit for the 1969 concert it refused to host. Once again, the 25th anniversary show was also not in Woodstock, but down the road in Saugerties. I fantasized putting up a sign at the edge of town saying, WELCOME TO WOODSTOCK, STILL NO FESTIVAL HERE AGAIN. In 1996 friends got a computer with a graphics program and all of the ideas that were festering in my mind came pouring out. With start-up capital of under $10 I began producing a popular series of satirical “Welcome to Woodstock” bumper stickers that make fun of the town with punchlines like, “Old Beer, Stale Hippies and Psychedelic Rednecks,” “Mid-life Crisis Center of the Northeast,” and “Most Famous Small Town on Earth.” I also printed on magnets, coffee mugs, ashtrays and shotglasses. In 2007 Shivastan Press published the original 1996 collection as a book.

In 1997 I started producing bumper stickers for the general market like; “My God Can Beat Up Your God,” “CAR,” “Inner Child In Trunk,” and “How Do You Like Armageddon So Far?.”

I made all of the stickers on this van are except the *EVOLVED* one.


Around this time I also started producing a line of buttons.

Also in 97 I got a prank call from JAY LENO, pretending to answer a prank classified ad Wayne Waller and I placed in the Woodstock Times.

“Position available: m/f 50 or over: Must be willing to run naked in public covered with a fine dusting of powder. No pay. No questions. No wimps.” and the phone number.  Leno later displayed it on the Tonight Show.

Around 1998 all of my twenty-something friends suddenly thought of themselves as poets and ‘en masse’ manifested large group poetry parties in my living room where everyone read. They also put together five or so zines called ‘Of the Beet In Poe Tree Path’.

At this time I started performing songs with two young girl backup singers, Julia Nichols and Diana Penz. We did some shows in NYC, mostly at the Sidewalk Cafe.

In 1999 I traveled to South Dakota and was adopted in a Making of Relatives (Huncka) ceremony at a Lakota Sundance on the Rosebud reservation, by Gayle Two Eagles. It was the greatest honor of my life up until this point.

I have also backed god-daughter singer/songwriter Shamsi Ruhe in a few gigs, and continue to do so on occasion. Her rendition (on Youtube) of my song BRING IT ON DOWN is great! I was in NAKED, a band of four songwriters doing each others’ work. We lasted about a year, breaking up in 2000. Julia Nichols kept the name for her band. Her Naked has been one of the premier outfits in Woodstock this millennium. In July of 2000 I turned 50 and released QUEEN PAUL QUINQUADRIO, an improvisational collaboration with DJ 113; recorded, mixed and pressed in the 24 hours before his birthday. This was my deepest adventure into free-style hip-hop and hard to find.

After she liked a song I sang in a concert with Gayle Two Eagles in September, 20-year-old model Amanda Williams and I hooked up and soon became pregnant with twin girls.

In December 2000 the costs came down enough for me to release my first CD, ARMY OF LOVE, a compilation of old and new tracks including three just produced by the great Shahzad Ismaily.

In January 2001 Amanda, pregnant with twin girls, started writing songs and with Emily Lopez we formed a band which she coincidentally named ARMY OF LOVE. The first album, DEMO, was completed that month, with Williams recording her first 14 songs in one take, just 5 weeks after she asked me to show her three or four chords on the guitar.

We were married on Easter 2001 by Bhagavan Das. Ginger and Hominy were born in June.

Taking the babies to the stream, summer 2001.

In August 2001 I recorded and released a six song CD with Pete Caigan called WOODSTOCK WINDMILLS. I got good airplay on WKZE-FM.

September 10, 2001; in order to provide a more stable income for my new family I joined the Post Office and became a part-time letter carrier in Woodstock, which I still am at this writing. I’ve delivered mail to David Bowie and Dr. John.

photo: Sharon Gannon, who, with David Life still lives on my route

September 11, 2001; I noticed this day was the 108th anniversary of Vivekenanda’s address on Interfaith tolerance at the Parliament of World Religions, Chicago, 9/11/1893. This was the first high profile revelation of Eastern thought in the New World. Vivekenanda was the most important  disciple of Ramakrishna, who directed him to carry the gospel of Vedanta to the West. 108 is the most auspicious number in Hinduism.

September 15th, 2001; Pete Caigan recorded Army of Love’s second CD, SERGEANT CATFISH AND GENERAL WILLIAMS, which adds him on drums, Drew North on bass and Hollis Smith on voice. A ditty written by her and Amanda on September 9 called “Here Comes The War”  was a little freaky. “Don’t be afraid to march in the parade!”

photo: Martin Brading

After 11 months of nursing two babies, the adventurous 22 year old Amanda left for her next adventure, which included trying out for women’s professional football in Florida, leaving me to raise the twins alone, which turned out to be a lot easier than I expected and a lot more fun. Amanda and I were soon friends again and I call her bff babymama.

Holding the kissing couple of Pooh and Grumpy, Hominy asks the blessing of the head garden gnome upon their marriage, 2003 or 4.

Army of Love stays together even though Amanda and I do not: ARMY OF LOVE SAVES THE WORLD AGAIN 2003, features Alanna Orr (Dutchess of Funk) on drums, sleeve design Drew North

This is a collaboration with Melissa Eppard, who took this picture at the peaceful Washington DC anti-Iraq invasion demonstration, one of 600 demonstrations in 60 countries, the largest intentional gathering that has ever occurred in the history of homo sapiens on Planet Earth. Dismissed as a ‘focus group’ by the Neo-Liberal regime it was followed within 2 days by a huge snowfall shutting down DC on President’s Day, 2003.

Postcards, 2003, 14×14″   Eagle Mandala

ARMY OF LOVE’s 4th album WITNESS TO THE MONKEY recorded by Wharton Tiers, 2004

Ed Sanders of the FUGS and Woodstock wearing one of my 2004 ‘Exit Polls’ T-shirts in the Czech Republic, 2007. Apparently I was one of the few who noticed election theft USA 04.

                                                                       Michael Asher, Trapelo House, Cambridge School of Weston 1973

2005  Orchard re-enacts Michael Asher’s 1973 film screening from the Project Inc. series. I was the only person who was present at both events.

My 1996 bumpersticker designs, Shivastan Press, on handmade paper, printed in Kathmandhu, 2007.

Woodstock Mothership launched 10/7/07, an ‘Everything Center’ for Changing Times; Live music, art gallery, meeting place, drum circle, yoga, spiritual/healing workshops, etc. I was able to be the one man unpaid staff and single father of 6 year olds because it happened downstairs in the same house with our apartment.

I GIVE THANKS FOR THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE 70-07, works from 1970-2007 at the Woodstock Mothership
Linda Mary Montano is Paul McMahon, 2007
Linda Montano lipsynched to three hours of my recorded music, during my opening at the Mothership. This was the first of quite a few performances of Linda as Paul from 2007-present in many venues. At ashrams, galleries, clubs, COSM, Cafe Dan Graham, Sometimes…works of art, Carriage Trade.

Ginger and Hominy McMahon’s first art show, age 6, Woodstock Mothership 2007

Ink, marker on paper, 11×7″ HYPE/HOPE, for Barack Obama, 2008

Metropolitan photos: Eileen Travell

THE PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 at the Metropolitan Museum, 2009, curated by Douglas Eklund. I was represented with over 30 works, most of them over 30 years old, in an exhibition of over 30 artists, most of whom have had prominent art careers. My pastels are seen here with postcard pieces on the wall at left in next room. My uncle Will Barnet, then 98, commented on the value of the real estate being occupied by those pastels. The Met has over 30 of Will’s works but none have hung on the walls. He painted until the age of 101 when Hurricane Sandy fatally disrupted his equilibrium. I saw some unfinished very minimal and beautiful canvases, in muted earth tones .

Patrick McMullan photo

I accepted the Best Museum Group Show of the Year  award for the Metropolitan Museum, for the  PICTURES GENERATION 1974-1984 at Rob Pruitt’s First Annual Art Awards ceremony at the Guggenheim Museum in 2009.

New postcard works 2009, solo show at Alchemy Cafe, Woodstock

Singing at Echo Country Clubhouse 2010, LA

I played at Echo Country Roadhouse and other venues in LA and lectured about art at CalArts, UCLA and Otis Art Institute (they posted it online), spring 2010.


STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN Group Show with Matt Mullican and James Welling of work from 1970-75 at Susan Inglett, June 2010. Mentioned in the New Yorker city edition.

Babette Mangolte, Whitney Biennial

By chance there was something of me both times I visited the Whitney in 2010. Babette Mangolte’s work  in the Biennial contained 16 photos of me from 1976. And in Dan Graham’s show a postcard I mailed in 1972 is included in his framed presentation of the work in which he offers to sell shares in himself as a commodity. I sent a postcard to Sonnabend gallery asking about buying shares of Dan Graham.

The archives of the shows I put on at Project Inc. in Cambridge from 1972 to 1975 were acquired by the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies in 2010.

photo: David Platzker
I performed ROCK’N’ROLL THERAPIST at the Kitchen’s block party 2011, NYC.

My talented artist daughters, Ginger and Hominy, aged 10, with their famously talented artist uncle Will Barnet, aged 100. He spoke at his centennial career retrospective at the National Academy, NYC in 2011. He was totally lucid.

PRE-OCCUPIED at ROOS Arts, Rosendale, 2011. A solo show in the Projects space.

Homemade Obama Lawn Sign

Many recording sessions in a private studio with 1 inch 4 track tape and a great engineer, Dave Cook, 2010 and 2011. Donated by a generous friend.

The first project to emerge from those sessions is my 9th album, HYMN TO HER, released in 2012. Nice reviews, some airplay.

Group show and publication of PROJECT INC. REVISITED at CHURNER AND CHURNER, 2012. A number of Project Inc. artists who showed in Cambridge 1972-75 displayed new and period works at this show at a dearly departed gallery. The show  included a riveting screening of David Salle’s SEARCH AND DESTROY.

Drawing by Mieko Meguro                          Imogen Holloway Gallery, Saugerties      Drawing by Alex Grey at COSM, Wappingers Falls

Deeply honored that Linda Mary Montano performed as my double since 2007, often in person at my performances, as in 2012 at Cafe Dan Graham, Imogen Holloway (Saugerties) and COSM in Wappingers Falls. This continues to the present, with 2015 performances at Grace Exhibition Space and 321 Gallery in Brooklyn, reviewd in ArtNews online.

Included in Hues of the Hudson Valley, a group show of Hudson Valley artists at the Bethel Museum, curated by Lindsay Jardine.

Another item checked off on the bucket list: I sang a little backup behind Liam O’Maunlai of the Hothouse Flowers at Summer of Sacred Water in 2013, Woodstock.

photo: Martin Brading

I’ve rented from the same landlords since 1994 and lived in the same apartment since 1996 and my daughters have never known another home. I live in one of four rental units and the others are occupied by beatnik poets and artists. In 2013 the owners decided to sell. It seemed the house was going to be sold and everyone would have to leave. They offered to sell it to me at a reduced price and hold the mortgage for long enough that I would qualify for a bank loan, but I would have to come up with $100,000 down payment. I didn’t have it. I meditated, not seeing how I could even extricate myself from this very special place. I wanted our Mothership/Hillcrest Poets scene to ‘stay the same’. After my meditation I saw a little scenario of myself arriving on ‘the other side’ and someone coming up to me saying,”Why didn’t you ask?”

So I sent out a call for help:

There was another buyer and I was worried. My wish that morning was to protect what we have here: for me and my girls, the Hillcrest Poets, Shivastan Publishing, the Mothership and creative community writ small, media and large. People started pledging and it was really making me feel good when suddenly, after a couple of hours and a couple of thousand in pledges, a longtime friend of mine’s email said, “You need 100 grand to buy your house? I can front you that.”  I now own this beautiful house and I will never stop saying thank you to that trusty person I had barely spoken with in decades. She has been a great supporter since my college days and, ironically, she fired me from my only ‘real’ job back in the 70s. If she hadn’t I might never have found myself. A true friend. This year, 2015, the plan is for the Mothership to be an AirBnB on weekends with all sorts of cultural programming during the week.

Woodstockers are lucky because we benefit good karma in a town with a legacy of a century of  ‘maverick’ creativity and generations of every kind of ‘alternative’ lifestyles. People like Bob Dylan, George Bellows, indigenous holy people and the longest reincarnating Tibetan Boddhisattva have sprinkled fairy dust here. One of the treats is a townwide celebration of Halloween, when the whole town turns out in every kind of costumery to gawk at itself. Even the cops dress up as cops. The street is closed off and excellent portrait photographs by Dion Ogust are available for a reasonable fee on the porch of the Center for Photography in Woodstock.

A recent page in the Woodstock Times


…or is it simply all about cats these days? Susan Jennings put together a show of portraits and I submitted this cat portrait (left) from the 90s when I was trying (not very hard, as usual) to get a little work as a pet portraitist. My prototype Kitty City was included in a very group cool show of and for cats at RealArtWays in Hartford called CATS-IN-RESIDENCE. It’s the second incarnation of Rhonda Lieberman’s show at White Columns and after RAW it traveled to 345 Mission in LA. Coming up I’ll be in Mieko Meguro’s “We Are All Cats” at Karma International in Zurich in April and I’ve started doing portraits of the cats that also live here: I inherited three abandoned cats over a period of years and for a while had been telling my little girls that we couldn’t get a kitten because it would upset our elder cats. Last winter the last of them died and we adopted a petite calico mother and her three not yet housebroken kittens. The kitties were small too, when we got them but it turns out their father was a Maine Coon cat so it’s been cats-a-poppin’ at the Mothership. They are a year old now and still seem to be growing LOL!


“44″  September 11 until October 31, extended until November 21.

Paul McMahon at 321 Gallery; 44 art works from 44 years

YOUSONGSOYOUNG, an edition of four CDs released at 44 on 911. 3 of the 5 songs can be heard HERE

44 reviewed in ARTFORUM by Kari Rittenbach

Paul McMahon on Art Viewer:  This is excellent work by a site which narrowcasts 321 gallerist Daniel Terna’s sumptuous photography rather nicely.

Paul McMahon mentioned on Art F City:     This is well-written and pleasant reading. Big Ups to Art Fag City and Michael Anthony Farley

44 reviewed in ARTFORUM by Kari Rittenbach

 Performance reviewed in ARTNEWS online by John Chiaverini


3A Gallery 

Paul McMahon selfportraits, 2015


Only after the gig did I realize that I performed with one Japanese and one Japanese American singers on December 7, 2015 Pearl Harbor Day. Ubi and Youth were booked that day at the Anchor in Kingston and the opener cancelled so I opened and after the fact I photoshopped their poster to include my name and drop his. it’s the only such alteration i’ve made in my history, quite obviously geared to an Asian market. Sunday morning at church Youth surreptitiously snapped this of me with my minister hat on.

photo: Youth Yamada aka worldchocolate


This publication is first a blog. This entry is being made in late 2016 after a full year of weekly art shows, skipping a week here and there as I am this week.

From 2007-2009 the Woodstock Mothership was mainly a music venue directed by Paul McMahon and funded solely by Ralph Schiano who also launched the WoodstockMusicWorks record label from the back apartment in 2008. The cratering of the US economy put the original ship out of business. McMahon made some sales on the heels of the Pictures Generation show in 2009 and was able to reclaim the space as his studio/social sculpture for a couple of years and did a limited amount of programming in the new Mothership including a debate between Buddhist and Vedantic scholars: DUELING NONDUALISTS, as well as a riotous new age standup show by SWAMI BEYONDANANDA, and art shows by Tom Davis (Franken and Davis) and Marcel Duchamp; recent work: crop circles in the halycon fields of Avalon in the 1990s. Then, after the purchase of the building activity has increased. after a cautious beginning the Mothership BnB Gallery social sculpture has amped up. I haven’t slowed down enough yet to actually count the shows and artists, but there has been a wide array of piquant and aromatic exhibitionism in many corners of the collective aesthetic imagination in the neighborhood of 50 shows. Here are sceenshots of folders of folders of artists shows and one of each files of shows since November 2015 right up until the current show of Richard J. Treitner. In the winter of 2016-7 the focus will be also on development of midweek programming; workshops in creative, spiritual, educational, community-weaving and entrepeneurial territories.

The Gift that keeps on giving, Douglas Eklund’s prescient exhibition at the Met,  The Pictures Generation 1974-1984 earned Paul yet another brush with fame. He was recently photographed in a yearbook style class photo for the NY Times’ fashion magazine T. Photographed by Jason Schmidt.

1.Janelle Reiring 2.Helene Winer 3.Hal Foster 4.Douglas Crimp 5.Robert Longo 6.Paul McMahon 7.Aura Rosenberg 8..John Miller 9.Troy Brauntuch 10.Sherrie Levine 11.David Salle 12.Nancy Dwyer 13.Glenn Branca 14.Cindy Sherman 15.James Welling 16.Laurie Simmons 17.Walter Robinson

David Sedaris 2017 Picture Diary includes this collage he made using my Fotofolio postcard. Page 63


Spring 2018 in the mythical kingdom of Bedstock, the ‘everything’ show titled three emojis: eye, heart and unicorn.

 at 7 Herkimer Place in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. It was an exhibition, an archive, a store and a media hut, with performances by McMahon and others.








photos by Genevieve and Ryan Muller   


I finally went to the Hamptons in this millennium:

Episode 2: One Liners   Harrison at the Rental Gallery in East Hampton NY  curated by Kendra Patrick  May 2018

Paul McMahon, Eileen Isagon Skyers, Jeffrey Augustine Songco

Of the very many ways that the proliferation of screens has impacted contemporary communication, one of the most resonant has been the resurgence of the one line joke.

Paul McMahon included several types of work including this one from 1974; pastels on full newspaper page.

Group show in a window on Orchard Street NY NY

The sacred chamber at what is now the Lenny Bee Happy Farm fell into disrepair and we fixed it up. Interfaith world peace meditations are held there the 7th of each month at 7 pm in the over 50 chambers worldwide. During and after extensive repairs.

PIZZA MUSEUM group show Brookly NY October 2018 Curated by RJ Supa

I’M WITH DOGS TIL LATER at ORGY PARK, Brooklyn  Two Person Show with April Childers, curated by Siebren Versteeg and Steve Mykietyn November 2018

IT TAKES A WHILE TO FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE at LUMP, Raleigh NC December 2018 curated by April Childers

Many pictures available

This wildly enjoyable retrospective included the first ever hanging of the Song Paintings from 1982, two rooms of video viewing with couches and a full store of buttons, pins, stickers, books, vinyl, cassettes, cds and cat toys.

Song Paintings songs were performed and the Rock’n’Roll Therapist here counsels April Childers.



50th anniversary of the famous ‘Woodstock’ concert. I decided the best way to celebrate the festival would be to document the wealth of creativity it stirred into existence in this unusual little town fifty years later. I wanted the people of Woodstock to look upon themselves and appreciate the creative riches all around them so I put the word out that Every Woodstock Musician was invited to perform in a two day, two stage concert in the  Colony’s back yard on the anniversary weekend. Now I forget but it was somewhere north of 100 acts that performed for five minutes each. some bands got 10 minutes. It was a blast to organize and present but I almost fried my brain off trying to schedule the behemoth. Special thanks to Jim from Kansas and the owners of the Colony; Lex and Neil.

Ras T Asheber Posse, part of the crowd one day. Total chill vibe was reported bigtime. Heavy rains hit both days at the stroke of 7 each day (the advertised close of the show) as if the Mother waited for our show to dump her load.

PAUL’S PIZZA PALACE 2.0 at CATSKILL MOUNTAIN PIZZA in Woodstock NY Opened Fall 2019 shifting installation of indefinite timespan….


My first tour, organized and chauffered by goodflavor45 aka Luke Reddick. First tour ever just singing songs. Never realized I was hermetic but I guess I sort of am. It was successful and wildly enjoyable and we plan to do it again real soon.

PIZZA BOXES at 321 GALLERY 2/9-3/16/20.


Curated by Daniel Terna and Tom Forkin, my second show at 321 Gallery Opened Feb 9 2020




In February myself, Daniel Terna and Tom Forkin were thinking about scheduling a song performance during the show at 321 Gallery, but I hesitated because the first date fell inside Mercury Retrograde and I didn’t want to have to think about that. We talked about a tentative date in mid-March but decided to wait and see. By early March public meeting spaces indoors had become untenable. In the early days in Woodstock the only people I heard about who had contracted Covid were musicians who had played in the city.

Mailmen are essential workers so that aspect of my life never locked down as far as coming to work. I started at the Post Office coincident with the 9/11 event, which was soon followed by the “Anthrax Scare” wherein amounts of poisonous white powder were mailed to various targeted individuals. When I started as an RCA (Rural Carrier Associate) in Saugerties 3 or 4 of about 10 carriers were wearing masks, and fairly cumbersome if I remember right. I thought you might as well never go outside for fear of being hit by lightning, the odds are so remote. And who, exactly, in Saugerties would this sort of terrorist want to kill? Conversely, when Covid got serious I was one of only two people who was wearing a mask in the Post Office.  It’s been like that the whole time, lol. A couple of light cases -some very light, barely detectable. I’ve been putting it back on.

Recording and Performance at 3 Phase July 2020

Luke Reddick and Ryan McKeever came up from DC on behalf of Goodflavor Tapes to record Paul McMahon at 3Phase in Stone Ridge.

Recording session was followed with a perofrmance of those songs called “Social Dissonsance”


In 2020 and 2021 I played a lot of gigs outdoors in Woodstock, often at the Colony Beer Garden, sometimes with singer Eva Bublick

I also played at a couple of memorials for my old bandmate and Very Interesting Person, Barbara Ess. I have the highest esteem for her  as a deeply creative and adaptive artist with a spiritual compass.

left: Paul McMahon drawn by Barbara Ess 1978

right: Paul singing at Memorial for Barbara photographed by Tom Otterness, Elizabeth St. Park


One of my spiritual teachers, Joseph “Beautiful Painted Arrow” teaches that car crashes are initiations. That was true for me in 1993. I feel like it will be for 2021 as well.


I walked away and the car is back on the road.

And speaking of “on the road”…



   Paul, Frank, Luke and Szantos