Sublime/40 oz sun
I have loved sublime since I can remember. I chose the 40 oz sun to do my art appreciation term paper on and my question would be, what is the history behind this piece and what was going on in Opie's life at the time to influence him to do this piece?
Thanks for the question. You're actually my first allexperts question ever. Your question is a little out of my area of "expertise" but I'll give it the old college try. I very briefly met Opie many, many years ago but meeting him is not the right choice of words. More accurately, I was in the same room or area as him. He wasn't a super social or particularly friendly person with people he didn't know well. I don't think that I ever talked to him at all.
I can only guess what was going on in his life at the time that he created the famous Sublime sun that appears on 40 Oz. to Freedom. There were a lot of hard drugs being consumed in the LB Sublime scene in the early 90's so there was that influence in the piece. Looking at the sun and seeing a little of the Long Beach Sublime scene of the late 80's and early 90's I'm going to speculate and say that Opie was struggling with the temptations of drugs (and alcohol) that were everywhere.
I don't know if we'll ever know exactly what the history behind the sun is and what was going on in Opie's life at the time until he says so. I searched through a decent amount of Opie interviews and I didn't find anything that I thought would be helpful.
I'm going to turn you over to the real experts right now. I've copied and pasted two posts from Matt Maguire on the subject from allexperts. I hope that they are very helpful. This first one is from April 7, 2007.
Happy Easter or Passover, etc. There have been a few theories on the elements of the 40oz sun, but I'd be lying to you if I told you I knew anything more than my own speculations and the speculations of others -- it really hasn't been talked about by a more reputable source (like Opie Ortiz, the artist). If you post regularly on Sublime Spot, I'm sorry, but I'm going to repost what "Beany" said:
"I always had a theory over the Sublime sun. Here it goes:
You think of the LBC, Cali, the west coast, what do you think of, stereotypically? Sun, sea, sand and surf. Party time, with good music and great scenery. And look! The 40oz cover has a sun! So all's happy, right?
Look closer, what do you see? A genie, offering temptation, the devil likewise. A maggot, a hypodermic needle, a skull and a skeleton. What the artwork metaphorically shows, to me, is that although Cali is a fun, laid-back place to be, all is not as it seems. Even the actual sun seems depressed, by it's expression. Scratch the surface, and all is not well.
Of course, if you avoid the temptations, perhaps you just see a sun.
I thoroughly agree with this thoughtful insight and have a couple things to add which I think are in his theory, but aren't expressed outright.
There's certainly a drug theme to the image since the head is made out of a mushroom. Also, the skeleton of a fish is an omen on its own; Brad's tattoo in his left forearm also had a black fish skeleton, in the place where he would shoot his heroin. Later, Opie (same artist) added waves reminicent of Cali, but filled those waves with toxic waste barrels, track, and needles...not all serene.
But like "Beany" I'm going to step back and invite you to make your own theory and admit that I don't know for sure.
The following one is from December 6, 2010
Below is a copy of my previous answer to this question:
I've been asked once before actually, but I don't think there is a definitive answer because Opie Ortiz has never talked about it -- that I know.
You probably know, but Opie Ortiz drew the infamous sun logo for the 40oz to Freedom album, in a tattoo style since he is a tattoo artist. In the vein of a successful tattoo, it stands alone as a great piece of art, but has layers of personal story in parts of the whole. I don't know the stories, so this is speculation, but it's definitely a dark tattoo.
The sun itself is a symbol of what we know as California, a sunny and beautiful place, but you have references to drugs -- pot, crack, shrooms -- and references to death in several skulls and skeletons. There's an evil genie that almost seems to say "Be careful what you wish for" which I find to be scarily predictive (their wish of success lead to Brad picking up drugs to be more creative and ultimately lead to him losing the war with heroin). The devil (temptation), a dead fish, and a flower that's covered in thorns fill the rest of the sun. The only positive element in this sun is a peace sign, minuscule and crushed under the weight of the bad parts of the sun. It's an apt image for an album which wasn't recorded easily because Bud was hooked on heroin (his signature always has a peace symbol in the shape of a heart), and whose title track is about finding freedom in drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
The crying sun inside the cover of Second Hand Smoke is self-explanatory, so I doubt you need that answered.
Thanks for making me put my thoughts down in text and please let me know if you have any other ideas or disagree.
Well good luck with your paper. I hope that this was a little helpful.