Less is More opens tonight at 111 Minna Gallery and since my new series, Doggies in Jalopies will be included in the show I thought I'd tell you a bit about my inspirations.
1. The Addams family.
Man, it still holds up! This TV SHOW inspires a lot of my artwork. Not necessarily in the literal, Goth sense. It's more the fact that my fiancee and I really relate to the lifestyle. Morticia, Gomez and their family weren't "outsiders." They're "insiders!" Their passions were not a reaction to anything. They simply were not concerned with how the rest of the world lived. They stayed inside and had fun together, their own way. People tend to see the Addams family as mascots to their own "alternative" macabre lifestyles, (probably because of the re-branding the Addams got for the films) but the original TV series was not so "dark." They weren't cruel. They didn't want cookies made from "real Girl Scouts." Aside from all the cartoon stuff like playing with dynamite, putting their own head in a vice or having a live hand in a box, these characters were loving and empathetic. The comedy came from their ignorance of how out-of-touch they were with the rest of the world.
Every episode pretty much went the same way. People from the outside world came upon the Addams' mansion. They would enter and see that mounted marlin with a leg coming out it's mouth, Lurch would grab someone's hat and they would get all "Whooooaaah! These these people are different. I'm scared!" And there is my point. The gag to this show was that there was ONE weird family and the rest of the world played the "straight man." Without the straight man, the one who is freaked out by the strangeness, there is no point. So what do we do now that everyone has a neck tattoo, peirced toes and the Taco Bell logo shaved into their hair? The whole world wants to be the Addams family, the ones weirding out the "norms." Well, I want to weird out the weirdoes, in part by painting off-puttingly wholesome subject-matter. Like Doggies in Jalopies.
2. Peter Helck
I don't know anything about cars or racing, really. My one attempt to be a classic car guy had me pushing a 1969 Mercury Cougar more than driving it. All of my obsession with turn-of-the-century autos and the 1908 Great Race points to one illustrator's book: Great Auto Races as told and painted by Peter Helck. I was floored when I first discovered this book at the Mill Valley library around 2003. I must have checked it out half a dozen times. The color book is 12"x13" and weighs approximately 160 pounds. Every one of the hundreds of paintings and drawings show an intimidating amount of action, movement and detail, all locked down with an incredibly informed, slightly pushed perspective. After almost a decade of keeping an eye out at used bookstores, I managed to find an affordable copy of Great Auto Races on Powell.com. This book is definitely on my short list of things I will grab in case of fire.
For more on Peter Helck (1893-1988) and his artwork check out this article on Vanderbilt Cup Races.
3. Edward Gorey
If you are familiar with my work, it can't be a huge surprise that I love Edward Gorey. Like the Addams family, his artwork is a bit dark but has all the charm and quiet homeyness of your grandparent's sooty fireplace. As an illustrator, his approach may just be the opposite of Peter Helck's. Gorey put his emphasis into meditatively scratching out marks with ink to tell his darkly deadpan stories. His drawings are fun, simple, and hold no attempts to "wow" anyone with dynamic points of view or his knowledge of rippling, human anatomy. Love it or hate it. His work is unapologetic.
Less is More opens Friday, April 4th at 111 Minna Gallery. 5pm-2am-ish 21& up. I hope to see you there!