This week's chat is with KC artist Danny Joe Gibson, whose recent exhibition of concert fliers won the "best scene-uniting retrospective" award in the Pitch and wowed crowds at 1819 Central for three months running. His newest show at 1819 opens this Friday. It's called "Mouth Breathing at the Wick to the Apocalypse," and we predict it's as odd as it sounds!
Thanks to DJG for chatting with us about art, chicken art, hot tub art, and how awesome it would be if Michael Shannon exploded a Transformer with his mind!
Chip: I've been examining some of your pieces from this weekend's opening over at the gallery on @Saint_Upid's site and, quite frankly, I don't "get" some of it. Can you explain that Fox Food 2/ bunny piece to me?
DJG: I've been saving up each week's grocery store ad papers. I like to cut out the meat and various food chunks and make animals. I've got a fox and a rabbit. The fox is titled "Fox Food No. 1" and the rabbit is "Fox Food No. 2." So, eventually the rabbit gets eaten by the fox. Get it?
Chip: Not really. But I dig that bunny.
Richard: Can you give us a general sense of your style and techniques as an artist? And who are your influences? And could you please incorporate one of those "my work is like _________ meets ___________" comparisons that critics love so much?
DJG: My style typically consists of whatever mood/feeling I'm in or whatever sorts of things I've got to work with around me. I guess there are some consistencies as I keep coming back to found objects, collage, scribbles and junk.
Range of like-minded artistic kin stretch from my grandma to folk art to Henryk Tomaszewski to Seymour Chwast to Ray Johnson to Basquiat to Saul Steinberg and even Pee-wee Herman, Dr. Demento and Jim Henson. Daily influences include a mixture of intuition, conversation, observation, humor, stains on teeth, animals, anxiety, faith, layered language, worlds interacting with worlds, things that look better weathered, markings on pavement and beyond blah-blah. I watch a lot of movies too.
It's hard answering the "comparisons" question as I'm not always on the outside looking in. What do you think? I've had some people compare the found object work to Robert Rauschenberg. That's a pretty tall order though. I never really think about that stuff.
Steve Brisendine of Art KC 365 kindly put me at, "He isn’t just in touch with his inner child; the two of them must hang out on a regular basis, playing with scissors, magazines and construction paper…Some of his creations…are meticulously assembled. Others look as though they were fueled by half a box of frosted cereal, washed down with a two-liter bottle of something sugary and caffeinated."
Can I just say, "My work is like the Garbage Pail Kids meets Ren & Stimpy."?
Richard: Tell us more about "Mouth Breathing at the Wick to the Apocalypse." What is this show about and is it going to convince us (or convince us even further) that the world is ending in 2012?
DJG: I was actually quite anxious titling it this, but I kept coming back to it/it kept coming back to me. And it extends further than just the 2012 stuff. There's a lot to chew on and this title just works for the times and within my own body of work. It's definitely a conversation stimulator. The following is what I wrote for Chad Thomas Johnston's web site (@Saint_Upid). Actually, this one was slightly revised for my own blog:
Every living thing has a date of expiration. When that date comes, I believe, is in much bigger hands…as well as with a personal healthy dose of daily walk and decision. And Lord knows we’re all trying to put the wicks out to something we have to face, large or small, Earth or individual. We love to control, alter, even bring about more things in the process. Let’s all truly breathe and make space instead of picking up the pace and filling up out pants. Put the hand to the mouth…you’re still breathing. All of this also goes towards those who stand around waiting for things to happen on an individual level. I don’t know, life is about balance. I struggle every day.
People are so focused on 2012 predictions and doom ‘n’ gloom when life is still in the now. For those wishing to sidestep the recent holiday cheer, there was even an “Armageddon Week” during Christmas on the History Channel. Yeah, fascinating, but let’s not over do it. If this is our last official year, then let’s just take one long holiday! Who knows? I don’t think any man truly does. But, when that day comes we will be there with the cameras rolling, breathing heavily, awaiting to capture and recapture a thing that we’ll either be too dead to see or won’t have the grid or battery power to reconnect with. Let’s find the art and beauty in the rubble that is the now.
This all sort of fits into my exhibition title “Mouth Breathing at the Wick to the Apocalypse.” It also just speaks for the body of work I’ve been creating the past year, perhaps many years. I don’t aim to alarm or hoover heavily. If anything, the spirit in the art is quite jovial and optimistic. Per usual, I want people to have a soak and smile. Some of the ideas initialized in a 2002 sketchbook I did as a janitor as well as writings over the past half decade. In the end, it just has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Richard: What other projects do you have in store for what may well be the last year of humanity's existence as we know it?
DJG: I made a life-size bison (on paper) outlined in grocery store meat ads and splattered with coffee. He'll be at the exhibition hiding in a corner. I've also got a snake on a board made out of chewed up Dubble Bubble. My jaw is kind of sore this week. I think that's it for the gum art. There will be a few others in the show too.
Other projects in the coming months? Well, I'd like to knock out another music video this year. I'm trying my hand and patience at stop motion animation. Emphasis on "trying."
I'd like to have a 2nd exhibition at 1819 Central this year. I'm thinking of doing a photography show, but I'll just see what art I make between now and the fall. Ultimately, I'd like to make some money on this art thing. We'll see.
I'll also have a piece in the forthcoming Middle of the Map Fest art show in April. I still need to make that one.
Chip: KC has a strange new event called Hot Tub dialogues, in which the audience pays to watch artists sit around talking about art in a hot tub. Personally, I find it all very sexy, which is something I almost never say about art events. Would you be willing to don your bathing suit to participate in such shenanigans?
DJG: This is new news to me! And weird at that! Especially the audience pay part. I don't think I'd be up for such an event unless said hot tub was a time machine. I'm also a bit of a nevernude and still barely sticking my toes in the Kansas City art pool as it is!
Richard: Larryville has a very controversial public art event that is slated to begin soon, Amber Hansen's "The Story of Chickens: A Revolution," in which chickens will be exhibited for a month in spots around town, letting people get to know them before culminating in their death and subsequent cooking for a community event at the Percolator. What are your initial thoughts on this project?
DJG: Like the hot tub talk, this is weird and new local art news to me! I really am out of the loop/pool. Growing up on a farm in rural Missouri, I knew many of my animals before they were butchered. I guess, like anything, it's a matter of public opinion. If you're not comfortable with it, then don't attend/support? Is this commentary on the whole local/get to know your food and where it comes from thing? Very interesting. I don't quite understand the need to make it into a public art event. Seems like something destined to stir the poultry pot, so to speak! I guess I need to know more about this.
Richard: I know you are a huge movie buff, since I talk movies with you on Twitter quite often. What's the best off-the-beaten-path film that you've watched recently that our readers should see and then talk pompously about at the Pig while pretending like they discovered it themselves?
DJG: Uh, Transformers? I watched that and Take Shelter recently. Michael Shannon could destroy a Transformer by staring at it...sure to be an Academy Award favorite.
Chip: "I'd totally see that."
Richard: Any future plans to make a Larryville visit and drink a PBR with us?
DJG: I don't have the street cred to call it Larryville just yet, but maybe I will after I come hang with you guys? Lawrence used to be a short hop, skip and a jump traveling to concerts in my youth. It helped that I rarely drove then. At 33, Lawrence seems so far away from Kansas City. One of these days though...
Richard: Do you have a favorite show from your Lawrence concert-going days?
DJG: My most memorable concert moment in Lawrence would have to be meeting Elliott Smith in the Granada back alley after his show. We shook hands and both said, "Thanks." at the same time. Also in the alley were The Flaming Lips who happened to be in town, and previously on stage performing "Don't Fear the Reaper" with Elliott. What a way to end it. I was sad the day Elliott smith passed away and still am.
Richard: "I was at the same show! But, sadly, not in the alley afterward."
You can visit the Facebook event page for the "Mouthbreathing" opening here .
and the 1819 Central site here
and Danny's website here
and Danny's work is being set up even as we speak. Take a peek (click to enlarge):