Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Under the Fuzz: With Edward Robin Coronel

There is a vast difference between someone who paints adorable, fuzzy little creatures that you glance at once, think "Oh, how cute," then never think of again, and an artist who creates adorable, fuzzy little creatures that actually have a character to them, a personality that exudes from the work and lingers with you long after you've stopped staring at them. Edward Robin Coronel is the latter of these two examples and his latest gaggle of characters, created for the upcoming SuperKickAss, is full of diverse and unique personalities, but they are all tied together by a subtle sweetness that the world desperately seems to need right now. I got a chance to ask Mr Coronel a few questions, of course, for the most part, I squandered it with my usual silliness, but in all his answers you can see that same sweetness and you know all his characters originate from a very honest, real place.

Radford: The characters in your paintings are redunkulously adorable. What bitter pain are you hiding behind their sweet faces Edward Robin Coronel? What bitter pain indeed?

Coronel: Thank you for the kind words. I find myself transported to my happy place when I paint or draw my "fuzzy/furry" creatures. Although I have only been painting for a couple of years now, art has always been an escape for me -- even at an early age.

R: What is your earliest artmaking memory?

C: My earliest art making memories are from grade school, when my younger sister and I would spend hours together, drawing our own cartoons. After school we would spread out scrap paper and pens on the living room floor and draw up our own cast of characters. Then we would cut them out. We called them our "paper people". Much of the time my sister wouldn't draw, rather she would tell me what to draw -- mainly family members, friends (including Captain Caveman, Merle Stubbing from the Love Boat and Mrs Garrett from the Facts of Life, etc.) and personified animals wearing snappy outfits.

We also created elaborate environments for our "paper people" to inhabit and have adventures within. Eventually, my sister and I created an entire "paper people" neighborhood comprised of single family homes, apartments, cars, spaceships and pets. Each afternoon our adventures would come to an abrupt conclusion though, when my Lola (Grandma) would give us a 30 minute warning, allowing us enough time to clean up our "paper people world", before our Mom would get home from work -- as she preferred the living room to be neat and tidy, "Just in case the Pope should happen to drop by...".

R: Do you get bacon or sausage as the side with your breakfast platter or are you both sides of the pig kind of guy?

C: I really enjoy both -- they make the world a better and tastier place to live. For the most part, I am a sweet and savory type of guy, so I like to have bacon with pancakes or sausage with waffles.

D: Since you have no formal art training, why don’t you tell the kiddies at home how you got so good at doing what it is you do?

C: Once again, thank you for the kind words.

As far as influences go, from an early age, I have always been attracted to drawn and illustrated works -- from children’s books to comic books to cartoons. I also appreciated photo books of baby animals, sticker collecting and the cute imagery and sentiments found within children's Valentines. As a child I often tried to emulate and reproduce the images that filled by brain.

More recently, I am fortunate to have artist friends who have shared some tips and tricks with me. But more than anything, I think it is a combination of having fun, lots of practice, experimentation, and patience.

R: Say the world falls into some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland of chaos, a la Mad Max, what would you make your warrior name in order to strike fear into the hearts of those who might dare to mean you harm?

C: Gosh, I really can’t think of anything at the moment…

R: Ok then, next question -- Are you more of a Fresh Price of Bel Air, an Independence Day, or a Pursuit of Happiness Will Smith fan? Explain.

C: Haha… let’s see: I am not street smart like The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and I wasn’t born and raised on the mean streets of West Philly; I’m not a self-assured Marine gun toting F/A-18 pilot living in an alien invading world. So I guess that I am kinda more of a Pursuit of Happiness type of guy. I am a big fan of happiness. Who doesn't like to be happy, right?

R: Your husband, Dan Barry, is a part of another Industrial Squid show later this year, called "All the Sordid Little Details". Do you guys often work on your art at the same time? How much influence would you say you have over each other’s decisions regarding your work?

C: For the most part, we work independently of one another. We do share a studio in which we spend a lot of time together. At times we give each other solicited and unsolicited feedback, ideas and/or suggestions. However, I do think it is important for us to nurture and develop our work individually. With that said, we were in a show this past December in Miami that allowed us to exhibit a collaborative piece. It was a fun challenge. I am looking forward to creating and showing future collaborations with Dan.

Miso's Journey: Colab between Robin and Dan

R: We all have plans for global domination. Please describe yours in three words.

C: Buy my artwork.

R: How did it feel to transition into doing your art fulltime?

C: It was definitely a big transition from what I knew and had been successful at for 14 years -- making drugs (legally, working for major pharmaceutical companies in the lab and in QA). The shift was tough and challenging -- initially I had moments of doubt and uncertainty in regards to my artwork. But then I managed to overcome these feelings through discipline and just spending lots of time working in the studio, listening to music and getting lost in the process of creating.

R: I hear tell that you can bust a mean set a moves in some Dance Dance Revolution. Are there any other hidden talents lurking under that reserved disposition of yours Mr. Coronel?

C: Honestly it is Dan Barry who’s got the major ninja moves for Dance Dance Revolution. No worries though! Sometimes folks do get us mixed up. To be honest, I am easily overwhelmed with video games that involve major multitasking i.e. loads of flashing lights, loud dance music, multiple quarter insertion, etc.

I am skilled at and enjoy working with animals. I volunteer at the Austin Humane Society, where I help train and socialize dogs so they are more readily adoptable. I also help train new volunteers on how to train the dogs -- so everyone is uniform and trains the dogs the same way.

At home we have two Italian greyhounds, Max and Frankie. I love those little guys. At times they are my muse and they can be found in some of my artworks.

R: Since the title of the show is SuperKickAss, give me an example of a time in which you kicked ass in super fashion.

C: My favorite and best SuperKickAss moment was finishing my first marathon side by side with my husband. He is my best friend and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Robin’s work will be part of the 5 person show, SuperKickAss, on view at WWA gallery curated by Industrial Squid, from January 21st until February 19th, 2011. For a preview of the show, go to http://www.wwagallery.com/upcoming.html and click on the link.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chung V Radford: Round 2 (The SuperKickAss Edition)

Last February, Industrial Squid put together its first show called The Devil Made Me Do It. We invited this scrappy, young spitball of a dude known ominously as The Chung to contribute and he did so in skull crackin' fashion with this little doozy of a number:

Now Chung is back in action, whipping out some sick nasty new paintings for SuperKickAss, opening Friday, January 21st. Chung also just happened to be my first interview on this here blog, and now almost an entire year later we're at it again, and this time we're serious. Actually, we aren't serious at all. I don't know if we're even capable of being serious. Honestly, I know for myself its starting to take a real toll on my personal relationships because I never let anyone in, you know, to get to know the real me and...um...uh...but that is a discussion to be had with my therapist and not you good people. Wow I feel awkward. Enjoy the interview.

Radford: So we meet again Mr. Chung. What matter of trickery do you have up your sleeves this time?

Chung: There are no tricks, Squid. only ILLUSIONS!

R: After our first interview you swore you’d call and we’d do it again sometime, and I waited by the phone, day and night, I kept checking for a dial tone like a crazy person, thinking maybe, just maybe it was the phone that was broken, but it wasn’t, it was my heart. What do you have to say for yourself, sir?

C: WTF are you talking about!? The last time you interviewed me, you put a roofie in my drink and said you needed me as your lead for your version of the Human Centipede! Would you call you back if you knew what kind of sick pervo you were!?

R: I know exactly what kind of sick pervo I am thank you very much. Anyways. So how would you say your art work for SuperKickAss has evolved from your previous work? Is it even dick and fart jokier then ever before?

C: I've matured greatly and have evolved far beyond the dick and fart genre. I've put the baby jokes aside for now as I'm currently tackling more serious issues, like boobies and doodie.

(I was going to put up a picture of doodie but this seemed nicer)

R: Last time we did this we found out you have a huge crush on Edward from Twilight (might not have actually been said) and that you like to regularly visit Fredericks of Hollywood to “test the merch,” (definitely wasn’t said and is bordering on libel) Are there any other deep, dark secrets you’d like to share with us this time?

C: Okay, first of all, get your facts straight. I've always been team Jacob and everybody knows that. And it was Pandora's Boxxx, not Fredericks. And for your information, that "testing" that I'm doing is for quality assurance. Do you have any idea how many times people call in complaining about ass beads breaking off of their strings? By the way, your order of industrial strength ass beads and fig scented lube just arrived in the store. You can come pick them up during store hours.

R: Oh goodie. I love the smell of figs in the morning. Has anyone ever strummed your pain with their fingers? What is that like?

C: Yes. It tingles and gives you the sensation of needing to pee.

R: Indeed. Did you have any cool resolutions for 2011? Like to stop wasting money on your little ceramic kitten collection no matter how goddam adorable those little kitties might be. (That was a random example and definitely not from my own list)

C: To get addicted to meth, quit, then turn my life around, so i can get my kids back and become an inspiration to all by writing a book about it with a "soon to be a major motion picture" sticker on the cover.

R: If you were trapped on a deserted island, name three people you’d want with you and then put them in order of who you would eat first as food inevitably became scarce.

C: Mayor McCheese, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and Superman. Then Superman would fly all 4 of us to where the cast of Jersey Shore are and then we'd eat them starting with The Situation first.

R: Well make sure you have a napkin to wipe all the spray tan off your face when you're done. Say you were just named Emperor of Everything. It’s a thing. Trust me. First law enacted would be…

C: To make me Emperor of Everything again...but this time we rented a bouncy castle for the ceremony.

R: We are six beers in and it’s our turn on Karaoke. What are we singing?

C: We're not, we're outside by the curb fighting over the last pizza bagel.

R: Mmmm, pizza bagels. Since the title of the show is SuperKickAss, give me an example of a time in which you kicked ass in super fashion.

C: See response to your last question.

Chung’s work will be part of the 5 person show, SuperKickAss, on view at WWA gallery curated by Industrial Squid, from January 21st until February 19th, 2011. For a preview of the show, go to http://www.wwagallery.com/upcoming.html and click on the link.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tracy Tomko is SuperKickAss!

It is a mysteriously wonderful treat to gaze upon a grouping of Tracy Tomko paintings. Each painting is an open field, dreamscapes with characters, biological beings, color, music, and the inquisitive and adventuresome child taking a part in these landscapes.

Tracy and I recently had a conversation covering themes in her work like memory and music, as well as goats, seeing-eye ponies, and reincarnation.

Rob Faucette: What is a favorite artist/painting that has influenced you?

Tracy Tomko: Hieronymus Bosch is my all-time favorite.

RF: Do you make sketches for a painting, or do you just start painting?

TT: My paintings are pretty planned out. I do sketches and some collage to layout images. There are surprises that happen along the way, if I set one aside for a while before it’s finished.

RF: You’ve spoken before about memory. What is the difference, to you, between a memory and a dream? Meaning: when you remember a dream, and when you have a memory of something that actually happened to you, do you think there’s a difference?

TT: That makes me feel a little dizzy! You’re right. “Life IS but a dream.” In my art, I’m fascinated with the idea of how memories, of waking or sleeping moments, become so laced with passing time and nostalgia that they are forever altered without you knowing. I have spoken with friends and family that remember things entirely differently than I do. Someone may even have a photo proving the morphing that has happened and become my reality of the dream. Sometimes I will take a photo and let the nostalgia wash over me. Then, I work at altering the image to help the viewer to feel what that moment has become for me. I spend so much time doing that, that I wonder what my memories will look like in the future.

RF: I think that is the root of a memory, actually: it’s not a fact, but the story as you remember it through time, and with each retelling (or remembrance) details are lost or embellished to suit your own needs: nostalgia, storytelling, etc, so in a way you are preserving memory like a scientist by marking it down?

TT: Yes! That’s fun. A mad scientist embellishing events, like a magic show across time.

RF: What is your favorite memory, or one of them? I have one that is like a snapshot video in my mind that I witnessed when I lived in Vermont. There was a pond and during the winter, we blew off all the snow and put fresh water on it for a smooth skating surface. We had a winter party one night and got a bunch of hockey sticks and pucks, but we all learned pretty quickly how dangerous it was to be whacking pucks around in the dark.

I had gone up to the house to fetch a fresh bottle of whiskey for everyone, and when I came back outside, I saw that everyone had fetched their Mag Light (those big metal flash lights) from their cars and trucks, and they were just whacking them around on the ice, so all these beams of light were shooting everywhere. From the distance, in the dark, looking on that scene and hearing the laughter and the lights through the moonless trees and star-filled night, it was just kind of perfect.

TT: That’s a great one! I lived in Maine when I was young. My dad would turn our backyard into a rink for us. Spray some water – instant rink!

I have one of getting to know a co-worker on the job. She would talk all day, while we were working, about really weird nonsense. I thought she was crazy for months because of the things she would say. One day she’s telling me all about seeing-eye ponies. (like the dogs that lead the blind, only little ponies) She goes so far as to tell me someone in her family breeds and trains them, and all day I’m having these crazy visuals of how nuts her family might be. I leave work and am telling friends about this girl’s “story of the day”, and we are rolling in laughter. Then, later something prompts me to Google it. Turns out, seeing-eye ponies are REAL! Much more laughter! We worked that job together for a little over a year and every day was an adventure. That’s the stuff that life-long friendships are built on. I need to paint those ponies leading everyone around.

RF: What is it about music that is important to you?

TT: Music is such a perfect art form. I wish people could be driving in their car and my art would move them to spontaneously feel as if they are in love, or energized in a way that makes them want to seize the day, or be moved to tears at the thought of someone they are missing, the way that a song can. Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To the End of Love” lyrics are how I started to paint violins:

“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ‘til I’m gathered safely in…”

These lyrics are one of the most beautiful things ever written, in my opinion. I feel like painting musical instruments encourages the viewer to strain to hear the music in the painting. It’s a visual song I’d play to them and to the environment.

RF: I see that as well in the headphones in a literal sense, but also the strong colors in each of your paintings remind me of notes and major or minor keys…like other-worldly pop songs or what one sees on hallucinogens while listening to music, the way a certain song or note can not only call up a color but also a memory, to bring it back around…

TT: Or a smell! Scratch and sniff music! I hope the colors ARE singing to people.

The painting with the headphones, is called “Grow Tones”. Those are actually protective ear gear blocking the sound out. The song in that story is transforming the growth of the plant life, and I didn’t want it to mutate the little girl. I love thinking about music mutating life into new forms.

I like to paint in bright colors and playful images that feel like the wonder of a child.

RF: I see goats pop up from time to time in your paintings...

TT: The goat might be my spirit animal. If I see one, I think something crazy and surprising is going to happen. I may have been a goat in my last life and there are pieces of my goat soul that carried over. Frolicking is one of my favorite hobbies.

RF: Do you believe in reincarnation? What is your aim for the next life?

TT: I’m not ruling any possibilities out, yet. If I get to choose, I would live on another planet in a less concrete form – some sort of alien shape shifter would be awesome.

--Tracy Tomko in conversation with Rob Faucette, January 13, 2011.

Tracy’s work will be part of the 5 person show, SuperKickAss, on view at WWA gallery curated by Industrial Squid, from January 21st until February 19th, 2011. For a preview of the show, go to http://www.wwagallery.com/upcoming.html and click on the link.

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011: A Squid Odyssey

What it is, Bitches and Bitchettes?

The year 2011 has come upon us, like a voracious hawk swooping down and sinking its razor sharp talons into the fluffy fur of some adorable, defenseless woodland creature, and we are f-ing stoked about it! Reason being, we at Industrial Squid have some serious plans to bring the dopeness into this here new year, and we’re just aching to get started.

But before I go on about all our future plans for global domination in the awesomeness market, I’d like to give those of you who missed our handy work in 2010 an opportunity to take a look back at our past hijinks.

The Devil Made Me Do It

On February 12th, we popped our curatorial cherry with The Devil Made Me Do It; in which 30 artists let us take a peek into the darker corners of their psyches. For a show with such a dark theme, it ended up being a ton of fun to put together. Friendships were formed, only a few people were maimed, and Industrial Squid got its first taste of awesome.


But a month later, the Squids were back in action with LA3010, where we asked local, national and international artists to take a guess at what the City of Angels would be like in another 1000 years. The result was an eclectic mix of paintings, collages, etchings and woodcuts that gave life to a world yet unknown. As an added bonus, only one person was maimed in the production of this show. (And he had it coming)

i believe in unicorns

With two shows under our belt, Industrial Squid decided to let loose with the fun and the rainbows, so we threw a little art party we like to call i believe in unicorns. With 33 artists contributing, an actual Unicorn on the premises for the opening, and nothing but bright beams of sunshine coming out of everyone in attendance we dare say that more fun has ever been had. Ever. Anywhere.

Off the Strip

It was on a mid-summer day that Industrial Squid unleashed the more devious side of the Sunday funny pages on the world. We asked some of the art world’s more twisted minds to remix the wholesome characters of famous comic strips and the show ended up being, in a word, scandalous. Enough so that it even got a mention in Juxtapoz magazine’s Showstoppers section.


As our grand finale for 2010 we hosted an homage to Horror, and it proved to be our biggest show yet with 43 different artists contributing from all over the globe. The art work ranged from the sickly disturbing to the sickly hilarious, but one thing was for sure, if you were a fan of either horror or good art you were losing your mother lovin’ mind.

Now as we leave 2010, with fond memories and minor concussions, it is time to get excited about what Industrial Squid is about to do to you in 2011. That’s right. I said to you. This year, we are scaling back the sizes of our shows, getting things a little more intimate and romantical, and opening up the boundaries so our favorite artists can express themselves in any damn way they please.

We are starting this January 21st, at the WWA gallery, with a nice little 5 person shows called SuperKickAss. A show that is sure to be an exercise in merrymaking, SuperKickAss features new works by Dee Chavez, David Chung, Edward Robin Coronel, Tracy Tomko and Jeni Yang. Each of these artists is an experienced explorer of the fantastic and we are peeing our collective pants to see what they’ve brought back from their latest expeditions.

After we’ve all settled down from the kickassery, we have Lilacs out of the Dead Ground set to open on April Fools’ Day, but with a line up including Casey Weldon, Paul Torres, Richard J Frost, Sinae Park, Lily Mae Martin and Dylan Sisson this show is absolutely no joke. These artists are all growing with diverse and inventive styles in what is becoming a more and more homogeneous and uninspired world, but they are breaking through and lending glimpses of beauty to anyone smart enough to pay attention.

Right on the heels of Lilacs we have All the Sordid Little Details, which will highlight the meticulous craftsmanship of six extremely detail oriented artists. With new works from David Ball, Dan Barry, William Buzzell, Ken Garduno, Jesse Hotchkiss, and Jacob Livengood this show will give everyone a nice, tasty little glimpse into the twin worlds of obsession and compulsion.

Also in store for later in 2011, are a couple of large group shows, one a collaboration with the fellas over at Color Ink Book and the other being a study of the modern portrait called About Face. Each of these shows is going to include a large, diverse line up of artists, highlighting some of the names you already know and love and also introducing you to some peeps you never heard of before. So prepare thyself. The year has begun. The Squids have their tentacles out and they are snatching yo people up.

Be well. Best wishes to all you bitches in the new year.