This month, Bluelucy — the 600 block storefront gallery that houses Chad Mize and Phillip Clark's multimedia design firm of the same name — hosts its first group exhibition. Titled simply Colors, the show brings together 12 Tampa Bay area artists, each of whom produced a new piece for the show based on colors randomly assigned to them by Mize.
The spectrum of resulting works includes Allen Leper Hampton's "Yellow Bastard/Swallowed by the Sea," an ironic funeral wreath enclosing a photograph of the artist; Daniel Mrgan's orange-tinted watercolor of a bicycle-riding space explorer; "Black" by Chris Parks (aka, Pale Horse), a haunting and hyper-detailed drawing of an owl; and Samuel South's aqua portrait of Divine, the drag queen famous for nibbling a turd in John Waters' film Pink Flamingos.
The show's other participants were Clark (purple), John Vitale (red), Dan Lasata (green), Robert Phelps (brown), Emily Dwyer (white) and Roman Black (gray). Last week I sat down with several of them to talk about how they rose to the challenge. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:
Creative Loafing: Were any of you assigned a color that made you think, "Oh shit, I totally don't want to use that color in my work"?
Allen Leper Hampton: Close. ... I had been thinking about what I was going to do and running over all the colors. Yellow was the only one I had not even thought about. It was like it didn't even register in my field of vision.
Did you think about what it means to be yellow?
ALH: When I thought about yellow, one of the first things that came to mind was these funeral wreaths, which are really amazing. I also thought about urine, and I had some ideas about that, but I passed on those because it seemed a little too obvious...
For someone who has worked in pig's blood?
ALH: Yeah, what's he going to do? It's going to be something gross. So I wanted to go the opposite way. Funeral wreaths are great because they're really beautiful but at the same time they're marking something morbid and grotesque. That was the idea for the piece — having something that's supposed to be really pretty, in remembrance of something great. But it's actually the opposite, saying "fucking finally." Finally, we don't have to deal with that guy anymore.
Daniel Mrgan: It's a cheerful piece.
ALH: I want to straddle that line between the best thing ever and worst thing ever. The piece is about the way I view myself and the way I feel like others view me — the difference between really awesome and really shitty — smooshed together.
Daniel, this guy Thomas Stevens [in your drawing], was he a character you invented?
DM: No, no, it's an actual person. He's the first guy who did a trip around the world in a bicycle, around 1886. And he used that kind of bicycle [in the drawing], the penny-farthing, which is pretty remarkable. He just set off from San Francisco going east and he went through the U.S., Europe, China. This was at a time when nobody even knew what the bicycle was. ... The first thing I thought of when [Chad] said "orange" was Mars. ... Since the bicycle was the first thing that allowed people to explore, I thought it was interesting to tie that into the exploration of space.
Chris, your owl — is he a mythological owl or anything like that?
Chris Parks: I just like drawing animals. Lately I've been adding to them by referencing Asian masks and wood sculptures. So he's got some more ornate things going on in his face.
He looks like someone chiseled him out of wood.
CP: I like to draw animals that almost look like sculptures, so a lot of hard lines and details.
Did you work by hand?
CP: I work with a Wacom tablet, so it's done in Photoshop with a tablet and pen, and then printed on canvas.
Josh, tell me about what happened when you heard "blue" and then you were already working on your Alphabetto project. Is that how the "Blue Hare" came to be in the show?
Josh Pearson: This is a new series. I'm doing another alphabet series of animals, similar to what Chris was talking about — getting closer into their faces and working with some mask concepts. I was thinking about blue, and we're always joking about the "blue hairs" in Florida, so I was working on a rabbit and decided it was a hare...
Chad Mize: I was shocked that there were so many animals in the show. We should have called it "Colorful Animals." Dan's piece had a little cat in it. I don't know if John's is an animal. And then you know Divine is an animal...
Adam, I had to look up — what's his name? — on Google.
Adam T.: Bruce Walker! A famous '70s Florida skateboarder.
Apparently! Why does he say "pink"?
AT: Well, he doesn't say pink — the Don CeSar says pink. I live across the street from the Don CeSar. My office window opens up and I see the Don CeSar every morning. I figured Chad probably was expecting some genitals or something from me, but to me the Don CeSar is just really the pinkest thing in my life. ... Originally looking at the Don CeSar and thinking "pink," I was going to have Divine lounging on a lounge chair with pink flamingos walking on the beach with their crotch out, and just have it be vile. But I've skateboarded down that front of the Don CeSar so many times, drunk with a martini glass in my hand, that it was just a no-brainer. ... And Bruce Walker, a Florida skateboarder — I wasn't going to put a California guy in there. To do something black light-style, you have to pick someone from the '70s.
Chris Parks: It's your alter ego.
AT: I'm from the '70s, too.