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Gary Baseman Interview

Written by Trippe   
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 07:41
Gary lives in LA. He's preparing for a show in Barcelona on July 3rd and a new book out through Lasp Gasp. He's also won 3 Emmy's for a cartoon he created for Disney a few years back. He's Gary Baseman and he's here.

Creating his self titled "pervasive art" (adding your work to any medium anywhere from canvas to clothing to toys etc) for over the last 2 decades, Gary Baseman is an artist you've got to be familiar with. He's won three Emmy Awards for the cartoon he created for Disney, Teacher's Pet, which was also turned into a feature film in 2004. He also has a show "Knowledge comes with Gas Release" opening on July 3rd in Barcelona @IguaPop Gallery and is about to release a new book "Dying of Thirst" through Lasp Gasp... We had a chance to do this quick web interview featuring some of his newer works and to get a heads up into Gary's current life situation. Say howdy to this very well known "Low Brow" fine artist.

Age? Location? Artistic education?

Age: Old enough to be your father. But young enough to fuck your sister. Location: The mean streets of Hollywood, if you believe Orthodox Jews are mean, you god damn anti-semite!! Artistic education: No formal training. I learned it all in my bedroom.

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

I dream. I draw. And I draw again. Then I draw again and again. And I see what stays with me. What gives me meaning. Then I start creating a body of work. Does that make sense?

What materials do you normally work in?

I use what they call "art supplies." Pens, colored pencils for drawings. Paper too. Acrylic paint with brushes for wood panels and canvases. Sometimes bodily fluid. I might spit by accident on my work if I talk. I sometimes drool.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

Well, I used to describe my work as where the line of genius and stupidity was smudged beyond recognition. I love things that create intellectual curiosity and are moronic at the same time. But if someone asks what I paint, and it all seems to lead to "desire." Desire, longing, lust, control or lack of control. Fuck. I am so out of control... Or if I was talking to them in a more conceptual context, I would tell them that I use the term "Pervasive Art" do describe my work. Pervasive in the sense of the definition that it is perceived everywhere. My definition of Pervasive Art is that as long as an artist stays true to their esthetic (their personal artistic vision) and has a strong message, they can blur the lines of all media and put there art on anything, from gallery walls, street walls, vinyl toys, fashion, tv, film, internet, phones, skateboards, condoms, a hot girl's ass, a dog's ass, a jackass, anything... It blurs the lines also of fine art and commercial art. It is a true populous movement. Oops. I think that stranger I was talking to just walked away.

How long have you lived in LA?

Well, I was born and bred in Los Angeles. Actually, the Fairfax District. I best way to give a good mental image of where I was from was that I went to high school with the Red Hot Chili Peppers; and my mom was the head bakery lady at a famous Jewish restaurant named Canters. Eastern European Holocaust survivors meet Punk. Suck my circumcised dick... I lived there till after college, where I went to UCLA, then moved to the mean streets of NYC for ten years. Mean streets, if you think the Jews who own the publishing industry are mean, you are such a fucking anti-semite!! I came back to LA, to produce an animated TV show. Okay, I am tired about making Jewish jokes. I might be Jewish but I am actually one of the more non-religious people around. I seem to love all religious imagery and icons from Catholicism to Elvisism. Beautiful poetry. Oh, I love being back in LA.

What do love most about living in LA?

I love that I can go swimming at 4pm in the afternoon in an outdoor semi-olympic heated pool all year round. I love good "molé" sauce. And I love the whole underground LA art movement and all the young art galleries here that are willing to take risks and sell new affordable art. And, of course, the girls. And my painter friends....Mark Ryden and Marion Peck, the Clayton Brothers, Shepard Fairy, Camille Rose Garcia (well, she moved up north, but I know she and Jeremy will come back), Richard Colmen (okay, he moved to SF too, shit!), Shag, Tim Biskup, Seonna Hong, Jeff Soto, Natalia Fabia, Andrew Brandou and Korin Faught, Souther Salazer, and the list goes on.

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

I would take you to Dominick's on Sunday evening. I seem to go there every Sunday night. They have a wonderful Sunday Supper special, appetizer, entree, and dessert for $15. And you can get a bottle of their house wine for $10. I usually sit by the outdoor fireplace and sketch and invite my friends to come by and hang. I did it so much that they asked to put my artwork on the wine bottle, so I drew my deer girl, Venison. If you didn't know, Venison is the term for deer meat.

What are you really excited about right now?

I am finishing up a solo show at the IguaPop Gallery in Barcelona on July 3rd. We are also producing a hard cover catalog for the exhibition. And it will be fashion week. There will be parties till 8 in the morning.

Also, my new book, Dying of Thirst, published by Last Gasp, is coming out. It is based on my exhibition at the Modernism Gallery in San Francisco titled "I melt in your presence." It will be full of paintings and drawings of my little nymph girls and their imaginary best friends.

When are you the most productive?

I am most productive when there is a damn deadline in my face. Or on a plane where there are not too many distractions. I can get a lot of drawing done.

Favorite trip taken?

I just returned from a week in Buenos Aires where they brought me out for this Urban Art festival. I had an amazing time. About 10,000 attended, I had a speaking engagement and signed about a thousand autographs. And the girls. The girls. They are so beautiful. The Argentinean people really seem to care about living life to the fullest and experiencing happiness.


Music is really important to me. My staples are the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Dylan, Tom Waits, and the Beatles Stones. But my favs that I seem to be listening to are Radiohead, Coldplay, Nirvana and Beirut. And since Coachella, I have been listening to Calvin Harris and DataRock.

What were you like in high school?

I was a nerdy good kid with a Jewfro who ran Cross Country and Track. I did not kiss a girl till I was 18, nor did I drink, smoke, or take drugs. Back then, I was absolute about everything. Black and White. I was 5 ft. 2in in my sophomore year and sprouted to 5 ft. 9 1/2 at the end of my senior year. I wasn't even close to being the smartest, but I probably was the goodest kid. In my senior year, I was probably awarded almost every award in school from the American Legion Outstanding Student Award to the Principal Awarding me a Special Award for all the art I did for the school. Even, the Mayor of Los Angeles personally handed me Los Angeles City Youth Advisory Council Outstanding Youth Award on the top floor of City Hall.... There was nothing cool about me except I drew everyday. I used to be good. I am not good anymore.

Upcoming projects and/ or upcoming shows, etc...?

Were you not listening to what I was telling you? I have a solo exhibition in Barcelona on July 3rd titled "Knowledge comes with Gas Release." @IguaPop Gallery. The title is based on me mis hearing the lyrics to one of my favorite David Bowie songs, "Quicksand." He sings "Knowledge comes with Death Release." Death's release. Gas release. What is the difference? In this series of painting, I remove the narrative and concentrate on the iconic nature of my work. I started to experiment with the abstract nature of my "manifestations of desire." these spheres that I paint in the atmosphere of my work.

*List any blogs or other sites you may have your work on or another interview...

I don't know. Let me look at my website for press or just google me, or bloglines.com me... Is there any other real site other than Fecal Face? You guys do such a nice job.

If your around Barcelona on July 3rd, check out Gary's show Knowledge comes with Gas Release @IguaPop Gallery... Also be on the look out for his forthcoming book from Lasp Gasp titled Dying of Thirst.

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