SEX, DRUGS, AND ROCK N' ROLL
THE EVENT: This was the 4th Annual "Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll" exhibition held by the Paper Heart Gallery. In addition to my bodypainting demonstration, I was joined by writer Bryan Kinnaird who was there promoting his new novel Hell Box, the story of Sean Delany and his involvement with the band KISS. The event also featured live rockabilly bands The Toomstoners Rock, Quarter Inch Crown, and Smut Muffin. Artists with works on display included Lee Berger (acrylic on canvas), Erastes Cinaedi (decopage), Ben Rolfe (photography), Jen Sanders (mixed media sculpture), JT Sikorski (photography), Fred Sullen berger (digital works), Joseph Szkodzinski (photography), Jeff Toleu (photography), and Randy Zucker (photography).
THE VENUE: The gallery is located in the heart of the downtown Phoenix art district (750 NW Grand Avenue) and is a part of Artlink's First Fridays: A self-guided tour of the inner city art galleries held on the first Friday of every month. Paper Heart also has a strong internet presence and can be fount at www.thepaperheart.com . The site includes live webcams so you can see what's happening from the comfort of your home. The venue is operated by artist Scott Sanders who is an absolutely great guy to work with (thanks again for the opportunity Scott!).
THE MODEL: Boy, did I get lucky. With only 2 days to spare before the event, I discovered Gia. This was the first time that I had ever met her and obviously the first time I had ever painted her. I found her on-line portfolio at http://www.onemodelplace.com/member.cfm?ID=123418 and immediately e-mailed her to see if she would be interested in the project. Not only was she interested, she was totally into the whole concept which made her wonderful to work with. She also has a background in acting as well as modeling and she is naturally photogenic. I hope to work with her again and again.
THE PAINTING: In keeping with the theme of the night, Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll, I decided to finally do the Gene Simmons painting that I had been planning for over a year. I had envisioned painting the cover from the Gene Simmons solo album in which he was backlit with a red light, but he wasn't sticking out the infamous tongue on that cover. I found another picture of Simmons with tongue extended and incorporated the lighting effects from the solo cover. In visualizing the way the image would look on a model it was obvious that the tongue would be painted over the pelvic bone, but it was a later brainstorm I had to make the tongue wrap around her leg.
THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Photographer Don Crossland and I had talked about doing this project several years ago during a road trip to Vegas for the Mystique Magazine launch party. I had the opportunity to do this bodypainting idea several times since then, but I knew that I wanted Don to be involved. When he moved off to LA I thought the chances were getting slim, but then he moved back and all the elements were in place when I got the call from the Paper Heart to do this years Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll event. Don is a very talented photographer and he was able to capture the essence of the lighting on the Gene Simmons cover and adapt it to this photoshoot. You can see more of his work at http://www.sexycrazycool.com .
Jan. 11-15: 'Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Show'
For five years now, the Paper Heart Gallery has been bringing downtown Phoenix the "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll Show."
It is the west-end equivalent of Alwun House's exotic-art show and has proven just as popular.
"First Fridays usually bring us 500 or so visitors," says Scott Sanders, owner of the Paper Heart on Grand Avenue. "But this show usually adds a few hundred to that."
Like many First Friday events, the show is a concatenation of things. There will be photography, painting and sculpture, but there will also be live music, belly dancing, tattoo artists and the annual bravura body painting by Mark Greenawalt.
"Last year, he did Jim Morrison on a nude model," Sanders says. "This year, he's doing Gene Simmons, with a tongue hanging down and wrapped around her leg."
On the same topic, author Bryan Kinnaird will read from his book, Hellbox, about the producer who brought Simmons' band, Kiss, to the public.
In all, the show brings something of a party atmosphere to the monthly artfest. But Sanders sees lasting value in his promotional gimmick, almost as if it were educational.
"We did it to get people who may not normally go and view the arts," Sanders says. "We want to introduce them to what's going on downtown.
"I've seen faces I've never seen on first Fridays, and faces I never expected to see."
The work, he says, is erotic in intent, not pornographic. The drug content is found in psychedelic, computer-generated designs.
"It's not pictures of people smoking bongs or something like that," he says.
But sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, the anthem of American youth, is as American as cherry pie.
"It's always been right there," Sanders says.
Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8823
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