Thursday, April 16, 2009


Q and A via e-mail April 2009

S+U: Your paintings seem like an amalgam of late night Sci-Fi, TV, religion, mythology and history. Is painting a way of coming to terms with all the junk/culture you've been exposed to over the years, or an outlet for something completely different?

JR: Well, I think all of the things you listed are connected… It’s a way to process and cope w/ the horror of the real world… Even history is an escape. But, yeah, I never wanted to hide my relationship w/ this low brow stuff, it is part of mental landscape. Also I think this "junk culture" in the end, will be considered the high art of our time.

S+U: How and by whom? It seems like the people who are writing high art-history can only deal with the “low bro” through concepts like “kitsch” and via irony.
Wouldn’t it take a sort of mental landslide for this to happen?

JR: Well, I have no idea who (super evolved robots that have replaced us?). The thing is most art these days is about art or whatever. It’s a way for "smart" people who can’t do math to feel good about themselves. I just don’t see the post modern scene having much of a shelf life.
It’s not the human stain, it’s not primal.

S+U: There's a sort of post-apocalyptic vibe to some of the paintings; ruins and a mix of futurism meets caveman savagery - a state of disorder and confusion. Have you given any thought to why you're drawn to these worlds?

JR: These works are from a project that my friend Brian McDonald and I have been working on for the past few years. The story takes place in a world in which there was a nuclear war in 1983 (which there almost was) and what my life would have been like if that had happened.
I'm a teenage shaman warrior living in a red skied, mutant filled, radioactive jungle that was Cleveland, OH. It’s about reinvention, adolescence and dealing w/ fear...
And yeah, I think that the ROAD WARRIOR is the greatest art work of the 1980s.

S+U: How do you start a new painting? Do you make sketches first to figure out what goes where and what looks best, or...?

JR: I work out the drawing w/ a pencil on the surface, then block in the color, then put in the line. Sometimes, I'll use comics to help w/ modeling the characters.

S+U: In one of the paintings, there's a cowboy and a caveman whuppin' some poor angels ass and in the background there are nice houses floating on fluffy clouds - do you recall what you had in mind when you did that one?

JR: That piece had to do w/ a series I was doing about un-illustrated religions. After I finished art school (which didn’t go well, cause I was dealing w/ these same themes back then and post modern art professors HATE God), I got a job making and restoring Catholic art.
So, everyday I was surrounded by dead Christ, dying Christ, or zombie Christ.
I was basically helping these worshippers relate to their Lord through imagery.
This got me thinking about the faiths that never had pictures made about their myths (for whatever reason).
So, this piece is about the GHOST DANCE faith, which was born from the near genocide of the North American Indian. The religion was created on reservations and told of a time where the earth would crack open and the Buffalo would come thundering out, and all the dead warriors would ride down from the heavens and drive the white man into the sea.
In my story this time has come to pass and the Christians are kicked out of the New World, which causes a war w/ heaven.
The cowboy is a white man that has sided w/ the Indians on their holy war (he wants the freedom of the Wild West to go on forever, too). And that's not a cave man, it’s a Great Ape and it’s a reference to Clint Eastwood's sidekick from 'ANY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE', which isn't a Western, but, what the hell.

S+U: Did you play the post modern game in any way at all, when you went to art school? Try and experiment within that trend, or did you detect the bullshit from day one and just stay away from it?

JR: Yeah, I did some stuff where I layered imagines, fields of color and stuff. People liked it, but I was just doing it to fit in.
I never knew when to stop on a piece. I had fun w/ it I guess.
But yeah, I was never sold on the post modern art ideals. And I now work in a super hip art space, so I can fake it really well!

S+U: What’s in line for the Wiggins musically and Jon Read artistically?
Have you got new releases in the works and more exhibitions lined up?

JR: I have a few music releases that are in the works.
Artistically, I have the post nuclear book coming out (someday) and I might be doing some design for a cartoon that some TV-producer friends of mine are working on.

S+U: Is there any chance of seeing you abroad with any of your projects?

JR: I'd love to get back to Europe (or just show over there)… I just don’t know too many people over there.

S+U: Well, I hope something’ll work out...
Lastly, now that you’ve already mentioned two of your favorite art works (Road Warrior and Any Which Way But Loose), please tell us about a few more favorite movies/albums/paintings/people, or whatever, which you feel in some way has helped influence you artistically…

JR: I Like: The Simpson, Wallace Wood, Over the Edge, the Cohen Brothers, David Lynch, Desmond Dekker, Elvis, Andy Warhol+ the Velvet Underground, The Modern Lovers Henry Darger, Catholic art from the middle ages, American Indians/Mayan art, a…a…a...all my friends (too many to list!).

The Wiggins on myspace
Another interview with Mr Read

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