I always drew maybe even before I could even walk. I tried to capture stuff that had relevance in my everyday life. When I was with my former girlfriend, Denise I was going to draw her. We fell in love when we were both young and reckless. She slipped in to see the painting when I was still working on it but I did not want to show it yet because it was not complete. I never did finish it. We later got married and had a child but the whole thing eventually fell apart. I try to be involved in my child’s life but it is hard. I don’t want to give up on her, as I am still going through this horrible ordeal of parental alienation.
How did you come up with the name 8 Fears? It sounds like the name of an Italian horror film because some of them have numbers in the titles?
That probably played into it but it also reflects my feelings during my failing relationship, the fear that it would keep going badly. Fear can be very powerful, and I want to grab a hold of my fears. I want to accept my fear and at the same time contain it. This has colored my work which has tended to be dark and uncomfortable.
You live in Pilsen which is famous for its colorful murals. Were you at all influenced by them?
I take from everything I see in life even little things. On the way here I saw a puddle and it was opaque. When I stared into it, l was mesmerized and it looked kind of like Frank Zappa. I might even do something with that in my work
The art community in Pilsen seems to be just as segregated as the rest of Chicago. Why is that?
Well, I have always tried to take from different cultures and I feel some affinity for native culture and I may even have native lineage. I appreciate European African and Modern art. Although the art scene is divided it is more neighborly than it initially seems. I grew up in Brighton Park. There was a big Polish population that mixed with Latinos. I do want art scenes to become more diverse.
What are some of your influences?
Believe it or not I was somewhat influenced by the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror episodes. There was a haunted house motif in an episode and along with Amityville Horror this inspired one of my paintings. I am also inspired by EC comics especially Ghastly who has great depictions of gushing blood. Well, I grew up watching episodes of Tales from the Crypt, unedited of course (I also watched the more family friendly cartoon version). This led me back to the comics.
The comics were far more exciting, weird, and scary than anything put out by Marvel and DC. Like Night of the Living Dead, they also included some social commentary in them. In one issue they used a story about robots on another planet to comment about racism. They put a bunch of stupid restrictions on EC at the time, and they didn’t want any book out with a sympathetic portrait of a black man and his plight. I am fascinated by the transition between life and death plus how people look the moment they die and I try to capture that in my art.
What other horror films have you enjoyed or served as inspiration?
I liked Evil Spawn which was directed by Fred Olen Ray. It was the last film or one of the last films to feature the great horror actor, John Carradine. I like to watch the last films of actors. There was also a good horror anthology film that came out featuring Christopher Lee. Although I was traumatized by it I was very influenced by the original Night of the Living Dead by George Romero. Of course, the use of black and white added immensely to it. Now kids see it and complain it’s just another dumb old movie, but whatever you like now will seem dated in the future, The films was also was packed with social commentary. Day of the Beast is also a great Euro horror film from Spain.
How do you support yourself aside from your art?
I work at a Whole Foods. I am going to go there after I talk to you. I am trying to eat more like a vegetarian. I sometimes like to eat some of the food that they would have thrown away because it is about to expire.
Some people you mentioned are somehow related to Goth. Can you tell me how you got involved in this scene?
Well, like many of us when I was a child I always felt like I was in the shadows. It’s very primal. I always loved horror, but I feel like we will always like the stuff from our generation was more into the artistic side of Goth than the fashion. I was always attracted to the mysterious side of it. Also I love the supernatural and occult themes. Genesis P. Orridge is an important influence who was ahead of his time because he introduced people to the transgendered aspect to it. He tried to see how far the mind can go.
Recently the Alley closed and there are less clubs catering to the Goth scene. Do you ever feel like the movement is winding down?
I think the Gothic style will regenerate, and it keeps evolving. It has already touched painting and literature. It was in silent film and eventually it went to music and fashion. There’s a new thing that’s starting out called Nu Goth, and the music is a throwback to the old experimental side of Goth. It has branched into cyber Goth which I don’t particularly appreciate. It’s very techno and harsh sounding but not industrial which has a more has a more unearthly and mechanical feel. Nu Goth is simple and not extravagant or overblown. I’ve been seeing some people in the Goth scene wearing Amish black hats. Al Jourgensen from Ministry used to wear them in 1983, and now they are getting popular again. Aerial Pink is not exactly gothic but he brings the 60s and 80s together in a unique way and his music sounds like some lost radio broadcast. “Lipstick” might be more Goth than Bauhaus or Siouxsie and the Banshees. The song “Fright Night” has a pop rock sound but the lyrics are like gothic literature and Poe. I also like Geneva Jacuzzi who does the paper wave thing. I like people who make music and digital art and those who take existing art, reform it and adapts it perfectly to the internet.
Do you have any thoughts on the current election?
Well it’s kind of like a big cartoon show isn’t it? No one will do what they say anyway. Monica is still trying to get back at Bill. Sanders had suggested the most appropriate ways to spend public funds but he’s out of the race now.
Can you tell me about the marvelous figurine you just gave me?
Well I had a dream about ten years ago when I was nineteen. I saw a bunch of sinister figures in black robes in a deep forest. They wore masks with cut out eyes and they were on their way somewhere (perhaps to some ritual). At one point they stopped and noticed me; then they just stared at me. It freaked me out. But then they just kept doing what they were doing and walked away. I made some figurines of them years later.
Some of your work looks like fire. Can you discuss the role of fire in your art?
I have a hard time drawing fire; I can do it if I take my time. There is one thing I do like doing with fire. I cut out pieces of paper to make a collage and I occasionally set them on fire to produce a warm fluff effect on the paper. It creates an ambience I like. I share the primal fascination that people have with fire. Fire makes me happy which does not mean I like to see it get out of control. It has been used for harm and benefit. The desire for fire is primal that it is almost built into us. I made a Victorian dress with fire where the hands and legs should be. I made some color beads or paint splodges. I also burned part of it to create a slight coffee stain effect.
In the poem “Fire and Ice” Robert Frost equated fire with passion. How do you see it?
It can be good and bad because it can both create and destroy.
I know a film maker who occasionally consumes mushrooms with a Native American group. He says that he often throws up the whole next day. Have drugs influenced your art at all?
I sometimes use marijuana before painting, and I occasionally paint on LSD. People you would not normally expect sometimes do drugs. I would never do cocaine but I like psychedelics. Pumpkin witch one of my most recent paintings and it came out of drugs and my imagination. It’s vicious but not exactly hideous. It was not supposed to be a menstruation image; I just wanted to show blood in general. I wanted to do something different so I did not use paint and marker. I used blood ink as blood,
Can you tell me about your painting called I don’t fucking no?
It’s an abstract [painting]. I didn’t know exactly what it was doing. It has a nihilistic feeling to it.
Can you discuss your technique?
Some pieces take longer than others. I like to take my time but I put more effort into the abstracts, taking effort in choosing the color before I smear it on my hands.
Can you tell me about the Bones and Cones show plus your other upcoming shows?
The Bones and Cones show was very a positive experience although I did not make money. I hope to keep in touch with the curators, Kennedy Coldforge and Jennifer Anne Buckley. The other vendors were just amazing. I talked to some old friends I had not seen for a while. I ran into Scary Lady Sarah; it’s been a year since I saw her. I met her when I was 18. I checked out her show Nocturna and I liked it. Everyone has a little dark side, and she was very welcoming. She put on a great DJ set which was very Halloween oriented. I would be very interested in participating if they have the Bones and Cones show again. I’m sure that I will take part in the monthly show at the EXIT called Mischief. I hope to be a regular contributor.