Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 26th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Locating Art’s Funny Bone

ae_art_skulltacosIntroducing First Friday artist, Cahill Wesse
Cahill Wessel would not have lasted a day on Noah’s Ark. The 22-year-old artist, fresh out of UC Santa Cruz, believes that not only opposites, but also completely random and unrelated objects, attract.

When the young visionary looks at a taco, for instance, he doesn’t necessarily see what most of us do—crunchy, cheesy, (sometimes spicy), mouth-watering goodness. Instead, he imagines what it would look like when juxtaposed with another object. In this case, he chose skulls.

Loosening the art world’s necktie with his dark humor, homage to pop art and wild imagination, Wessel laughs in the face of all artists who take their work too seriously.

And in a world where flamingos tower above airplanes, pigs and football players collide, triceratops can box, crocodiles are gamblers, and hot dogs have mastered the Thizzle dance, Wessel reigns king.

“Nothing is worse than heavy, emotional art,” says Wessel. “Many times artists put a lot of weight on their work, trying to convey one specific message—but knowing what you want to get out of your art before you create it, takes the fun out of it.”

Using just ink, gouache and watercolor—they’re “easy to use, require quick set-up and are, most importantly, cheap”—on paper or wood, the aspiring illustrator creates surrealist dreamscapes without a blueprint in mind.

“It all starts with a vague idea,” he says. “I think of two random objects or features or an odd situation that is easily recognizable, then I look up images on Google and I get different ideas of what it might look like.”

Then, something kind of magical happens. Suddenly, it’s not at all weird that turkeys and burgers, bananas and boats, roosters and guns coexist within their respective frames.

ae_art_tricerotopFor Wessel, making sense of that harmony is in the eye of the beholder.

“I want each viewer to be able to draw their own connection between the objects and have their own interpretation,” he says. “How you read it is going to depend on your own life, but I definitely strive to make work that is humorous.”
With satirical artists like Banksy, the face of Britain’s graffiti, and New York’s own videogame dissector Cory Arcangel currently redefining the word, Wessel appears to be on the right track. His eye for beauty in the most unlikely of places makes for a unique critique of art’s often-highbrow expectations, and a refreshing addition to the First Friday Art Tour, on Friday, Jan. 7.

Though Wessel has displayed his art in various venues around town during the last four years, including the Catalyst, Space Gallery in San Francisco and most recently, The Krate, this is the first time he will participate in the Santa Cruz institution.

Beginning at 5 p.m., Jan. 7, Wessel’s work will be on display at Stripe, 107 Walnut Avenue, Santa Cruz. (The show will hang until Feb. 3.) There, visitors will get to admire his bold and humorous creations while sipping on the store’s signature cocktail, the Stripetini, and enjoying AlFresco’s culinary creations.

Wessel’s style may be unconventional and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart—don’t be surprised if you find cigarettes and genitalia camouflaged among the explosions of color, pattern and object-crammed chaos—but it’s also the perfect embodiment of a young man who’s deep within the throes of finding his artistic voice, defining his trademark style (somewhere between cartoons with realistic details and graffiti) and figuring out how he wants to make a positive impact on the world.

His website manifesto is only further proof that we ain’t seen nothing yet.

“I hope to create snapshots of imagined scenes or situations in which modern trends, struggles, and accomplishments are intertwined within the life of a fictional creature or character,” he says in the “About” section. “I intend to create spaces in which the past, present, and future struggle for attention while the end is here for lunch.”

Come see Cahill Wessel's artwork as part of the First Friday Art Tour Jan. 7 from 5-9 p.m. through Feb. 3 at Stripe, 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. For a sneak peak, visit
Comments (1)Add Comment
Very excited.
written by Skinny Ricky, January 06, 2011
Super stoked on this talented up-and-comer. See you at stripe!

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Gratitude—For Each New Morning With its Light

The full moon of Wednesday brings light to Thanksgiving (Thursday) under the Sagittarius Sun and Mercury. Mercury in Sag offers humanity the message (Mercury) of thankfulness and joy (Jupiter). No other sign represents food, music and joy better than Sagittarius (only Pisces, when not in despair). Beginning on Thanksgiving, we can list what we’re grateful for. Then we can continue the list, creating a daily Gratitude Journal. What we are grateful for always increases in our lives. On Thanksgiving Saturn/Neptune square (challenging) is in full effect. This can manifest as traditions not being honored, disappearing, falling away. It can also create a sense of sadness, confusion, of things not working out as planned. It’s best to be as simple as possible. And to focus on gratitude instead. Gratitude is a service to others. It is scientifically and occultly a releasing agent. Releasing us from the past, allowing our future—the new culture and civilization, the new Aquarian laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarius, the Age of Friendship and Equality—to come forth. Gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution for humanity and the world’s problems.” The hierarchy lays great emphasis upon expressing gratitude. Gratitude illuminates all that is in darkness. Let us be grateful during this season together. Being, for others, the light that illuminates the darkness. A Poem by R.W. Emerson: We are grateful … “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food/For love and friends/For everything thy goodness sends.” (poem by R.W. Emerson). I am grateful for my family of readers.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Pluck of the Irish

Mid-century immigrant tale engagingly told in ‘Brooklyn’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Second Street Café

Pies and tarts for all tastes—from traditional to adventurous


How are you preparing for El Niño?

Getting ready to buy some rain gear. Cory Pickering, Santa Cruz, Teaching Assistant


Fortino Winery

Cabernet and superb fruit wine from Fortino Winery


Tap Dance

West End Tap & Kitchen’s impressive menu to expand to Eastside location