Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Apr 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 cahillwessel.com.
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

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

We Can Rebuild You

A look back at how downtown Santa Cruz recovered from the 1989 earthquake

 

International Earth Day—Mother Earth Day

Every April 22, humanity celebrates International Mother Earth Day and Earth Day. As more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities every year, Earth Day has become the world’s largest civic observance. The massive concern to build right relations between humanity and the living being we call Earth is evidence of humanity’s love of the Mother. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed April 22 International Mother Earth Day, with a significant resolution affirming “the interdependence existing among human beings, other living species (the kingdoms—mineral, plant, animal and human) and the planet itself, the Earth which we all inhabit.” The Earth is our home. Celebrating Earth Day helps us define new emerging processes (economic, social, political) focused on the well-being of the kingdoms. Through these, humanity seeks to raise the quality of life, foster equality and begin to establish right relations with the Earth. We dedicate ourselves to bringing forth balance and a relationship of harmony with all of nature. Learn about planting a billion trees (the Canopy Project); participate in 1.5 billion acts of green. Disassociation (toward Earth) is no longer viable. We lose our connection to life itself. Participation is viable—an anchor, refuge and service for all of life on Earth. Visit earthday.org; harmonywithnatureun.org; and un.org/en/events/motherearthday for more information. From Farmers Almanac, “On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, companionship with nature! Go barefooted. Walk through woods, find wildflowers and green moss. Remain outside, no matter the weather!” Nature, Earth’s most balanced kingdom, heals us. The New Group of World Servers is preparing for the May 3 Wesak Buddha Taurus solar festival. We prepare through asking for and offering forgiveness. Forgiveness purifies and like nature, heals.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Mission Critical

How reading Lisa Jensen’s reviews taught me to love film
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Oral Fixations

Blown away by a Tuesday night dinner at Oswald

 

What would you like to see a TED talk about?

Hydrogen-gas cars that are coming this summer. Scott Oliver, Santa Cruz, Professor

 

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard of Gilroy is known for crafting fine wines—and one of my all-time favorites is its Chardonnay. But this time, its Viognier has my vote.

 

Munch

East Coast meets West Coast in new meat lover’s paradise