Sunday, September 6, 2009

Assignment #8: I Make Monster

Remember that childhood game in which you (along with a small group of people) create a strange, fantastical figure by drawing a succession of body parts from top to bottom, each created by the person before who folds the drawing, segment by segment, so your creature remains a mystery to all until the end? In this game, known as Exquisite Corpse, your blind collaboration leads to endless creative possibilities. A two-headed baby with a snowman's torso and reptilian feet and tail? Sure! It's all up to your imagination.

Exquisite Corpse actually dates back to the Dada and Surrealist periods of art, and has been played by the likes of Andre Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro, and Man Ray.

In thinking of an appropriate project to coincide with our recent feature on Portland artist Andy Kehoe, a painter notorious for the equally nightmarish and smile-inducing creatures which inhabit his compositions, Exquisite Corpse seemed perfectly fitting. The game not only inevitably results in kooky, subhuman figures, but also brings in the crucial Kehoe element of tapping into childhood imagination.

Assignment #8: I Make Monster
Create your own Exquisite Corpse with a small group of people (at least 3 is best).

Simple, right? If you're confused on how the game works, click here for a description. Work in whatever scale, medium, and materials you see fit. When it's complete, scan your creation or take a digital photo of it and send to I'll post the projects that catch my fancy.

For my own interpretation of the project I gathered a group of creative friends and with the help of a variety of materials that included vintage children's books, crayons, markers, magazines, and construction paper...and of course a little beer. :) I don't think any of us were prepared for the success and all-out hilarity of our resulting creations. Our host, Savita, supplied the lovely images. Enjoy!

Artists: Ashley, Karla, Dan, Savita
Assignment: I Make Monster
Materials: vintage children's books, Sharpies, crayons, magazines, ink & stamp, construction paper, Negro Modelo, Stella Artois

Featured Artist: Andy Kehoe

"Juxtapose" is my lucky word. Back in my A.P. Literature class we joked that you'd always get a high score on the frequent impromptu essays if you simply added the word somewhere amid the text. Maybe it was a fluke, but it certainly improved my grade in the course and I've used it as a lucky charm in writing ever since. Thankfully "juxtapose" is a word which lends itself to art criticism and art writing quite nicely. It seems particularly applicable to the work of our latest featured artist, Andy Kehoe.

Now based in Portland, OR, the former Pittsburgher (Pittsburghian?) walks the seemingly hypocritical line between childlike and sinister. His excruciatingly detailed, stylized compositions feature a cast of animal/human/monster hybrid creatures that wouldn't be out of place in a Little Golden Book authored by Tim Burton. Kehoe places his figures in desolate landscapes colored with somber hues. The artist's works are successful because of their dichotomy: a sincere, childlike sense of imagination and an ability to relay dark, complex human emotions.

Kehoe's blend of humor, darkness, and elegant beauty has earned him considerable success as an artist. The Parson's School of Design grad exhibits regularly with Thinkspace Gallery and Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles and Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York and frequently participates in group shows such as the recent Blab! show at L.A.'s Copro Nason Gallery. Andy also sells prints of his work at Please do visit his website for the latest exhibition information.

12 Questions with Andy Kehoe

Q: At what moment did you first feel like an artist?
A: I'm not too sure. I've always drawn since I was a kid and even when I was drawing tons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I felt somewhat like an artist. What's an artist really entail anyways except making cool shit that excites you and being able to express yourself... even with Ninja Turtles. Now that I'm older, people always want to know what I do for a living. It's pretty gratifying to say that I make art for a living. So in adult, grown-up world, I can tell people I'm an artist and be legit.

Q: What has been your biggest art faux pas?
A: Honestly, I think people should create whatever they feel like. I certainly have my likes and dislikes, but I usually keep it to myself. Who am I to say what's proper in art? I had one guy leave a comment about one of my pieces that said, "I don't know why anyone would hang this on their walls." Haha. So to each their own.

Q: Whose style do you most admire?
A: There are many artists that I really admire these days. My brother Ben, Evan B. Harris, Kathleen Lolley, Femke Hiemstra, Dan May, Jason Limon, Lola, Travis Lampe, Nathan Spoor, Travis Louie to name a few. I gravitate towards artists with grand imaginations that have strange stories to tell. I also appreciate work where you can feel the amount of care put into the smallest details.

Q: If your work had a soundtrack, what would it be?
A: Probably a mix of Neil Young, The Soundtrack to The New World, Animal Collective, a banjo and two mandolins all put through reverb and delay effects with the sound of shotguns and children crying in the background.

Q: What is your trademark?
A: I guess people most recognize my work by my assortment of beasts, trees, leaves and isolated environments. On the street, my trademark is the called the "Crying Judas Elbow" and many men have fallen to it's power.

Q: Name your dream collaborative team.
A: Me and Professor Dumbledore.

Q: How does where you live affect the art you make?
A: Portland is a very beautiful city surrounded by tons of nature and beautiful trees. It's hard not to be inspired by just walking around. And like Pittsburgh, the Autumn here is an amazing feast for the eyes.

Q: If you could travel back to any era for its art and lifestyle, what time would you visit?
A: I really like the present for it's art and lifestyle because it means I can actually have a life with my art. I couldn't do what I'm doing right now even a decade back. Although, the 70's were a pretty awesome time of unrestrained, creative mayhem... that would've been fun.

Q: Sum up your aesthetic in 3 adjectives.
A: Sad, Happy, Happy/Sad

Q: What is your must-have when you're at work in your studio?
A: The stereo is a must. Besides playing music, I listen to a lot of audio books while I work. There have been many times where I kept working just to hear what happens next in the story. It's perfect for those long stretches where I know I have a bunch of late nighters ahead. I thought audio books would interfere with my thought process, but I think it keeps my brain creatively stimulated instead of being free to wander off all day.

Q: If money was no object, what major project might you take on?
A: I would love to make an animated movie one day, but there's just so much to organize and put together. Plus it costs so much just to get something like that started. I also have some great ideas for video games. I thought about proposing them to a video game company, but I heard they'll just throw you under a bus and take your ideas.

Q: What work of art that you've personally seen has most moved you?
A: If I can use cinema as a work of art, I'd say Wong Kar Wai's "In The Mood For Love" has moved me most over the years.

All images courtesy of Mr. Kehoe himself. Please enjoy more of all things Andy at