Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jared profiled in Examiner and "Hey Look, I built a monster easel!"

The big news this week is that I was profiled by the Examiner. Its a very well written piece of journalism (deftly executed by Stephen Mack) because he was able to take a 45 minute rambling conversation and distill it down into "just who the hell does Jared think he is?"

I have added the full text of the article below, but if you would like to read it natively, here is your link.

Jared Davis: Artist profile

Stephen Mack's photo

For many artists in the area, hanging a painting next to works by local heavyweights like Scott G. Brooks, Matt Sesow and Dana Ellyn would be a humbling experience. But at the exhibition opening for the space-themed Countdown to Yuri’s Night at Artisphere in March, Monkey Moonshot, painted by the show’s curator Jared Davis, didn’t seem at all out of place. Davis’ work popped up again two months later at the G40 Art Summit, with four Inferno-themed paintings distinguished by the physical brushwork that has become his style. If the quality of his canvas painting is surprising, it’s because, with all the other hats Davis wears, it’s easy to miss the fact that painting is his first love.

“I actually cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be an artist,” Davis says. “I was a little art nerd as a kid. I was way into abstract expressionism when I was 12 or 13.” It’s doubtful if that child would have anticipated the grinning monkeys and other comically grotesque characters, usually up to no good, that Davis paints today.

But where his passions all come together is in the annual events he coordinates. The Yuri’s Night exhibition was a precursor to a one-night celebration featuring a dance party, burlesque revue, and a film screening with commentary in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Davis and his wife Kate throw a themed Halloween party at their house every year—they were married at the 2005 edition—and in January they launched the first annual Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club, which Davis emceed as the King himself, at Warehouse Theatre. In addition to creating the shows, building the sets, and performing, Davis is always searching for inventive ways for the audience to interact with the production. One Halloween party featured a death ray, which visitors could operate themselves using a jury-rigged laser tag system and make a quick getaway using the slides on either side.

During the day, Davis manages the scene shop at Arlington County’s Gunston Arts Center. The large workshop gives him the opportunity to do what he does best: “paint really big.” He has designed sets there for theater companies such as Landless Theatre, Dominion Stage, and The Arlington Players, as well as for his own events. “I actually feel kind of obligated to make things that utilize the space that I’m given,” he says. “I would feel really weird if I went back home and started painting miniatures on nutshells.”

When Davis came to Washington in 1999, he was immediately attracted to the vibrant theater scene, eventually designing sets for the bawdy Lobster Boy Revue. This led to an association with the local burlesque scene that continues to this day. Nearly all of his events feature a burlesque performance, or at least contain a burlesque theme. “There’s a certain irreverence that’s inherent in burlesque,” Davis says, “And that translates into the artwork; that translates into the type of events that we put on. We’re not going to take ourselves too seriously.”

Citing critic Dave Hickey, Davis says his first priority as an artist is to get his friends excited in what he’s doing, and he plans to keep the party going as long as they keep responding to it. Recalling when Lobster Boy performer Lucas Zarwell put away the lobster costume and retired to a more staid life, Davis says he has no intention of letting maturity get the better of him. “I can't quit,” he says. “There’s no quitting.”

Trying to add a fourth yearly event to fill the open slot in the summer, Davis grimaces when he thinks about the roadblocks in the way, from finding a venue to figuring out how to fit enough visitors in to cover expenses. Still, the logistical headaches are not enough to quell his enthusiasm as he imagines possibilities for new performances, new contrivances, new ways to get his friends excited. And if the general public enjoys interactive capsule rides and life-sized Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em dinosaurs too, “That’s gravy.”

Jared Davis’ scenic work can currently be seen in the Landless Theatre production Rock Bottom, showing at D.C. Arts Center through Aug. 6.

Continue reading on Jared Davis: Artist profile - Washington DC local artists |

The other news is simply that I built a giant easel in the shop. Really, its just a 12 foot high and 20 foot wide....
Stud Wall...then that gets skinned with...
Homasote (a compressed newspaper sheet that is used for dampening sound in flooring) so that you have a solid surface to staple stuff to. It is a great improvement over the last easel we had in the shop, which was the Spooktacular IX King Kong photo op recycled...look forward to seeing stuff stapled to this bad-boy soon!

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