Remember Dead Artists and Kulture Lab? Remember James Hume and the hair metal band Roadrunner? Every wonder what Hume is up to nowadays? Well, according to artist and curator Lynn Di Nino he's Not Painting Flowers - the title of his new show curated by Di Nino and opening this month at Sandpiper Gallery in Old Town Tacoma. Sandpiper is a very nice but rather staid and traditional gallery not known for radical, raw and gritty art. Their regular patrons may be surprised when Hume and followers of Kulture Lab invade their space.
"Usually an acrylic-on-canvas guy, James' new work was inspired by the street artists of Paris," De Nino says.
Hume explains: "Last September while in Paris, I noticed there was a two-day lag between the old advertisements posted in the Metro and the placement of the new. Within those two days, street artists altered and added to the remaining torn images left behind. My new paintings celebrate what I saw and what I felt from these underground artists' fleeting masterpieces. With this new work, I'm breaking all my old habits and experimenting with stencils, spray paint, Photoshop and even my iPhone."
Hume e-mailed me images of half a dozen of the paintings he's working on for this show. Some of them look like what we may imagine as the reworked or graffitied-upon advertisement posters described above; others look like pop art celebrity portraits. There are portraits, for instance, of Jack Kerouac and Steve McQueen - both revered rebel figures (Hume apparently admires rebellion).
Also in a more expressive pop style, with distorted facial expressions and harsh colors, is a painting called Doo-Wop that pictures a quartet of singers. Imagine an Andy Warhol celebrity portrait but painted with gestural drips and splatters and electric colors.
Bogeyman and Dead Artists are both menacing images in a style reminiscent of Communist Revolution political posters. Bogeyman is a frightening mechanical figure with a Ku-Klux-Klan head and an American flag and a big bag of money.
And then there is an in-your-face picture of a full-figured Mona Lisa mooning the audience. For 500 years nobody has ever seen Mona's body below her waist, and even her ample bosom has been cover by a shapeless black gown. Now Hume's painting defiantly exposes her derriere. This painting is not completely new to Tacoma. It was shown in the Kulture Lab Graffiti Show, and was signed by all the artists involved - some nationally known, Hume says.
This looks like an exciting show.
Let's face it, Hume loves a good bottle of wine. It only seems proper to fuel up for a stroll through his show at nearby Café Divino. Since his show centers on Paris, you might have to skip Divino's delicious homemade Italian sausage lasagna (pains me to even write that) and go for the wine bar's worthy cheese plate, which rings in at $13. A nice bottle from France's Chateauneuf du Pape sounds quite lovely, too. Café Divino declares 3 to 6 p.m. as happy hour with $5 glass pours and appetizers.
After the show, I'd suggest a cold brew inside The Spar, Old Town Tacoma's historic tavern.
Not Painting Flowers
Sept. 16-Oct. 18, noon-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Sandpiper Gallery, 2221 N. 30th, Tacoma