Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Peas vs. Beans: The World of Dicky Van Tastic

On December 1st of 2006, I ventured into the Longhorn Ballroom to witness "Art Conspiracy". While there, I met tons of local artists, musicians, filmmakers, and general awed bystanders. This was also the night that I met the illustrious Richard Ross.

Richard is a tall guy with glasses and a big, warm smile. He's a full time appreciator. He appreciates the hell out of music, and is probably one of art's biggest fans. He comes off as shy, but once you get to know him, he's anything but reserved.

Richard(aka. Dicky Van Tastic)'s creations involve cartoon-like creatures that seem simple at first, until you step back and realize you are looking at a very intricate mythology, a social-commentary of sorts.

The Sub-Rosa is quite pleased to give you access to my friend Richard Ross:

SR: How did you get started as an artist?

RR: I guess it started with making flyers for the bands, or events I was in. I actually went into music, because I was told that I couldn't do art by a lot of people in my early years. I actually nearly failed art in high school. The teacher said that I couldn't draw as well as my older brother, and she was very disappointed in me. I've always needed to feel like I was creating something. I hate destructiveness. I feel weirdly incomplete if I'm not making something, or doing something.

Music was my release for many years, but I still drew during that time. It was from attention by my music that people started noticing my drawings, too. So about 15 years ago, I decided to focus more on my art than music. I was in my first show around 1996 in Fort Worth, and have been steadily continuing since.

SR: What shows have you been in?

RR: In the late 1990's and early 2000 I was in a hodge-podge of several shows. In 1999-2000, I was apart of 5 shows and did 2 solo shows. Most notable during that time were "DaDa" at AVAA in Austin, TX, "Transfusions" at The Art Corridor in Arlington, TX, "For Sale by Owner" at 7th Street Gallery in Fort Worth, "Art Walk" at TCJC NW Campus, and "Happy New Year" at Shadow Gallery.

I took 5 years off from shows, and returned after a friend talked me into being apart of the Lakewood Library annual show. From there, I started doing shows through Pigeon Stone project. Meeting Frank and Kirk at the Kettle Gallery in 2006 was when I really restarted doing shows on a regular basis. Since my return in 2005 I've been apart of 25 shows, and have done 3 solo shows. Going to NY city with Kettle Gallery for the AAF this past June was probably my biggest highlight so far.

SR: Tell me about the characters you create.

RR: Several years ago I had a job were I sat alone in an office by myself most of the day. It gave me a lot of time to think, and the weird thought that kept coming in my head was "the road to the store". I kept saying it over and over to myself. What it means to me is that as in life we are traveling along a road, going forward to a destination. I call that destination, the store. Its the store, because we go to the store to get something we want. So for me, the trip of life is a road to the store. My characters represent people we meet, pass by, see, or ignore along the road to the store.

The Peas and the Beans came from these figures, because I noticed that some of the characters I was drawing had round "pea" shaped heads, and some had oblong "bean" shaped heads. They represent the different shapes and sizes we come in, and the conflicts we have with each other based on our differences.

The "keyhole" figures represent the locked inner conscience we have in our public appearance. Basically the "keyhole" says that there's more inside than just the facade, and its protected. Some of these figures will appear two faced to show more complexity in the character. The "eyes" basically are the government, or overseers in some capacity. They're eyes that watch what we're doing. The "walking time bombs" are the unknowns with agendas that we encounter. The "angry city dwellers" yelling at the sun, are any of us who yell and complain despite the futility of it. Yelling at the sun because its hot really doesn't change the fact of the heat existing.

The add slogans are in there, because we're so subjected to advertisements that they have become part of our landscape. I also hope that when I get to the store, I might find some of what I want to be on sale.

SR: Who are your favorite local artists?

RR: I feel like if I answer this and leave out anyone's name, then I could upset some friends. I personally like a lot of people, and their work. I love everyone I've been involved with at the Kettle and Pigeon Stone.

I'm a struggling collector, and in my personal collection have managed to own pieces by local artists, Havi Frost, Mark Nelson, TonyBones, Jesse Hernandez, Jeff Aldridge, El Pelon, and Tom Sall. The rest of you, and you know who you are, trade a piece with me, please.

SR: Who are your favorite local bands/ DJs?

RR: Again this is one of the questions that I have a lot of friends who would get hurt if I don't put their name. There's too many for me to name. I'm a music junky. I did do art work for Black Heart Society and Lights of Dragna.

If I were forced to one local name, then I'd say Ricki Derek. He's my best and oldest friend, and his spirit of making things happen has always inspired me. I've also been in at least 2 bands with him, as well as the Night O' Cabaret .

Dj's is touchy, too. I've worked with Gabriel and Trish from the Lollipop Shop, and Marcos and Jason from the Smoke. I've worked with Mark Riddlin and David Paige in the past, and actually owe Dave a lot to my musical tastes of the past 10 years. Mwanza, Joel, Cameron, and Josh are all in my heart, too.

SR: I recall you've told me that you also DJ, can you tell me what that's like?

RR: I'm jokingly a DJ, DJ Dicky Van Tastic. I took the reigns of DJing the Night O Cabaret over from David Paige (with his blessing). He and I were room-mates, and we competed and collaborated our music collections with each other. Ricki Derek started a mod night several years ago, and had me help on that, too. Ricki and I did this again last year at the Monkey Bar for a few months. I've gotten to do the Lollipop Shop and the Smoke, because of this mod connection.

Honestly, I'm just a guy with a huge collection of music. I occasionally get to share that collection in a public venue. I think its awesome whenever that happens. Its some of my happiest time.

SR: Who's going to win, the beans or the peas?

RR: If either of them ever win, then we've all lost.

SR: What's your favorite drink (alcoholic or non)?

RR: Ice tea (I'm from the south, so, yep, its sweetened). I've also been known to drink me some Wild Turkey.

SR: Where do you want to go with your art?

RR: In life, we each have the opportunity to make a sound. The goal of my art is that hopefully the sound I'm making with my life might get heard.

SR: Earth or Mars?

RR: I'll stick with Earth. she's done me pretty good so far. Not to say that Mars doesn't look tempting, but its so difficult to keep those affairs out of the tabloids.

Richard's one night only solo show is this Saturday at 7pm at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum on Elm St (near Club Dada). Please come out and show your support... and buy a pea or bean while you're at it.
Also, click here for a look at a video interview recently conducted with Mr. Ross from the crew over at Kettle Art.

-written by Alison Marie Welsh
-photos from Dicky Van Tastic's myspace page (B&W photos by Erica Felicella)

1 comment:

Heather said...

Hi! Love your art! I was given your contact info by Lisa of freelisa.com.
I have a salon space and like to keep my walls filled with the work of local artists.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss the possibility of hanging your work.
Generally, I keep each artist up for 6 weeks and when a sale is made I keep just 10%.
Thanks and enjoy this beautiful day!