We sat down with our alcoholic Cherry Cola’s, and of course a bag of candy or two (as his sweet tooth is also well known to his followers) and discussed his experience with art, a bit about the recent documentary on his life, and a good deal about Christmas.
The following are excerpts from the complete interview, available on Archive.org. There are five segments of the interview so please have a listen to learn more about this great artist.
Fat Man’s Forrest, hands down! Recently there was a movie that I was in... my dad had a super-8 camera and we found a whole roll of Fat Man’s videos. To actually see this footage, it was like a “scratch and sniff” to my childhood. You know how sense totally triggers stuff. To see that and the animatronics and they had snowmen and Santa Clauses that came out of chimneys or melted because the had air being blown into them... That was the magic of Christmas. I remember when I was a kid, downtown Augusta, instead of the nice wreaths with the white lights, everything was multicolored and plastic and big! The center recessed parking, the trees had blinking lights on them. When you’re a kid everything is magic, as adults we understand the magic and it’s our job to carry that on to the kids.
How do you feel about your art and where you’re going with it?
Right now it’s kind of strange, I have not had the luxury of time. I have four painting for Seeds that I only know what two are going to be. I was originally going to do six, but with the film festivals and the move, all in the month of November, there was no way I could do six and everything else... When I was at the Milwaukee film festival and we hung a show in a gallery during the festival. [There] I spoke to some LGBT high school students, and some came to the movie. I will never forget what one said to me, “you probably won’t remember this, I just wanted to tell you that you inspired us by what you said and by your movie tonight”. I looked at him and said “If I remember anything about this trip, is you coming up to me tonight and saying these words to me”. That’s one of the things this movie has opened up doors to, dealing with grief or loss, anything that starts you back to ground zero, if you can get up from that and keep on moving... that’s why this story had to be told.
How would you describe your art to someone?
I describe my art as pop music. A pop song can say the most awful thing, in the prettiest candy coated way where you don’t even realize you seeing or hearing something that’s horrible sad. It puts a nice shiny glossy candy coat on stuff. A lot of the stuff I paint can be seen as really sad, however the way I present it, you don’t necessarily see that. To me, that’s the beauty of life, it’s both happy & sad. It all goes hand in hand. That’s the way I try to view art.
What is your favorite artistic thing about Augusta?
With my love this city and from my childhood, I.M. Pei’s glass toaster on top of the Lamar building. The fact that we had a world renowned architect put a big freaking glass toaster on top of a building downtown... that is one of the strangest things. I am very proud of what the Greater Augusta Art council did. Twenty -six art on the box, suddenly there’s public art all over the place.
Oh that’s super easy, the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. What I love about that, when it got finished, they thought they had a piece of crap on their hands, and it is THE Christmas standard. A little known fact about the special, you see at the beginning, right before the credits, you see them all skating and then Linus, his blanket gets grabbed by Snoopy and they’re spinning around. Then they’re all getting dragged, and you see Linus fly off and you see Charlie Brown fly off. Charlie hits a sign and you see “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, but where did Linus go? He hit a sign, that said "Coca-Cola", that was the original sponsor for the special... and I don't think I made that up.