spirit of art and music quite like Rich Menger.
Being mostly an underground artist of
our region, his low-brow yet enigmatic style has
inspired many. He brings lyrics to life, superstars
to the hometown, and draws upon a love for blues,
rock, and country roots for his work, placing much
of it on found “canvases,” shaping whatever
material he has around into a unique work of art.
We’re very lucky to have him available to interview as well as create this month’s Creases cover.
I mostly just recorded music alone or with a few others. Even before I had a four-track recorder, I had a dual cassette deck that I would use by recording a track and then playing with it while recording on the other deck. This would go on until it sounded right. You couldn't actually mix it after it was on the tape of course, so a lot of times you would have to just keep layering until it sounded right. I had to learn how to play all the instruments well enough to do what I wanted, so I became somewhat good at a lot of different ones. I spent countless hours working on stuff like that. When I finally got a four track I thought it was a miracle! Most of this music was only heard by a select few people.
The only real band I was in was called Non-Alignment Pact. We really didn’t play out much, but we practiced a lot. By practicing I mean we played for a few hours and then sat around drinking beer and watching Tammy’s House Party on PTL and Robert Tilton in Success-N-Life. Those shows were quite surreal. There weren’t many places to play at all back then, especially if you were doing all original music. We always had people hanging out at our practice space downtown though and sometimes we would do shows at the practice space to raise some rent money. In those days downtown was a ghost town at night, we pretty much had it all to ourselves.
I did a lot of art as a kid and made my own comic books, but never really thought it was a viable thing to do when you got older. It seemed like something only professional artists did. This was a long time ago you see… I’m old… before the interwebz and all.
It wasn’t until I was booking bands at Squeaky’s Tip Top and started doing flyers for the shows and stuff that I started doing visual art again. Around the same time I also started going up to Paradise Gardens quite a bit. Howard Finster was a big influence.
Self-taught or schooled in art/music?
Self taught, but I’m always picking up new things from other local artists and the internet.
Howard Finster probably, and I was painting signs and furniture that I built for Squeaky’s Tip Top that was covered in really cool graffiti. I like all kinds of art though and of course I find great new stuff every day on the internet.
Where did the idea for the diddley bows come from, and how long have you been making them?
When I really got into old blues and roots music I found out about diddley bow and cigar box guitars. I really like the idea that you can make them into pieces of art that also make music..
Do you have many other musical creations or builds?
I've been making some cigar box amplifiers lately and I’m still perfecting my cigar box guitar designs, but they’ll be available soon. I have plans for a few mutant instruments as well.
All of them really. Unless it’s a commission, I usually paint whoever I’m really into at the time, and I like all kinds of music.
What direction are you looking to go with your art next?
Lately it seems to be going in a primitive / modern direction if that makes any sense. I try not to think about it too much really. The best things seem to come from that approach.
I have a website that is currently being retooled, but it will point you to my Facebook page. The address is mojogoat.com. Right now I have pieces at the $100 Art show @ Artists Local 1155 the current group show at Sky City and a few at Oddfellows Gallery. No plan for any other shows right now but it is about time for me to do something like that, gotta keep pushing forward.
I think we have a great art scene here. The artists here are so diverse and talented. The only problem really is that the business end could be a bit better. It can sometimes be a struggle to sell art in Augusta. We’re always trying to find new ways to present art to the public and it seems to be slowly having some effect. Things like Art Bomba are really fun to do and it lets people see how art is made. I hope it will inspire other folks to make art as well!