Greetings from ATHENS - paint on brick, 13'x15', Athens, GA, 2020
Garbled Jimmy Buffet’s greatest hits on repeat, a view of the gasoline slicked harbor, screeching seagulls, swarms of families feasting on “fresh” seafood, and palmetto bugs twice the size of a normal cockroach flying at your face. I was just 15 and trying to make enough money to buy my first vehicle, a 1979 Ford Bronco, by bussing tables at a large tourist trap restaurant. It was covered by an enormous tiki thatched roof and the cocaine fueled owner lived in one of the yachts that was moored to the dock behind the establishment.
This setting is how I, and many of the locals I grew up with, experienced the Redneck Riviera. The Emerald Coast boasts snow white beaches and crystal blue water, but the advertisement pamphlets leave out all the tidbits of local authenticity: the trailer parks, the inevitable seasonal hustle, the stark winter-time boredom, and the abandoned condos. What vacationers get is their dream vacation. They also get their trinkets and souvenirs by which to remember these times.
Artists are forever influenced by their surroundings and upbringing. The Florida coast, where I spent my youth, has done the same for me. The colors, imagery, seafood, and tourist-based economy still influence my artwork. I seek to bring the coastal kitsch to contemporary discussion through its placement into a high art context. There is a resurgence in seeking the “authentic” when traveling. I aim to provide a more local, authentic vision of what living in these towns is like. Using the template of the souvenir, I seek to challenge value systems placed upon the tacky nostalgic objects we find on our vacations and how they are situated in contemporary art.
My work varies from large sculptural mini putt landscapes to travel sized playable mini putt courses that have traveled in a backpack between New York City, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. My pieces rely heavily on coastal kitsch icons such as the postcard, airbrush tee shirts, roadside attractions, and magnets touting classic Floridian imagery such as flamingos, sunsets, dolphins, and palm trees. I use a combination of reclaimed wood, fabric, and spray paints. These pieces lean into the bright color choices found in coastal tourist havens. Interactivity is a large part of my art. By creating photo booth roadside attractions and making mini putt playable in a gallery setting I hope to physically engage viewers with my art.