Any art exhibition that includes a tweaked-out Allen Ginsberg in an Uncle Sam hat as one of its subjects should be more about fun than anything. At least that's rock 'n' roll cartoonist Wayno's thinking.
For his new show, File Under: Pop, Wayno selected 40 portraits of the 20th century's most beloved and infamous celebrities, all culled from a collection he rendered in ink on bristol for Rhino Entertainment. The exhibit -- whose title is derived from album stickers that told record-store employees where to shelve new arrivals -- also includes five new acrylic paintings of pop-culture icons.
Art snobs are of course welcome, but the work isn't just fodder for hummus-eaters who like to talk about "negative capability."
"It's art for everybody," says Wayno. "It's not supposed to be intimidating. I look at the show almost like a visual concert." (Wayno has requested that CP not reveal his given name, as he's "kind of like the Beck of cartooning.")
Wayno's black-and-white portraits aren't really caricatures, though Spike Jones' head looks more than ever like a potato chip. Using clean, judicious mark-making, Wayno captures each celebrity's glittering complexity.
"I like to set limitations for myself with everything I'm working on," he says. "I tried to simplify the images as much as possible while still achieving a likeness."
As if contemplating sleek line drawings of David Bowie and Richard Pryor wasn't enough fun, those attending the opening will also be able to purchase a coloring book Wayno created to accompany the exhibit. The book should at least boost trivia scores, as fun facts accompany each celebrity portrait. While shading in famous faces, one might learn that "Jerry Lee Lewis accidentally shot his bass player in the chest," or that "PJ Harvey ate nothing but potatoes while recording her album Rid of Me."
Music, the principal pop-culture channel of File Under: Pop, has deeply influenced Wayno's art. He listens to music to create an environment conducive to art making, likening it to "closing the office door."
Recently, Wayno's been exchanging gag ideas with Dan Piraro, the creator of the Bizarro syndicated comics -- the slightly twisted single frames which appear daily in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other newspapers. The two met last March at the Pittsburgh chapter of Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art Club, a forum for cartoonists.
"His job is to have a funny gag 365 days a year," says Wayno. "I guess when you're doing that for 25 years, it helps to have someone to bounce ideas off of."
Three of Wayno's jokes have appeared since April, translated into Piraro's distinctive drawing style. He says collaborating with Piraro, who creates "little masterworks every day," has reminded him to approach even the smallest projects as he would a larger work.
"Plus I can tell people: 'Hey, I'm in the paper today.'"
File Under: Pop Opening Reception 6-9 p.m. Fri., July 10. Zombo Gallery, 4900 Hatfield St., Lawrenceville. Free. 412-904-3703 or www.zomboworld.com