THE HA HA FACTOR
Jeremy Gregory laughs
a lot. Get him talking on the phone, and he punctuates
sentences with chuckles and guffaws about as much as your
average person uses commas and periods. Whether the topic of
the moment is the bliss of random artistic beauty or the misery
of depression, an overriding burst of laughter is never too far
The 34-year-old Tacoma resident's art features a measure of
good-humored and mischievous elements, too. Appropriately,
perhaps, since it grew from the seeds of Gregory's childhood
love of coloring, as well as his habit of writing graffiti with
his friends later in his youth.
Whether it's through vibrant color, distorted features,
otherworldly concepts or subtle, smirking looks in the eyes, the
human and humanistic entitles the figure
Dark LAUGHING IN THE DARK
- The disturbingly amusing art of Jeremy Gregory
In his artworks always seem to feature at least one comical
One of his simpler pieces is a close-up, portrait-style
rendering of a grand motherly, blue-skinned woman on an orange
backdrop - with rectangular eyeglasses and an afro-looking at
the viewer with a friendly, if slightly bleary expression.
The humor isn't easy to find in all of Gregory's pieces,
though. Another piece, which represents sloth (one of early
Christianity's seven deadly sins), features a skinny,
gray-skinned man, slumped over himself with his eyes closed.
His head is twisted to an impossible angle at the end of his
outlandishly long neck.
Four syringes are stuck in various parts of his body, and a
fifth one dangles from the fingers of his left hand.
THE GATHERING DARKNESS
In fact, you may find that the closer you look at Gregory's art,
the more the darker elements - visual and thematic - tend to
take over. As much as the aforementioned grandmotherly
character looks content, she also looks frail and tired. Maybe
it's a half-full, half-empty thing. In any case, blackness,
down to the most basic level of the medium, is an undeniably
powerful force in almost all of the images.
Gregory creates most of his art in colored pencils or oil
pastels, on wood panels that he coats with blackboard paint. He
therefore creates the pictures out of negative space, implying
rather than drawing or painting lines by leaving blank (black)
spaces between fields of color.
"You're working backwards." says Gregory, explaining the appeal
of the medium. "You're not drawing a line, you're leaving a
line. It's just coloring. You can make a lot of organic
Like the lighthearted aspects, the fundamental darkness of
Gregory's art - thematic and literal - has something to do with
the history behind it. More than any of his formal training, he
traces the origins of what he calls the "tweaked" quality of his
work back to the art of his early childhood. "When I was a
kid," he says, "I would draw nuclear clouds and stuff like that,
trying to get attention." He adds to the self-analysis, linking
his art with moments of personal anger and depression. "[Art}
was a thing to soothe myself if I was angry. I was like a
hyperactive spazzoid kid. When I was in trouble....or I'd be in
the principal's office, or mad at my mom, I'd draw pictures
about it. I think that's where the dark side come from."
Even today, Gregory uses his artistic pursuits as a kind of
therapy. He credits the cathartic release that his artwork
provides with helping keep him happy - and viable as an artist.
"It's bad, because I kind of create [the anger] now. I'll catch
myself doing it," he adds. Then he bursts into laughter. It's
a little hard to tell whether you should laugh along. or not.
Gregory's latest show, opening at the Astor Lounge this week and
running through July, will explore the bizarre, antiquated,
exploitive realm of circus sideshow culture, upping the weird
factor with settings and characters of Gregory's own invention.
by Jeff Trainor
Tempo - The Business
of Art - 2007
The Three Breasted Woman
The Four Legged Tap Dancer
Behind the Tent
Boy Faced Dog
Little Miss One Head
The Sword Swallower
Mr. Penguin the Florist
Little People for Trade
All images courtesy
Jeremy N. Gregory - posted on Sideshow World with his express
permission - copyright
all rights reserved