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 away.

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 element.

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.



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 things."


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





Bird Girl





Boy Faced Dog





Little Miss One Head




The Feejees





Jam Juice





Knotty Man





Fat Baby




 The Regurgitator




The Puppeteer 




The Sword Swallower








Mr. Penguin the Florist




The Ventriloquist






Little People for Trade


All images courtesy of Jeremy N. Gregory - posted on Sideshow World with his express permission - copyright 2009 all rights reserved


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