Local artists Derek Hess and Scott Pickering have been friends since the early 1990s, when Hess was booking bands into the basement of the legendary Euclid Tavern, and Pickering was working at Wax Stacks record store on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights as well as playing in several of the bands, such as Prison Shake and My Dad is Dead. It was music that brought the two together, but art that ultimately bonded them. Now the two have collaborated on a new series of mixed media drawings which debut this Friday during an opening reception at Derek Hess Gallery, as part of Third Friday festivities at 78th Street Studios.
Reflecting on Hess' early, iconic promotional concert posters, Pickering says, "They were immediately eye catching and thought provoking. The strong sense of flow and dynamic rhythm of line and texture define his approach. I love the 'loose but tight' feel to his work."
Meeting Pickering first as a musician, Hess remembers being struck by his friend's unique visual style and fresh subject matter. Describing Pickering's work, Hess says, "Fresh monstrous, hat-wearing, garbage-pelting, funny figures that bounce at you with bold applications of color, or no color at all. Regardless the medium the message is conveyed; these fresh dudes are going to grab you by the hair and whisper nonsense in your ears till they pop."
Twenty years later, both artists have polished their styles and expressive subject matter, with Hess reaching international success by continuing to work with both established and emerging bands. Although Pickering hasn't reached international audiences, his prolific painting career continues to impact audiences in Northeast Ohio through projects such as Slavic Village's Rooms to Let.
After years of friendship, the two decided to collaborate on a whim. Keeping it casual, both artists agreed to not set any rules and just see what happened. The resulting exhibit, Double Dog Daddy-O!, showcases more than two dozen collaborations created in the past several weeks. Taking turns, each artist started half the work for the other to finish, drawing a subject on one side in his trademark style, and leaving room for the other to respond with a similar or complementary subject in his own style. Through this shared subject matter and the compositions' inherent duality, each artist's unique illustrative qualities shine through, emphasizing both their similarities and differences.
An engaging and illuminating exhibition, Double Dog Daddy-O! is a welcome break from all the political chaos and doom and gloom in the current cultural zeitgeist. The exhibition showcases two highly talented friends having fun together, doing what they love most. Hess and Pickering's collaborative efforts remind us all to enjoy our time on this planet, in the company of those we most appreciate.
The exhibit opens Friday, Feb. 17, with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Double Dog Daddy-O!
Derek Hess Gallery, 1300 West 78th St., Suite 227, 330-819-7280