Saturday, August 29, 2009

House of Cat interview


I was recently interviewed by Cat Johnson for her fabulous site, House of Cat (and she asked some great questions!). Be sure to check out the other features too - lots of creative inspiration. Here's a link to check it out: Paul Richmond - Genuine Expressions of Individuality

And here's an excerpt from the interview:

By painting your own story and experiences, you’ve become an activist for understanding and open-mindedness. Can you talk about art as activism and the role it plays in your life?

It’s hard for me to think of myself as an activist because that term conjures images of Martin Luther King Jr. and Harvey Milk in my mind. Yet I know without doubt that the arts have been integral in influencing change throughout history. I certainly aspire to do my part in creating dialogue about important issues, and counteracting generalized prejudices with genuine expressions of my own individuality.

It wasn’t long ago when I strove for just the opposite. As a repressed college student with baggy clothes and a secret fondness for moody art boys, I spent most of my time mimicking what others around me painted. Not surprisingly, gray landscapes and non-objective color studies left me a tad bit uninspired. When I graduated, I formed a mural painting partnership with my talented friend, Melissa Forman. I learned so much from her, both as an artist and as a person. She was the first friend I came out to and she very gently helped me through that complicated process.

One evening, beneath the red glow of the Cher mural she helped me paint on my apartment wall, I started a sketch that would eventually become the painting First Time Out. It explored the turmoil I felt – the simultaneous expansion and contraction – that resulted from my first intentional relationship with another man. I was only out to a few close friends, and I never intended to share this painting with anyone. I kept it hidden beneath my bed and only dragged it out when I was alone in my apartment. I was even scared to show it to Melissa, and when that time came, I remember hiding in the other room while she looked it over. Her reaction that day left me speechless. She loved it and said that I should submit it to a local juried exhibition. I burst out laughing. She might as well have suggested that I strip off my clothes and parade down High Street!
Eventually though, as I continued delving into this area of subject matter (and ran out of space under my bed to hide my work), I started considering Melissa’s idea more seriously. After all, what good would these paintings do anyone collecting dust in my bedroom? I reluctantly brought them out and began showing them in local group exhibitions. The response they received from people of every sexual orientation baffled me. They could actually relate to what I was saying! I had always felt so incredibly alone, yet thanks to these shows, I quickly started to locate myself as a member of a much larger community. It wasn’t long before First Time Out was on the cover of a local magazine with the title “Coming Out on Canvas.” There was no turning back now!

Since then, my work and I have been on parallel journeys of ever-increasing gayness. As I’ve grown more comfortable in my own skin, so too have my compositions. By stripping away the layers that kept me guarded during my childhood, my art has become more intense and revealing as well. What began as art therapy during a transformative period of my life has evolved into an incredible way of sharing my point of view with others, and publicly questioning ideas that disregard the value of individuality.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shop Indie Online

I was recently interviewed by Chris from shopindieonline.com and the article was posted today HERE. I've re-posted the text below:

FEATURED INDIE ARTIST INTERVIEW WITH PAUL OF PAUL RICHMOND STUDIO

Time to meet this week’s featured indie artist Paul of Paul Richmond Studio.

SI: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Paul: I am an artist whose paintings explore everything from personal narrative to pop culture, with some political commentary and the occasional pin-up boy thrown in for good measure. From an early age, I was taught that art could be more than a hobby. My fabulous childhood mentor made it very clear that it could also be a completely viable career option, and I haven’t looked back since! My work has been exhibited in galleries across the country, as well as some “less traditional” venues such as the Tammy Faye memorial celebration, an exhibit in Hollywood honoring Dolly Parton, and another curated by RuPaul. I have also had paintings licensed for greeting cards, concert merchandise, novel covers, and art anthologies. I am definitely a dreamer — I wake up every day with new ideas (and the occasional crazy scheme). Then I get to work figuring out how to make them happen…

SI: What is the name of your business? And what do you create?
Paul: My website is called Paul Richmond Studio (www.paulrichmondstudio.com). It includes a link to my Etsy store (www.paulypants.etsy.com) where you’ll find original oil and acrylic paintings, giclee prints, and T-shirts based on my artwork. I’m also offering copies of my recent book, “Ins & Outs, A Collection,” which showcases some of my most personal paintings.

SI: What inspires you?
Paul: Currently, I can’t get enough of pop surrealist Isabel Samaras’ work, and I’m eternally in awe of my friend, Melissa Forman, whose intricate, haunting paintings leave me speechless. (No easy feat!) I’m also a fan of James Rosenquist, Kehinde Wiley, Mark Ryden, Oksana Badrak, and David LaChapelle, to name a few. A fellow Columbus artist/advocate, Jim Arter, is a personal hero of mine who has been incredibly encouraging, and I couldn’t give enough credit to Linda Regula, my childhood mentor, whose inspiration made all the difference. My biggest muses are undoubtedly my family and friends, especially my amazing partner, Dennis (who frequently pops up in my work), and my parents and sister whose love and support is deeply ingrained. Oh, and last but not least – my favorite divas, Dolly Parton and Cher, deserve a mention too!

SI: What is the best thing about what you do? And the worst?
Paul: My favorite thing about the artistic process is how it always keeps you on your toes. I was introduced to oil painting when I was three years old, and twenty six years later I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I hope to learn and accomplish with my work. Each new painting has its own challenges and opportunities, and I’m never bored when I’m at my easel. I’m also really grateful for the incredible connections I’ve made with others – people who have seen my paintings in an exhibit or on my website and feel that it depicts something personal to them.

I suppose the worst part about what I do would be navigating the power structure of the art world. For my fellow artists reading this, I recommend the book “How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist” by Caroll Michels. She does a great job of de-mystifying our profession, and suggesting ways to approach a market often dominated by “experts” with their own agendas. I agree with her philosophy that our greatest strength comes from banding together with other artists rather than seeing them as competition, and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by the warm response I’ve received from reaching out to those who inspire me.

SI: When not creating, what do you like to do?
Paul: I tend to keep busy and have a hard time relaxing, but I’ll always make an exception when Dennis has free time from his graduate schoolwork to lay by the pool or take in a movie. Otherwise, I can usually be found studying other peoples’ art somewhere, teaching painting and drawing classes, or planning excursions, adventures, and collaborations of one kind or another.

SI: Any future plans you care to share with us?
Paul: I’m currently working on a triptych called “Pin-Up Payback” for an upcoming exhibit at the Veaux Gallery in Chelsea. It features heartthrobs Justin Timberlake, Zac Efron, and Robert Pattinson caught in classic, underwear-exposing pin-up predicaments while 50’s-era cheesecake girls look on admiringly from windows and doorways in the background. Additionally, I’m working on paintings for a solo exhibition at the Center on Halsted Gallery in Chicago next June and a new painting series called “Lily White and the Seven Divas” which puts an unexpected twist on the story of Snow White.

Many thanks to Paul for sharing so graciously of himself and his art. Please take a few minutes to visit Paul’s etsy shop and website.

"Stripped: Uncensored" book release party

Left in the Dust: "Stripped: Uncensored" book release party


You won’t want to miss the Stripped:Uncensored Exhibition and Book Release "Living Erotic Sculpture" Garden Party at the New York City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center (208 W 13th St New York NY) Tuesday August 18th. Marvel at the fanciful recreation of a Victorian sculpture garden complete with stunningly sexy men “undressed” as living marble sculptures.

Your $15 all-inclusive admission includes: Stripped: Uncensored book release celebration, erotic art exhibition unveiling, refreshments, a signed & limited edition piece of art (given to each guest at the door), 3 complimentary raffle tickets and a chance to win an original art work in the Legends of Art Raffle. The winner will be announced at the event.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Queerty

Many thanks to the website Queerty for plugging my latest giclee print release, Mistletoe Madness.

Here's a link to their article: Queerty (re-printed below).

You Made Santa's List: Christmas (Presents) Come Early

If America had true marriage equality, we could get hitched to Etsy.com, the online shop where independent artists sell their wares to the public. We've found a number of great (affordable) finds there, and how can you say no to supporting painters, sculptors, and mixed media talent? It's also where artist Paul Richmond is selling his latest gem: "Cheesecake Boy Pin-Up Painting." No, we're not getting a cut of the sale, but as Paul suggests: "It’s never too early for this kind of Christmas package!" Oh, the puns are endless. Like: "Shop till you drop (trao)." Your turn!

Misguided Salvation

Today, someone tried to save my soul in a most creative way. I'm still unclear on the details of the message, but their method of delivery was so hilarious that I felt it needed blogged.

I picked up my paintings from the Ohio State Fair Fine Art Exhibit this afternoon, which incidentally was a fabulous show and great fun to participate in. While walking out to my car, I made a most unexpected discovery. Tucked in the back of my Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise canvas was a folded up piece of notebook paper and a small pamphlet. The paper contained a letter addressed to "Artist" (in quotes), informing me that we are all sinners and that if I turn my back on God by denying his son Jesus, I will send myself to hell forever. I especially appreciate her use of smiley faces as punctuation to lighten the mood. It's a subtle reminder of the crazy grin that would probably meet my eyes were this story being relayed in person. Thankfully, it's on paper instead, allowing me to share it with you here. Enjoy! (Click on it for an enlarged version)


I must admit that I was a little unclear about her point by the time I finished reading this. Fortunately, her message was summed up via comic strip in the enclosed pamphlet. In it, we are introduced to a nice little homosexual who meets his tragic end and gets banned from heaven because of his sinful ways. I love the illustrations, especially the one with the naked, crotchless dude being yanked out of his coffin.



Anyway, I'd love to analyze all this further, but I have a tight deadline on some freelance work. Tonight's project: irreverent religious greeting cards...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mistletoe Madness

Check out my latest painting, “Mistletoe Madness.”


It’s from my Cheesecake Boy series, depicting male models who just can’t seem to keep their clothes on. In "Mistletoe Madness," a Cheesecake Boy takes romance into his own hands by attempting to hang mistletoe directly above his studiously preoccupied companion. The stealthy attempt, however, is soon thwarted by gravity when his loose, belt-less pants fall to the ground. Turning just in time to catch an eyeful of the hapless hunk's holly-patterned, skimpy briefs, the young fellow on the sofa seems pleasantly surprised by this turn of events. After all, what's a kiss under the mistletoe compared to a Christmas package like this?

This painting was commissioned by Dreamspinner Press for the cover of their annual holiday collection. It’s also available as a limited-edition giclee print in my Etsy store here: Paulypants Store.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August Contest

If you aren't already receiving my e-mail newsletter, don't miss the boat -- sign up before August 31 and you'll be entered in a drawing for a free limited-edition giclee print of Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise. Sign up HERE. Good luck!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Inspiration: Tammy Faye Messner

One of my great diva icons, Tammy Faye Messner, was the subject of a painting I made a few years ago. I'm now offering prints of the painting.

July 20 was the two year anniversary of her passing, and I've been reflecting on her inspiration lately. I wanted to share an essay I wrote at the time along with some pics from the opening of my show Ins and Outs: A Revival, at which Paige Passion (dressed as Tammy Faye) unveiled my painting.

A few months later, I was invited to present the painting at Tammy's actual memorial celebration in Palm Springs, alongside guests Larry King, Cloris Leachman, and Ron Jeremy. I think Tammy would have been proud!




Remembering Tammy Faye
by Paul Richmond
September, 2007

As a boy who was raised Catholic and attended parochial school, I often found myself clashing with the ideals that were presented as Gospel, especially when they reached beyond the sanctuary into other subject areas, such as Social Studies and Health. And try as I might, I couldn’t resist the sinful urges to fantasize about my fellow male classmates or my future career aspiration, which was to grow up and be Dolly Parton. From a conservative, religious perspective, things weren’t looking good.

Fast-forward fifteen years. A young, just-out-of-the-closet, 100% bonafide homosexual artist from the midwest made a wonderful discovery: Tammy Faye Messner. The name instantly conjures images of fur, feathers, flowing hot-pink fabrics, and most famously, mascara streaming from her trademark spider-legged eyes. And then there was the scandal – the PTL Club and Heritage USA, which landed her ex-husband in the slammer and ultimately put her on the path to becoming a gay icon. But how could a fresh-faced, spiritually-disconnected gay twenty-something find any connection to the pioneer of the electric church?

The answer had to do with mutual acceptance. “I refuse to label people,” Tammy once explained. “We’re all just people made out of the same old dirt, and God didn’t make any junk.” Likewise, I eagerly added her to the ranks of my bevy of diva obsessions in spite of her curious, televangical past. If you’re not sure why the gay-icon stiletto fits, look no further than her 2000 documentary, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” featuring narration by RuPaul and finger puppets. How could I resist someone so dynamic and unabashedly over-the-top, especially with a heart of pure gold beneath the fluff? In order to foster a relationship with her gay fans, both she and the gays had to kick down a big ol’ Christian wall of hate, the kind that makes you think if there really is a God, surely mascara must be streaming down his cheeks too.

Several years ago, I displayed a series of paintings depicting my friends in full-on drag make-up. I titled the show “Tammy Faye’s Tea Party,” and offered on the-spot Tammy makeovers to reception attendees. The paintings were made to look like sideshow banners, and appropriately enough, few guests escaped without at least slightly resembling glamorous clowns. One of my friends sent an e-mail through Tammy Faye’s website telling her about the exhibit, and even though the show was conceived with the most loving intentions, I worried that she might take offense to the outright wackiness of it all. In true Tammy style, she sent an e-mail back saying she thought the show was a wonderful idea, and if only she hadn’t been “such a busy gal” getting ready to film a new infomercial, she would have been first in line for the opening. The gracious letter was sent on pink e-mail stationary complete with illustrated cherubs.

Last Saturday, I went on a date with my partner. We held hands as we walked up to the restaurant, shared a heaping dessert, and talked openly throughout our meal in the crowded restaurant about our wedding plans (mostly focusing on what the bridesmaids would wear). This isn’t the same world that gasped as Tammy embraced a gay man on her Christian variety show in the early eighties, yet prejudice undeniably remains – the legacy of Messner’s contemporaries like Falwell and Robertson.

As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed a red, faux-leather couch in the waiting area. It had an ornate gold frame that looked like it would fit more comfortably in the parlor of most mid-century brothels than in the somewhat elegant atmosphere of this Italian restaurant. I recognized it instantly as the Tammy Faye Couch. Several years ago, this was the very couch that Tammy sat on when she attended the Red Party, posing for pictures and signing autographs for her crimson-adorned gay flock. She was wearing her own smart little patent-leather number that night, and lipstick to match – as out of place in the Christian world as a tacky red couch in an Italian restaurant or a gay boy in a Catholic school.

Later, when we returned home, we heard the news that Tammy had lost her battle with lung cancer.

In my opinion, she demonstrated inspirational courage and surprising depth throughout her colorful life, from her open-armed embrace of those rejected by her evangelical peers to the self-deprecating humor that lasted until the end. When Larry King asked her last Thursday, the final night of her earthly journey, what she wanted to be remembered for, I stopped crying long to enough to smile as the gaunt, frail woman responded with a familiar twinkle in her eye, “My eyelashes.”

It is my sincere hope that her legacy will be more far-reaching.

-
“I’m trying to educate parents and the Christian world and tell them, these are wonderful people, allow them to be in your church, love them. Don’t be so judgmental. Christians are so judgmental and as a result of that they become very cruel. When I go and stand among those gay men and women, I tell them ‘I am a preacher of the gospel that loves you. And I accept you just the way you are.’ I cry when I say that but I mean that with all of my heart. Somebody’s got to love them and accept them.” ~Tammy Faye Messner