"Trailer Trash #7"
Holy 8 Ball Studio
Picture this: Cool little warehouse space on East Seventh. Rockin' music. Many funky people milling about. Keg. Walls covered in panel after panel of whacked-out cartoon art.
Pinch me. I thought I was in New York for a sec.
Such was the setting for "Trailer Trash #7," a one-night-only show of drawings and paintings by the local master of bodily ooze, Roy Tompkins. If you revel in the manic, gross-out-your-kid-sister energy of Ren & Stimpy-ish cartoons, I hope you were there.
You know the little crazy drawings that ac-company "News of the Weird" in this paper? Yeah, those deranged, dogged-looking characters... those are Tompkins'. His freaked-out illustrations have also popped up in magazines from the R. Crumb-edited Weirdo to Heavy Metal to Texas Monthly. It could be said that Tompkins' artistic technique comes from the same school as Crumb and Mike Judge: funny, disgusting, cool, questionable. Either thick skin or a broad sense of humor is required to appreciate his works. They're definitely not the stuff of Hallmark.
Tompkins was there in the flesh and was surprisingly normal-looking, no ooze or skunge seeping out of his orifices. He was signing copies of the latest issue in his Trailer Trash comic book series, his first since 1992. Trailer Trash, "The Trade Journal of the American Trailer Park Foundation," is obviously well-loved. Tompkins could barely keep up with the line of fans, people enduring a non-air conditioned, windowless building to see his stuff and get his John Hancock.
Holy 8 Ball is an interesting place: part studio, part gallery, part whatever the owners want it to be. Exhibits are very selective and are few and far between. That's kind of disapointing, but all the more enticing.
Little Kitty Scratches Tattoo Studio
through August 7
Alternative art spaces not only make my job a little more interesting, they give me exposure to Austin's underbelly, those places and parts of town I've never considered exploring. Perhaps its belly button is Little Kitty Scratches, a tattoo studio and art gallery on South (and I mean South) Congress.
Tattoo studios provide an intriguing subculture, especially in such a tattoo-laden town as this one. With their melange of people in high conversation, they are kind of like cafes, but a little darker and less high-brow. Traditionalists may find visiting an art show in a tattoo shop a little questionable and improper, but I'm no traditionalist, and I bet you're not either.
Dan Derwelis' paintings are well-suited to the artsy/seedy feel of a tattoo studio. With their bright colors shrouded in dark outlines and borders, the paintings look like scenes from The Dead Zone. I expected Christopher Walken to walk out from the back room -- or beam down from the sky. Derwelis' characters -- some faceless, others stoic -- don't give a damn you're there; they don't even see you. They're off in their own little glowing world.
Also worth checking out are the stacks of albums full of tattoos by studio owner Karen Slafter, a UT art school grad. Morphing from artist to tattoo artist is often often a thankless transition -- tattoo art generally being eschewed by those traditionalists. But, personally, I think artwork can only be more interesting when it's on a hairy palette.-- Cari Marshall