One of my favorite local artists is Johnny Wow! My fascination with the Dr. is not wholly dependent on the subject matter to which he paints. I had the anticipated pleasure of attending last month’s Retrospective Show (which he claims was his last) in the 619 Western Building and was astounded to see the outcome.
From top to bottom, the Fourth Floor was completely transformed into an orgy of painted fascinations, filled with florescent animals and awkward, yet, insinuating portraits (namely in the “Glitter Girls” series). I came away not only with a painting but a feeling like I had just participated in Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Upon entering, you were immediately engorged in the past decade of the Dr.’s world. As work was purchased, more work was immediately hung in replace. While literally walking on his stapled-to-the-floor paintings you couldn’t help think, “Either this guy is completely nuts, or he actually knows what the fuck he’s doing.” I happen to believe the latter.
Johnny Wow! is to Painting as Neil Young is to music. It’s not the pornographic material that keeps me going back for more, it’s his ability to be constantly producing new work. The work may not always hit the right cords with me, or with other people, but the fact that he pushes the line and confidently hangs brand new work for you to see month-to-month makes me return time and time again. His outpouring of new media and content is something for other artists to envy.
So, thank you for keeping it fresh, alive and vibrant. I’m looking forward to what comes next. But I’m convinced; this will not be his final Retrospective Show.