Artists, Interviews
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Welcome to Goonswood: Visualizing the Just Out of Sight, Part 2

CB: When did you start painting? Why?

G: ..I wanted memories to be created from it, to many people, but that s only because each person is different…

CB: How did goons come about? What does goons mean to you?

G: It’s either a completely imperfect self, or completely perfected. Because its like, I feel that creation is a reflection of who you yourself [are], a reflection of me, and just trying to feel different things, to be different things, but it always goes back to the same, and I feel that every creation has the whole inside of it. And I just think [putting] a goon on it signifies that. That [the goon] is my thought.

CB: Can you say a little more about the goons, why you are sort of obsessed with them?

G: Just because it’s […]a new species.

CB: Is it a human? Reptilian?

G: I ‘d say that reptilian is just underdeveloped human, and humans are just humans, and this is the next step. Although it would have reptilian qualities in that reptiles are angels- they traditionally have wings- because that’s very reptilian – because dinosaurs had the wings, and stuff like that, and I feel like goons, they don’t necessarily talk very much. So that’s they are always just like [assumes a blank expression, mouth open] that, because they don’t have to do much more than breather because they communicate without talking. They generally just do stuff, or [do] not do stuff. They just be. They just are. And so that represents communication, but not necessarily verbal communication, because they have a hard time talking.
…because once they see each other, they already know everything.

CB: So their communication: is it physical, is it gestures, is it telepathy?

G: All of that.

CB: So the term goons, does it come from anywhere?

G: Yeah.

CB: where does it come from?

G: Just taking something that had bad associations, like when something is rotten. Like when you call something ‘sick’ but actually its cool, same idea. Goons. If I called them ‘cool’ it would just be like alright, but if you take something else and pull that up to the level of something that is [cool]. That’s what I think the definition of cool is, taking something that is unnoticed and bringing that to the forefront of , to give it energy.

CB: Specifically in terms of goons, what do you think the negative connotations of that term were that you kind of reclaimed?

G: Well my grandmother used to call people goonies who were thugs, or don’t matter, or if people are all tatted up and don’t pay bills and don’t contribute necessarily to society, those people she say those people were ‘goonies.’…There is, like, the scum of the earth but I always thought there was potential in that. If I ever brought it up, she [grandmother] wasn’t necessarily casting them aside, she was just saying maybe they are at a stage where they are underdeveloped, but some day though…

CB: So can you say something about Goonswood, as an imagined community?

G: Yeah, totally. I feel like they [goons] can travel to anywhere in time or space, or anywhere in history, or anything like that. So, basically I always think of them as right outside of eyesight. Always right around the corner. Like, right next to you. And, they are helpers but don’t pay attention to helping peoples’ problems, because like I said, they don’t really talk because they don’t really have anything to say, or even eat, all they do really is breathe.

CB: That seems very meditative.

G: Yeah, totally. They just, experience things. They are just peaceful. Although they are big creatures, and find themselves in bodies that are usually big they they are extremely peaceful, and mellow, and colorful because they have all the time to breathe.

CB: In imagining the kind of architecture of Goonswood, does it matter the types of spaces?

G: Just whatever they can build. Yeah, its kind of like when you are at the beach and you are just making sand castles, and you find sticks and shells and the more you look for things, the more you try to make things fit the more it will happen, and I feel that that is what they live like. They are just moving around from place to place, and wherever it lights up, they could be. Wherever they can be accepted or needed, that’s where they can be, very much like angels.

CB: So if they are the next evolution, do you think they could exist now? Or are they futuristic?

G: I definitely think they could exist now. Because, I think that all time is going on right now. So, like I said, they are always right outside our eyesight.

CB: So is that why you use such bright colors? To give them visibility?

G: Yeah, totally.

CB: Do you have any people you’ve found helpful or inspiring to develop this concept?

G: Basically every street artist, everyone who you have heard of…

CB: What about in Chicago?

G: Everyone has been so helpful to me so to start naming I would leave people out because there hasn’t been not helpful. And even if there is a person who is like “his [Goons’] work is like childish” that helps, that makes me want to use even more colors, that it wasn’t child enough that he could even come up with an explanation. I would rather people not truly be able to explain my work, but rather, check it out, experience it for themselves. [fenves Benjamin child and color]

CB: Do you have any stories, something anecdotal, about when you are working on the street, and the reactions people have?

G: Yeah. Usually when I am working on the street, people are just like “cool.” In the middle of doing something. No one goes out on the street, unless it’s a street artist, so its always unexpected. But they always have moments where they are like ‘cool,’ or ‘that’s awesome.’ Occasionally people do call the police, but I don’t know why they would, no one ever says to stop really, that I find. Basically you just have to feel out the environment. You can just feel if its gonna be cool or not.

CB: How do you pick a spot?

G: You just kind of feel it. You just see something that’s run down, and its like, alright, I could bring color to that. And that’s what a goon would like. A goon doesn’t want to live on the side of a skyscraper. There is already a lot of energy going on there. He wants to live somewhere where energy has been, because he can bring that back out. So, an abandoned storefront is perfect, because there has been so much commerce there, and maybe this is just the representation of what’s left, but inside his [a goons’] mind is all the memory of what [was there]. I feel like when you look at a store that was a bank, you can kind of feel that it was a bank. And you can kind of feel that [and] all of the transactions have taken place there. To be able to put a face to that, that lets me feel that on a whole other level. On a level I was always wanted. Since I was a kid…that’s what I imagined in my head. I feel that nothing ever really goes away. So I wanted to show that. And that’s why street art was like “Oh damn,” just so real. No disrespect to gallery, but putting something in a gallery, in a gallery stuff has to leave, and that’s why I love doing the same image because people that come to a gallery show can see it but ///I want to keep writing in peoples memories until they grow really fond of it. I think maybe some people have been a little bit scared of it, but I think that’s good too, because to be able to work through that is, why I am here really.

CB: In what way have people been scared of your work?

G: Because it is ugly [they ask] why would I spend my time making ugly creatures. But I don’t see…its just judgment…its not what they like.

CB: So for instance when it’s at this gallery, versus the street, what’s being lost or gained?

G: I think that only things are being gained for this. Just, first of all it allows people to get really close to the work, whereas on the street no one’s really going out to see street art. Maybe there are a few, but it’s hit or miss…and the people going to see it they will already be at your thing. Here, I just want the final piece, by any means necessary to get there, so there might be a pencil mark here or there, and I just cover it up with layers. There’s no time to really reduce things, there is only time for expansion. So that’s what I like to do with my work. And that’s why its so great to have it framed because they look like, they give it that polished quality that is so cool. I cant stop looking at them.

CB: How is the shininess and polish here at the gallery different than the shininess and polish that might make a goon not want to live on the side of a skyscraper?

G: Just that…I feel so much love in here. Not that there isn’t love in a skyscraper, but there is another function for that. I would love to hang a piece in Donald Trump’s skyscraper, inside, that would be cool. Because I feel like I am bringing the streets with, and that is cool because it won’t lessen the value of the creatures at all, they are always who they are.

There is a lot more going on as a universal law than meets the eye. We only see a certain range of colors…we only see light which is just the bounce off of…so I just try to feel as much as I possibly can because I feel that I am like a radio beam for the other colors of the universe, so then I just try to throw that through the pen and the ink.

CB: Do you ever use spray paint, or would you use brush paint?

G: I would use all of that but my favorite is to be above the painting and create it underneath me, and to watch it expand…but I would use anything. This one is watercolor and black ink, turned out perfect.

CB: Do you have future plans to develop goons further, new modifications, new spaces?

G: I don’t really…I used to have a lot of goals, I do have some rough outlines, but rather see what happens next. I feel that the more I just let go and just do whatever I have in front of me to do that unexpected can happen. I think the unexpected is better, like this show was totally unexpected, though I always did want to be in a nice, clean gallery. I always wanted this. I feel like that there is a lot of teachings that are like, you need to totally visualize everything, but sometimes you can’t visualize how good its gonna be. And that’s what I feel like is the best way to be, the rules are do whatever you feel like doing, but don’t put a limit on it. Because any goal is limited by the idea of the goal. So, you could [say] “I want to make a million dollars,” not realizing that everything you want is gonna come if you didn’t make that goal. Setting a goal is always limiting because you cant know all the details.

CB: Do you have a favorite piece in this show?

G: I don’t have a favorite piece. I like how there is twelve, and feel like twelve is a good number. Sometimes I am like ‘that is really special’ but I like them all.

CB: Have you don’t goons in other cities?

G: Yeah.

CB: What cities?

G: LA, San Francisco, New York City. In New York City you have to stand out, there is a lot of art there and I think that the bigger the better. San Francisco everything is super colorful so almost losing some color could make you stand out. And LA is just a potpourri of celebrity oriented art, so I feel like the more folk you can get, your own references you can bring, is actually ironically more celebrated than just doing stenciling.

CB: how do you feel about the permanence of your work, because having it on the street.

G: I am really excited to move into the gallery because having people able to hang it on their walls, is really cool because it is still just as exciting for me to paint and yet I wont necessarily go the next day it wont be gone. Although, once its out of my hands its fine and I can totally let it go. But it is great to think that some people have my art, and maybe they give it to someone else, or maybe they just keep it. And that’s cool because I’ve had a lot of stuff torn down, and I’ve always been fine it with, and I probably still couldn’t be making it if everything I did was [kept]. I probably would have drowned myself…in the art. I would have been like I already did that there is other stuff to do. I would still be doing it. The whole city would be filled with my work and I would have to totally leave and totally find something else to do. Because once it gets torn down you want to do more, something a little better, so good that the guys who are in the truck are like ‘you know what, let’s keep going”

CB: Anything else you want to say?

G: Nah. Thanks.