His Secret Life by John Pound
Parodies of popular culture and small personal paintings by the iconoclastic commercial artist John Pound are on display October 4 through November 2 at Humboldt State University’s First Street Gallery in Eureka.
The exhibition, titled His Secret Life, surveys Pound’s art in the form of commercial works, illustrated comic drawings, comic book covers, computer-aided graphic designs and even images printed on multiple skateboard decks.
From his work for Mad Magazine to his Garbage Pail Kids and candy box designs, Pound’s central idea is “do what you can to get away from the norm.” His commercial and personal pieces are distinctive, but they both employ subversion through loaded imagery that depicts uncanny circumstances.
Pound lampoons society’s moral constructs, using his work to express rebellion. His fascination with the subversive is most evident in his commercial illustrations, such as the Garbage Pail Kids series of the 1980s, which was collected by children nationwide. The images express youthful mutiny by emphasizing weird and grotesque behavior.
The First Street Gallery exhibit also includes raw and humorous images Pound created in collaboration with Shorty’s Skateboard Company and its sponsored riders. Called Nasty Wrestling Bastards, these works are presented on the gallery’s walls.
The exhibit reflects the variety of the artist’s methods, including sketches, painting, airbrushing and digitally produced works.
A child of the 1950s who grew up in San Diego, Pound has worked primarily as a commercial artist on commission, but the First Street Gallery exhibit includes his personal pieces. Illustrative is Pound’s Woo-Woo series, a non-commercial collection of small paintings that explore human behavior and emotion. Using the motif of a series of imaginary comic book covers, he composes complex images in a story line that is neither easily digestible nor easily dismissed by the viewer. In each painting, the protagonist, a Candide-like character named Eyewiz, is placed in compromising and tragic predicaments. Eyewiz always seems to be on the brink of either discovery or despair. These images not only reveal a darker side of Pound’s observations of relationships--mortality and ambiguity--but also employ the entertaining visual codes of a comic strip.
A public reception for the artist will be held during Eureka Main Street’s Arts Alive! on Saturday, October 4, from 6-9 p.m. The exhibit is produced by the interns of the Museum and Gallery Practices Program at Humboldt State University.
First Street Gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., and is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California. Admission is always free.
For more information, call 707/443-6363. School groups are encouraged to call ahead for tours.