Artist Bruce Barlow has a lot of interests– taxidermy, astronomy, entomology, zoology and music among them– and they all overlap and play roles in his work.
The Oakland native has been a consistently working special-effects make-up artist for decades (his IMDB page dates back to 1986), but his non-cinematic art began in 1997.
Barlow’s work will be on display at the Expo Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., during the art walk in Bixby Knolls on Thursday, July 3 from 6pm to 10pm. Featured work will include his signature absurdist surrealism in which found objects are altered into strange forms in hyper-realistic scale models, while paintings accentuate his whimsical view of the world.
The exhibit will also feature the duo Toaster Music, which includes Sumako (who curated the show) and Sander Roscoe Wolff, performing.
How would you describe the work you do?
It’s inspired by the world that exists in my head. It’s the things that make sense to me– the places that I feel should be there but aren’t. It may seem dark, but there’s a sense of humor there– it’s stuff that makes me laugh. It’s my reflections of what I see as absurdities in the real world.
What would you say is your “point of view” as an artist?
I’m not sure what it is, but maybe I can say what it isn’t. It’s not political, though there are some politics. It’s not emotional, though there are some emotions that come to play. I try not to be heavy-handed. I try to convey a sense of playfulness. The world is hard enough. I’ve always felt a little detached from the rest of the world. Perhaps my artwork is an expression of that detachment.
Have you had any training as an artist?
Only what you get from high school and what I have been able to observe from some very great artists that I know.
What are your biggest obstacles to getting your work accomplished, and how do you combat them?
Money, money and money. And the stress of not having any money. I combat that by dumpster-diving and finding materials to use. Ninety percent of what I produce is made from found materials.
What inspires you the most as an artist?
A lot of people think an artist is inspired by pain and misery and hardship. But I don’t think that’s true. An artist thrives on love, security, patience, and affirmation. Just like everybody else. My best work comes when I feel a sense of well-being. The darker stuff may provide content, but not true inspiration.
More of Barlow’s work may be viewed on the Facebook page Theartof Brucebarlow.