I am a firm believer in killing your idols. I don’t believe in celebrity. I don’t get impressed. I don’t want to go backstage. I don’t want an autograph.
My instinct at this moment is to go on a screed about our societies inherent need for royalty and the pathetic state of the false gods that most humans choose to fawn over… but the reality is I’m just that narcissistic.
I don’t grovel and gawk because that would be awkward for the celebrities and performers and famous artists who just don’t know that they’re my peers.
I am a stammering fanboy groupie to no one except… probably the one man who would appreciate it the least.
I discovered Joe Coleman in high school during my mail order education in the underground. Trapped in a southwestern desert purgatory, my eyes fixated on the coasts as I watched my holy VHS trinity until the tapes wore out– Decline of the Western Civilization, Pink Flamingos, Mondo New York.
Mondo New York doesn’t exactly hold the test of time, but indiscriminately mixed in with a slate of performance artists and some ridiculous “scare and amaze” locations of the 80’s NYC underground, is Joe Coleman. He struts out on stage and rants at the audience for a minute before he suddenly bites the heads off a couple of mice and then blows himself up with a fireworks vest. Ta-Da!
At 17, I had no idea what I was watching, but I loved it.
When I discovered Coleman’s paintings in the mid 90’s, I was shocked into awe. Every interview, every article, every aspect of Joe Coleman just blows me to pieces like that stupid fucking fireworks vest he wore.
One of my biggest inspirations for the hyper density of my collages is Joe Coleman. But I use a machine to clumsily apply photo imagery. He uses a single horsehair brush and a jewelers visor to paint at a microscopic level. His production rate is eight hours per inch and he doesn’t sketch ANYTHING. It’s like he’s a symphony conductor for an army of nanorobots that stitch his reality into existence from a pure void, one molecule at a time.
Every one of the thousands of elements represented in a single painting has well-contemplated, personal, historical or mystical meaning and he imbues his work with biological elements like blood and hair to bind the image with magical charms.
My direct spark of interest in sideshow history is Joe Coleman. I’ve got some tattoos, read some books, own some trinkets, been to some shows. This motherfucker lives in Coney Island at a museum of his own creation, dubbed the Odditorium, which features authentic religious reliquaries and actual pickled punks.
Any single worldview or outlook I could possibly express about art, religion, politics, life, death and philosophy could be and probably has been better articulated by Joe Coleman.
We don’t have to speculate on the how bad I would shit the bed if confronted by the opportunity to meet him, because it’s already happened.