Last Rites Gallery is pleased to announce its 5 Year Anniversary Show that will feature over forty works of art by a selection of its acclaimed roster of artists. April 13—May 18, 2013. Opening Reception: Saturday, April 13, 7pm – 12am Continue reading
beinArt Interview with Chet Zar
Jon Beinart – "What inspires you Chet?"
Chet Zar – "That is a really broad question. There are many things in life that inspire me to paint, but what consistently inspires me the most is good art. When I see a good art show, I always leave wanting to paint."
Jon Beinart – "Can you list a few artists who have inspired you and explain what you have found exciting about their work? Do you know many of these individuals personally?"
Chet Zar – "Different artists have influenced me at different times in my life. I think when I was a little kid it was a mix of fine artists I had seen in my Aunts art books (Bosch, Dali, M.C. Escher) and a lot of pop culture art and comics of the late 60's and early 70's (Big Daddy Roth. Mad magazine artists Mort Drucker and Jack Davis, Terry Gilliam's animations from Monty Python's Flying Circus, Horror comics). I always have gravitated towards the weirder stuff. I guess I just felt some sort of kinship with art that wasn't normal and pretty, probably because I didn't ever really feel normal or pretty myself.
As a teenager it was HR. Giger, Frazetta and Heavy Metal magazine (Richard Corben, Mobius). I loved Sci-Fi and Horror and I think it was those elements within those artists that attracted me to them.
In my adult life I think Beksinski has been my biggest influence. I just love his work, it's very dark, mysterious and really unique. He really was a master painter and highly underrated (in the U.S. at least). I am also a big fan of Mark Ryden. His work was pretty influential on me as well. Also, lots of illustrator types like Norman Rockwell and James Bama.
I am also lucky enough to be showing a lot in Los Angeles with many artists who I really like and actually get to hang out with at shows like Nathan Spoor, Cam De Leon, Jose Lopes, and my best friend Christopher Owen (who has also been a big influence on me as an artist since we were kids). My stepfather James Zar has also been a strong artistic presence all throughout my life. He is a great painter."
Jon Beinart – "You listed many of my favorites there. I can definitely see a touch of Beksinski in your work. (I hadn't noticed that before). So we've established that your art isn't normal, or pretty. How has your art been received by the public. I'm sure you have received a lot of positive feedback, but I'd like to hear about some of the negative reactions people have had to your work. Has anyone completely freaked out at one of your shows and needed immediate psychiatric care ;)"
Chet Zar – "Surprisingly, the response has been pretty much positive. I guess maybe we are jaded out here in L.A. or perhaps I was lucky enough to show with the right galleries from the start. Most of the negative responses I got about my art were when I was a kid. You know, the typical- "why don't you paint something pretty?" from the adults who didn't get it. But that kind of attitude just made me want to paint even uglier things! In any case, I was truly shocked at how well my work was received right when I started showing. When I started painting I didn't really think the would go over so well. I thought, "Who would want to hang this in their house- other than someone like me?" but I stuck to my guns and painted exactly what I wanted to paint and luckily, people really seemed to like it. I guess there are more people like me out there than I thought."
Jon Beinart – "The gestures that you accentuate, so effectively emphasize the emotions and idiosyncrasies of your characters. Are you drawing predominantly from your own emotional experience or from your observations of others?"
Chet Zar – "Both, I think. A painting has to click with me on an emotional level for me to really do my best and I think it clicks for me when I can recognize an emotion in it that I can really relate to. But I also observe others a lot so that I can know what those emotions look like on a face."
Jon Beinart – "Have you ever caught yourself pulling similar faces to your characters when you paint them? (I ask, because I have noticed myself doing this)."
Chet Zar – "Yes, I do that on occasion, but not as often as you might think."
Jon Beinart – "I understand you have been working with Tool for many years now. Can you please describe your role with Tool? And how did you meet them?"
Chet Zar – "Yes, I have been working with Tool since '98 or '99. I created various 3D computer animations that they use in their live shows and headed up the make-up effects crew for their last 4 videos. I have also done T-shirt artwork for them, website graphics- all kinds of stuff. It has been a very creatively satisfying relationship.
I met Tool through guitarist/art director Adam Jones. We worked together years before Tool in the makeup effects industry and eventually parted ways due to the nature of the business. Years later Adam got in touch with me about helping out on the "Stinkfist" video. It developed from there and we became good friends in the process. He has been a big supporter of my art career and has even collects my paintings."
Jon Beinart – "It must be exciting collaborating with such a talented and celebrated group of musicians. I know Meats Meier has also worked with Tool (I interviewed Meats Meier the other week). Have you and Meats worked together on any of these projects?"
Chet Zar – "It is always fun to work with talented people and I am very proud to have been involved with Tool. They really are a great band and always put out quality work in whatever they do. Working with Adam is always very artistically stimulating. There are certain people that you just click with creatively. We get together and in 5 minutes the ideas just start flowing. It's really fun. Meats Meier is great. His work is outstanding and he is a super creative guy. We haven't had the chance to work together yet but he is creating a piece for an upcoming art show that I am guest curating for the Venice Contemporary in Los Angeles this October. It's called "The Talking Board Show". Each artist is going to create their own custom version of an Ouija/talking board. I am excited to see what he comes up with."
Jon Beinart – "I'd love to see that show. Was the custom Ouija/talking board show your idea? Do you have a particular interest in the supernatural?"
Chet Zar – "Yes, it was an idea I have had for some years now. The Venice Contemporary recently asked me to guest curate a show so I thought I’d better do The Talking Board Show before somebody else did. I think it is going to be a really fun show. I love Ouija boards and have always interested in the supernatural. I have had many run ins with what I would call supernatural phenomena since I was a kid."
Jon Beinart – "Could you describe one of these run ins Chet?"
Chet Zar – "Well, there have been a lot. Numerous Out of Body experiences, precognitive dreams, E.S.P., a couple of ghost experiences, that sort of thing. They range from somewhat plausible to totally unbelievable and I wouldn't expect a stranger reading this interview to believe them (let alone somebody I knew) so I won't even mention the really crazy stuff.
I would say that about 60% of my experiences have been in the realm of OBE's/ Astral projection (If unfamiliar check out author Robert Monroe). I used to have those pretty frequently since I was a kid. Now I have them only a few times a year. Weird stuff. I have had OBE's that have been extremely fun and exciting, while others have been absolutely terrifying- a kind of spiritual terror that I have only felt in these realms.
Here are two different cases:
My first OBE was at around age 12. As I was drifting off to sleep, I noticed that I couldn't move yet my mind was awake. My eyes were closed, of that I was certain, but I could still see. I was looking through my eyelids. Then the terror crept in, like I knew somebody or something evil was outside of my door and I knew this was no dream. I was trying to scream but I was paralyzed (this is a phenomenon doctors call 'sleep paralysis', but people familiar with OBE's know it as the stage you enter right before you are about to go out of body. Your body is essentially asleep and your consciousness has switched over to your astral body). So anyway, I felt this deep terror and then a man appeared next to my bed. He looked like a redneck or something- a heavyset figure wearing a down vest jacket and flannel shirt. He was holding a pillow up in front of his face, so I couldn't see what he looked like. I tried to break free from this paralysis but I couldn't. Something in my mind was saying, "He can't hurt you- he is just going to try and scare you". Then he began hitting me with the pillow in a really odd way, lashing out and putting the pillow back in front of his face very fast, over and over. By then I was so terrified that I was able to wrench my body back and forth and woke myself up. The man just disappeared and everything kind of went wavy, just like dream transitions in a movie or a cheesy TV. show, and suddenly I was sitting up and awake, staring at the blank wall where the man was just standing.
One of the more pleasant cases was when I was about 16 or 17 years old. I was sleeping in my parents garage that has been converted into a recording studio for my brothers band. The walls were all covered with carpet in order to make the room sound proof and the windows had been covered, so it was always pitch black in that room when the light was off. Anyway, I was sleeping and a knock came at the door. It was around 7 am when I opened the door, it was really bright out there. It was a friend of mine. I told him I was sleeping and went back to bed, closing the door and returning the room to complete darkness. As I was falling asleep (this happens to be the most common time for OBE's for me- right after I have been woken up in the middle of the night or early morning and gone back to sleep) I felt a strange sensation around my body. I began to float up and around the room. I was totally aware and like the other time before, I knew it was more than a dream. I mean, I was as lucid and aware as I am right now, perhaps even more so. I felt light and so good floating around the room- I felt pure, like I was fully present and I remember thinking, "This is the real me and this is what it feels like when you die". It was one of the happiest moments in my life (and I haven't really felt afraid of dying since). So I floated around the room, not really able to control my direction or anything and I headed for the front wall. I went through the wall and I could see the beams and dust in between the wall as I went through it- it was a trip. But when I went outside the brightness of the morning startled me and I was immediately sucked back into my body like I was being pulled by a giant rubber band. Snap! I was back in my body and wide-awake. It was a really magical experience.
I believe that both of these were not just dreams but I have no proof of that. It's just something you have to experience. But once you have, you just know.
Luckily, I was raised to not be afraid of these types of things. My mother is very spiritually progressive and when I was growing up, ghost sightings and psychic phenomenon were just a part of life. We kind of just took it for granted that it happened to everybody. Or maybe my family is just crazy!"
Jon Beinart – "Thank you for sharing these experiences Chet and for this interview in general. I enjoyed getting to know the man behind the art. I don't think you or your family is crazy, just eccentric ;) I like to keep an open mind even though I haven't experienced anything like what you described. Consider yourself lucky :) Before we finish, do you have any exciting news for our readers? Exhibitions, publications, etc?"
Chet Zar – "Lots of shows. I will be in the "Next Gen- Art for the New Aeon" group show at the CoproNason gallery in July and I am also in a four person show (with Lola, Nathan Spoor, Kevin Peterson) called, "Sanctuary" at Limited Addiction gallery in Denver, Colorado. As I had mentioned before, I am also am guest curating (as well as creating a piece for) "The Talking Board Show" October 20th at the Venice Contemporary. October will be busy as I will be also showing work in London for the London Opening of the Strychnin gallery and at the Zoo Art Fair. I also have a couple of solo shows scheduled for next year, one at CoproNason in March 2008 and one in June 2008 at Strychnin Gallery in London. There are a bunch of other group shows scattered within that schedule. Anybody interested in getting on my mailing list to stay informed of shows can join here.
Aside from the shows, I am working on getting a book of my artwork published as well as possibly releasing some art training DVD's. And as time permits, I am working on a follow up to my 3D animation DVD, "Disturb the Normal".
I am also selling Limited Edition prints, T- Shirts and "Disturb the Normal" on my website."