Freedom junkies

They served me chocolate and beer while we watched one of Brett’s home videos of sparrows and little chickadees eating seed in the backyard. Later on, they bombarded me with underground art books and wild art zines. The stereo played previously recorded Howard Stern episodes, and the abstract instrumental art rock band Hella.

The conversation was one part acid trip and one part secret revolutionary meeting. I sensed Whitney could crack my skull with her quick wit if she wanted to. Brett wouldn’t care, he would be up all night painting. I knew then, the Superstars were seriously freedom junkies.

Currently the Superstars are on tour. Much like bands going on tour, but for art. They’ve been driving/living in a big red van with their cat Eddie, painting as they drive from state to state selling art in whatever venue that presents itself. I interviewed them through a thing they like to call "the intra-web."

What happens in a Superstar average day?

Brett: Wake up, listen to Howard [Stern] if he’s in range, eat food and paint.

Whitney: We usually only painted in places where we stayed with family. When we were with friends we were usually too busy having fun with them. In Arizona, for example, the weather was nice, so we’d set up and paint outside. But a typical day differed from place to place. In Brooklyn we concentrated on selling our art on the street. And when there’s no house to stay in, we are pretty busy just trying to get simple tasks done, i.e. making a fire for warmth, cooking food, finding a state park or campground that isn’t scary. So sometimes typical is getting up, feeding our cat and finding the pee cup.

Brett studied art in school, but Whitney did not. Do you think that affects your work?

Brett: Absolutely!

Whitney: Most definitely. I don’t have to filter through any previously learned techniques that might affect my work.

Do your differences become similarities?

Brett: I’ve noticed an influence from Whitney in my work lately.

Whitney: Color palette, medium and its kick-assness are all similarities in our work.

Nature seems to hang a heavy influence in your paintings. Do you feel that?

Brett: Nature is just a constant inspiration for ideas. Our cat Eddie and birds are constantly showing up in our paintings.

Whitney: I’m mainly influenced by what I see in nature, the feeling I receive when I’m in nature, colors and forms, the simplicity of it.

You’ve both been around the art block, showing in galleries, on the sidewalk, in houses and bars. Where is your favorite place to show and/or sell your work?

Brett: Alberta Street (Portland’s Last Thursday), because we get to talk to a lot of people in a more casual setting.

Whitney: I just like selling on the street, anywhere basically. I feel we get an audience that might not normally take the time to view art (paintings). Selling on the street also teaches us lots of lessons on reading people, plus it’s really entertaining.

What other artists inspire or influence you?

Brett: Degas, Klimt, Thom Lessner and Neil Blender.

Whitney: I’ve been really trying lately to not look at a whole lot of contemporary artists. It fucks with my mind too much, I get competitive, then frustrated, and that takes away the reasons I enjoy painting. My main influence is always from nature. I am also influenced by my close artist friends, the constant work spewing from their hands.

How can you live up to the name "Superstar"?

Whitney: Well, it says it on our driver’s license. Plus the fact that we’ve been kicking ass from coast to coast, isn’t that what Superstars do?

Well, there you have it, living proof that art is whatever you make it. Sometimes, though, your art can take the steering wheel and drive you down the road of life screaming out the window like a freedom junkie.

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