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Home FEATURES Artist Interviews Ben Jones Interview

Ben Jones Interview
Thursday, 09 July 2009 07:16
Invaluable source of inspiration, genius, and drum solos. Meet Ben Jones.
Invaluable source of inspiration, genius, and drum solos. Meet Ben Jones.

Interview by Ryan Christian - ryan(at)fecalface.com

Tell us a bit about where you come from? Who are you? When did you decide you wanted to be an artist? and why?

I grew up in a boring suburb in New England. I remember having tons of zits and no friends. Any lifeforce, or energy I had was focused into drawing, riding freestyle-bmx bikes and/or playing drums. My first band was named "Death From Above." We played the 8th grade field day. As a kid I think I wanted to be an artist because I thought I could be good at it. Somehow that innocent curiosity has turned into a mega-ego and narcissistic complex. I feel like I was never given the chance to be a normal American; somehow I was more scared or less scared of wanting to be happy, playing sports and having pretty girlfriends. I guess I have weird parents, so maybe there was no hope, I am a crazy artist, and their is no denying it. Please kill me.

Could you tell a bit about Paperradio and where that lead you?

The other day I was sitting in a chair I found in the trash, thinking "how did I get here." I traced it back to CF. If it wasn't for the artist CF turning me on to the good art that was going on around me I would be something 100% different. Paper Radio was a zine started by CF and I in 1998. It was the first brick in me creating an personal indenity, voice, and understanding of how my artistic vision could be externalized in a successful way. It was the first brick in me creating a wall around myself and becoming a cold inhuman antisocial aritist. Just kidding, that brick was laid with zits, like I mentioned above.

Paper Radio was just some friends, putting out photocopied pieces of paper, but the process and product had a larger meaning and power. It actualized and communicated ideas that we felt passionate about, not political or socially but almost stylistically. It was a formal method for CF and I to cement what we thought of as our potential ideal style of art. Everything since then has been a complete failure in terms of honestly and clarity, but has been more successful and wider spread; we have been dumbing down our hopes and dreams and trust since Paper Radio, thus a wider patch of humans can relate to the general ideas we output, and thus, this is where we are, and this is where it has lead us. Its almost a more relevant and interesting artistic and cultural story than some famous young artist that just makes wax dog dildo's, but somehow, its not as sexy a story.

Paperad made quite a few waves. There was so much going on with and coming from you guys, it seemed beyond hectic. What was that whole experience like?

Paper Rad isn't a sexy story either. I'd like to be able to talk about it like a young New Yorker might talk about dance parties or graphitti or doing drugs, but when you ask me about Paper Rad I am going to have to tell you about how it was and is just a desperate vital exercise in finding meaning in life. The day to day was about trying not going crazy, about not giving up, it was about being happy. I am sure thats not what people want to hear. They want me to talk about neon jamz, cardboard robots, inflatable bears covering Boston songs, wearing 2 pairs of sunglasses, Volvo's full of trolls, nintendo mind-melts, or the Doo-Man Group, but again, as someone who was creating the content that fueled the expression and celebration that surrounded Paper Rad, for me the experience isn't summed up in a 3rd generation Dan Deconesque youtube video, or any superficial reduction or interpretation, the experience was an attempt at an honest and clear artistic expression. But I guess we package that expression in a candy coated outershell so its fair to react to the shell. But I insist that there is a deeper meaning beyond the clutter and noise and color on the outside. And that deeper meaning was "don't worry, be happy". Also don't forget about the 20 foot Bart Simpson mural at Pace Wildenstien. I don't know, I guess I am sad this week cause I lost my cat.

Borrowing, what are you thoughts on that? With all of the gumby and garfield and so forth, did you guys ever find yourself having legal issues with that? I heard someone riffed you guys and made a faux bj and da dogs 2?

To me our work and the work we inspired was/is almost always coming from ulterior methods and motives. Us creating new content, myths, and ideas using established icons of culture and society (like Garfiled and Gumby) was both legaly and conceptualy very different than when some kids with zits felt that we needed to be accountable for their pain and bad vibes thus they produced a depressing attempt at idenity theft(The fake BJ and the Dogs book). I consider working with Gumby like working with a character like Jesus. There have never been any legal problems with our use popular-creative-capital, because we do it in a respectable way concerning the scale and commerce. We don't claim to be selling the new gumby book, we create satire and parody more like Mad Magazine or a Waynes Bro's film. I feel the fake BJ and Da Dogs book was emotionally akin to a nerd smearing shit on a Jock's locker. So yah, maybe Paper Rad are or were the jocks of putting out a great book like the real BJ and Da Dogs, but I think its important to say that there are some cool jocks, that smoke weed and listen to Stone Temple Pilots, and if you met me, you'd realize I am cool jock, I am not the jock that has orgies or drives drunk...remind me to smear shit on his locker. Actually that would be a good painting for an art jock to paint.

Has paperad come to and end? Your new solo endeavors seem to suggest a departure from that.

No, Paper Rad is having a rebirth, our next project is sort of free-form jazz exploration, but I have been focusing more on solo work. Kind of like Phil Collins's Face Value.

You are proficent in a whole array of mediums, do you have a favorite one to work with?

Drums solos. Once in high school, my band jumped off stage and drove and picked up a pizza and then brought it back and ate it on stage during one of my extend drum solos. If I had one chance to talk to the president, or express my love to some one, or leave a message for the entire universe it would be in the language of the drum solo.

The New Dark Age. How did this idea come to? What does it all mean? We are starting to see lots of religous type imagery and also these recoccuring elements like bricks and ladders and dogs. In these new contexts you are giving them a new purpose or evolving their language?

Totally. I mean, I know there is a more polished and academic way to address this shit, but my work literally is about 3 color neon ladders, bricks and minimalist dogs. Why? It has to do with taking what the artist's of the last generation did, and then doing something slightly different. Then it also has to do with mystical gut dreams that pop in and out of focus when I wake up or sit up too fast. I have visions and ideas that I think are both behind the curtain sneak peaks of reality and simple human responses to our world, and because my job is to be an artist I repackage these visions and ideas as both celebration and investigation. I feel like my modern understanding of the world is like a New Dark Age, in that it is optimistic like New Age views, and also depressing like the Dark Ages. Bricks are in castles, ghettos, and video games. So are ladders. So are dogs.

Is the New Dark Age an abstract narrative, a feeling, a movement, a philosophy, a way of life, none of the above?

Its a narrative constructed with the newest ways of thinking and communicating that I can come up with. Hopefully the narrative points to a movement, causes some cool feelings, and leads to a better way of life for me and humanity. (When reading this answer please picture David Brent from the U.K. version of The Office speaking it, then smiling and looking into the camera at the end awkwardly )

What does it take to be "Ben Jones approved"? As opposed to most artists who don't give away their tricks, you kind of spell it right out.

It takes only the most ballin' original tightest visual shit possible. I don't want to see no fucking European derivative Fort Thunder shit, I don't want to see some fucking lame ass west coast dribbly drop or whatever the cool kids call drawing these days. I want to see fucking mint ass visual shit and then and only then will I approve/steal it.

After having been around the artworld for a hot minute, what are yours thoughts on it? You have made fun of it time and time again, and with just cause. Where is it right now, where do you think its going?

Any really good artist, or just any happy smart person can explain quickly and simply why things like fame, or the art world, or war are essentially meaningless and then also how these things attract young stupid white kids, or people with mental problems, or classic Americans as a result of the of these populations having low consciousness and/or intelligence. If you really are into the art world or TMZ or the Taliband it means you have a type of retardation.

But at the same time, since these populations have such a predictable and simplistic understanding of life, I think it is okay to inject good ideas and good energy into these retarded systems, so that we can help evolve the universe. And to do this you have to sometimes wear the right kind of shoes or try to think up clever answers to questions I guess. I don't know, I think the next big thing in the art world is going to be The Beastie Boys.

You've recently had a solo show @ Deitch (photos), made some hot music videos, had a book come out, and worked on the final issue of the ganzfeld. Any noteworthy projects coming up for you? (exhibitionwise?wyldfilewise? heard you are doing something with pffr for adult swim?)

I have a great show opening in September at LOYAL gallery in Malmo, Sweeden. Other than that, nothing. Seriously how can I top doing videos for Beck? Like I have to do a video for Velvet Revolver? Seriously, I got nothing, except a million fucking things that I hate talking about cause they all are super important and I am working really hard on them and it feels weird to talk about them in anyway that places speculation or expectations onto them (or me) in that, by doing projects for TV or important galleries there is an inherent status and importance that need not be reinforced by me aggrandizing my own grand attempts. This answer would be a good thing to bring to therapy. I am just trying to be honest. But I guess people need to think I am cool. I might be doing a video for Will Oldham, though he said if I tell anybody the the deal was off.

What has been greatly inspiring/uninspiring to you?

Love, jogging, Pantera, punching the air or bushes, yelling at a cat on the street "why are you looking me!" then coming home and cooking some baked beans and listening to the Adam Carolla podcast and then being like, hmmm, webmd.com...search...depression...hmmmmm oh look its 3 am, time to "go to bed".

My girlfriend and I are constantly debating time travel. Are you one who thinks you can go back and change the future or that that is impossible?

Next time you talk about it with her be like, "how do you think I was able to meet someone as amazing as you..." And then pull out a photograph of a heart, and the heart fades and it's you two underneath the heart with Micheal J Fox between you, but then he fades, and then kiss her and whisper "Doc is in trouble, I am not who you think I am, if you tell anybody about this the world with cease to exist". Then be like "just kidding" and run and smash your head into a mirror and stare at your bloody face laughing.....and hug her and be like, "sorry if I freaked you out" but make the hug just a tad too tight, and then be like "just kidding for real", and be like "look how closer this has made us"...then give her the ring.

The End {moscomment}

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High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

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Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

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"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

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"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

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John French with Hasselblad by Lola Dupre

"John French with Hasselblad", photo collage/ hand cut paper on wooden panel, by Lola Dupre which will be part of tomorrow's opening of "Salt the Skies" at FFDG in San Francisco. 2277 Mission St. (6-9pm) - RSVP here.


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contact FF

Banksy's Mobile Lovers
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Speaking of Banksy (wait, were we speaking of Banksy?)... In any case, love his newest creation "Mobile Lovers" located in Bristol, England.

I love you, dear.... Huh? Wut?

 

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010 16:39


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Check photos from his last San Francisco solo show in 2012, and mark your calendar for August as his next solo show opens at FFDG.

Beering with Fish at his favorite watering hole, Zeitgeist

 

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:56

 

Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community
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Sculpture of Jesus as homeless and sleeping on a park bench is "freaking out" the neighbors of this wealthy NC suburb. The sculptor, who has an affinity for street art, created it to remind us that "We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a homeless person." ~READ ON

 

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Think how high those throw ups can be now.

 

OB Shirt by Tucker Nichols
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Tucker Nichols emailed over this new OB shirt he did for our friends at Park Life which can purchased here for $28.

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Have you been to the Headland Center for the Arts in the Marin Headlands?

Located in the beautiful ocean-side Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Headlands artists programs support artists of all disciplines—from visual artists to performers, musicians, writers, and videographers—and provide opportunities for independent and collaborative creative work.

This Sunday's Open House runs 12-5pm - FREE & DETAILS

 

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The Rena Bransten Gallery is packing up their 77 Geary space to make way for tech company MuleSoft

 

Nikki McClure at Needles & Pens, Friday 4/11
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SAN FRANCISCO --- Nikki McClure, known for her painstakingly intricate and beautiful paper cuts, returns to Needles & Pens with an opening reception this Friday, April 11th - She'll be showing original papercuts for the book, "May the Stars Drip Down" - show details

This approach was born and bred out of the Olympia, Washington independent music scene. There, local artists emphasized everything handmade and self-published. The idea was to do a lot with a little. The result was a rich community sharing artistry and ideas. McClure found herself deeply embedded in this community which shaped an ethic of hands-on and accessible artmaking. - show details

 

Richard Colman Mural on 12th
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SF --- on the corner of 12th and Folsom is this Richard Colman mural... Speaking of Colman, check this wonderful show from him in 2010.

 

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010 11:50


+SF

+NYC

+LA

FULL CALENDARS: BAY AREA | NYC | LA

 


 

 

 

FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


Project M/3 in Berlin curated by NUART

BERLIN --- Project M is a temporary art project with the objective to improve the neighborhood, to push creativity and to connect people. At regular intervals Urban Nation with director Yasha Young invites a group of internationally reclaimed contemporary urban artists to re-design the facade and shop windows of a prominent residential building in Berlin, while it is being reconstructed.


John French with Hasselblad by Lola Dupre

"John French with Hasselblad", photo collage/ hand cut paper on wooden panel, by Lola Dupre which will be part of tomorrow's opening of "Salt the Skies" at FFDG in San Francisco. 2277 Mission St. (6-9pm) - RSVP here.


"Salt the Skies" at FFDG Opening Fri, Mar 21st

FFDG's spring show "Salt the Skies" is set to open on Friday, March 21st (6-9pm) -- Featuring works by Brett Amory, John Felix Arnold, Mario Ayala, Jud Bergeron, Curiot (Favio Martinez), Christopher Burch, Lola Dupre, Michelle Fleck, Matt Gonzalez, Hiro Kurata, Marty Machado, Mark Mulroney, and Nicomi Nix Turner


Brian Barneclo's 225' Food Chain Mural

San Francisco based Brian Barneclo was commissioned in 2006 to paint a HUGE mural on the side of Foods Co on Shotwell at 14th Streets. After some time on its own, it got pretty taxed by misc graffiti and pigeon shit.


A short documentary following the late artist, Shawn Whisenant

Shawn Whisenant is a born and raised San Francisco Bay Area artist whose art can be found lurking in the streets or galleries and museums across the USA, Australia, and Europe. He has been working on the streets of the Bay Area since the mid 1990's, where his images continue to endure on walls, mailboxes, and other surfaces around the city. He enjoys making books and stickers, taking photos, painting signs, and moving about in the city’s shadows. In the streets and galleries, his work has seen many different forms. From rare-hand crafted books, to skateboard films and a signature pair of Osiris shoes, his creating doesn’t end with painting. RIP Shawn Whisenant.


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