Cheesecake boys in a retro fashion, dogs playing at tearing off the denims of their masters or the Santa Claus outfits, pants with no belts, all the candid game of exposing the underwears through a fortunate bad luck in a very light presentation, deeper paintings too, in portraits depicting gay feelings and emotions with a lot of thought.
Columbus, Ohio, United States
Interview with Paul Richmond
What message(s) do you want to express through your work?
With my Cheesecake Boys series, I’m mostly looking for creative, humorous ways to get a boy out of his pants. It’s not much deeper than that! They are reminiscent of the pin-up girls popularized in the 40’s and 50’s with overtly contrived scenarios putting them in imminent danger of having their underwear (or more) exposed. There’s a slightly innocent suggestiveness to the works from this time period which I am really drawn to and want to interpret from a gay male perspective.Which artists inspire you? Who are your masters?
My fine artwork also addresses gay themes. The series which I now refer to as Ins and Outs began more as a form of art therapy during my coming out process, and I had no intention of sharing them with others. Through the works, I was able to explore issues of identity, sexuality, and self-acceptance in a narrative style. Ultimately, the paintings weren’t meant to stay in the closet and many wonderful connections and opportunities have happened as a result of sharing them with others.
I love the pin-up art of Gil Elvgren. I also really enjoy the work of Glen Hansen, Steve Walker, Melissa Forman, James Rosenquist, Joe Sorren, David LaChapelle, Loretta Lux, Oksana Badrak, and Mark Ryden. As a child, my teacher Linda Regula first introduced me to the concept of exploring personal narrative through artwork, so she’s been a big inspiration as well.What have you gained by being on the internet?
Well for starters, I found my partner online! Dennis is an amazingly supportive and wonderful influence on my life, not to mention a hot model for some of my Cheesecake Boys! As for my artwork, which I’m sure was the point of the question, it’s gained a lot of exposure through my website. I’ve received e-mails from people all over the world who’ve found my work and can relate to it. It’s a wonderful way to reach a broad audience who would never find me otherwise. Most of the opportunities I’ve had over the past few years have been a direct result of internet exposure, including having my work licensed for the cover of a Puerto Rican gay fiction novel “Dos Centimetros de Mar” by Carlos Vázquez Cruz, Cheesecake Boys card publication through 10Percent Productions, exhibit opportunities at the World of Wonder Gallery in Hollywood and A Bitchin’ Space Gallery in Sacramento, and an invitation to the memorial service for one of my diva inspirations Tammy Faye Messner at which my portrait of her was displayed and auctioned.Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?
The only censorship I’ve experienced so far was self-imposed. Before coming out of the closet, I really struggled to find my authentic voice as an artist and only after moving into a place of self-acceptance could I also be free and honest with my work. The venues at which I’ve been fortunate to display or publish my work have all been very receptive and supportive of my vision, so censorship in that sense has never been an issue.What projects mean a lot to you at the moment?
I am currently finishing up a large painting called The Dollypop Guild for the Dollypop Show at the World of Wonder Gallery in Hollywood, CA. The piece is based on the scene in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy first meets Glinda, though in my interpretation Dorothy is replaced by a young boy wearing oversized red stilettos watching Dolly Parton descend from the sky in a big pink bubble. As a child, I idolized country singer Dolly Parton for her ability to balance a flamboyant personality, over-the-top image, and sincere artistic aspirations. Now as an adult, I find myself juggling those same things in my own life and work. The Dollypop Guild is a good representation of this idea – it’s covered in glitter and sequins yet tells a very real and poignant story of a boy who’s choosing a different path (in this case, one that’s covered in yellow bricks and leads to Dollywood!). I’m really looking forward to the opening of this exhibit and future opportunities with the World of Wonder gallery.Could you tell us a few words about the place you live/work in?
I live in the Short North Arts District of Columbus, Ohio with my man and our two whippet babies. Columbus has a growing arts community that has been very supportive of me and my work. I’m especially grateful to the Ohio Art League for sponsoring my first solo show, and the Stonewall Union for their annual “Exhibit of Pride” show which I’ve participated in every year since coming out.Words gathered in August 2008
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