Adventures in Art Making

12.21.2008

By Shana Naomi Krochmal

August 2008 Out cover boy Pete Wentz recently teamed up with Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis McCoy for a joint exhibit of their mixed-media work, "Without You I'm Just Me," created during one long week when the pair locked themselves in Wentz's basement to make art. The opening of the Los Angeles hipster scene soiree at Gallery 1988 drew the pair's bold-name babes (Ashlee Simpson and Katy Perry, respectively) as well as Wentz-crush John Mayer and his ex Jessica Simpson, Nicole Ritchie and Joel Madden, Solange Knowles and Clark Duke -- a fitting guest list for an impressively Warholian collection. A number of the pieces eerily evoked the tradition of such queer artists as Keith Haring and David Wojnarowicz, with blunt and vulnerable pieces that confronted politics, fame and mental health in equal measure.

Out checked back in with Wentz by e-mail as his band Fall Out Boy criss-crossed the country promoting their new album, Folie ' Deux.

Out: How familiar are you with the 'AIDS art' movement, and how do you see your art (especially the pieces about depression/substances) fitting into a further erosion of what's considered 'private'?
Pete Wentz: I am a huge fan of Haring -- I feel that he crossed so many genres in such a subtle way. My mom owns stuff with Haring prints. I'll be honest, I am not super familiar with the 'AIDS art' movement but I do see art as a medium to challenge people. It conveys messages in a way that is often so subversive, that people don't even understand that you are slamming them over the head with an idea. I think it blurs the line between the political and the personal because truly they are one and the same.

The gallery opening started off with blank walls, and ended quite differently. Was that the installation plan from the beginning? Was it a kind of performance for you?
It wasn't a plan. We were just feeling it I guess. At some point the idea of heading to heaven and ending up here by accident just popped into my head. We wanted it to feel interactive and alive. There was a pulse. It definitely felt like a performance first and foremost, so I guess that translates to everywhere. It certainly wasn't the intention but I think it may have added to the experience subtly.

A lot has changed since the time you made this art. You became a dad, and Travis went to rehab. What are your plans for making more work together?
I'd love to work with Travis. We were doing new pieces until the very last second. I think I'd like to do some kind of outside installation next if we could... but who knows, maybe it's one of those things that will never happen again.

At the LA and Chicago Fall Out Boy shows this month you were sporting near-Bowie makeup designs. Are you over your previous complaints about that having become a clich' -- or is the key to just wear more? For you right now, is makeup about making art/a statement/aesthetic?
I want to feel from a different planet (maybe a la Ziggy). I'm having a mask made right now. I don't know, maybe I'll stop tomorrow, but I kind of feel like I'm just getting started. It feels like I'm putting on warpaint and just gets me going.

'Without You I'm Just Me' is open at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles through December 24. See more at the show's blog.

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