Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper on His B-Boy Days, Working at Wet Paint, and the Thrill of Live Art
How did you get the nickname Dumperfoo?
For that, you've got to skip forward to '98. Disgo, another promoter in town, started calling me "Dumperfoo." Don't know why he added in the "foo" part. Probably as in "fool." He was my partner, we used to throw shows. We did DJ stuff at the old Boston's in Tempe and started the live art thing over there with Move '98.
What was Move '98?
I worked at the Headquarers then and I wanted to have an art night. They had all those wood panels around the back part [of Boston's]. Jim Mahfood and me and a couple other guys, we would paint the walls inside there. And I would just buy a crate with all my money from the Headquarters and we'd have live grafitti and DJs doing hip-hop. We kinda mixed it up, some punk and reggae bands in there as well.
Was Move '98 a forerunner of sorts to the mix of live art and hip-hop you have at The Blunt Club each week?
At the time I would've never thought it was any bit similar, but yeah, definitely. The same shit I was doing in '98 was what I ended up doing down the way at Blunt Club and other places.
When did you get involved with Wet Paint?
I was living in San Diego for a couple years right when 9/11 happened. The next day, [Wet Paint owner] Jessica Jordan called me, "I heard you lost your job. You wanna come help run an art store/gallery in Phoenix?" I said, "Fuck yeah. I'll be there in two days."
You and Jessica put on many influential urban art events at Wet Paint. What inspired 'em?
It came from me and Jess throwing ideas back and forth. I had connections, she had connections. The B-Side Gallery shows were super dope. Those were a mix of art and hip-hop, and all that. And graffiti too.
Why did Wet Paint become an epicenter for urban art and hip-hop culture?
Kataklizmic Design Adam "Dumperfoo" Dumper paints a the Hotel Palomar
We were one of the first shops to stock Montana spray paint, me and Jess, before people in most stores on the whole west coast had it because I was dealing with my boy in Philly who was an old school graffiti writer. So I was getting it first before anyone had that shit. So that was a good thing to because we had all the graf artists were coming through Wet Paint. Now its in every store like Michael's and you can get it everywhere. It's like Martha Stewart spray paint and shit. She's over there doing spray paint displays. We always had local art and local t-shirts and stuff. It was a good hub all the way around.
How many live paintings would estimate you've ever created?
Woah...I don't even know. I do thousands and thousands a year, usually four or five a week. And then graphic design and everything else. I'm busy all the time.
Where did you get all your canvases?
Back in the day I got it at Wet Paint, I got a discount. Then we weren't doing so well, so the discount got smaller, so I had to go to other places to get the canvas.
Do you do much planning for each painting?
Yeah. I just draw it up that day and figure out what I'm gonna do. Sometimes I just do it right there, draw it on the fly before I start painting, and that's fun. I could do that all day.
Does hip-hop and other music help inspire your art?
Definitely. And when I'm playing with Drunken [Immortals], It's like the whole vibe inspires me. I'm a fan of them anyways, so when I hear it the hair stands up on my arm. I listen to them on CD too. It's good shit. You feel it. And it's different with people watching you, because you don't have a chance to fuck up. They're looking at your ass.
What's it like creating live art? Do you feel a lot of pressure?
I've done concerts theaters where there's 5,000 people there watching me paint and that energy is insane, its a way different feeling. So when I'm at home, trying to paint, I can't really get into it that well because there's no energy, there's no band or these guys to pump me up on stage. And they introduce me, "Give it up for Dumper." I need that to keep me going through my shit.
Any plans to slow down now that you're turning 40?
Not at all. I'm busier than ever with doing art and graphic design work. It never slows down for me.
Dumperfoo's 40th birthday celebrations take place tonight at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe and on Friday night Club Red in Tempe. Both events start at 9 p.m. Admission prices vary.