Artist Paul Wilson is Inspired by His Hatred of Phoenix
Best of Phoenix hit newsstands yesterday. In conjunction with this year's Vintage Phoenix theme, New Times is collaborating with R. Pela Contemporary Art to present "Hot Plate!" It's an exhibition of one-of-a-kind, Phoenix-inspired commemorative plates made by local artists. Leading up to the show's Oct. 4 opening, we're profiling each of the contributing artists and visiting their studios. Today: Paul Wilson.
Kathleen Vanesian Artist Paul Wilson
Visiting artist and stage set designer Paul Wilson is like stepping back into the 1950s and 60s, in all their kitschy, Barbie-and-Ken glory. You'll have to step over 3-foot rubber roaches writhing on their backs on the kitchen floor, then duck to avoid other gigantic ones hanging menacingly from the ceiling before you gain entrée to the heart of Wilson's mid-century modern abode, which seconds as a studio and art supply warehouse crammed to the proverbial rafters.
Kathleen Vanesian Wilson's work space
Wilson is notorious for his detailed mini-dioramas, bizarre homemade videos and carefully constructed, nostalgic photo collages featuring himself with any number of refugees from both cinema ("The Poseidon Adventure" being one example) and history (Lee Harvey Oswald is a current fave). Wilson's work is a paean to the American obsession with celebrity and pop culture, as well as a celebration of ideas about social norms that never existed in America's recent past. The artist was awarded a Phoenix Art Museum Contemporary Forum grant in 2012; recent Wilson work was displayed at PAM in April of 2013.
What's your earliest memory of Phoenix?
Since I was born and raised here, my earliest memory would be living in this house - my parents owned this house. It would also be Shakey's Pizza, Thomas Mall, Mom taking me to Yellow Front to get clothes, which I hated. My very earliest memory is taking a bath in the kitchen sink here and those ceiling fans in Serrano's that would hurt my ears because they had a high pitched whine to them. And I wondered why we had palm trees everywhere.