Art, A Laughing Matter

Portraits of Comedians puts a twist on First Friday ArtWalk

Vincent van Gogh walks into a bar and the bartender offers him a drink. Van Gogh responds, “No, thank you. I’ve got one ‘ere.”

What did blue say to orange? “I never say no to a complement.”

There are better ways to combine the visual arts and comedy than punny jokes. Local artist Matt Bliss, for example, is curating Portraits of Comedians, opening for April’s First Friday ArtWalk at Jameson’s. Bliss gathered the works of over 20 local artists, who have captured the likeness of their favorite funny people, and he is collaborating with Joshua Isaac Finch (of Exiled in Eugene), who will emcee the night featuring sets by stand-up comedians Mike McGowan, Chris Castles, Seth Milstein and Mac Chase.

“A lot of my art tends to be stuff that’s fun. I philosophically believe in fun,” says Bliss, who also spray-painted and screen-printed images of his favorite comedians, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Louis C.K. “I think there’s something really great about people who can bring people joy. I know stand-up comics tend to be a tortured group of people so I think even for them, it’s masochistic, but it’s great. These are people who are bearing some part of themselves that makes you, a lot of times, feel more human, because you’re like ‘Oh, other people are fucked up too!’”

Amy Vellutini, of Threadbare Print House, jumped at the chance to do a lighthearted show with local artists. “The first person I thought of was Kristin Wiig,” she says of the comedian famous for Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids. “I just think she’s really hilarious,” adding that Wiig is “not afraid to look foolish and has a really unique brand of comedy.”

Bliss says the show will feature comedians from Lucille Ball to Krusty the Clown to Conan O’Brien in mediums ranging from oil and watercolor paints to fused glass and multimedia. All artworks will be for sale.

And remember, if you Baroque it, you buy it. ν

Portraits of Comedians’ opening reception 7-9 pm Friday, April 5, at Jameson’s; free.

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