Jonathon Kimbrell is a Dallas based artist, his latest pin-up inspired work is featured along with artist Erik Jones at the Soda Gallery in the Bishop Arts District throughout the month of August. Kimbrell sits down with Pin Curl to talk Dylan, hair dye, and Rita Hayworth.
What is the inspiration behind current exhibition Between a Real Blonde and a Fake ? Where did the title come from?
Bob Dylan has and continues to be a pretty resourceful influence on my art, and i find that I usually work best to his music, (or Nine Inch Nails). When I was trying to come up with a title for the show, I was spinning Dylan’s “Time Out Of Mind” album, listening to the last track called “Highlands.” As I listened, I heard these great lyrics: “I don’t want nothing from no one, ain’t that much to take. Wouldn’t know the difference between a real blonde and a fake. Feel like a prisoner in a world of mystery. I wish someone would come and push back the clock for me.”
That sounded brilliant, of course, coming from a writer like Dylan, and I figured that would make a great title. I could see a connection where things don’t appear genuine anymore, in this time, as opposed to the ‘golden age’ of 20th century America, when things were made with pride, things were real and not overly processed. Can you tell the difference between a real blonde and a fake these days? I can’t…
You use the tagline “pin-up artwork” in your promo materials for the show. What does the term “pin-up” mean to you? What is alluring about the style?
I’ve had a love affair with pinups since I was a kid, especially Betty Page and Rita Hayworth. I’m enamored with pinup art from WWII, especially bomber nose art. Gil Elvgren is my favorite artist of them all. There is something really interesting about that art. It was risqué at the time, but pretty tame to today’s standards. It’s classic, it’s beautiful, it’s brilliant. I think if it weren’t for the pinups of WWII, giving GIs hope of returning home to their girlfriends and wives, we may all be speaking German right about now.
The Soda Gallery, where you are art director, recently hosted several Dr. Sketchy’s Dallas sessions. Has the growing pin-up and burlesque community in Dallas influenced your recent work?
I think so. It would be a lie to say it hasn’t. I wasn’t really aware of the growing community of pinup girls, burlesque dancers and related culture until Dr. Sketchy approached us at The Soda Gallery and Broomstick Comics about hosting some mini drawing sessions. I have to admit, after the first session with Ginger Valentine, I was hooked. I’ve been toying with the idea of creating more pinup artwork anyway, but having all of these lovely pinups around the gallery lately has really inspired me to get on the ball and create more pinup themed art.
You have become known for your Pop Art style, one of the best examples may be your 2007 Buy War Bonds series. Is your current work in the same vein? How has your work evolved?
The “Buy War Bonds” series has been something I always come back to. It actually started back in 2002, when I was still an undergrad student at McMurry University. I’m entertained by the juxtaposed idea of the positive ideology of supporting the war effort during WWII with bonds and stamps, and the more negative and dark connotations that war brings about through media to the masses. It’s interesting to see how things have changed in the world through media over the last 60 or so years. A lot of my newer ideas are coming full circle to the look and feel of those “Buy War Bond” pieces from before. I’m happy to see my work evolve the way it has, from mimicking the styles of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, to start coming into my own pop/contemporary look. I still have a long way to go though, before I’m completely satisfied with how it’s all coming together.
When not working (in that one free hour per week you have), how do you spend your time?
Ha ha…good question — I had almost forgot what ‘free time’ actually is. Aside from being an art junky, I pride myself on being an audiophile. I buy and listen to a lot of records. I listen to a lot of pre and post-war blues, classic rock and roll, rockabilly, swing, jazz, bluegrass and folk. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams get some heavy rotation on my iPod and turn table.
What does the future hold for Jonathon Kimbrell? Any upcoming projects we should know about?
I’m actually in the middle of several projects right now. The biggest is “Telephone Print Company”, an offshoot of my Napkin Art Studios that specializes in hand-printed clothing, album artwork and limited edition art pieces.
Since I’m getting more into silk screening and letterpress printing, I wanted to take the plunge creating tee shirt designs influenced by pop art and music, and hopefully create more album covers and show posters for bands. It’s always been a running joke that I’m actually a designer trapped in a painter’s body.