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Joey DeRuy on San Francisco, queerness, superficiality and family (part 1)

Darren Ankenbauer Photography

"Am I making sense about why I am using lines? A fine line between all these extreme social standards of living. What happens to me (a painter) in a tech world?"

Joey DeRuy is discussing knifing and his current Bill Murray portrait ("my style is best understood [to those who are not familiar with my work] via portraiture of famous individuals"). He says it is a reflection of "one of the coolest men in the world. He embodies all we want to be. Bill has always been the same - a great actor, and a character of himself. He is famous, yet he sings with strangers at karaoke bars".

Is liking Murray the newest social trend? "[Perhaps]. He is a living icon - funny, relaxed and random, yet very alive. Very pop culture."

Joey winds up discussing lines, that is, the social extremes of expectation or reaction. "Everything is super, best, amazing- über! There is this idea of extremes, wealthy and poor, and pushing out the middle class."

Joey, who currently resides in San Francisco, is ticking a bell which has been ringing for a good while due to the residents being pushed to the side as the tech world boom takes over the Bay. He brings his privileged upbringing and explains the two sides of his family (on one side loaded with money, and loaded with pride on the other): "This has always made me the type to want to be taken to dinner, or just go down by the river. I feel like [Rose] in Titanic. By the time the ship sinks, I have experienced the higher and lower decks."

Joey feels the pressure of being an artist, a painter, in a world where the craft amidst gadgets, the shift in San Francisco, and internet personalities, gets lost.

More queer artists: Austra, Angel Haze, Zebra Katz, The Irrepressibles, Eric Himan & Ani DiFranco.

Pressures to look a certain way have come in when Joey realizes that people are more interested in a photo opportunity than the actual work. He admits sometimes people act as if the work is irrelevant and the look of the artist takes precedent.

[[DeRuy]] is 'work work work' and always eager to draw and come up with ideas which later become paintings. Being prepared with tools, even if it means a tiny canvas or booklet, he uses it to keep fresh with ideas as he moves about his day. The life of him as a painter is not as relaxed as most would think. Surely, he has shared his work and home space for years, but it does not mean he is sitting around waiting for toast to be ready. He is constantly creating. If it is not actually painting, it is being in charge of his self-promotion and artist persona, which as any other trade, has become a bigger side to it than most would like it to be. "It is quite sad but I know artists who are obese and do not get as much work [as someone who is considered to be attractive]. I think that is why artists tend to be quirky- [there is no in between]".

Currently he if floating between projects outside of San Francisco. Staying in the city would be ideal, but his entire building was evicted. The area is going to be used for massive parking for those who work for the tech companies around the corner. "There is no space" he says. To make matters worse, the landlord did not inform them until the very last minute, and took off with rent money before anybody could stop him. They are currently working together to sue the man. But they are nonetheless evicted.

He is currently waiting to go to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York or Australia. Following the cash route. "Los Angeles has a fluidity. There is more creativity than you think. There are so many behind the scenes artists in all of those big projects." What about the queer pressure, or superficial pressure (are they the same?) in other places? "Artists are less homosexual in Los Angeles. They do not care in New York City. They have things to do [there]. I feel so relaxed wearing [whatever] in San Francisco. New York City is as shallow as Los Angeles. In California, San Francisco is the den and Los Angeles is the formal living room."

Continue reading (PART 2)...

More interviews: Ryan Lill, Laura Pausini, Vanessa Carlton, KENN, Mary Lambert, SATURN, Stephen Dittmer, Stephan Nance, Mark David Gerson, Eric Himan, Kevin J Thornton, Sammy Crawford, Eddie Christie, John Carrasco, YogaBear, Bryan Nevin with Christopher Van Etten.

Piece #1
Piece #1 Joey DeRuy

Piece #1

"This is pre-written and fits pefectly", says Joey.

"This new work by San Francisco artist Joey DeRuy is a play on the classic U.S. Army recruitment campaign featuring the cartoon figure of Uncle Sam, and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It is meant to function simultaneously as fine art, street art, and as an old-timey pamphlet campaign, conjuring notions of politics, war, sex, propaganda, and patriotism, while also satirizing contemporary America's obsession with youth culture and the preservation youth in general. By reproducing the image hundreds of times and plastering it in public spaces around the country, DeRuy wants to remind everyone that the moral of Wilde's century-old tale is still relevant; any bargain you strike with America, or with your plastic surgeon, is bound to make you sorry in the end."

Piece #2
Piece #2 Joey DeRuy

Piece #2

"This is inspired by a friend. It is a large 6x4 wood panel. It's another growth spurt that I am enjoying...It was meant to be more involved in color and execution but I stopped working on it in this stage it's in and signed it as finished. When I looked at it and just loved the movement color. The idea behind its meaning is the fine line that we now walk with technology's; the 'uber', 'super', 'ultra', 'epic' world we now live in. All or nothing in both literal and figurative. The web photos do nothing to what this looks like in person with the raw knife strokes..."

Piece #3
Piece #3 Joey DeRuy

Piece #3

"Shananagins...This is what happens when I am in a peaceful space and painting for myself. Playing; like the honeymoon of a new relationship. The painting style, too, has an affair like the seasons of our planet's year. It will spring up and eventually fall...This is the summer of my current work."

Piece #4
Piece #4 Joey DeRuy

Piece #4

"This is a self-portrait of me in a California sunrise/ sunset. I'm going to paint a photo-realistic painting soon so that I can further support and justify this [piece]."

Piece #5
Piece #5 Joey DeRuy

Piece #5

"This person in [her/his] chair that is also the hills of SF. It is a play for me on the "city scape" idea. I have done so many city-scapes that I thought it would be fun to play with the idea of what makes a city. Open dialect...They might have brought the tech world to SF but nobody asked the community if we wanted the baggage that the tech brings to our micro hoods. It brings jobs but to locals? Or...does society need the revelation of staring at our phones in public spaces instead of being forced to integrate? Or these people all over who walk and text at the same time instead of being in the moment and pulling over. As bad as people who smoke and walk. If you are going to [ do something] at least enjoy it. I don't smoke or condone it, but I am just saying..."

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