"Strange and scrappy" -- Christopher Lusher talks about life and art
Christopher Lusher has been busy bringing outsider artists indoors out Huntington way, booking art shows at Blank Gallery and exposing area artist’s work to a wider, real world audience. Lusher and friends do it again this Saturday with “Easy Does It,” showcasing art for a good cause.
If you missed our Herald-Dispatch interview with Huntington artist and all-around D.I.Y. dude Christopher Lusher, stop reading this right now, go check that out, and come back.
Alright, good. Now you’re up to speed. We had such a good time talking with Lusher for his “It Is What It Is” show at Blank Gallery, we thought we’d catch up for this Saturday’s “Easy Does It” art show. Not only does it help benefit the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, it’s another chance for us to talk with the always entertaining, sometimes illuminating (he rightfully demurs on generic questions) but totally-punk-rock outsider artist…
WVRockscene: We talked last August for the H-D article on “It Is What It Is,” what’s been going on? Thought I did see you at a recent CVRG thing, still taking street pics?
Christopher Lusher: I don’t even know where to start with that. This has easily been the most insane year of my life. The highest highs and the lowest lows. Not that I’d trade it for anything but it has been a mind fuck to say the least. Things have gone down that I never would have imagined.
If you saw me in public you basically saw the human version of Bigfoot. I have some sort of predicament going in public anywhere. Not so sure why but I really can’t stand it. The staff of Black Sheep would say differently.
rockscene: You been havin’ any Beast Ice Challenges lately? Explain the details of the challenge itself, for those, say, who think they could compete, and just the fun that may have been had? These were at your place?
Lusher: Not so much. The challenge started quite by accident and ended in bloody violence. Well, there is only one real rule and that is six beers must be consumed by each contestant in the first hour and then after that its full on. It is however the quality of the drunk and not the quantity of the drink. Field sobriety tests are performed because we’re professionals.
Yeah, we did them here and they were a lot of fun for sure. With that said I don’t think I’m so excitable about embracing the idea of self abuse anymore and don’t really see these happening again. You had to be there, as they say.
rockscene: Just following your status updates on Facebook it seems like you’ve been staying busy. You brought Max Snow to Huntington earlier this year. How cool was that?
Lusher: That was honestly one of the highlights of this strange and scrappy life. Hands down. He had no obligation to come here at all but did so all on his own dime and asking for nothing. Max and I had this unspoken dialogue between us that made me feel a connection with him. He was just like an instant friend and was the nicest and most genuine guy I have met in a long time anywhere.
He brought his mother as well and don’t get me started on her: just an amazing spirit and so nice to be around. They treated everyone with nothing less than a pure sincerity and grace. It was truly a beautiful experience.
rockscene: Noticed on yer Hillbilly Magazine tumblr page you posted a photo of you titled “A New Leaf,” is that being literal?
Lusher: I’m usually not with my titles and I’m frankly sick of making them up. That one however I actually am. I had a show a few weeks ago with another artist I admire, Benjamin Hollingsworth, and then proceeded to basically have a nervous breakdown the evening after the show. My body and mind had had enough and just shut way down.
I found myself too much drowning my sorrows out. I’m not a one-night-bender and dry-out-for-a-week guy, I’m a drink-till-you-feel-like-shit and then drink-till-you-feel-worse and keep-drinking-till-you-feel-normal kind of guy. I’ll let you work out the logic in that. It doesn’t work anymore.
I’m not saying I’m straight edge. I’m having a glass of wine as I type this but I’m done with that. That hasn’t been going on for days or weeks but for years. I have a lot I want to do and workin’ half ass and turning into a swollen, piss stained mess isn’t on that list. It was a lot of fun but I’m 38 not 18.
rockscene: Between the various mediums you take with your art, from photography to painting to multi-media efforts, how have you been trending if you’d have to say you’re more into one or the other these days? Taking more pics? Excited about painting or putting something special together? Just getting a sense about your passion these days. Thought you’d been doing a kind of podcast?
Lusher: The photography thing has always been this constant and I still do it every single day. I don’t ever see that changing. Currently, I’ve been getting into sculpture and experimenting with different ideas of “painting.” Those are canvas using things such as berries, candy, grass and coffee to create these strokes and or imagery. Ha, well the radio thing was ummmm.. Lo-fi and NSFW? Not sure that radio deejay is on my list of great ideas but some people thought it was funny so I suppose that made it worth it.
“Untitled” by Christopher Lusher
rockscene: How frustrating and/or awesome is it putting these shows together and pulling them off?
Lusher: It’s pretty much an equal combo of both. With the group shows it’s a tad difficult due to the corralling of people and their work that needs to happen. However, it’s never, ever not been worth it. There have been bits of drama here and there but almost always for personal reasons and nothing approaching legitimate discourse. There is one instance however that did but that and the person involved isn’t worth the ink.
rockscene: When we talked for the H-D you mentioned the more casual atmosphere you hoped to create and foster, both for the artists, to get them out exposing their work to people, and to the people who come out, that it’s not a stuffy high-brow type atmosphere. How has the atmosphere been generally?
Lusher: It’s been exactly as it started out being. I’ve always been very staunch about never changing that. It’s a few rooms full of friends, family, and people who enjoy creativity and the end result. It is casual as it can be because it should be. As long as it exists it’s not gonna be anything else, atmosphere-wise, than what it started off as.
rockscene: Dealing with bands you hear stories about problems booking shows. What have you learned or started to maybe do differently as it relates to putting on these shows, dealing with artists and the public?
Lusher: Nothing. It’s been the same, again, as it has from the start. That’s been kind of the beauty of it all. I’ve never concerned myself too much with the public and what their specific desires or derision would or could be. It’s about the people involved that are showing their work and what their desires are.
rockscene: Talking about getting both the artist and a community of supportive friends etc. out to these shows, you book/arrange/promote these Blank Gallery shows on Facebook for the most part. Aside from the artists you interact with and the people who are supportive of your efforts online -- you pretty much HAVE to have a Facebook presence to promote a show just because everyone is on there -- have you grown to hate Facebook even more than you did in the past? Is it bittersweet having to use it? It’s our thought here that most social networking has kind of devolved or at the least it makes us hate the world in general...
Lusher: Well, it’s a necessary evil due to that exact thing. The invite process seems to work best through Fakebook since no one has the attention span to look at anything other than what appears on a fucking newsfeed now or a tweet.
My problem with social networking is how much of this shit do you really need? How much information is too much? Apparently, there can’t be too much. You have your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Pinterest, Tumblr and you have them all connected AND then you have your iPhone so you can let everyone know when you’re gonna eat and when you’re gonna shit. You can tweet at your buddy that you’re fucking SITTING with instead of any actual interaction.
If I see one more E-Card I’m gonna rip my eyes out from their sockets and eat them. I mean, I’m probably on the internet more than anyone but I’m trying to be proactive with it and do something positive. I’m no better than anyone else and this is just my opinion but try and put your fucking phone down for, gee I dunno, a whopping three minutes and see if you can handle it.
People spazz without that constant influx of pointless information these days. “I got my colon checked today. Here’s the video. Pryrz Plz.” Hashtag this and fucking that. Fuck your hashtags and your duckface Instagram photos. We know you’re cute and we don’t care. Keep your dinner plans to yourself. Try some human interaction like they did in the “old days.”
rockscene: You feature so many other artist’s works on Hillbilly Magazine -- it’s going to be tough and you have to be diplomatic, but who've been some of your favorite contributors or artists who make you happy you put these shows on, to show their work?
Lusher: This is gonna sound like some bullshit soundbite but all of them. Just the fact people are reaching out to me at all makes me thankful for them. I’m proud that it’s like this rolling online gallery that is full of this sort of weird-and-dysfunctional-but-loving-families’ work. I just want to watch it keep growing. To keep supporting talent through that.
rockscene: You’ve got this Easy Does It show lined up for Saturday, to help the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, how excited are you about the artists and that you could have this show benefit a good cause?
Lusher: I kinda went back and set up sort of an original lineup from the first shows. All of these guys are practically family now and when I think of BLANK I think of John Drake, Mike Adkins, Jimbo Valentine, Jason Lucas, Kelli Bellomy, Ana Gaston, Elizabeth Turner, and some newer faces too. It should be as good they get in my totally biased opinion.
This show is really inspiring in what the cause is for. The idea to be able to be a part of an event for children is an honor. I just need to think of my niece and nephew and how lucky they are to have family and then to think of the ones that don’t is all the reason needed.
EASY DOES IT
WHERE: Blank Gallery, 1102 3rd Ave., Huntington
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday 9/1
Posted by WVRockscene!