September 24, 2013
So I Got To See Gary Panter Speak Last Night
It was my pleasure to see about five-sixths of a talk that Gary Panter
gave at the Columbus College Of Art And Design
last night. He's on campus for several days concluding I believe tomorrow. A show of his work
is up at the Canzani Center Gallery
from now until a bit into October. I haven't been yet, but I believe it is focused on his paintings -- I'll have to see.
Panter was a guest at this month's Small Press Expo and when I saw him after his presentation last night he asked if all the jokes were the same. I laughed, but really, they weren't. Panter's talk was a long ramble accompanied by a wealth of imagery ranging from light-show posters to comics covers to commercial illustrations to photographs of toys he put together during the Pee-Wee days. As is the case with Panter's work, a pair of primary joys is just drinking it all in visually and uncovering bits of humor and insight along the way. One thing he noted is that a key to his own career may have been his obsession with book design and design more generally, something he declared very important for artists to consider in terms of how their work engages with its public. Panter made strong distinctions between private and commercial work, noting the virtues to his art of being able to make his living in a way other than his most personally expressive outlets and talking about the similarities between letting your ego take a back seat when working with a commercial partner and when simply collaborating with a fellow artist. He also urged everyone to draw for the sake of building a repository of ideas, and to follow one's artistic obsessions even if the rewards weren't immediately apparent. As an example of the latter, Panter mentioned he's indulging in a period of making hippie beads right now. This is something he also mentioned at SPX, but he let drop in Columbus that one benefit is that this allows him to think in terms of colors and color combinations he might use in painting.
Another thing we were able to talk about briefly before he was off to dinner amongst the MFA studio spaces is how much he enjoyed SPX, which he called a perfect balance of people. Panter noted again when asked about the intensity of the visual culture informing comics right now the commitment to drawing in evidence that wasn't in his opinion around 30 years ago, and how dense and involved a lot of the imagery he saw was.
I was too tired from a day of travel to make a proper report out of the content of Panter's speech -- I really wanted it to wash over me and enjoy it on its own terms, and that was easily accomplished. I'll see him speak every chance I get precisely because there are more stories, even twice-told, than any single speech can hold. I will try to see the show while I'm here, and encourage anyone in easy driving distance to do so, too.
posted 8:30 am PST
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