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It's a funky, Technicolor world of azure seascapes, creamsicle sunsets, boho musicians, and fashionable vixens: The streetwise cartoon artistry of Dave "Lebo" LeBatard both imitates and idealizes the vivid tropical environs of South Florida. The Fort Lauderdale-based painter -- who's currently moving his studio to Miami's Biscayne Boulevard -- has helped define the area's post-millennial visual aesthetic on canvases and on street corners, private homes, and store windows from Orlando to Aventura.
Along with the thick-lined, stylized cartoon ethic evident in his work, music is LeBatard's major muse. He produced the Spam Allstars' album art as well as the themed decorations for the Langerado Music Festival. Many of his paintings capture musical moments with gestural swoops and vibrant lines.
"Music has been as much an influence as visual stuff as long as I can remember," he says. "Really good music complements good art. I don't see a difference between the two."
LeBatard explores that connection fully in The Art of Lebo: The Finest in Postmodern Cartoon Expressionism, released in December of last year. The glossy, 95-page book is LeBatard's self-penned guide through his mood-enhancing illustrations, graphic design work, and personal explorations. The book explodes with candy-colored images and clever, verbal riffs on his style and inspirations. Like a good album, it also features "hidden tracks" on nearly every page -- clear-varnished images that can be viewed only in the right light. Overall, LeBatard's work is a locally produced reminder that great art can be technically slick and still a ton of fun. -- Jonathan Zwickel