“Everyone’s Been Mutated”

Mark Mothersbraugh is a compulsive art creator. He’s talking to me from his LA studio where he’s also working on a soundtrack – the former Devo frontman is probably rivaling Danny Elfman for most oddball filmscore works. While he takes a quick break to chat cheerfully about his new art exhibit “Beautiful Mutants,” he also admits to D.W.B.I. (doodling while being interviewed.) But for truly talented people like Mothersbraugh, compulsion is a gift; without it he would never have created his extended family of mutants.

Let’s back up: In the art show opening at Bear and Bird Gallery (4566 N. University Dr., Lauderhill) this Saturday night “Beautiful Mutants,” Mothersbraugh takes old photographs from his family, friends, pets, and colleges, along with other scavenged finds, and distorts them. He bends and/or exaggerates selected regions of the image to create a new, more improved upon, mutant version of the original. (To imagine this, think of pressing your nose against the left edge of a mirror, then slowly pivoting out your right side. Your half-face image stretches like through a kaleidoscope.) “It started about eight years ago,” he explains, “but it didn’t begin as a conceptual project, I started using the computer to construct and correct these images and it just became kinda addictive. I didn’t really even know why I was doing them, but I was doing them every day.” The more he explored this visual process, the more details began to reveal themselves. “I started to notice that if you bisect a portrait, they all have a light side and the darker side: the evil, or even ugly side,” he says pleasantly. So he got to work. Drawing attention to the less symmetrical regions of the images until the finished collection grew to the hundreds. He finds them comforting and hangs them around his home and office, “They became like an extended family, in a way.”

He published a book, a gothic-inspired photo-documentary of his distant mutant relatives, last year. He’s also been showing the assemblage in small, off-the-beaten-track galleries across the country. Mothersbaugh likes it this way – the venues attract people that still feel passionately about art, they haven’t yet “been beaten down by the realities of life.”

“They’re at a place in their life that reminds me of what it was to be doing Devo the first time around: when I was angry, and inspired, and obsessive about wanting to make a statement,” he says softly and earnestly. “They’re maybe the most interesting people in the different towns I visit, and you walk away saying ‘Ya’ know what, if I could have met anybody here – including the Mayor – these are the people I would have liked to have met in this town.”

Mothersbaugh may or may not make the opening reception; his life isn’t scripted that far in advance. In addition to composing music and his numerous art endeavors he’s also helping mentor a student orchestra and is the proud father of two little girls. So, ya’ know, he might be babysitting. Either way, you should still attend this free exhibit at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Call 954-748-0181, or visit www.bearandbird.com.
Sat., Feb. 16, 2008

 
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