The economy is not doing so good for all of us, non - profits are taking a bigger hit. However a chicago based artist is rising funds for Street - Level Youth Media with his curated show "Run Blago, Run!" Using a website called Kickstarter, that functions as a way to fund ideas by artist, musicians and more. The show features a pop up art gallery though the streets of Chicago depicting ex- governor Rod Blagojevich. A graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ray Noland aka CRO is the mastermind behind it all. I recently chatted with Ray via e-mail to do a ten question interview for Art & Culture. His work has been shown with Mear One, Shepard Fairey, Ron English and other Juxtapoz alumni.
Art & Culture: I was wondering about the stencil images for the Run, Blago, Run! Show, Rod Blagojevich depicted in a jogging suit. I feel like it's an image that a major of Chicagoans in the Ravenswood area have seen running the wrong way down the street. What are you bring to the table with these images? What makes them more then Blagojevich in a jogging suit?
Ray Noland: I guess the Run, Blago Run imagery is funny in the same way Tina Fey is hilarious simply quoting Sarah Palin verbatim. I'm just as amused as everyone else at how the world reacts to the work. What I do is one thing. When it gets into the world it takes on a life of it's own. I have no control over that.
Art & Culture: Is there any connection between Rod Blagojevich and the Street - level Youth Media group your raising money for besides that they are both Chicago based?
Ray Noland: No more than it is the type of program who's funding was/is in jeopardy in Illinois. I decided to donate to Street-Level Youth Media because of their mission of helping under-served youth learn about technology and media and how they can use it to empower themselves. I understand how it has helped me as well as President Obama. In addition when I learned of the fire the program had late last year, it just seemed like the right decision. Blago cut funding for the arts while in office. This project couldn't possibly make a dent in any of that but this is my one, small, little piece that I can try to do.
Art & Culture:What non-profit would you really love to work with and of course why?
Ray Noland: 1Sky or Green For All. To make green technology a social phenomenon.
Art & Culture: The artwork your exhibiting recently general seems to be political driven (Go Tell Mama, Run, Blago, Run!), how do you feel this subject influences?
Ray Noland: Politics influences and effects all of us. It is the type of subject matter that sooner of later everyone thinks about in some capacity. You just can't get away from it. Political art resonates, especially during an election year. Art and design helps to sculpt a visual identity to the world. It communicates messages.
Art & Culture:How do you feel your subject matter could fail you?
Ray Noland: I am simply a vessel. Art reflects life, life reflects art. As long as we have beings on earth I will have subject matter. No one buys my abstract art. That stuff sits in my house. Politics effects and interest many more than most other subjects. Not everyone likes jazz. And within the jazz community you have those that prefer big-band over bebop. But all of them are effected by social political issues. People don't just walk by Running Blago. They stop. They take pictures posing in front of it. My question is... how does one have a conversation with the MANY rather than the few?
Art & Culture: So I happen to have a poster that you print ago years ago for band, are you still printing awesome posters?
Ray Noland: Loaded question. As if to say my current work ISN'T awesome. Haha! Well, the easy answer for me is I just don't feel there is much of a market for my work in that context. I mean the screen-print rock poster thing is more of a rock poster thing. It seems a bit insular. There is no real economy for screen-print electronic or hip-hop posters. Even less as things are driven more and more digital. Electronic music and Hip-hop are just NOT driven by the screen-printed poster as with indy rock. Maybe they would do a cool one-shot but not as an on-going method of communication. Clubs and Lounges def don't do that sort of thing any-longer. Kanye West and Kid Cudi are not coming to CRO to produce a series of screen-printed posters for their national tour like Pearl Jam enlist Ames Bros to do the same. But if they do, I'm game!
Art & Culture:What artists now in Chicago and American are you real digging?
Ray Noland: Chicago: Juan Chavez, STATIK, Cody Hudson, Hebru Brantley, Cat Chow America: Hank Willis Thomas, Jen Stark, Chor Boogie, elMAC
Art & Culture: What are the things you need in your work space and life at all times to keep you going?
Espresso, WIFI, THC, Coca-Cola, backcountry camping in the wilderness and the Sun
Art & Culture: What are you working on for the future as an artist and as a person?
Ray Noland: I'm looking to have a solo show in Chicago this fall. I'm also diggin' this kickstarter concept. If this project doesn't meet the goal, I have a few other projects I'm thinking about. I understand the Run, Blago Run! Show is a very challenging concept. (But is that not what art is?) You never exactly know what will hit hard and when. You just have to keep learning and growing. Personally, people say I'm a bit abrasive or maybe too intense. Sometimes I think about softening that a bit. But, then again... that may be why I'm me. Errr
Art & Culture: Finally when your old and gray what is one thing that you can look back and say that really made me the artist that I am?
Ray Noland: Making mistakes, working independently freelance and getting hit by a car and waking up in the hospital the next day. The latter was a paradigm shift. Afterwards, I started to think about myself in the world differently. I started to pay closer attention.
More information on Ray Noland can be found at: www.creativerescue.org
Check more information about Kickstarter at:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/Mr-CRO/run-blago-run-show