Back to Arts

Hundred reasons to be happy

Gregory Fricker has a monkey tile and a smile for you

Tacoma artist Gregory Fricker photographed inside Brownie Morrison novelty shop in downtown Tacoma.

Recommend Article
Total Recommendations (0)
Clip Article Email Article Print Article Share Article

A year ago Gregory Fricker was damn near on his knees dealing with life. If you told him last September that not only would the former Army soldier become an artist, but this Wednesday's 100th Monkey Party tile artist, he would have laughed in your face. He's laughing for a different reason today. He's happy. 

Chalk up another coup for the Speakeasy Arts Cooperative in downtown Tacoma.

"I was basically re-writing my character in life and learning how to be me again when I stumbled into Speakeasy," explains Fricker. "Angela Jossy and the artists of Speakeasy welcomed me with open arms and really introduced me to Tacoma's fringe art crowd.  They've given me the motivation and support I needed to dig deeper into the brighter parts of me and see what was there. 

There are several people I've met here in Tacoma who were crucial checkpoints in becoming who I am now, including Jack and Bob from The Swiss for their amazing support of local artists and also allowing me my first show, and my beautiful Morgana for continually coaxing me to show my work.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, during the 100th Monkey Party - where it's a party foul if you don't meet three new people in the arts - Fricker will be handing out his tiles to the first 100 people who shell out $4 - donning his new trademark smile, of course. Fricker and I have ridden every Third Thursday Artwalk ART BUS where we have become friends. I threw a few questions his way before Wednesday's Monkey gathering.

Gregory Fricker photographed in front of the Flying Monkey Mercantile across the street from The Swiss in Tacoma.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: How would you describe your art?

GREGORY FRICKER: Free and vibrant.  Style wise I like to execute surrealist ideas in a fauvist manner. I try not to lock myself into a style, which ended up becoming a style (laughter). In my face. A friend of mine, Jeremy Silas, likened my pictures to results of a fistfight in my imagination between Klimt, Matisse, and Dr. Seuss. If that's true, Klimt apparently needs further instruction in self-defense and someone should check if Matisse is holding a roll of nickels. 

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Any clue what "ambient beats softly soothing our souls" as entertainment will be during 100th Monkey night?

FRICKER: I'm not sure. The 100th monkey artist, me, is separate from the 100th Monkey host.  The first 100 people through the door are the lucky individuals who receive one of the limited edition tiles. On the back of each tile a sequence number out of 100 - 1/100 2/100, etc. Everyone who receives a tile writes their name down in a register beside the number that corresponds to their tile.  At some point during the event, one the 100 people in the register is selected by lottery to become the host of the next 100th Monkey event. The host is responsible for coordinating the entertainment with the supervision of Sue Pivetta.

Gregory Fricker's 100th Monkey tiles

VOLCANO: How are the tiles coming along?

FRICKER: I've actually made them twice now.   I finished the first batch a while ago, however; I had another idea later I felt was more unique so I scrapped the first batch.  I just finished the final version.  I didn't want the artwork to simply say "artist." I wanted the tiles to be unique to me. These tiles definitely say "a soldier made this."  I think everyone will dig them.  I made a relief depicting a monkey pirate complete with sword, banana, and monkey sized pirate hat.  Where I broke from the standard tile idea was in creating the relief in the shape of a "dog tag" and then affixing it to an actual military ID tag. I made a mould from the original, cast the 100 tags, then painted each one by hand. I even went out and picked up ID tag chains for everyone to wear them on.

VOLCANO: Who would you like to see walk away with the 100th Monkey job for the next party?

FRICKER: An actual monkey pirate. Seriously though, I'd like to see Jeremy Gregory throw down some monkeys. I feel like he would really own the tiles nicely.  Usually there are five artists who each make 20 tiles.  This time it's just me cracking out all 100.  I'm trying to get Jeremy Silas to cosign on this one with me and make a portion of the tiles.  I think it would be cool for people to see more of his work.

Gregory Fricker photographed next to Jim Oliver's Naked Ape photograph on display at the Brick House Gallery in Tacoma.

VOLCANO: What has jumped off your paintbrush recently?

FRICKER: I've actually got a bunch of new work up right now at Speakeasy Arts Cooperative. I just finished a Dragon Slayer-like subject except with an armored ladybug taking a go at a giant Mantis.  I'm glad I finally got that onto canvas so it'll stop bouncing around in my head.  Gets distracting.

VOLCANO: Whoa. Have you been glued to the Syfy channel?

FRICKER: Ha ha no sci-fi flicks this time.  It's like a chain reaction really.  At first I was interested in capturing all of the odd angles created with the limbs of a mantis. I was also drawn by the weird head positions they take when they're sizing up possible food sources.  Then I remembered that they eat their mates. At some point I decided "not this time mantis." So I added a flail, sword, and shield clad ladybug to take the mantis down a notch. It's easy to paint at that point because I've worked the fight out in my head a few times by the time brush hits canvas.  It definitely makes conversation tough when people ask me what's on my mind.  It's a loaded question.

No one believes that most of my paintings began with a serious idea.  It just doesn't survive my creative process and ends up going from "wildlife in repose" to "Laser Penguin Bowling League."

VOLCANO: What's your secret fantasy?

FRICKER: When I was a kid it was to be able to breath under water.  I think most kids wish that, or flying, at one point or another.  As an adult I realized that sharks were probably wishing I could breathe under water too so I changed it.  Now I pretty much live in my own imagination and it's pretty cool in here. There's probably a medical term for that. I love being an artist.

VOLCANO: What's the most unusual thing you've done for your art?

FRICKER: Most unusual is a tough one.  It's usually a good bet NOT to do anything you see me doing.  I live my life as ridiculous as I can and my motto is to always bet everything I have on everything I do every single time. Once I was listening to a song when an idea for a painting popped into my head. I was terrified that if the song ended or I slept I would lose my inspiration. I wasn't satisfied with how it was turning out and I knew that if I put that paintbrush down I might not pick it back up. I pulled out a bottle of wine, put the song on loop, and stayed up for three days finishing it. I forgot to eat for a while too.  For whatever reason I needed a win.  I wasn't stopping till I got one.  If you ever need to know how to get a song stuck in your head for six months.  There you have it. 

Oh yeah ... there's another one Morgana just reminded me of.  Her parents came over for dinner so we could break the news we were getting married.  About 10 minutes before they arrived I had an idea for a painting pop into my head. The whole time her dad kept asking what our plan was. I was covering myself in paint and asking him, "How does it look now?  Better? Can you see it?" 

100th Monkey Party

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 7:30-9:30 p.m., no cover
100th Monkey hostesses Dani and Melissa
Gregory Fricker's tiles are $4 each
DTI building, 409 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma
Facebook Event Page

Read next close


The BOMB squad arrives

Comments for "Hundred reasons to be happy" (1)

Weekly Volcano is not responsible for the content of these comments. Weekly Volcano reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

User Photo

Joel Bagby said on Aug. 23, 2010 at 4:51pm

You my dear brother are crazy, Greg, that is, so of course that makes us love you all the more. Well written article Ron, art does live in the city.

Leave A Comment

(This will not be published)


Respond on Your Blog

If you have a Weekly Volcano Account you can not only post comments, but you can also respond to articles in your own Weekly Volcano Blog. It's just another way to make your voice heard.

Site Search