GREG “CRAOLA” SIMKINS: THE ES­CAPE ARTIST

New work by Greg “Craola” Simkins will be on view at KP Projects in Los An­ge­les.

American Art Collector - - Contents - By Joshua Rose

Greg “Craola” Simkins holds on to a “jar full” of child­hood memories to draw from when­ever he feels the pres­sures and re­al­i­ties of daily life clos­ing in on him or drag­ging him down. These memories serve to help re­dis­cover some of his child­hood in­no­cence long enough to cre­ate a new paint­ing, come up with a char­ac­ter or de­vise a nar­ra­tive for his works to fol­low. Simkins be­lieves so strongly in these mo­ments that he has named his new exhibition The Es­cape Artist in or­der to only fur­ther con­nect with these re­mem­brances of times past.

“The older I get the more af­fected I am by the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that my age re­quires and hold­ing onto that youth­ful spark is like chas­ing too few fire­flies with­out a net,” says Simkins. “I am lucky to have stored away a jar full of them though! Those memories from be­ing a kid and what it felt like the first time I saw a whale in the wild and the first time I wit­nessed a me­teor shower rein­vig­o­rate me each time I sit down to sketch out an idea for a paint­ing.”

Great artists cre­ate a world that their art ex­ists in and then they too be­come a part of this imag­ined world. For Simkins, his own pri­vate Nar­nia or Oz is The Out­side, a fan­tasy world where the crea­tures and an­i­mals in his paint­ings strive for love, hope, faith, ac­cep­tance, con­trol as well as the shortcomings that re­sult in pur­su­ing these ideals.

“It is a fan­tasy world, much like a de­li­cious cocktail with equal parts Nar­nia, Oz, Won­der­land, Never Nev­er­land, Mid­dle Earth, An­i­mal Planet and the Audubon So­ci­ety shaken or stirred to­gether,” says Simkins. “The birds play a big part and pos­si­bly a larger role even in this show be­cause what better es­cape is there than to hop off the back of a bird and fly away to strange new lands.”

This lat­est episode is marked by the ap­pear­ance of some­thing that Simkins refers to as the Starry Knight Drama Club. These char­ac­ters act like pup­peteers by mov­ing on the story and man­ag­ing the go­ing-ons of the en­tire world found within The Out­side.

“They are iden­ti­fied by their all-black suits with a sin­gle white star on their faces,” says Simkins. “I chose to cre­ate many dif­fer­ent races of crea­tures as part of this club to rep­re­sent a unity of spirit around a com­mon cause and that it doesn’t mat­ter what species they are, they are all wel­come in the club.” A key mo­ment in Simkins’ own story came with the birth of his two sons. Many of the sto­ries found in The Out­side serve as nightly en­ter­tain­ment for his two boys and their ap­pear­ance in his life have in­spired him to dig deeper and keep cre­at­ing such tales.

“My two boys have rein­vig­o­rated my imag­i­na­tion and re­minded me of those youth­ful ex­cit­ing in­stances from my own child­hood memories,” says Simkins. “I would be a far dif­fer­ent painter if it wasn’t for them, and I feel I am better off with the whim­si­cal sto­ries we tell to each other at bed­time and play­time. I have been able to watch the world through their eyes, dur­ing good times and bad, and those things have worked their way into the way I draw and work.”

Greg “Craola” Simkins works on The Es­cape

Artist, acrylic on can­vas.

Gone Miss­ing, acrylic on panel, 24 x 20"

3

Back Out­side, acrylic on can­vas, 24 x 18"

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