Bright green, pink and purple lights shined behind the sign at CentralTrak, illuminating the sidewalk as self-portraits of two artists, one painted in clown makeup and the other as a devil, look out the window.
The vivid lights added an otherworldly ambience for “Who’s Afraid of Chuck and George?” — the visual art roast of local artists Brian Scott and Brian Jones that premiered on Feb. 13 at CentralTrak.
The group exhibition put together the two artists’ friends consisted of works that mocked the couple and their artwork. It was a celebration of Scott and Jones’ work and their involvement in the North Texas art community for the past 25 years. Throughout the years, they’ve collaborated with a wide variety of artists.
“Mockery is cruel, but it is also true,” Scott said.
Mockery is cruel, but it is also true.
The exhibiting artists include Gillian Bradshaw-Smith, Scott Winterrowd, Joey Seeman and others whose works have been featured in publications such as Juxtapoz, Art? Alternatives and The Dallas Morning News, as well as in art exhibitions in New York, Florida, California and throughout the country.
Bradshaw is 82 years old and is known for painting backdrops for photographers and publications. She met Scott and Jones by painting a backdrop for one of their photographer friends when she lived in Dallas in the ’90s. They’ve worked together on many set designs since then.
“(Scott and Jones’) work is very interconnected as is their relationship; it is a living organic thing,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw made two naked, stuffed dolls that exaggerated the pair’s features for the exhibit.
Winterrowd, curator of education at the Meadows Museum, has been a friend of Scott and Jones’ for 19 years. He’s watched them grow and become the artists they are now.
His piece, the central image for the event, incorporates his early large-letter postcard style where each letter of the words “Chuck & George” is an image.
There are drawings of Scott and Jones’ hobbies and recent works, but most of the drawings are of their home.
“Their house is an art environment, from the way they have filled it from floor to ceiling with art, but also the way they have put a very individual stamp on every object throughout the house,” Winterrowd said. “From the fireplace with its painted bricks, bric-a-brac, numerous figurines and escutcheon announcing you have walked into the world of Chuck & George, to the faux wallpapered walls which have been recreated at CentralTrak.”
Bright colors and distorted caricatures of the duo are a staple in every art piece. The colors and dramatic imagery are a friendly ridicule of the two, their lives together and their work.
Seeman, a visual and graphic design artist, made a piece for the exhibit that displays Chuck & George morphed together to form Siamese twins. The image is monstrous and shocking. However, Seeman isn’t only mocking the two artists, he is also poking fun at the early freakshow style posters that Chuck & George made.
Scott and Jones, or Chuck & George as they are known when collaborating together, have been pillars in the Dallas art community since 1990.
“We’re essentially two people collaborating as this one monster,” Scott said.
The two met at The University of North Texas while studying art; there they formed their alter egos. The project started as a way to make fun of the art around them.
“We think some of the art happening around us is silly, so we make it better,” Scott said. “There’s something enjoyable of doing something bad, really well.”
The project garnered much more interest than they had intended, and Chuck & George became better known than the individual artists. One of their recent works includes the Table Scrappin Drawings, which feature caricaturized self-portraits of the two.
Jones is frequently depicted as a cherubic carny with large, doll-like eyes, while Scott is drawn as a sinister blue devil with contorted features.
“It’s nothing new for artists or writers to have alter egos,” said Director of CentralTrak Heyd Fontenot. “There’s a certain freedom of blaming your art on someone else.”
There’s a certain freedom of blaming your art on someone else.
Although the artists collaborate on most of their works, the distinction in their art and personalities is evident.
“Scott is deliciously bitchy but never unkind,” Bradshaw said. “Jones is extraordinarily knowledgeable about music and movies. He’s hesitant, yet an extremely witty person.”
Bradshaw regards Jones’ work to be “cartoony and edgy” as he frequently paints childlike images in a dismal fashion.
One of Jones’ recent works features a painting of Big Tex on fire, commemorating the notable 2012 event.
Scott’s recent paintings for his CarniSutra series reflect his somber intensity and “melancholic nature.”
The name of the exhibit comes from the play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” Many in their circle know the two artists’ love for this Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton film.
“It’s devastating and destructive and life-affirming,” Scott said.
The 1966 film explores the dark side of marriage while also reflecting the deep love between the couple. Fontenot chose this title to parody the artists.
“So, in a sense, I’m poking fun at Chuck & George and the idea of wedded bliss and magical collaboration,” he said. “With this title, I’m acknowledging the difficulties of both romantic and working relationships.”
Fontenot has curated many of the couple’s other exhibits, such as Circle Werk OT Project, Gun & Knife Show, That Mortal Coil and Domestic Animals at CentralTrak and the Webb Gallery.
“It’s important to recognize these two people who have dedicated their entire beings to art,” he said. “And I knew that when I invited their friends to make work about them, in honor of them, that we’d get lots of interesting contributions.”