By Derrick White
First, ‘Happy New Year’ and may all of your dreams and wishes come true for you and yours this coming year.
“Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” – William S. Burroughs
Standing in a dimly lit, Kubrick-long hallway on the third floor of a tattered Ramada Inn in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, after attending an evening reception for artist Wayne White, I knock on the door for room #308. Through the cracked space of the creaking, slowly opening door, appears a small, oxidized yet powerful handgun gripped in an ink stained hand. Suddenly, this feels like a scene from a B horror movie. Then the door widens and artist (and legend) John Hancock warmly greets my friend Paul and I saying, “Hey guys, come on in. Would you like a drink?” John has his signature thick, dark beard. He is dressed in a plaid shirt, wears a western belt buckle, custom made cowboy boots, and straw bowler hat. He is relaxing with some chewing tobacco, and a glass of whiskey. This night is about to get strange and entertaining. We go out to a few casinos, get some food, and talk long into the night about art and other strange topics until John eventually decides to go to sleep on the floor under the hotel room desk.
John Hancock is an expert printmaker, visual and performance artist, and a printmaking professor at Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas. John attended Baylor University where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Texas Tech University. Together, with his brother Charles – who also earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Baylor University and is also an expert printmaker, visual and performance artist, currently living in Austin – are the dynamic duo of the The Amazing Hancock Brothers creating, collaborating, performing, and printing images and mash-ups on anything and everything. Charles and John are two Texas outlaw (outsider artist) printmakers producing and exhibiting their unique, collaborative, and powerfully raw prints and collages for the delight and horror of viewers. Their work has a strong visual punch one can feel right behind the eyes. The Hancock Brothers conduct demonstrations, spoken word poetry events, printmaking workshops, participate in exhibitions nationally and internationally, and have work in numerous collections. They are both members of the Mid-America Print Council, Southern Graphics, founding members of the DPA print organization, regulars at Austin’s Annual Ink Slingaz Ball, and inspiring supporters of Drive By Press.
The Hancock Brother’s mash-ups are a sight to behold. Using screen-printing and acrylic paint they will lay out papers, fabrics or, in most cases, blocks of wood and, using a wide variety of screen-printed images, begin to create spontaneously on the surfaces. In a ferocity of commotion they collaborate on twenty to fifty artworks simultaneously. They randomly choose colors of ink and the placement of different images. Their library of Hancock representations is immense. The juxtapositions are endless – skulls next to eyepatch lady faces with fishnet stockings combined with vintage advertisements, zombie faces, snakes, sexy skull women in short skirts, monsters, devils, robots, panties, monkeys, wieners, etc. They use images of animal and human mutations, sombrero-wearing Mexican sugar skulls combined with different text and hidden meanings from words like ‘porno vampyre’ to the peculiar text RU486 (the abortion pill). The Hancock’s colors are bold and intense. Their images are horrific, subversive, and tantalizing. Their art is vexing, eye catching, and pleasurable. There is an uncertain enticing mischief to their images reminiscent of finding a dirty magazine down in a creek bed when you were eleven. Their process is disordered, expressive, explicit, and prolific. They make a lot of work. The end results of their work are unpredictable. “The dream is a spontaneous happening and therefore dangerous to a control system set up by the non-dreamers,” is a quote from William Burroughs (oftentimes a Hancock subject).
John and Charles are master woodcut printmakers with thousands of custom hand carved blocks of their signature style images. On one recent trip to East Texas to attend a workshop, Charles sat in the passenger seat of John’s pickup and fearlessly carved several blocks during the ride. He carved several astonishing blocks. The floor was littered with wood shaving ankle deep by the time they arrived. The Hancock’s art has an edgy aesthetic to those unfamiliar but do not let their expertise in printmaking get lost in their eccentric imagery. I’ve watched them carefully and clearly explain the process of printmaking to a room full of students and onlookers. They inform and entertain, and act as print missionaries with their message, ‘art and art making is for everyone.’ Don’t let any elitist, high art, self-proclaimed culture-maker tell you otherwise. Make art. Do you want to be a weirdo? Be a weirdo.
John and Charles celebrate the frivolous and the low brow, but with a visual whack upside your head, and behind the graffiti art aesthetic is a proficiency in process.
I leave you with another William Burroughs’ quote I find fitting to the Hancocks and their artistic philosophy, “You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative.”
Drive By Press is a touring woodblock printing company visiting college and university campuses nationwide, conducting print workshops, and touring with popular bands. They discuss on their website about the inspiration behind a new Hancock image t-shirt, “John Hancock is a founding father of 21st century printmaking in America. This shirt is for anyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing or working with this amazing artist. We decided to pay tribute to this great man who has done so much for Drive By Press and American printmaking. Taylor designed and carved this one, and we are proud of it! We printed this wood block with Drive By Black ink onto a super soft slightly heather t-shirt.” Get some!
More information can be found at www.drivebypress.com/collections/mens-collection/products/john-hancock-tee
The Amazing Hancock Brothers visit us behind the East Texas Pine Curtain every couple of years or so. They had an exhibition and conducted an intense workshop at Tyler Junior College back in April, 2015. Now we eagerly await their next return. I can feel the thunder gathering even now.
Stay tuned. Stay informed. Stay weird.
Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps Begin
Tyler Museum of Art Creativity Camps 2018
TMA World Tour 2018 June 25-29
Upside-down and Backward July 9-13
Beachcombers’ Paradise July 16-20
5 Days Away from Rose City July 23-27
6×6@110 Continues at Gallery Main Street
The annual 6×6@110 is an art fundraising project to benefit Gallery Main Street in Downtown Tyler, Texas. The gallery is a City of Tyler facility operated with the cooperation of the Downtown Tyler Arts Coalition, an all-volunteer group of artists who schedule and jury fine arts exhibits and organize projects. All of the net proceeds of 6×6@110 will go to support those activities.
The annual 6×6@110 fundraising project will be held June 6th at 6pm. Each piece will be sold for $20, with all proceeds going to help fund the City of Tyler Main Street Department, which operates Gallery Main Street.
The name “6×6@110” reflects the fact that all artwork sold in the show will be 6”x6”, and will be shown at Gallery Main Street at 110 W. Erwin, Downtown Tyler.
For more info on this project go to downtowntylerarts.com, call (903)593-6905, or follow the Downtown Tyler Facebook Page.
The 2017 6×6@110 featured over 1000 works by hundreds of participants. The project earned the distinction of receiving the Best Promotional Event award from the Texas Downtown Association.
First Solo Show Opening
Help celebrate the opening of Gallery Main Street’s first fine art solo artist exhibit on Saturday, May 12th, 5:30-8pm. This free event will feature the opportunity to meet the artist and be among the first to see and purchase pieces from the exhibit. The exhibit will run through June 4th.
The jury will select the top three groups of submittals and then additional information and show descriptions will be submitted. The jury will review all additional information and will announce the solo artist on April 28th.
Other Upcoming Exhibits
Remaining shows this year are:
- Solo Show #1 – Opening May 12th
- “6x6x10” – Deadline June 1st, opening June 6th
- Solo Show #2 – Deadline June 17th, opening July 14th
- “Assemblies” – Deadline July 29th, opening August 11th
- “Alternate Perspective” – Deadline September 30th, opening October 13th
- Holiday Market – Deadline November 25th, opening December 8th
Gallery Main Street features a new exhibit of original art approximately every eight weeks. Each exhibit opens with a Saturday evening reception that features music, an opportunity to meet the artists, refreshments, and more. The Opening Receptions are free and open to the public.
Art Events Warming Up For Summer
Events & Classes
June 16th (11am-11:30pm) June 17th (11am-4pm) – Junebug Art and Music Festival – Calling all artists! Junebug is an annual community Art and Music festival with an afternoon farmers market. This event encompasses art in its many forms. There will be teachers of weaving and soap making, along with hands on pottery wheel demonstrations. Attendees’ senses will be engulfed by the sights, sound, smell, and feel of all that is to be offered at this very unique art event in a very quaint little artsy community. The show will offer up a stage filled with eclectic musicians, bands, and songwriters. Saturday there will be a community Farmers Market where locals can sell their organic and/or locally sourced products. Vendor and artist applications are available at theforgebenwheeler.com. The family-friendly festival, which is located in the tiny art enclave of Ben Wheeler,TX, highlights the work of artists, musicians, and artisans from the Lone Star state. Headquartered on the three-acre park-like property surrounding the FORGE (a local restaurant, bar, and music venue), the festival will give attendees an opportunity to witness the creative process through “live art” displays as well as the chance to actively join in the process. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 22nd (7-9pm) – Paperbark Studio Pop Up will be held at Strada Caffe, 302 E. Front St., Tyler. Come join us for a pop-up art show featuring Paperbark Studio as well as craft beer, wine, and small plates, espresso bar and pastry case. Come enjoy a wonderful summer evening of local art!
June 26th (6-8pm) – Kids Canvas Paint Party – Tyler Parks and Recreation is hosting a Kids Paint Party at the Glass Recreation Center for children ages 7-12 years old. For more information, please visit TylerParksandRec.com.
EGuide Magazine’s Gig Guide
Date Night: From Fancy to Simple, Tyler Offers a Lot of Romance
July 4th: Freedom Fighters 5K Race and more races!
Theatre Guide: Opening June 7th, “Ring of Fire” at Tyler Civic
Blue Moon Gardens: More Than a Family Nursery
Dinosaurs are Back at Discovery Science Place!
It’s Going To Be An “INCREDIBLE” Summer at Studio Movie Grill
Connie Smith in Concert at Liberty Hal June 27th
June 22nd-23rd: 10th Annual Tyler Coin Show
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir Set to Perform, August 3rd
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