We are thrilled to have painter, performance artist, and animator Stephen Holman as a guest at our Halloween weekend show. Stephen has worked with many of the artists we crush out on: Paul Reubens, Johanna Went, Clam Lynch, John Fleck, The Kipper Kids, and his cartoonish, sometimes grotesque sensibilities have been inspirational to latter day puppet-and-blood-slinging types like ourselves and countless others.
From his website:
Holman’s early work took the form of experimental films that he screened at bars and nightclubs. However, the ongoing battle to engage a rowdy club crowd’s attention caused these screenings to quickly expand in scope and complexity to include live performance as well as film. Pushing this concept further, Holman formed his first performance art ensemble, TORTURE CHORUS in 1986, and began staging live shows in seminal NYC venues such as 8BC, The Kitchen, Danceteria and Franklin Furnace.
In 1987 Holman moved to Los Angeles where he co-founded THEATRE CARNIVALE, a neo-vaudevillian performance troupe/venue whose mandate was to showcase cutting-edge cabaret/club-based performance artists including Johanna Went, John Fleck and the Kipper Kids alongside exotic entertainment such as sword-swallowing strippers, professional magicians et al. Holman and Theatre Carnivale garnered rave press reviews (“LA’s Artaud”- Paper Magazine), ruffled the feathers of the cultural elite (“Avant Garbage reeking with cheap jokes, sex and violence!”- LA Reader) and succeeded in defining a new genre of nineties west coast performance art.
By the early 1990s Theatre Carnivale had evolved into a vehicle for Holman’s own work: a wild blend of comedy and eco-science involving ensemble casts, live musicians and surreal costumes and props. Throughout the 90s he received grants and staged productions in major venues across America, England and Japan (including NYC’s Kitchen, England’s Channel 4 TV and Tokyo’s International Theater Festival), also collaborating extensively with artists Johanna Went, Clam Lynch, Brian Routh and Tom Murrin in a side project entitled Bigg Mess.
It was at this point that Holman started making PAINTINGS after each performance, feeling that graphic images of the ideas, costumes and characters in the shows in many ways represented a more satisfying documentation method than relying exclusively on video footage. Solo exhibitions of these paintings took place at Bobo Gallery and Morphos Gallery in San Francisco, and the Onyx Gallery and EZTV Gallery in LA.
Also around this time, Holman was hired as an artist on CBS children’s TV series PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE and continued success in this field led to him forming, with his wife, artist Josephine Huang in 1993, his own independent animation company (W)HOLESOME PRODUCTS. This partnership went on to create and direct several innovative stop-motion animation and mixed media TV series including LIFE WITH LOOPY (Nickelodeon), WE ARE THE SHRIMPSKINS! (Nickelodeon), PHANTOM INVESTIGATORS (Sony/Warner Bros) and DUDLEY AND NESTOR DO NOTHING (Disney).
In recent years Holman has focused his artistic energies primarily on his painting work. Since 2006 he has had four solo exhibitions in Southern California (including a career retrospective at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica). His favorite themes of eco-science and man’s relationship with nature have been expanded in his latest works to include alchemical imagery and other vaguely mystical influences yet still retain his trademark twists of surreal humor. He has recently embarked on a series of ten portraits on canvas entitled “Feral Children”.