Famous Adjacent: Inside the Crazy Brain of Jeremy Russell

Jeremy Russell is an artist. When I met him five years ago I thought he was insane, actually. And I don't mean that in the figurative, "My friends and I go out for drinks after work and go crazy" kind of way, but more in the "I think they let him out on a weekend furlough" kind of nuts.

The way most good artists tend to be. He didn't own any clothes without paint on them. He lived a drug free existence, but we all thought he was on something. He was the first person I heard use the term "spiritual awakening" without any trace of irony, and I immediately thought he was awesome.

Smash cut to five years later, and I know Jeremy Russell a bit better. I've met his cute little family, and I want to collect them all and put them in my hutch with my other keepsakes and bric-a-brac like Hummel figurines. Jeremy now owns clothes that don't have paint on them, and earlier this month he had a fine art show with Shannon Lange at gallery Twenty Two in Plaza Midwood called Amygdala. It's named after the part of the brain that does something I don't quite remember. The works will remain on display through the end of the month.

I have a bit of a sincerity issue so I want you to know I mean this whole heartedly: Jeremy's show was great. Not just good but great. I own some of his artwork. I sing his praise to anyone willing to listen. But I will warn you, if your idea of fine art is a dolphin jumping out of the water back lit by a full moon, Jeremy Russell is not the guy for you.  He's clearly influenced by the giants of modern art, which I know all the names and totally remember, but don't feel like sharing with you right now.

The University of North Carolina at Asheville, his alma mater, said his work "plays with symbolic imagery to show cause and effect relationships in issues of sexuality, psychology, human nature, religion and politics. He uses a stark palette to re-energize masculine symbols of primal urges and power." See? Awesome.

I grew up in a house where "Art" was a word used by British people and homosexuals, and as an adult I try to surround myself with gifted people who make me feel enlightened and have somehow tapped into the creative side of the universe. People like Jeremy Russell. When he has another show in Charlotte, and he will, you need to see it because he is gifted, and talented, and special.

But the jury's still out on whether or not this guy's insane. Even after five years, I sure as hell couldn't tell you.

Artsy and Fartsy,

Sean Keenan

Categories: Arts + Culture, Revue