JPW3: The Alchemy of New School Pop Art

Jun 9, 2014 / by Nikki Darling / KCET Los Angele

Patrick Walsh, the artist otherwise known as JPW3, looks like he should be in a cologne ad or modeling Speedos. He’s the kind of good looking that makes you check your breath or admire your shoelaces when he glances your way. All long limbs, dark hair, dark eyes, scruff and symmetrical angles. Then he opens his mouth. What emerges is a mellow, good-natured, sensitive dude. The kind of dude that vocalizes apprehension about walking through the community mural garden of a nearby housing project, happily accepts a purple button that reads “Capitalism is Fucking the Queer Out of Us,” and pins it to his shirt, admits that he first wanted to be a writer, and still writes, and offers to buy a reporter lunch, because he is generous and polite. A bit like, a high school guidance counselor hoping to meet you at your level. His musings are soft-spoken, goofy and uniquely elaborate, all the while still sounding off the cuff. Much like his art. But that’s where Walsh the Sweet Dude and Walsh the Artist, break. “One major misconception about the work is that because I seem easygoing, the process is less thought out”

That work is expansive. It dips into the interdisciplinary and rotates around many imagistic themes. Some of his conceptually reoccurring symbols: Tuning forks, car engines, popcorn, stove burners, wax, wheels or doorways. Although his performance pieces, paintings, and sculptures take different outlets there is a consistency of vision, which keeps them theoretically in sync.

Walsh’s studio resembles a calamitous auto repair shop run by a surrealist philosopher. It’s a cavernous two-room mess of toxic chemicals. Popcorn (in all its various stages), wax drippings, auto parts, tiny Bali Shag rollers and strange literary and zine ephemera, cling to every surface and crunch beneath the feet.

Raised in rural Pennsylvania on his grandfather’s land, Walsh spent much of his early childhood in nature. “There were ponds and I could run around and jump on rocks. I grew up around trees but always wanted to be in the city. My friends went to a way better school than I did in Scranton, an art high school. I was a country guy but I hung with the dudes in town. The skater guys, they were my homies.”