Exhibit preview: Bryan Grey loves dogs, art and dog art

By
From the May 1, 2014 edition

If there’s one exciting thing about the arts community, it’s how artists keep popping up with fascinating ideas — and works — for art shows, often in unexpected venues. Bryan Grey is the latest, with his upcoming solo exhibition at Three Dog Bakery opening this Saturday, fantastically titled “The Lick Styles of the Bitch and the Fur Fabulous.”

Grey is an avid dog-lover (owner of a four-year-old German shepherd named Ripley after the heroine in “Alien”), rock ’n’ roller and fashion enthusiast, and wanted to pitch all three into an exhibit. Therefore, “The Lick Styles of the Bitch and the Fur Fabulous” is a collection of paint and colored-pencil illustrations featuring different breeds of dogs all done up.

“It’s not just your typical dog portrait,” said Grey during an interview at Red Brick Tap and Grill, where he creates large chalkboard pieces on a weekly basis. “It’s really decadent dogs … they’ll be some designer shoes in there and costume jewelry, dogs wearing couture gowns. It’s just kind of a funny, different take.”

While illustrating canines in high-end fashion and jewelry may sound incongruous, the work itself is eye-catching and spectacular for its aesthetic more so than its concept. Grey used a watercolor wash on wood panels, then added colored-pencil details of the dogs. The colors create a vibrant pop in the pieces, and that doesn’t even include the ornate, Victorian-style gold and silver fames, or that Grey “threw in some glitter to be kind of funny, campy.”

Grey has never been one to stick to the traditional. Besides the upcoming exhibit, he’s currently creating chalkboard pieces. Grey is on his 14th installment at Red Brick — motifs include everything from guitar gods like Stevie Ray Vaughan, to sexy pin-up girls and even nipple-pierced minotaur-like creatures — and regularly creates boards for Three Dog Bakery. He’s also created a number of works for What the Rock?!

“My style is more a [blend of] fashion illustration, comic book, cartoon styles. They’re not super realistic dogs, but they’re borderline cartoon, pseudo-realism,” Grey said.

But it’s the watercolor technique Grey used for the most recent pieces that has his interest piqued.

“I discovered I really enjoy working with this nice new [watercolor on wood] medium,” said Grey, who has plans to continue exploring and expanding on the technique. “I would love to get ahold of watercolor pigments in giant jars so I could work big. Or, even work on a floor where you could do something more interesting.”

Stepping away from the service industry last fall, where you’ve surely seen him at Surly Girl Saloon or Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace, Grey has found a renaissance of sorts with his art. He plans to spend the summer working on pieces that are “just for him.” Grey has previously worked on sight-specific collections and installations, and designed flyers and T-shirts for fundraising events involving dog rescues and Powell Animal Welfare Society.

“Sometimes I feel like I do a lot of projects for [other people]. I’m appreciative that I get to create, but I’m looking to do what I want to do; what inspires me in that moment,” Grey said.

Whatever the next project Grey decides to tackle, it’ll surely be imaginative and a bit wild. And we should all be excited about that.

Photos by Meghan Ralston