The pieces of art that Paul Volker has set up in his "driveway studio" are instantly recognizable. But they've popped into a new dimension.

The pieces of art that Paul Volker has set up in his "driveway studio" are instantly recognizable. But they've popped into a new dimension.

People can throw the floppy clock from Salvador Dali's "Persistence of Memory," Frisbee-style, over its tree branch. And with a yellow foam golf ball, you can knock Vincent van Gogh's ear out of his self-portrait or trigger a mousetrap that sends James McNeill Whistler's mother's flying out of her frame.

The rounded mouth of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" has been cut out, but Volker isn't sure what people will be able to knock out of it yet.

"Maybe a big tooth," he says.

Volker's Arts Arcade will appear at several events this summer, beginning with ComFest, as a benefit for the artist's Arts4Autism group. He hopes to raise $5,000 at ComFest, Art Al Fresco and the Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, leading up to Columbus' Walk Now for Autism event on Oct. 11.

For $5, ComFest-goers can play all four games, get a lanyard with a badge that proclaims them "entitled to throw things at art," and have a chance to win a prize by cracking one of "Diego's Heuevos" (Diego Rivera, that is).

Volker's own paintings most often feature an animal and a punch line that are equally deadpan in expression. If you haven't seen one hanging in a coffee shop, friend's house, gallery or restaurant, you can't have lived in Columbus very long.

He once dubbed his work "cartoon expressionism," but has lately taken to calling it "neo-recessionist painting" because it's generally affordable and eco-conscious. He uses plywood canvases and mis-tinted house paint - materials that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

Volker's taken the past couple of years off from having a ComFest booth because he was working as an artist for Trader Joe's at Easton, which kept him from producing the high volume of small paintings he usually sells. This year, he's back in force.

He designed this year's festival T-shirt (from a concept by Mimi Morris), bringing the number of ComFest T-shirt's he's had a part in up to seven, and he drew the map of Goodale Park for the program.

In addition to running the Arts Arcade with the help of volunteers, he'll be selling more than 200 Polaroid-sized paintings from his popular "Wild Beasts" series. There'll be mini versions of "Elephants love helium," with big, gray stubby legs floating skyward, and "The Antigravity Bone," with a confused, empty-pawed dog.

Volker hopes this is the last year he'll sell small paintings, because he's been focusing on large-scale pieces lately. The humor is still central, but the plywood is big enough to cover a window and some of the paint has been layered into "old door" textures.

Recent works include "Alexander Graham Bell - The Early Years," with the inventor yelling into a boot with a fish in his ear, as well as "Ben Franklin at the Door," clearly flustered in an electrical storm and searching his vest pockets for his key.

Arts4Autism is a project Volker hopes can expand once colleagues and friends see what he and a handful of others have already put together. With proper funding, Volker says, neurological research could end autism in 10 to 15 years.

Visual arts are uniquely equipped to help raise money for the cause, said Volker, whose family "faces the challenges of autism on a regular basis."

He hopes to come up with more creative fundraising ideas like the Arts Arcade (with some help, he thinks he could come up with an entire theme park), as well as to get involved in art therapy, illustration campaigns or just helping to change common misperceptions about the diagnosis, which affects one in 150 kids.

"Every kid with autism is a typical kid who likes SpongeBob and ice cream and Harry Potter," Volker said. "Artists could help change the way people see autism ... to help people to not be afraid of it, to help young people understand their classmates and cousins and brothers."

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