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Teen wants people to draw their own conclusions about his art

A shy boy with bold art
Sunday, June 1, 2008 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:19 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Bob Dynamite uses wood slabs instead of canvas and paints with Wite-Out, acrylics and watercolors. With the exception of the clown painting, which is titled The Toothache, the titles of Dynamite’s paintings are the same as the word that is in the speech bubble. Eight out of the 10 paintings shown at the CARE gallery were sold.

The young artist who goes by Bob Dynamite is not loud or boastful. Nothing about his teenage demeanor screams for attention. But there is one thing about this shy, composed person that begs to be noticed: his artwork.

Dynamite says his paintings are merely ink drawings in which he has painted in the lines. He jokes that he can’t paint. Don’t tell anyone, he says wryly.

His work shows attention to detail. He brings out the intricate textures of his subjects’ skins by using Wite-Out and painting on scrap pieces of wood. The varying shapes and sizes of the wood add extra character.

Dynamite wants viewers to have their own interpretations of his work. “I don’t like to draw something to describe an emotion,” he says. “Like, ‘I’m sad so I’m going to draw a bunny crying.’”

On June 21, a brief but solo gallery show gave people a chance to see, and buy, Dynamite’s work. The show at the CARE (Career Awareness Related Experience) Gallery on Orr Street, “People Saying Stuff,” had 10 paintings, most of which sold.

How it began

At 17, Dynamite cannot pinpoint the age at which he realized his talents. He took a couple of art classes in middle school but said he didn’t learn much from them and rarely looks at other artists’ work.

“I’m afraid I’ll steal too much from them,” Dynamite says.

In 2006, he applied for a job at the CARE gallery. He worked there for two years, the limit, and now works at the MU Law Library.

Recently, CARE director Kim Partney brought up the idea of showcasing Dynamite’s work in the CARE gallery.

“It took, like, five minutes to plan,” Dynamite says.

The date was set.

What he did

When Dynamite was asked to do the show a couple of months ago, he was into textures. His previous work included drawings with Wite-Out on paper, and he decided to try it out on a tiny piece of wood. Canvas was too expensive, he says. He didn’t even want to look into it.

“The medium I’m most comfortable with is just pens on computer paper,” Dynamite says. “Actually, all I really draw when I’m not experimenting is strange ladies.”

All of the works in the show are portraits, two of famous people and the rest drawn from his imagination. He started the paintings out by drawing outlines of everything with a black RoseArt marker and then painted in the lines. The title of each work appears in a speech balloon on the painting: “Money,” “Here” and “Awhile,” for example.

Most of these words were chosen while listening to music. “I listened until I heard a word that felt good,” Dynamite says.

The rest were chosen randomly by opening a dictionary and placing a finger down.

After that meeting with Partney, Dynamite frantically worked to make sure his paintings were completed in time. He finished at the beginning of June and recalls running out of steam toward the end.

“I’m way more proud of my tiny little ink drawings,” Dynamite says. “This was an experiment for me.”

How it went

Although the CARE gallery is still partly under construction, a room was cleared out for Dynamite’s two-hour show. His paintings adorned one wall, and after an hour and a half, most were joined by pieces of paper with the word “sold” on them. By the end of the show, eight out of his 10 paintings, ranging in price from $30 to $60, had been sold. Partney and her daughter both bought paintings.

“I would’ve bought any one of them,” Partney says. “I am fond of the colors, and it suits my house.”

Partney was pleased with the show, saying that she was happy with the exposure it gave Dynamite and that it must have been a confidence booster for him.

“The overall experience of the show was good, I guess,” says Dynamite. “I was surprised that so many people liked my boards.”

What’s next?

Dynamite has begun work on a zine, pronounced “zeen,” for a zine fest in California. Broadly, this is a term used for any self-published work for a limited audience. He is also thinking about entering the Flying Nautilus T-shirt Design Contest hosted by Prairie Squid Graphics and Maude Vintage. The design contest is open to anyone in Columbia, and the winner will be announced at the end of August. Dynamite says he is entering just for fun.

“I could never win that,” he says.


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