Photo by Kevin Seaman

En Español

Tonight at The Lab, pop artist danyol and author/poet Michelle Tea will emcee the 5th Annual Thread|Bare Striptease Auction and Runway Show, a “celebration of Bay Area independent fashion spirit.”

Mission Loc@l: What are you looking forward to this Friday night at Thread | Bare?

“Leslie Martin Rides the Bart in 2010” by danyol

danyol: This will be my first time emceeing an event and I am a bit nervous about it. Michael De Long and I are really good friends and I’ve participated in a number of shows at The Lab, but this will be my first time with a mic in my hand!

I’m really into the whole concept of what they’re doing. The fact that you can buy the clothes right off of the models’ backs is really interesting to me. And I can’t wait to work with Michelle Tea!

ML: What will you be wearing?

d: I hope to have a number of outfits to unveil! Time will tell.

ML: You have a background in modern dance. When you stopped dancing, your paintings become ‘more vulnerable’. How so? And did this shift you towards more figurative work?

d: I’m finding more and more that vulnerability is what drives me to push myself further with what I am doing. When I was dancing and choreographing that vulnerability came very easily. Being naked on stage with lights on you sort of makes that happen!

But when I stopped dancing and really focused on my painting (around 2001), I needed to find a way to bring some of that vulnerability onto my canvases. That’s when I made a conscious effort to bring more of my personal life into my work. My art tells stories about the people that I meet and the personalities that have shaped me into who I am today.

“Tiger Tiger Truck on Fire” by danyol (2009)

ML: What is your painting process?

d: I usually start out with a pile of decoupage that I want to incorporate into a piece. Not knowing what the final image will be yet, I place each item in a random space and just start layering ephemera and paint until the background looks ‘done’. Then I move to imagery and start to think about composition and negative space and all of that. I never really know what the end product will be until I’m finished with the piece.

ML: What intimate objects have you incorporated into decoupage? And when you paint over these, does it feel revealing or concealing?

d: I’ve used everything from fabric willed to me by my Nana, to my sister’s birth certificate, to money, to personal handwritten notes from loved ones, to pages from my diary as a kid. If you give me something– no matter how sacred– it may just end up in a painting.

More often then not, the article gets painted over and I am the only one who knows that it’s there. Sometimes I’m bummed about that.  But that is the life the painting took. I have to go with it and let shit like that happen.

ML: You also do billboard and sign alteration, sometimes anonymously.

d: If I do it anonymously, how can we talk about it?

ML: Much of your work questions gender roles. How traditional was your family growing up? And when did you come out to them?

d: My mother was very conservative and proper. Always kept up appearances. My father was very demonstrative and had that Mexican machismo about him. They didn’t really understand it when I would dress up and wear make-up. It was not about me wanting to be a woman or even about being gay. It was just fun and creative. I started to question gender roles and sexuality around that time and I still do with my art.

ML: Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists and their parents?

d: I don’t really know how to answer this because for me, I used art and dance as a way of rebelling against what my parents wanted me to do. If they had been totally supportive of my art, I may have become a scientist instead!

ML: The way you paint large canvases is very physical, like dance.

d: Painting and choreography come from the same place in my head. They are just two different outlets I use to express myself, so yeah, I totally see an overlap. One day I hope to meld them together even more. I dance about while I’m painting and I allow the music I’m listening to to influence the painting. It’s completely self-indulgent and no one sees me doing it, but it makes me happy.

“Susse Senke Hoch” by danyol (2010)

ML: I remember your dynamic choreography for large groups of dancers. Now that you’re a full-time artist working solo, who are your partners now?

d: I think that I split in two. As for the group-based interactivity, I get that from my social life. Playing around with drag and street art. Performing at clubs or emceeing a fashion show in drag. These have become my interactions. These situations and interactions then become fodder for my paintings.

I have also been playing a lot of music in and around SF.  In August, my band Adonisaurus is playing at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for the Drinking and Dancing Competition.  I love the collaboration with my musical friends and love the opportunity to perform in front of people. I miss that the most about dance– performing in front of an audience.

Formerly on the corner of Mission and 17th. (Click to expand)

ML: What have you been listening to lately while painting?

d: I try and listen to a lot of new music. Keep it fresh all around, really. Xx’s new album is really nice to paint to. Also Florence and the Machine, Fuck Buttons, Ebony Bones, Janelle Monae. I also like to throw in some Slayer and Dolly Parton to keep me on my toes. And Adonisaurus is in the mixing process of our first EP so I listen to a lot of our tracks over and over.

ML: What local colors inspire you?

d: I try and walk down Clarion Alley at least once a week. The art on that street blows me away. San Francisco has many amazing street artists and I am constantly inspired by them. And drag queens. I can’t get me enough of drag queens.

5th Annual Thread | Bare
Striptease Auction & Runway Show:
Friday, June 11, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
$10 – $20 sliding scale admission
Trunk Show:
Saturday and Sunday, June 12 – 13, 12 – 6pm
Free admission

Local designers innovating in form, material, and interpretation create one-of-a-kind works and are brought together with performers to showcase their fabrications. The clothes are auctioned right off the models as they walk the runway, while scores of outfits and accessories are available in the concurrent trunk show.

Paintings by danyol are currently on exhibit at two solo art shows continuing thru June: “Curls n’ Cubs: The Science of Permanent Waves” at Glama-Rama Salon (here in the Mission), and “The Secret Lives of Chavs” at W Hotel.

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