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Artists Among Us: Rob Lynch

In past Artists Among Us profiles, I have shared with BRO readers the immense attraction that I felt to each one of the artists that I chose to interview. My attraction to Rob’s work was quite simply the thoughtful randomness that is applied to his subject matter – deer with red mittens and birds picketing. His website only further irritated my curiosity. The tabs that label each web page are titled “nuthatch” and “thrush” and “warbler”. Rob dons a top hat, bangs on drums and falls asleep with the assurance that a stack of post-it is close by.
It is my intent to deliver each profile in such a way that is true to the nature of each artist, that would speak for their individual personalities and still be informative and descriptive. I can do this for Rob Lynch, but he can do it better. He has sated my desire for low-brow art with his amusing eccentricity, now I will let him satisfy yours.
“Both in painting and music, I try to make art that is straight and crooked at the same time. Familiar but slanted in a way that it makes you giggle – not knowing what else to do. I like to direct my work so that both my music and paintings are funny in public and lonesome in private. I like the contrast of profound and frivolous. That’s a theme I visit often. And angry and clumsy. Or romantic and flawed.
Ideas for my paintings and music usually come from funny little events from my life. I jot them down and use them to start a work, maybe weeks or years later. But I’m not concerned with telling that exact story, as in “you must listen what happened to ME!” Neither painting nor music are built for direct and clear communication…they’re more slippery than that, thankfully. My works are not meant to be so literal. I like them to be simple and quirky enough that they can be read many ways, and maybe when something happens to you, you’ll remember a painting or a melody and think, “That’s what that one was about!” The recent paintings are usually built out of a small relationship between two objects. A vacuum and a devil, a bird and Bill Cosby. Funny little things to think about that remind you of the big things in your life. I know that happens to me, I’ll be going about my routine, see or hear something striking and remember a Vonnegut line, an Ives mishmash or Lucian Freud patch of paint. Good work gets into your veins and becomes part of you. That’s the search that I’m on, that’s what I’m after.
There’s a Phillip Guston quote that i often think of when starting a work- ‘I don’t know what I’m painting for. That’s what I’m painting for. ‘ It’s the search, the mystery, the fun of trying things out and the surprise of looking back at what I’ve done that keeps me working. There’s a magic moment that creative types get to experience. It happens when you’re up most of the night working, working, working…and you are so close to what your making that you lose sight of it. Like an inexperienced billboard painter. You’ve got no idea what it looks like from a distance. But in the morning you get to experience the thing – fresh, and that is a wonderful, unique experience. If it’s a recording I made, I turn it up loud as soon as I wake up. If its a painting, I prop it up across from my bed so i see it as soon as the blur of sleep leaves my eyes. The work becomes very foreign and detached after a little night of sleep. And that moment of meeting the work again is powerful. A cold hard look in the mirror. It’s exhilarating when you’re surprised in a good way, and devastating when you feel like a failure and think, ‘Why am i doing this? What was I thinking!’
As far as how I turned out this way, there were two specific points of entry for me. Musically, when I heard the Beatles “White Album”, that was it. I was sold. It came in the mail and sat under our Christmas tree. I had a feeling it was that record and couldn’t wait to tear it open. The second I heard it I knew I wanted to make sounds that strange, and melodies that beautiful. And I liked the honesty of how all over the map the content was. That’s how I think. It’s real. It doesn’t smell of marketing and product. And it still sounds as unique, strange and beautiful as it did 5,000 listens ago.
And I became interested in painting by hanging out in the library while waiting for my friend to finish up her history paper. 11th grade. I wandered into the art section and on the bottom shelf was this enormous book on Ben Shahn. Same thing as with the Beatles, it felt right and wrong at the same time…heavy impact and lots of curiosities. Wasn’t tempera paint for school kids? And what’s with all that scratchy layering?”
Rob is the artist that becomes excited every single time that he has the opportunity to share his creative genius. It is a love affair that he is having with his brush and paint and drum sticks. His work must be seen in person, at the Castellani Mueseum, to capture the “pop and kitsch” essence. Rob bee bops around town, but you can catch him in Allentown’s Hardware every Thursday night when he plays bluegrass with Doug Yeomans and Friends from 9:30-12:30. And beginning in October, Rob will teach painting at the Buffalo Arts Studio ( to sign up).
Rob Lynch

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