#20: Joshua Finley
A self-taught artist/illustrator/muralist and musician originally from Kansas, former farm boy Joshua Finley is a member of the offbeat Cabal Gallery crew and plays drums in the cow-punk band Granny Tweed when he’s not repurposing thrift-store art by adding gruesome details, dreaming up gig posters or sketching cowboys in pen and ink. What you see is what you get with Finley, who unapologetically maneuvers Denver’s urban bohemian underground on South Broadway with a community spirit and a can-do attitude. We asked Finley to sketch a picture of his life as an artist in Denver, and he obliged by answering the 100CC questionnaire.
Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?
Joshua Finley: Hands down, music. For me, it’s an essential part of creation. It sets the mood, energizes and often directly aids in what I'm creating at the moment. It’s fun to listen to classic country like Johnny Horton while working on a Western, or the Beastie Boys if I'm working on an urban-based design.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
I have a real party bug. Probably the years of touring instilled that in me; I'll blame it on that. I think the late Mark Sandman, from the band Morphine, would be a mellow fella to party with — he was a highly artistic, creative musical force with incredible style and poetic charisma. Sharing the same intellect as Mark, but hilariously socially awkward, my next party pal would be Robert Crumb. I just think it would be fascinating to see him huddled in a corner with his drawing book, sketching and judging everyone at the party. Then finally, we'd have to have the Dead Milkmen for the party’s musical entertainment. This band has made an intense impression on my life, and I'd love for them to be delivering the rowdy yet often off-key silly jams for our delight.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
The best thing is the camaraderie. I have been blessed in all the places I've lived to find a unifying bond of helpfulness in the art scene, teaming up on projects, sharing tools and style tips, and even passing along art gigs that you know are more suited for another artist. Of course there’s always some arrogant, selfish art types in every scene, but they're just being brats and will hopefully come around.
How about globally?
I think it’s empowering to see so many artists speak up about the social climate of our world today. It’s extremely important to use your voice to speak, to use your artistic platform to display your point. A downside is harm brought to those for speaking their minds artistically and the fear it puts in others to keep their pencils quiet.
What first set you off on your creative path?
Simply just wanting to draw, and the respect and encouragement allotted to me by my parents and family. The support I felt growing up just wanting to create is still in place today.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?
I think sticking to my guns of "I'm just going to draw” and making it work professionally is a big accomplishment: not always easy, always teetering on the brink of some kind of hardship, yet still doing what I want to do on my own time. I get to wake up and draw, and that’s a very beautiful thing to me.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
Learning piano (at least one song really good).
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
I love Denver! Moving here in 2012 was the best decision ever. I always loved childhood vacations here, and then all the years of touring through (what I can remember). I was fortunate to meet up with some of the greatest folks doing their own thing who introduced me to others creating their own world. All have been very inviting and hospitable to me since day one. This place is a mecca for friendship and creative counterparts.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Hands down, Mar Williams. Mar's artistic abilities on paper, canvas or computer are second to none, in my humble opinion. Having shared creative space with Mar for years now, I have witnessed firsthand feats of artistic genius, sometimes in a matter of minutes. I’m a better artist and human having spent this much time with Mar.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
To better explore some of the handful of series I've created, from my Re-arted thrift-store series to my Cartoon Western series. Also to be involved with as many collaborative works, public or other, with many of the artists around. I'll be continuing the children's-book series Cheeky MaNeeky, in honor of my friend Val. All that, with oodles of custom commissions and band tours and gigs slathered in there regularly.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
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Musically: Bassist Joaquina lluma. She is an incredible force on and off stage. A sweet, kind, humble soul with thrashing tenacity on stage, Joaquina — or Roqui, as she's known — has accomplished a lot and is just getting started. She’s playing in bands of her own, but gaining repeatable status as one of the best hired guns, too.
Joshua Finley will debut a brand-new batch of his altered artworks in Re-arted IV, opening on Saturday, August 11, at Cabal Gallery, 1875 South Broadway. Check Cabal’s Facebook page for information TBA.
Learn more about Joshua Finley and his work on his Facebook artist page.