Visual Arts

Thomas Weeks Strikes a Balance Between Humor and Depth With Pop-Culture Oils

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This St. Louis expat has one steadfast requirement for his art: Nothing boring. And in a sense, Weeks's artistic demands parallel his own adventure-filled life, which includes two cruises to the Persian Gulf during a four-year stint in the Navy, some pretty wild nights in downtown Denver and the unpredictable undertaking of child-rearing.

Weeks started painting regularly because he "wanted to do something constructive that wasn't addictive," he says. "I'd stay up until 2 a.m. playing this online game; I was averaging five hours of sleep a night." He broke the pattern by grabbing a brush, and in an effort to break one addiction, Weeks painted other addictions -- fast food, cigarettes and tequila, mostly.

The "Burger King" series is telling; it consists of five still-lifes that come with a funny anecdote. A would-be buyer wanted to purchase one of the pieces, but was offended by the cigarettes and asked Weeks to paint a sixth. That's when Weeks showed the prospective buyer the hidden cockroaches in each of the paintings -- another turnoff, apparently. "I didn't want to paint a Burger King commercial," Weeks explains, adding that he'd originally wanted to use McDonald's items but preferred Burger King's packaging.

Weeks doesn't want to overthink his art. "What I like to do is to make something contemporary, something that says something about this culture," says Weeks. "I don't think about things too much. I like to get an idea and start going...when I start overthinking and try to put in symbolism it becomes a labor."

The "Still Life with Orange" series was a particularly spontaneous endeavor that Weeks began after seeing "the annoying orange from the YouTube videos," he remembers. He built the table for the fruit himself, then staged the scene with a knife and fruit from his kitchen. Once the first still-life was finished, he added the orange's strange face.

Continue reading for more on Weeks' bizarre celebrity renderings and his current show.
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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase