Curious about how “everything that a young boy likes growing up” – namely Evil Knievel and firecrackers – melds with graffiti, album covers and skateboard culture to produce art?
Consider Benjamin Owens -- an artist of multiple mediums and creative director of a local custom packaging and design company.
Describing his aesthetic as “lowbrow” art – influenced by the likes of Ralph Steadman, Mark Ryden and Todd Schorr – Owens’ work will be displayed in a solo show, “Phancy Oil: Optik Tonix,” opening Thursday, Dec. 2, at Toast in Port Jefferson.
The opening reception, at 7 p.m., features live burlesque carnival music by accordion player Matt Dallow, says Robert Edwin, co-founder and chief curator of Fresh Art Long Island – “an in-flux art collective dedicated to underground and emerging artists of Long Island.”
Since 2006, Fresh has curated exhibits with local, progressive artists, maintaining its home gallery at Toast, where it presents solo and group exhibitions the first Thursday evening of every month.
Owens, 35, of Port Jefferson, says that this show “was just a way for people to get inside my head.” And there is, apparently, a lot going on in there.
“Phancy Oil” includes about 45 vintage-inspired medicine labels for such items as snake oil, poison and opium, as well as 20 limited-edition prints that portray alligator wrestling, stuntmen and beef jerky (among other things) on 100-year-old archival paper, Owens says.
Additionally, he displays acrylic and oil mix paintings like his “self-portrait” of a goat with a halo of 24-karat gold leaf, dressed in Jesus’ robe – Owens is a Capricorn, ex-guilder and was born on Christmas Eve; and sculpture composed of mixed media and found objects like his gum ball machine, composed of golf clubs and old gumball machine parts, that “actually works,” he says.
Owens’ work will be available for viewing 8 a.m.- 3 p.m. daily and 6-11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through Jan. 4 at Toast Coffeehouse; 242 E. Main St., Port Jefferson.