We had the good fortune of connecting with Jon Read and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jon, what inspires you?
Lately, the whole misuse of technology and appropriating things. Lately in my music Ive really been into old school germanium fuzz, how the instability of frequency ,first discovered by a malfunction, transformed the the instrument forever. Im my art I have been using animatronic toys I find on amazon and turn them into my own robotic life form. I want to create my entire universe of these moving sculptures. They are a manifestation of our collective horrible behavior the internet, a world resulting in our insecurities and secret desires. Beings looking to us, their creators, for wisdom and a moral guidance, unaware of our indifference. and how we are oblivious to what we made. I like mythology, fantasy, anything that offers a peek behind the current the confines of reality.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Im my art I have been using animatronic toys I find on amazon and turn them into my own robotic life form. I want to create my entire universe of these moving sculptures. They are a manifestation of our collective horrible behavior the internet, a world resulting in our insecurities and secret desires. Beings looking to us, their creators, for wisdom and a moral guidance, unaware of our indifference and total self involvement. Its based a little on the dialogue between God and Job in the Book of Job and William Burrough’s word virus idea , where were he wrote about how words take on a almost biological element spreading from on organism to another even though they are phycological/philosophical.. or I think that what he meant? Its been a interesting process because my aesthetic is no longer in the drivers set, I have to conform to the function of the toy. I have been wanted to get into animatronic for so long(probably since the first time I went to Disney World as a kid), but Im a very impatient person and lack the focus and intelligence to actual learn how to make a robot, but like electronic drum beats, there already so many out there waiting to be used and manipulated.. I came up w/ this at my performance piece at Sculpture month Houston in 2019. In this piece, The Meanyur Mono Gore, I was acting as an alien in an intergalactic zoo. I used there little dinosaur toys and made into the aliens off spring. They were triggered by noise so they were always moving during the performance adding a nice back drop as I paced around the cage. The piece was like Joseph beuys meets Walt Disney I also Been using black light to give everything a unworldly feel, or realer than real. Ive been using high powered units so the pieces are actual light from it as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The Orange show.. that’s the best art work in Houston, I goI really don’t go there enough. The Menil collection is amazing. I havent been to a bar, restaurant or venue in 9 months except Antidote for coffee, cantina Barba(ranch water and cheese burgers) and take out from rice box.. I’ve been going to arboretum w/ dog mainly.. Im still afraid to spend a lot of time in stores or bars
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When you been at it as long as I have, yeah you need a lot of people getting your back. My family is amazingly supportive(my brother and father are pretty much creative consultants, my mom was an artist so she got me started early) as well as my close friends and past professors. I go to a lot of people for advice. Im very lucky in that way. There was a promoter at a venue back in Cleveland that really stepped in at the right time. I was about ready to give up. My art career was nonexistent and my band was falling apart. I somehow managed to get a gig at his spot. Of course it was on a Sunday during a blizzard, so like 10 people came, but Jeff Benko who was running the club that night just “got it”. He saw what I was trying to do(most of my friends at that time really didn’t ). He told me I could play there anytime I wanted and encouraged me at the exact right moment. Now, this didn’t make my artist life any easier, its still incredibly difficult to navigate , but just to have someone recognize you sometimes can be all it takes to keep going. I wrote him about this years laters and showed him all I have done since that cold AF feb. night in 2002. All the records, the artwork and that I was in grad school getting my MFA and he was so flattered and humbled to be a part of my journey and of course took no credit and just said “of course, you’re good, keep it up”. And of course my friend Carter Bays(one of creators of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER), who pretty much injected me(my art and music) into an audience so big its almost abstract. its one thing to have an opening that a hundred people show up, but its nuclear to get seen by 4 million people at once. The Wiggins song that show used(When I get Up) still gets played every day online, 13 years later. I still get people wanting me to make them a copy of one paintings I made for a prop on the show. He made me minor celebrity. He really made me part of his universe.. I was literally a character on the show. Not a lot artist get primetime television as a venue. It’s amazing.. Im so excited about what he and his partner have coming down the pipe(which I have nothing to do w/). Cant wait!
Other: WIGGINS bandcamp: https://thewiggins.bandcamp.com test footage of current work: https://vimeo.com/480164382?fbclid=IwAR2jwPpx-NK7rItUBNjPhEhs0E43ae0JsgiPkAW1L3W5W5PA5vCEyYnTCrg some products im involved w/ as designer: https://teespring.com/white-space-dog-blasting-off?pid=636&cid=102606
4 & 5 were by Terry Suprean.. the rest contrast of the artist.