Friday July 25th, 2016
Today, we have an appointment at Kenny Scharf’s studio at 11:30 am.
We are an hour late, we arrive at 12:30 to discover a fabulous hidden lair between West Hollywood and the hills of Culver City. Kenny is here with his studio manager. I offer them a box of Mediterranean delicacies: baklavas.
We are thrilled, shocked and overwhelmed as we enter in a studious version of the Cosmic Tavern: toys from floor to ceiling, walls covered with colorful splashes and dots of paint, very “Pollock Pop” style, details from the artist’s universe in every nook and cranny, TV boxes reconverted into delirious faces and last but not least a little car, straight out of a Flintstones’ carrousel in working order! Kept out of sight, this studio is so packed with fantastic things to look at – enormous paintings, sculptures in-progress, and pieces just back from exhibition- that we could spend hours in it.
Kenny greets us warmly, but he didn’t get my messages saying that we would be late. It’s pure luck he’s still here. And by the way, he has an appointment at his place and has to leave … In 10 minutes.
But he suggests we stay at the studio while he is away. However I have few questions for him:
So the KARBOMZ, when did you start doing them?
KS: It’s been about 4 years, since 2012. I started before I went to Paris, for the Colette event (which didn’t really go like it was supposed to). I started with vans and trucks and then I thought why not cars! Seriously most of cars on the road are ugly, so why not paint them?
How many Cosmic Taverns (Closets) have you built?
KS: 30 and there will be a new one at MOMA, in 2017. It’s part of an exhibition about the infamous Club 57 of the 80s starting in October, 2017.
Tell me about the Boneyard Project?
KS: It’s a project with the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, you can still see the plane that I painted. I loved the idea, I loved doing it despite how long it took, and the extreme heat.
What are your sources of inspiration?
KS: Ahahah you tell me, I think you know what they are! But I get inspired by everything: Nature, flowers, insects, Pop culture, the present, the future…
What’s your next exciting project?
KS : Street Art related? A building in South California’s Silicon Valley, close to South Vista, do you know where it is? And a huge building in NY for IMB.
Between LA and NY where is home?
KS: I go to New York regularly, but I moved to Culver City in 1990, and I will never leave, it’s paradise, I have this incredible view from my home…
Tell me about your house in Brazil, the one you painted with Keith Haring? Did you restore it? I remember seeing it on Airbnb …
KS: The house still exists, it belongs to my ex-wife, I did restore the Keith Haring fresco on the ground and the murals, and I think you can still book it on Airbnb. Speaking of, a movie was shot there, about Keith Haring and his time in Brazil, it’s called RESTLESS and was made by Guto Barra, for the Rio Movie Festival in 2013.
Well, as a conclusion, you know I like hidden street art pieces, murals that are hard to find. Which ones of yours are the most difficult to spot?
KS: well…The ones I have at my house! You want to see them?
We follow Kenny Scharf with our car up above Culver City, and from his house, you see it ALL, specially the Sony Studios’ rainbow, built as an homage to The Wizard of Oz.
At his place, everything has the Scharf touch, but what’s also amazing is Kenny’s personal art collection, pieces from his friends and favorite artists. He welcomes us to his terrace-garden, where his sculptures and succulent plants joyfully gather, as well as cast-iron furniture, signed by the master of the house.
Kenny Scharf offers us to make some organic coffee (that only he knows how to brew) but in the meantime he gives us a grand tour of his place. In the garden, he shows me the gentle monsters he painted on the walls over time, the numerous plants he tends himself with care and creativity. Here the only dead tree is inhabited by tons of air-plants. Gardening is one of his passions. He shares stories, memories and good times with us. He’s open and natural here in his space.
Inside we notice the warm colors of wood, touches of turquoise and shells… Always in the background, through doors and windows, on the edge of the garden, the view. And in the garage, his baby, his PONTIAC with the highest fins ever built, it is blue and it will never be KARBOMZED because it is fantastic just as it is.
The coffee is ground, brewed and mixed with a generous spoon of virgin coconut oil (organic as well). It’s sweet, it’s good.
Thank you Kenny.