For fans familiar with the Geek Show Podcast
, you might know a thing or two about Leigh George Kade's fantastic art skills. The majority of which we've seen through projects like action figure remodeling, fine detailed works on figurines, and of course Grimmleighs which he started up with his wife Rachel back in 2009. Now Kade returns to the local art scene with a series of geek-centric paintings, put on full display for the recent Salt Lake Gallery Stroll at E3 Modern
. Today we chat with the man himself about his artwork and the showcase that will remain up until mid-September, as well as his thoughts on local art.
Leigh George Kade
Gavin: Hey Leigh! How's things been since the last interview?
Busy! But busy is good. My mom always said “if you're not doing, you're dying.” I'm not ready for the latter! Between Frisch, Geek Show
, raising the kids, and LGKade Studios, the plate is getting a little full. I might have to sell one of my kids.
Gavin: Catching up a bit, Frisch moved down to 1300 South just off State Street. How's the new location working out for you and how's the business itself going?
Business is better than it was at the old location, that's for sure. We took a gamble on opening an exclusively vegan restaurant, so we're never going to be as busy as your traditional meat-and-cheese place. BUT, things get better month to month. We survived the two-year mark, so that's saying something!
Gavin: You recently got back from San Diego with the Geek Show for Comic Con. How was that experience for you?
Great! I got to connect on a quantum level with a really old friend. I would tell people to go, but skip the con and just watch the freak show! It's busy, crazy, and full of energy.
Gavin: Getting more to the art career, you've actually been an artist for years in various areas. How did you get started and what influenced your style?
My mom is a painter and sculptor, so I've always been around it. I was encouraged to draw all the time as a kid, and it kept me from getting my teeth knocked out more times than not. I've always been more comfortable with a pen and paper than I'll ever be around people. Growing up, it was anime shows like Speed Racer
and Battle of the Planets
. I also watched a lot of Ralph Bakshi movies when I got older. Contemporary influences would have to be Chris Bachalo, John Byrne, Sam Keith and Guillermo Del Toro.
Gavin: Aside painting, you've done some awesome work with figurines and transforming action figures. How did you get into redesigning works like that?
I've been taking toys apart since I was a little kid. One of the first things I really got in trouble for was trying to melt my Han Solo action figure in the oven when I was 8. I was trying to melt down the plastic so that I could re-sculpt it into something else. Impeccable logic, really. I discovered epoxy sculpting resin in 1987, and it's been a steady staple in my life ever since. I got into miniature painting when I was in my early teens, it kept me away from the kinds of kids that beat the kind of kid I was senseless. Then I hit my growth spurt, and that problem went away. I kept on painting, though. It's really meditative.
Gavin: On the painting side, how has your style developed over the years and what made you go for more pop-culture items?
I grew up reading X-Men
comics, so what we're calling pop-culture now was just what I liked. I spent more time drawing Cyclops in high school than I ever did studying. I know people like the mash-ups, and I love doing them, but I want it to make sense. Doop from the X-Statix
with Slimer makes a lot more sense than Frankenstein's Monster with Doctor Who.
Gavin: What kind of paints and mediums do you like to work with and why?
I work with anything and everything. Right now, I'm absolutely smitten with India Inks. They make for a really vibrant drawing!
Gavin: What was the main catalyst that made you pick up the brush and work toward making your own exhibit?
My friend Kat Martin has been doing it for years, and she's always telling me to get off my butt and just do it. What's the point in painting all the time if you never share it? Ivy at E3 saw some of my work and asked if I wanted to do a show, the rest is kind of psuedo-history.
Gavin: What's the process for you in creating a new piece, from concept to final product?
Depends on the project. With commissions, I pretty much have an idea for the piece before I sign off on it, so it's just a matter of execution. The other projects are a whole other matter: Once an idea takes hold, it's pretty much ready to go. I just have to sit down and translate it!
Gavin: Do you tend to play with the idea a lot as you go along or stick to the original concept?
Everything evolves, but the original concept tends to be in place when I finish. I tend to develop the focal point first, then work around that. The "work around that" part tends to change the most.
Gavin: Now that you've gotten back into the swing of things creatively, are you aiming to do launch this as another full-time career, or is this more of an occasional project?
That depends on how everything is received! I still have a restaurant and podcast that need my attention, but I really despise sleep. So, if people want more art, I will gladly paint more and sleep less.
Gavin: Tell us about the artwork on display for this Stroll.
Most of it is from the last couple of months, or since the bug took. Most of it is pop-culture influenced, but there are some big robots in there, too. I'm actually 27 years late to this show, so we'll see how it works out!
Gavin: How has it been working with E3 Modern as the place for your showcase?
Fantastic! Ivy runs a nice shop, and she's been super easy-going about the whole process. I asked for two walls to hang, but she had no trouble letting me spread to three.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
We have a great local scene. Artists are a bit reclusive by nature, so it's really cool seeing such a supportive movement out there. I see guys like Chris Bodily and Jake Parker, and the kind of support they have locally, and that makes me happy. I see only big things for this town. That being said, there are still plenty of people who don't, and never will, get it.
Gavin: Who are some local artists you like checking out or recommend people should look for?
Jake Parker, Chris Bodily, Kat Martin, Heather Ackley, Todd Powelson and TIm Odland. Really, just get out there and check out your local gallery. We have some greats in the making! I know I missed a few. Or a lot. There are so many talented people in this town!
Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll and the work they're doing to promote local art?
It's really good for the local artists, I do wish we had more of a gallery district. It's tough to get to all the shows in one night, but at least we're doing it, right? Anything that supports local artists makes me pretty happy.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year?
I'll be sharing space with Kat Martin at the Salt Lake Comic Con, and hitting some more shows towards the end of the year. I have some big plans and pieces coming soon, so check out my Facebook artist page
, or my website
Gavin: Aside from the obvious plugs, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Yeah, our air is crap. We have an amazing city with a lot to offer, but our Governor is too busy keeping people from getting married to notice. Get a hold of your local representative and let them know that you expect less than chewy air. I lost a friend to Utah's air this year, and I would really like to see that change.