In a short period of time, Grey Art Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St., has built a reputation of bringing works from an array of talented national and international sculptors, artists and photographers to Williamsport. One of them is Dean "Chooch" Landry, a multi-talented artist and musician from Harlem. He is currently featured as part of the Grey Art Gallery's "Here Be Monsters" show. This is his first appearance at the gallery. Landry's love for photography was nurtured at a young age.
"When I was little, my godmother gave me a Polaroid camera," Landry said. "I've been addicted ever since. I think my initial fascination was with the instant gratitude that came with this type of photography. There was no need to take the film to get developed and wait. I also really love the format, size and aesthetic quality of the Polaroid photos. I also like that there is only one copy and it can never really be duplicated.
"Polaroids are a huge part of what I do but due to the lack of Polaroid film being manufactured, I also shoot digital," Landry said. "With the digital photography, I sometimes desaturate some of the photos to give them a retro look."
PHOTO BY DEAN LANDRY
Photography by Dean Landry is on display at the Grey Art Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St.
"Chooch" - a nickname given to him as a result of his dad's love for the Cheech and Chong movies - is a familiar sight riding around Harlem, camera-in-hand and taking pictures capturing life in ways that inspire and inform his photographic works.
"I think for the most part, it's the simple beauty in everyday life," Landry said. "I take a camera everywhere I go and try to take photos of everything and everyone that I find interesting. I bike everywhere and really enjoy meeting, talking to and learning from people that I meet."
These images result in a rich body of photography, including sets like the "Harlem Series," which is featured prominently in his pieces at this month's Grey Art Gallery show.
Shot with a digital camera, these images have a timeless quality to them - they look as if they could've been just as easily shot in 1981 as 2011.
Landry provided some insight into each piece currently on display.
"Old Green Car" - "Beautiful old car with a broken front light against some really classic Harlem row houses."
"Older Man Sitting With Hat" - "He had a really classic outfit on with a nice hat, shoes, and expressive face. He was in great sunlight. I felt lucky to be on the same street with this guy."
"Cross In Church" - "I thought the combination of the cross, chairs and sunlight looked minimal, stark and beautiful."
"Guys Arguing" - "These guys were in the middle of a pretty heated argument. They were really animated."
"Vintage Chemical bottles" - "I'm fascinated by antiques and history and I thought all the colors and shapes of the bottles were great."
"Balloons" - "These kids were going to a promotional event with all these balloons. I chased them for blocks to get this photo. I like the bread truck and what it lends to the photo."
In addition to photography, Landry has created a dynamic style of painting. His creations on the canvas have a cartoon-animation aspect to them, giving them a distinctive style.
"It developed from making characters to put on our band flyers which we hand silk screened and hung up around the city," Landry said. "Some people saw my character designs and asked me to do work for them. That's how it started for me. For my illustrations, I use vector based computer programs. I basically start with squares and circles and manipulate them from there. The study drawings I do for my paintings are done by hand."
Landry also hits the bars and clubs with his hardcore band, Tiger Flowers.
"We've been playing for about four years now and having an amazing time making friends, touring, recording and playing some really inspiring shows," Landry said. "We're playing South By Southwest Festival in Texas in March and doing a two-week tour around it. We're really excited about it and can't wait to get back on the road. I owe my life to music. I'm blessed with the friends I've made doing this."
Japan, Spain, New York City and other areas around the U.S. have featured Landry's works. These include his award-winning works as a commercial artist.
"Some of the work I've done for Anna Sui has been in 2 major museum exhibits," Landry said. "My illustrations and paintings have also been featured in various books." In addition to Anna Sui, Landry's impressive roster of commercial art clients have included Cosmopolitan Magazine, The Strokes and Nickelodeon to list a few. His Anna Sui illustrations can be seen in the book Fashion & Graphics, published by Harper Design International. Landry's illustration artworks have also been used in major and independent movie releases.
The seemingly indefatigable Landry's already busy schedule also includes shows in Madrid and Norway in the works for 2012.
"I don't sleep much," Landry said. "I really enjoy being busy and having these varied creative outlets. I like to keep moving and I like to keep learning. I really like to stay busy. I find so much fulfillment in all the things I do and feel so passionately about them that I feel like it's worth putting the extra time in. You only live once so I want to do as much as I can while I'm here. I also want to make my daughter proud."
The "Here Be Monsters" show runs through Jan. 31 at the Grey Art Gallery.
For more information about Landry, visit his website, www.choochland.com, or like his band Tiger Flowers on Facebook.