Long before becoming the frontman of the Grammy-nominated group Incubus, Brandon Boyd was a painter.
As a child, he used paints and crayons to communicate with his parents when he couldn’t find the right words.
“If I was feeling things and didn’t really have a vocabulary to describe at the time, I could draw it to share with my family,” recalls Boyd, now 40, who paints always. “Metaphorically speaking, I paint with my right hand and I make music with my left. They are both attached to the same larger organism which has an overwhelming desire to do things. “
Three of Boyd’s watercolor paintings are on display in a new exhibit opening Sunday at Irvine’s Orange County Great Park Gallery, titled “Rhythm,” which also features seven other rock star artists.
Curator Kevin Staniec, program coordinator for the city, said the idea for the show started to germinate when he met his friend Matt Maust, media artist and bassist for popular alternative rock band Cold War Kids.
They liked the idea of presenting trendy musicians who double as artists, so Staniec took the bold step and contacted Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band he had listened to growing up.
“In the 1990s, Kevin was going crazy,” Staniec said. “Once we got Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was just like, ‘OK, let’s just email everybody. Let’s shoot for the moon. ‘”
Soon Boyd, singer and songwriter Joseph Arthur, disc jockey Moby, Dave Lombardo of heavy metal band Slayer, Chad Sexton of reggae band 311 and Bill Ward of metal band Ozzy Osbourne Black Sabbath all jumped on board.
All the pieces, Staniec said of art, “have a rhythm for them.”
Boyd said he created his paintings by flowing paint onto paper, letting the colors flow, and then creating lines with fine-tipped brushes.
Maust creates multimedia collages from objects he finds around the world on a tour, and Arthur’s abstract paintings have a Picasso flair.
Moby shares photos he took of the crowd at his concerts. Lombardo, Sexton, Smith, and Ward collaborate through an Los Angeles-based arts group called SceneFour on artwork created by digitally manipulating photographs of the drummers performing.
Staniec said the variety of methods and messages allow visitors to open various dialogues.
“There’s this fun layer of conversation and debate about art, and then the fun conversation about music,” he said. “Of course, there is a third layer of generations and conversations. A father might bring his kid and talk about Chili Peppers in the 90s, while the kid loves Cold War Kids.
On Saturdays, as guests walk through the gallery, local musicians will perform, providing a sort of soundtrack.
Staniec said that many people are likely to log on to the pieces because of their author, but Boyd thinks the name shouldn’t matter.
“People could see this stuff and have no idea who did it,” Boyd said. “They could spend 20 seconds in front of one of my paintings and get lost for a moment at no particular moment, then move on to the next. If I can add just a little bit of rest from someone’s normal, hectic day just by looking at one of my paintings, that’s an incredible accomplishment.
For Arthur – who often paints on stage during his concerts – artistic creation is a nice break from the headaches of touring and recording.
He described art as a “sedative,” while music can be anything but calming.
“After a long day in a recording studio you are really tired because the sound is exhausting to work with anyway,” he said. “But there is also the road aspect of the whole. With painting you can be home and continue working.
“There is a great freedom in painting that I don’t find so much with music.”
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
What: “Rhythm” exhibition
Or: Orange County Great Park Gallery, 6990 Marine Way in Irvine
When: Until November 13; from noon to 4 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
Cost: To free