Artist practices unwitting collaboration with others to upcycle their paintings.
Courtesy Andrew Fitzpatrick
Andrew “Fitz” Fitzpatrick was strolling through Berkeley when he found a landscape painting sticking out of a bush in someone’s driveway. “My friend said, ‘That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen in my life! What are you going to do with that?’ And I said, ‘I’m gonna paint a monster on it! And some spaceships!’” Fitz says, laughing.
Originally from Westchester, Pa., Fitz moved to Alameda 10 years ago, and owned the Firetiki gift shop until it closed in 2011. He has a BFA in photography from University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and shoots friends’ bands at local gigs. He also creates embroidered die-cut patches under the pseudonym Chuck Wagon and mixed-media collage on ply- wood, and his embroidered gangsta rap lyrics are off the hook. But it is those acrylic “altered paintings,” with their humble beginnings, that have lead to group and solo exhibitions.
Even with all the attention, Fitz doesn’t take himself too seriously. “My paintings make me laugh every day,” he says, and it’s easy to see why, with their images of cowboys versus aliens, Elvis tikis, a zombie Bettie Page, and monsters galore rising from the sea. Fitz draws inspiration from record album cover art, as well as horror movie posters, “where there’s always this sort of disembodied creature lurking in the background somehow,” he says.
Fitz spends his Saturday mornings combing through garage sales and thrift shops looking for that perfect tacky painting to upcycle into a kitschy work of art, often putting on the finishing touches at the open Wednesday Art Jam at Rhythmix Cultural Works, where he has a solo show this September. “I call it an unwitting collaboration between me and an artist who doesn’t know I’m doing it to their work,” he says. Usually they are cheap reproductions, although one original was sporting a tag for Sotheby’s, the prestigious auction house. “Maybe I should have looked this one up before I painted something,” Fitz laments.