Jerry Misko’s distinctive work—paintings that zoom in tight on this city’s signage and neon iconography—has made him one of the quintessential Vegas artists. He’s gathered some recent work under the rambunctious title Jerry F’n Misko. We asked him about that:
What does that title signify?
I called the show that to re-embrace the me-ness of making art, you know? I’m no longer doing the gallery thing [Dust, the now-closed Downtown mainstay he operated with Naomi Arin]. Everything’s been about making paintings for the last couple of years as opposed to having to tear my energy between the gallery and painting. The art is about me, and the gallery was about everyone else, and at the end of the day, you gotta do what’s about you.
It also references the reaction, the positive and the negative—when you walk into a bar and your friends see you, it’s “Hey, Jerry F-ing Misko is here.” Or the opposite of that, you bump into a ditzy ex or something, it’s, “Jerry F-ing Misko!” So it’s a nice back-and-forth, kind of arrogant but tongue-in-cheek.
Do you worry that people will be put off by that title?
I’m definitely a little over-the-top; the work itself is kind of over-the-top. They’re big, they’re bright, they’re bold. Anyone who would be put off by the title would probably be put off by the work.
It’s not a typical exhibit title. Are you thumbing your nose at more traditional ways of presenting art?
No, not at all! I’m just finding a different way of presenting things, you know? Going to an audience that’s a little more broader-based, a little populist, and engaging them a little more in—I don’t think “branding” is the right word, but it might fit [laughs].
When you get out of your 20s, into your 30s, you realize, hey, you’re not going to be the next Damien Hirst—but you’re doing okay. So I’ve kind of embraced what the art has become instead of trying to shoehorn it into art-world guidelines. Doing the gallery exposed me to the blue-chip art-world thing, and I’ve always straddled the line between that and commercial art. I don’t want to be embraced fully as, you know, olive-and-martini art, but then again, I’m not going to be showing at the Met anytime soon. I’ve kind of found this nice space in the middle where the work just found itself, with the audience it has, which is nice, you know?