With ‘Polyhedral,’ Jerry Misko reinvents himself using the tools of the common nerd

“Lolth” by Jerry Misko
Photo: Yasmina Chavez

Odds are good you’ve seen Jerry Misko’s work on a wall. That’s not to say it was hanging on a wall; rather, it probably was the wall. Misko, one of this city’s most prolific muralists, has painted up dozens of prominent walls over the past decade, from Emergency Arts to the Cosmopolitan. If you’re interested, you can see one of his personal favorites in the Arts District right now—on the south face of Inside Style, overlooking the courtyard at Jammyland.

“That was a lot of fun,” Misko says. “That was the first large-scale piece I’d done using spray cans. That was a choice based on the surface, which is knobbly brick. Painting that by hand would’ve taken forever.”

Jerry Misko's 'Polyhedral' Exhibition

That Arts District mural is in Misko’s long-established style. The local artist has a singular gift for painting neon light, and for nearly 20 years he has supported himself doing just that—creating commissioned works, selling prints and, yes, doing murals. But with his show Polyhedral, hanging at Sahara West Library through September 15, Misko has consciously deconstructed his work—and he did it, strangely enough, with the polyhedral dice commonly used for Dungeons & Dragons.

“I haven’t played a role-playing game since high school,” he says. But he still had his dice and remembered how to make D&D charts, so he used both to direct “the visual language of my paintings … the fried egg/nucleus shapes I’ve painted hundreds and hundreds of over the years.”

Rolls of the dice determined the placement, number and color of those nuclei on the canvas, along with where he would sign the work how and how he titled it. (For that, Misko pulled out his old D&D manuals and rolled the dice to find a page, and then a word on that page; that word became the title of the work.)

The resulting art, though boldly minimal in comparison to his other insanely detailed paintings and murals, still looks like classic Misko. Polyhedral’s pieces seem biological in nature, shimmering and pulsing as if they were painting themselves. And they’re a source of pride and reinvigoration to an artist eager to change up his game, whether through nerd dice or spray cans.

“[Polyhedral] was freeing, in the way that I didn’t have to do my normal OCD worrying: This has to be something. But this is all new. It’s what I make of it.”

Well, the dice also had a say—even he disagreed with them. “Sometimes, letting something lay was tough. ‘This color is great, but the color next to that is f*cking awful,’” Misko says, chuckling. “But the dice said, ‘that’s what’s next.’ And in the end, it all came together.”

POLYHEDRAL Through September 15; Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. The Studio at Sahara West Library, 702-507-3630.

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