A quick look inside the art-obsessed mind of an ex-shut-in

Between the busting population trying to conduct business in downtown San Diego and the giant airliners nearly clipping the roof of the building where Randy Janson's studio-New Pop Art- is located, I was surprised that he gets any work done at all. Most artists would be so distracted by the surroundings that they would have a hard time getting anything done, but Randy isn't like most artists. In fact, I would have to say that Janson isn't like any other artist I have ever met.
That's because Randy thrives on the chaos that his life. He gets stabbed and nearly dies - he paints. He nearly gets killed in a skateboard accident - he paints. He gets run over by a car while riding a bicycle - he paints. And with each one of these near-death experiences that seem to come his way every seven years, Randy's art, as with his heavily tattooed and scarred body, becomes more interesting to look at.

After meeting up with Randy at his New Pop Art Studio late on a Friday afternoon and getting a quick look at some of the works in progress, he decided that the studio wasn't the best environment for an interview. So, we piled into Randy's '65 chopped Dodge pickup and headed south. Doug Thompson, one of Randy's fellow artist friends, came along for the ride and for a little insight into Randy's mind. Before long, we were crossing the border into Mexico and heading towards Tijuana.
In the truck, I became aware of Randy's constant tendency to look at things from a slightly different perspective than most people would. And as we slid into a booth at one of the numerous exotic dancing clubs on the dirty little Mexican street where we parked Randy's truck (and paid a kid to watch it), I got the feeling that the night was about to get very interesting. So, I started the tape recorder. Here's what it picked up.

So, Randy, what possessed you to start painting women?
RJ: Well, after I got stabbed in a girl-related incident, a fatal attraction type deal, I was afraid to go out of the house. I really didn't have access to any women without going out, so I began to paint them. And since I was painting them for nobody but myself, I figured that I would paint them exactly the way I wanted them to be-a tad bit exaggerated.
DT: The first painting I ever saw by Janson was a chrome dildo nearly five feet tall. It was at an erotic art show put on by the folks running the Museum of Death, in downtown San Diego. After speaking at length with Janson, I came to realize he is even more eccentric than his beloved artwork.

Kinda like creating images of your ideal woman ?
RJ: Sure, why not. Hold on a sec'. (Randy got a little distracted at this point, as he began digging in his pocket for some one-dollar bills to tip the dancer who had been standing at the end of the table looking at the two of us.)

Where were we here? Oh yeah, the interview. Why did you pick the pop art style for your paintings?
RJ: Because of the bright colors and the boldness. You never have to guess what you're looking at. I don't want to pussyfoot around with pussy, I want to put the pussy in your face. Enjoy
DT: Recently Janson did a series of paintings portraying cigar aficionado Monic Lewinsky as heroine. While he would probably say that these are political statements, I know otherwise.
RJ: They are; politics are America's junk food-media, the whole thing.
DT: Some of these pieces were splattered with a milky white substance suspiciously resembling bodily fluid that Janson still insists is only paint.

Yeah, a lot of your pieces are really in your face. Has that ever been a problem?
RJ: Yeah, a couple of my pieces have been a little over the top for some of the art shows I have been invited to. I guess that some people don't appreciate me putting the pussy in their face.
DT: He would say that what you get out of the painting is what you bring to the artwoak in your own neurosis. More of his jargon. The viewer is the pervert. What about this Donut series? He claims that these donuts represent the decline of western civilization via processed food stuff; substance with no valuable or necessary vitamins, minerals, or a single shred of goodness. It doesn't take anymore than a dime store Freud to figure out the significance of a hole. Some go as far as to include a hot dog that he insists represents more processed food. Maybe I'm the pervert, but Freud is on my side.
RJ: I blatantly admit these paintings are and were intended to be erotic. If I can turn someone on with my artwork, good or bad, I think my job is done. Rock on.

I was checking out the list of shows you have been involved with in the past 10 years. You have been on the walls of some pretty influential galleries like La Luz De Jesus, Rico, and even some mainstream stuff like the Sony Art Walk.
RJ: Yeah, I've been pretty lucky; a lot of shows. I'm always painting new stuff. So I'm always looking to show my stuff no matter the gallery situation. The mainstream shows are fun because of the pure shock value.

So you're always working?
RJ: It seems like it.
DT: Freak.

With all of the stuff going on, what keeps you going?
RJ: I'm obsessed. Painting is more important to me than anything. When I am working on a piece, I won't sleep, I won't eat- I just can't stop. It is like having a disease sometimes. I start painting and the next thing I know it's done and my wife is mad as hell because it's late and I'm still not home.

You come to clubs down here often?
Only when I need a distraction. And a good freak show. Love to watch…people.

Do distractions like this inspire some of your work? Like the piece with the woman in the Mexican wrestling mask with the pistol?
Most of that stuff is just a product of my imagination. I mean, look around. Do you see any of these girls with a pistol or a wrestling mask? Would be great if they were. I'm sure that things like this contribute to my work, but it is only a little part of what goes into a specific piece. Mostly my art just deals with the things I see every day. Elements from TV, magazines and advertisements all contribute to what ends up in my work. Love that porno junk mail.

So what's next?
Well, it looks like they're about to bring in the donkey.
DT: Another Bean and Coke.

No, not here. I mean, what's next for you?
More painting. Part of a show at La Luz in March. New stuff for my website, newpopart.com. Blow up
DT: Keep your eyes open!