This month Iâ€™ve danced in Danteâ€™s inferno barefoot and begged the disk jockey for an encore. Iâ€™ve dined on forbidden fruits and drank moonshine for dessert. Iâ€™ve sent a crow into the lonely night with a message for my mindâ€™s hidden minions. Iâ€™ve embraced darkness. This may seem a bit extreme, but Iâ€™ve had to get in touch with my inner Anton LaVey in an attempt to understand this monthâ€™s featured artist, Dwreck. Not to be repetitive, but Iâ€™ve landed another glass master and this time our themes are Darth Vader, demonic images, and zombie punk rock strippers that leave little room for the imagination. Dwreck isnâ€™t saying fuck it; heâ€™s screaming it from the top of his lungs.
From the sound of things, thatâ€™s how it all started. Yelling. Hard, fast, aggressive yelling. With loud, disruptive, heavy metal riffs rousing Dwreckâ€™s personal revolution. Yet, all rebellions have a catalyst and I was curious to hear just what initially caused him to embrace the dark side. He shared stories about his childhood, which painted a picture of a boy who encountered one too many religious fanatics whose intolerant hypocritical ideologies placed judgment on him and his family. On one occasion a zealot even had the nerve to tell him and his mother they were both going to hell because she wasnâ€™t married. If thatâ€™s not enough to turn someone against organized religion and explore the other side of the spiritual fence, then I donâ€™t know what is.
Though it was his childhood experiences that birthed his angst toward society, it was his teen years that lead him to find his identity through the heavy metal, thrash metal, and puck rock subcultures. When I asked him about his greatest influences names like Slayer, Ozzy and â€œany other rock and roller who ate shit, got high as fuck, and still found successâ€ was his response. Then he added, it was â€œall outlaw artists around the world, tattooers like Paul Booth and, as clichÃ© as it may be now a days, street artists like Bansky.â€ During this time, he played in several DIY bands and had dreams of being on the cutting edge of anti-pop music, but never reached the level of success his heart sought. Though it would have been, in his words, â€œradâ€ to be part of that movement, it was obvious that being a rock star in a band wasnâ€™t in his cards. The universe had other plans for this tumbling boulder of space dust.
Now I donâ€™t find too many commonalities between Dwreck and his glass peersâ€™ artwork except for the answer to why he started blowing glass to begin with. The first time he saw a glass pipe he was hooked. Sound familiar? The solid/liquid nature of glass, its timelessness, its financial independence, its asset to peoplesâ€™ lives as an aid and tool in finding inner peace all drew him into the glass cultureâ€™s tractor beam. Although he may not have been able to be an O.G. rock star in music, the new, ever-evolving pipe culture had its door wide open for innovative individuals like Dwreck to bum rush the scene and become legends. And thatâ€™s exactly what he did.
Coming up with Slinger, Bearclaw, Dizzle, Pakoh and JD put him on the fast track to success. Throw on top the fact that his creations flipped the hippy ascetic of pipe making on its head and helped push the boundaries of the glass community into uncharted territory with uncouth artistic creations and you have the recipe for catching wreck. Dwreck. I talked about the process of glass etching last month and told you that Slinger was one of the best in the business. If anyone should be mentioned in the same sentence, itâ€™s Dwreck. After all, he originally learned the technique from his friend and then made it his own, and now these two behemoths of glass pass the torch of ingenuity back and forth. It almost comes across as a playful sibling rivalry where each one is constantly trying to outdo the other. The final result has led to each and every pipe being just a touch nastier than the last. Undeniably, these silicate sparing mates are blazing new trails, kicking ass, and taking names along the way.
Perusing through pipes with pentagrams and devil horns, one particular piece of Dwreckâ€™s art stuck in my head; an image of a grave stone with the words â€œLive Fast and Dieâ€ around the border with the artistâ€™s own name engraved on the tombstone. I think we all have an ingrained fascination with our own mortality, but this pipe catapults that concept into a whole new stratosphere. You have to have brass balls to look God in the eye and declare your acceptance of death. Only a spirit that truly lives in the moment can make such a declaration. The etching is a remix of a tattoo originally found on the chest of GG Allin, the fallen cult rock idle who let his flame burn bright and fast.
Upon further research of Allin, I could really see the correlation between Dwreckâ€™s work and GGâ€™s life with pristine clarity. GG was famous for his onstage antics where he was constantly resetting the bar of shock value and acceptable stage antics. Self-mutilation and playing with excrement are just two examples of a live show that makes Metallica look like Mister Rogers. GG made it very well-known that he wanted to make rock and roll dangerous again and thatâ€™s exactly what Dwreck does for the glass culture. He makes it dangerous; a departure from our comfort zone and perhaps a reminder of each of our inevitable ends.
Next, letâ€™s look at his bubblers with images of busty burlesque vixens barring the mark of the beast. Though his lifeâ€™s adventures have led him all over the world from Guatemala, Argentina and Panama in his younger years, to Ithica, Seattle and now Orange County as an adult, these sultry sexpots seem as if they would be most at home in Sin City. These pieces evoke visions of sexual freedom, moral deviation, and slot machines racing towards unreachable dreams. Dwreck told me he hopes to spark conversations surrounding sexuality and religion, and if these donâ€™t get people talking after your next dinner party, nothing will. Also, much like Vegas, he told me he wouldnâ€™t mind it one bit at all if these pipes got peoplesâ€™ libidos flowing and inspired people to hook up and fuck. I never thought I would use the â€œFâ€ word three times in an article, but hey, this catâ€™s art is just that raw.
Dwreckâ€™s pipes â€œconfront the bullshit institutions that surround usâ€, and as the glass culture grows in popularity, his message reaches a broader audience daily. I asked him his feelings about the current glass boom and he had this to say, â€œThere are only advantages to gaining exposure. Educating the public to not only the artwork, but the people and culture behind it. I believe this will not only accelerate the growth of the industry, but it will also help dispel the notion that all potheads are unproductive and stupid.â€ I couldnâ€™t agree more.
It hasnâ€™t been easy for me to write about Dwreck. I, like most of us, donâ€™t like to look at my dark side often. But thatâ€™s exactly why the world needs artists like him, to challenge us to constantly re-examine our perspectives. Iâ€™m a steadfast believer in learning from everything in our world, even things that may make you unsettled, uncomfortable, and disjointed. Dwreckâ€™s imagery shook me to my core. I may not live to the extreme that GG Allin does, but Iâ€™ve spent a good portion of my life being self-destructive. I donâ€™t know if his final goal was to better my life, but thatâ€™s just what heâ€™s done. Iâ€™ve had to confront my demons. Some I thought I had slain long ago, but his art inspired me to tackle my biggest demon of all, cigarettes. Iâ€™m all for living outside the box, testing limits, and generally being a rebel, but the story of GG made me see that I want to stick around for a while. I want to make sure the world gets to experience my genius and the geniuses like Dwreck I meet in my everyday life.
As far as I am concerned, Dwreck can check off his bucket that teenage dream of being a rock star. Shit, heâ€™s the first piper Iâ€™ve come across who keeps a guitar and amp next to his torch so that he can jam out during breaks. Thatâ€™s just certified badass! Amongst our worldâ€™s abundance of darkness, I asked him if there was anything in the world he saw as a light. He resounded by saying, â€œThe fire in the bowl is the light in the darkness.â€ And you know what? I canâ€™t think of any better way to end this article, so with that Iâ€™m out.
To keep up with Dwreck, check him out at www.facebook.com/dwreckglass, or just keep an eye open at any major glass show, his work is sure to grab your attention.
Till next time, keep the fire burning. You know I will.
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