"Jerry Vile? Brilliant man - brilliant! He's like the illegitimate offspring of Fred Flintstone and Jeff Koonz."
- David Keeps, noted Los Angeles art curator
Jerry Vile, Detroit's irrepressible impresario of all things artistic, has worn many hats over the years. There was his solid front-man efforts as a member of the Boners and his quixotic accomplishments as publisher of Orbit magazine. Of course, to many in these zip codes he is known chiefly for the Dirty Show - an annual celebration of erotic imagery that went from cocktail napkin prospectus to its present position as an internationally recognized exhibit.
We've received word that Jerry has put together another art show. Yes, ordinarily that news is about as unexpected as a celebrity mugshot on the internet, but here's the twist - it's Vile's art that's been collected, and it's his creative persona that will be celebrated at a one-night affair at the Bankle Building on Saturday.
This curatorial version of a busman's holiday is entitled The Secret of Life ... Revealed. A shared epiphany and a long overdue glimpse of Vile's genuine talent, it promises to be both a fun and fulfilling event.
We have several of his works here ... and an equally diverting selection of his words.
Why are you doing this to us, Jerry? Why are you blessing us with this belated exhibit of YOUR works?
I've decided to become a "gentleman artiste." I need a second career where I don't have to deal exclusively with clients and one that is harmonious with and complementary to the Dirty Show. In other words, the only temperamental genius I have to deal with is me.
Everything brand-new or is this a retrospective?
Nearly all of it is brand new and never seen before. I will have some older pieces on the walls - some haven't been exhibited for years and two are only as old as the most recent Dirty Show.
Okay, we're hearing a cue. Your long association with the Dirty Show obliged you to pass judgment over hundreds of submitted works. Do you find it easier to judge your own oeuvre or more difficult?
Far more difficult! It's much easier to look at a work with the eyes of a critic than with your own if you happen to be the person who created the work in the first place. Artists frequently overlook their mistakes or they wouldn't have left them to be seen. Deep down, I'm as insecure as any artist out there. I look at something I've made and I think "Well, okay, this is good - but is it REALLY good?"
Do you prefer working in a particular medium?
I have to change mediums as frequently as I change underwear. I published for years, so I tend to approach things like an art director - the right "look" for a story. I like watercolors because you can do them in bed. I hate working with oils because they're toxic and nasty and you have to use them outside or in a dingy basement. Alas, the jobs usually call for oils; they just look and work better. So I like acrylics best, because they're right between the two.
Let's imagine that someone has one of your paintings in a living room or in a cozy hideaway in Grosse Pointe Park. What words do you hear that person using to explain why he or she bought it?
Hockney-schmockney! THIS is going to pay for my retirement!
A one-night stand with you seems both apropos and a little unfair. Why so brief a time scheme for so eagerly anticipated a show?
Because I hate an anticlimax. Opening night is always the best, so why have it go downhill from there? If you made it, great. If you didn't, hopefully you'll feel like you missed out on something wonderful when other people tell you about it.
SECRET OF LIFE ... REVEALED! Are you toying with us or have you really grasped The Absolute? Please don't reference a vodka in your answer.
The Secret of Life is the concept I am wrestling with. It's actually the first piece of art in the show - a life-sized statue and a microscope-type viewing device to read a secret which is written on the head of a pin. It's a very complicated way of communicating a few choice words of wisdom.
The Secret Of Life…Revealed has a $5 "Art Viewing Fee," which can be waived by wearing a blindfold. You must be 21 or older.