What you desire to do is possible. Give yourself permission to let it be easy."
I met Darrell at the LA Zine Fest on May 28th, 2017. I was tabling for L.A. GOAL, and Darrell stopped by our table a few times, admiring our most popular zine "Cat Tales" and engaging in some chit chat. He exuded joy and inspiration; I could tell he was excited about everything around him.
It's the switch that turns on your charisma."
Fast forward a month or so and he serendipitously arrives at L.A. GOAL with his friend Ed. I give them a tour of the agency, and they express a desire to interview me for their Podcast "Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed" where they share stories about how stepping out boldly always leads to better-than-expected outcomes. They wanted to interview me about an art show I was producing at L.A. GOAL called "The Not So Perfect Show".
Well, we did it! And the rest is history. Darrell's work inspires me every day as I scroll through instagram, and his joyful art practice consistently reminds me to show up to my own practice, my own life. He reminds me not to take myself so seriously, and how to allow joy and abundance to free flow through my life by letting inspiration be the guide. I hope you all are as inspired as I am by this bold, courageous, poignant artist: Darrell Fusaro.
Darrell, if you could give your five year old self a word of advice given all you know now, what would it be?
Trust your hunches. They’ll always lead to better than expected outcomes.
Dogs or cats?
Dogs and cats!
Your favorite primary color?
Blue, until this year. None of the primaries excite me as much as orange. Strange because up until now I’ve despised orange.
Tell us about a strong memory you have related to food.
I fell in love with Coca Cola syrup at age 11. Back then you’d get a prescription for it from the pediatrician for nausea. It was kept in the refrigerator in a little medicine bottle. I’d sneak sips of it. I shared with my younger brother. It is heaven.
Your hope for people reading this?
Check out Darrell's Five Most Valuable Things They Don't Teach You In Art School below, as well as info about two creative workshops he's leading next month at the El Segundo Museum of Art! Also some of my favorites of his recent illustrations.
Workshop (1 of 2) with Guest Artist Darrell Fusaro. Attendees will discover the 5 most valuable things they don’t teach in art school as well as create a self-portrait on a stick. Those who keep a regular sketchbook or “joy-nal” are encouraged to bring with. Join us for one or both workshops.
All skill levels are welcome. All materials will be provided. FREE
Workshop (2 of 2) with Guest Artist Darrell Fusaro. When it comes to being creative don’t let reason slip you a roofie. Whether you’re an artist, police officer, teacher, attorney etc.. you will discover that staying creatively engaged will make you better at everything you do. It’s easier than you think. Attendees will create personalized postcards suitable for framing. Join us for one or both workshops.
All skill levels are welcome. All materials will be provided. FREE
Ian and I met in the ninth grade and have been friends ever since. Ian also designed the Little Bite Gallery logo. It’s my pleasure to introduce all of you to the spectacular Ian Montgomery.
Ian, thank you for sitting down to reflect and share with me!
What does art mean to you?
You’ve opened my eyes more than anyone to how art is so much more expansive than paintings hanging in a gallery, art can be anything from cooking someone a meal to thoughtfully arranging a space.
So with that … art is Cosman planting trees without permission around the industrial parks of Bayview. art is all the beautiful letters I’ve received from you over the past decade. art is Lachlan browning the butter for his chocolate chip cookies. art is Skye creating humor and levity in the face of hardship. art is Charlie staying up all night creating his voting guide for the SF elections. art is Ryan driving an hour to the sea just to photograph a sunset snowstorm. art is my grandfather transcribing the same poems over and over again. art is watching friends buck out of norm and create lives of their own invention.
At the heart of it all, art is giving a gift. art is a brave gesture, usually a quietly brave one. art is work.
What does time feel like to you? Is it something linear? Something more spacious and abstract?
Time is a tough but helpful taskmaster. To me time feels linear. I’m very western in that every day I write out goals, keep lists, and move through them. It’s effective but it’s also quite hypnotizing and I worry about the spontaneity I may be missing.
Going to the ocean is my relief from this linear time tunnel, it's a powerful ritual that cracks my world into something more expansive and playful.
What patterns or habits, with no moral assignment, do you see from your life mirrored in your work?
Patterns and habits... I really only feel at ease when I’m working towards big dreams. People meet me and they think I’m a mellow Californian, and in some ways that’s true, but underneath that side is someone who’s pretty uptight and disciplined, and that discipline makes it way into my work. The oil paintings I do of the sea are a kind of intense haha, hundreds of hours of thin layers of oil paint, and I only really finish one or two pieces per year. And if I’m not doing the oils I’m usually painting big wall murals. There's something so satisfying and punk about doing slow patient work like that in this age of instant gratification.
How do you hope to reach others with/through your work, or is that not a concern?
Each piece is different and each situation is different. I usually create from the place of “This needs to exist” rather than thinking too much about reaching others. But the most satisfying pieces are absolutely the ones that connect with people.
A crazy thing happened during one of the first murals I ever painted. I was probably 20 years old, and my friend Chuck, a veteran of the Bush/Cheney war, asked me to paint a landscape of his hometown in Jamaica in his room. I painted all night while Chuck snored away across the room. The mural is pretty painful to look back on now haha, but at the time I believed in it. Chuck woke up, looked over the piece, and tears flooded his eyes. He opened up about how tough it was to come back to a normal existence after serving in Afghanistan, and how this mural was beautiful glimpse of hope for him to wake up to every morning. He gave me a giant bear hug and thanked me for bringing his vision to life. I was totally floored.
I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. That feeling of connection and honesty. Whether you’re making work about hidden beauty, societal critiques, some totally mysterious abstraction, whatever it is, at the kernel of good work is that deep honesty. If a piece comes from an honest line of inquiry, then it has the magic to cross into another person’s being and facilitate the catharsis of true connection. I have to remind myself of that in New York where a lot of the art is hyper-intellectual. Really it’s all about honesty.
Describe a beautiful interaction you had with someone recently.
Oh man can that one above with Chuck count?
Describe your ideal day, even if it involves elements that haven’t manifested yet.
If you had asked me that 10 years ago I would have had an answer scheduled out haha. A sunrise surf, a day of making, cooking, reading, a Sharon Jones concert at night, some faux fur and vintage cars thrown in there.
Now I’ve softened a little and I live most days according to a system a three overlapping circles, green, orange, and purple. The secondary colors. The green is health, moving around, eating right, meditating. The orange is free creation, making work outside of a contact setting. And purple is about community, making time for friends and family. If a day let’s me touch on all three circles then that’s pretty ideal.
What’s your wish for whoever is reading this?
I came to art late in life compared to some, 19 or 20 years old. It was terrifying to be a beginner and to start letting people in to this private nascent world. I kept an old tumblr blog and every day I’d post watercolors or poems or drawings, and you had your hand made card business on tumblr too, and I think you and Will Walden were like my only followers. I’d post work that was super new and scary to share, and each time I’d get a nice little note or comment from you it was the this super meaningful push to keep making and keep exploring. Honestly it was the best energy I could have been around at the vulnerable stage, and I’m forever grateful to you, as I very easily could have chickened out and not pursued this creative impulse.
So I was really excited to hear you were starting a gallery, because you have this incredible encouraging effect on people, and I can’t wait to see how that energy manifests in Little Bite.
So my wish… my wish is for everyone who reads this and comes into contact with Little Bite to be touched by your presence in the way that I was... For that natural encouraging energy of yours to ripple out to as many people as possible... For everyone who experiences one of your happenings to turn fresh eyes to art in a more accessible and sincere way... and for people to see the opportunities for artfulness in their daily lives.
He has worked in-house for Chubbies and Areaware, and has been commissioned to paint murals around the San Francisco Bay Area.
After graduating from Stanford with an environmental science degree, Ian switched gears from research to design. Buckminster Fuller said, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something you must build a new model that makes the old model obsolete." Ian picked up what Bucky was putting down, and choose design as his tool to build with.
Down the line Ian plans to open his own studio focused on sustainable packaging design.
For freelance inquiries: helloianmonty (at) gmail (dot) com
It consistently baffles me just how powerful humans are, and how each individual chooses to utilize their power. The point of the “People Feature” section of the Little Bite Gallery website is to introduce you, yes you, to some magnificent creatives who are using their power to make the world a remarkably better place. I hope you enjoy getting to know these individuals, and that you connect with something so deeply and intuitively that they share that you feel inspired in your own life! We are here to make a powerful difference in one another's lives.
With love and excitement, Alyssa, founder of Little Bite Gallery