It's a Sunday and we're leisurely sipping a beer at Rudyard's. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. This particular Sunday happens to be the Montrose hub's 32nd anniversary and the main room downstairs is filling up around the table we're sharing with local artist Brian Boyter.
We pull up an image of Matthew Morrison - better known as Mr. Schuester on the Fox series Glee - and position it on-screen, adjacent to a recent photo of Brian in a makeshift "Separated at Birth" display. He eyes Mr. Schue with the same regard as a mugshot on Dateline's To Catch a Predator. We inquire if anyone has ever made that connection before and he asks, with complete sincerity, "Why, who is that guy?" A few moments later our Houston Press colleague John Nova Lomax happens to walk by, glances at the laptop and laughs, "Yep. Definitely some similarities there."
Similarities in appearance, that is. We don't know if the Houston native can belt out Journey and we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of dance moves, but this we know for sure: The kid can paint. What's more, the economics major graduated from Texas Tech in 2005 without taking a single art class.
Boyter's website, quietmammoth.com lists his influences as Renaissance art, religious iconography, graffiti and nature. It's the graffiti we're particularly intrigued by, and how that came about. "My fascination with graffiti began after a trip to Europe five years ago. I went all over - Spain, France, Switzerland. But the street art in Germany was what really lit a fire in me. It was everywhere - the cities don't have the money to clean it up - and just seeing what people were doing with color combinations, lettering, the level of detail, the technicality, all with a can of spray paint. I had never been exposed to anything like it. It literally blew me away. These artists weren't creating [to gain exposure] or getting paid for their work. They just wanted to express themselves, even if it meant going to jail for their art."
And what about the classical figures that often appear in his pieces, juxtaposed with graffiti? "There are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between Renaissance artists and graffiti artists of today. Back in the day, what those guys were doing was considered rebellious. They were opposing the church. On the surface the forms appear very different, but underneath they are one in the same."
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When questioned about goals for his art and his personal definition of success, the 27 year-old replies, "As long as people continue to let me show my art at their venues, I'm happy." He pauses for a brief second, laughs to himself, then adds playfully "On the other hand, if you know anyone who wants to buy my work, my number is 2-8-1..."
This time-lapsed video of Boyter creating his wall for Houston Press Artopia (2009) has an unintentionally funny ending.