100 Creatives

ColorOrgy on the Problem with Being Phoenix-Centric

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 51. ColorOrgy.

As noms de guerre go, ColorOrgy's wears like candy-apple red on a pin-up's lips. The Mesa native, formerly known as Scott Wolf, is known for disorienting paintings that take cartoonish midcentury imagery and twist them into sexualized horror shows.

"I create images that blend perversion with pop culture, creating a twisted take on Americana with the help of violence and sex," ColorOrgy says, quoting the description that came with his 2015 Best of Phoenix award for Best Lowbrow Artist, adding that the description is pretty spot on. "I also seem to gravitate towards themes involving gender roles and inequality."

In a work called Masks, two bikini-clad women giddily entwine themselves with a bear wearing the ripped-off face of a man whose body lies limp next to a sports car. Eat, Drink, and Be Married portrays a party scene in flamingo pink, butter yellow, and teal. A woman with a smile plastered on her face slices up one of her own buttocks as if it were a roast. It's frighteningly pretty. 

ColorOrgy names Roy Lichtenstein as a major artistic influence. "His work blew me away as a kid and redefined for me what art could be," he says. "The colors, the imagery, the words, the clean lines … very mind-altering in a creative sense."

Despite his strong perspective, distinct style, and early realization that "nothing compared to the feeling of being the best artist in third grade," the 42-year-old says it took him a long time to gain the courage to show his work to others. But once he did, ColorOrgy quickly found a receptive audience in Phoenix. 

Now, he's expanding his viewership, working on upcoming projects in Los Angeles, Denver, and Australia while spending days "ingesting lots of caffeine and poring through books and Google images," he says. That's between watching movies, painting, drawing, visiting Goodwills multiple times a week, and "also working on fine tuning my new process."

I came to Phoenix with my parents, when I was 0 years old.

I make art because I love art. I love to look at it, and I love to make it. I think it’s one of the few things genuinely worth doing.

I'm most productive when I’m full of caffeine and isolated. I get distracted easily.

My inspiration wall is full of ... it’s not really a wall, it’s more of a bookcase. It’s a bookcase filled with clip art, old medical encyclopedias, do-it-yourself home repair guides, vintage children’s books, old magazines, cosmetology study guides, film books, midcentury furniture and fashion books, '50s, '60s, and '70s crafting books, and some old covers from Butterick clothes patterns.

I've learned most from alone time. It gives you time to think about and discover who you are if you wish to know.

Good work should always be sincere. It should feel like it comes from an honest place because I think an audience can tell when it’s disingenuous.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more diversity. Phoenix needs to start attracting artists from outside the state instead of being “Phoenix-centric." Phoenix is a major city, but it feels like we’re segregating ourselves.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski