Featured artist: Randolph Thompson, Murder on the Rocks

Randy came in to show his work to me but I was 'out in the field,' as I like to call it, so he left a few of his pieces for me to check out with Mark Verbioff, my venerable shop keeper. Mark had a big mischievous smile on his face when I came in, and he showed me these curious works. At first I thought they were simply coated rocks with twisty wire trees on them, but on closer inspection I saw a little figure that turned out to be a nun perched up in the branches of the tree, and a little penguin down on the ground brandishing a spear threateningly towards the nun. The nun was "treed," a term used in hunting when an animal is trapped in a tree with no place else to go but down, into the hands of its patient predator. The other pieces were a bit different, say two penguins with smaller knives ominously facing the nun or the penguin seeming to guard the nun with his/her back to the nun whilst still holding some kind of weapon.

I have since asked him to come back and bring more of these pieces for me to feature in the shop and had the great pleasure to meet and chat with him about the his Murder on the Rocks series and to see further manifestations of the theme, which included the nuns and penguins in travel/quests or exchange of suitcase scenarios. There is an obvious dark humor to them, but also a quiet eerie beauty in the stillness of the scenes he sets up, and a 'NO EXIT' type of tension/atmosphere. And I, coming from a flagrantly strange and at times off-kiltered nun-riddled upbringing, have been wooed by these pieces in spades. Here are a couple of images, but better to see them in person and consider owning one for your rock, nun, penguin or other worldly art collection.

Here is what he's written about the origin of these works:

Backstory: It all began in 1999 when “Murder On The Rocks” creator, Randy Thompson began collecting “unique” rocks from beaches along the coast of California and from several mountainous areas in Arizona. In particular, Randy would search for rocks that had a certain look to them; rocks that would appear to have an unusual, mysterious presence. Randy then fashioned scary, dead-looking trees made of wire and affixed them to the rocks, which further gave the pieces a haunting look. But something was missing, something that would give the art piece a story, something dark, but funny. That’s where the nuns and penguins came in. See, Randy had been traumatized at birth by a nun. Randy’s mum would always tell him the story of when he was born at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. His mum gave birth to him in the hallway of the hospital while waiting to go into the delivery room. The first person to walk by was a nun and she screamed bloody murder. Twenty three years later, Randy would marry a Catholic girl (Senator’s daughter) who would run off with a tennis pro within the year. So, down the road, Randy began to work out his issues by adding miniature nuns to the rocks. The miniature penguins came into the picture because they were wearing the same outfit as the nuns and created a “nature vs. religion” feel to the artwork; especially, when the penguin was holding a spear or sword. Sometimes the nuns and penguins are exchanging luggage (fish for bibles, plutonium exchange, who knows?). Sometimes, a penguin has a nun “treed”. Sometimes, it appears as if a penguin is receiving “the word.” Sometimes, they are on an adventure together, fleeing from an unseen menace. I give the eventual owner of the artwork the opportunity to complete the story; “what do you think is going on here”?


Bio: Randy Thompson currently works for The Warner Music Group (Rhino Entertainment) in Burbank, California and was previously a professional songwriter/musician for 20 years. His music and band appeared in a Disney movie in 1986. Until recently, his art pieces have only been owned and exhibited in the homes of certain rock stars and music/movie executives.

Posted by hubbyco on 5/02/12 | Permalink