Pickering is an artist, a funny one. He can also be an angry one. The 54-year-old Mentor native has lived in Slavic Village for decades, his frame house is paid for, and he’s engaged in changing the profile of Slavic Village from poster child for the foreclosure crisis to a safe haven for creatives like himself.
That isn’t easy.
Still, he perseveres, using his own household as a sort of easel, from the painted front porch swing to the two- and three-dimensional artifacts that animate the rear. Not to mention all the stuff inside a house so crammed it’s hard to navigate.
“I’m a big hoarder,” he says. “The garage is full of crap that I plan on ‘transmorphing’ into some sort of entity, some final art piece.”
He’s also into creating art “that lives for a minute, and then it’s crushed,” like the houses in Rooms to Let, a Slavic Village Development project that creates temporary art exhibitions in foreclosed homes about to be demolished.
“That’s very of-the-moment,” says Pickering, who enjoyed working on the 2014 Rooms to Let. “It speaks to me on a very personal level that nothing is forever, which is intense. Getting older, I think about it – issues, life issues. I mean it’s like, you know, life is fleeting, you got to go for it – I mean really, really go for it.
“Doing the art, I really love it,” says Pickering, who also is a drummer, known for powering the legendary Cleveland band, Prisonshake. He also worked with Easter Monkeys, Speaker/Cranker and Spike in Vain and now participates in seven or eight bands, including Das Fin.
His home is awash in compact discs (there’s a wall of vinyl, too) spanning groups as diverse as the Flesh Eaters, Thelonious Monk and Led Zeppelin.
Music and art continue to fuel him.
“Pop” is the word for Pickering World: his art is bright, upbeat, guileless and scrambled. One acrylic, ominous even as it draws a chuckle, shows a Viking helmet floating in space with no head to occupy it. Another is a beige-and-white acrylic called “Lady With the Candle Head.” It shows a woman with candles popping out of her head.
“I’m sure I’ve seen her in my dreams,” Pickering says. “I don’t think I dated her.
“I get a kick out of it, if it makes me laugh,” Pickering says of the art that litters his house to the point it crawls up the walls.
Influenced by the likes of Francis Bacon, Picasso, B.J. Kitaj and Romare Bearden, Pickering earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Kent State University in 1984 – and started his rock career. His creative career is not about straight lines.
Pickering also works in graphic design and trade shows. But art is always at hand.
“I have to enjoy it first,” he says. “If I don’t like it, it doesn’t get out of this crazy house of mine,” he says of his art, which sells for anywhere from $25 to “the thousands.”
Pickering often uses paint manufactured by the Cleveland firm, DayGlo Color Corp. His favorite media are acrylic and pastel.
“Some stuff is done in five or 10 minutes,” says Pickering, a compact, bullet-headed guy who looks like he could star in one of his own animations. “A lot of my stuff, I like it to look childlike.”
What makes it that way? “I think the reason is that I really try to cut out the bullshit and get right to what I’m feeling, and I want it away from stylistic nuance,” he says.
Pickering certainly doesn’t play it close to the vest.
He tears up when he talks about his mom and his cat, Itsy. Both passed away in 2014. Both left holes in his heart. He cherishes Squeaks and Clyde, the neediest two of his four cats. And he worries about a part of town he says is very close to bottoming out.