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 heâ€™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 isnâ€™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 itâ€™s hard to navigate.
â€œIâ€™m a big hoarder,â€ he says. â€œThe garage is full of crap that I plan on â€˜transmorphingâ€™ into some sort of entity, some final art piece.â€
Heâ€™s also into creating art â€œthat lives for a minute, and then itâ€™s crushed,â€ like the houses in Rooms to Let, a Slavic Village Development project that creates temporary art exhibitions in foreclosed homes about to be demolished.
â€œThatâ€™s very of-the-moment,â€ says Pickering, who enjoyed working on the 2014 Rooms to Let. â€œIt speaks to me on a very personal level that nothing is forever, which is intense. Getting older, I think about it â€“ issues, life issues. I mean itâ€™s like, you know, life is fleeting, you got to go for it â€“ I mean really, really go for it.
â€œDoing the art, I really love it,â€ 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 (thereâ€™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.
â€œPopâ€ 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 â€œLady With the Candle Head.â€ It shows a woman with candles popping out of her head.
â€œIâ€™m sure Iâ€™ve seen her in my dreams,â€ Pickering says. â€œI donâ€™t think I dated her.
â€œI get a kick out of it, if it makes me laugh,â€ 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 â€“ 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.
â€œI have to enjoy it first,â€ he says. â€œIf I donâ€™t like it, it doesnâ€™t get out of this crazy house of mine,â€ he says of his art, which sells for anywhere from $25 to â€œthe thousands.â€
Pickering often uses paint manufactured by the Cleveland firm, DayGlo Color Corp. His favorite media are acrylic and pastel.
â€œSome stuff is done in five or 10 minutes,â€ says Pickering, a compact, bullet-headed guy who looks like he could star in one of his own animations. â€œA lot of my stuff, I like it to look childlike.â€
What makes it that way? â€œI think the reason is that I really try to cut out the bullshit and get right to what Iâ€™m feeling, and I want it away from stylistic nuance,â€ he says.
Pickering certainly doesnâ€™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.