Many of you, who have attended any of the RIPROC events or have stopped in for a drink at Lux or Bug Jar, may have seen some large portraits gracing the walls with the name ‘.chickenbone.’ attached.
Many of the same people have said, ‘Who the hell is .chickenbone.’?
Here is the interview and piece to clear the air.
.chickenbone. is a native of Churchville-Chili and is also known by her government name of Rachael Kimmell.
Rachael is a picture framer and counter girl at Ultimate Tattoo by day and humorous portrait painter by night.
Her work has appeared at Tilt, Pearl, Bug Jar, Lux and she has even won the award for best painter at Artist’s Row (Public Market).
Her greatest accomplishment to date is having her work on exhibit at The Hyaena Gallery in Los Angeles. Her work was presented alongside the work of Scot Olson, Chuck Hodi and Gidget Gein, the one-time bassist for Marilyn Manson.
I have always been intrigued by her work and she seems to have a great personality to match.
I sat down with her last week to find out a bit more about what she does and also her opinion on the Rochester art scene and the progress being made…
ACT:LIVE: My first question is did you go to school for art and have you always lived in Rochester?
I’ve moved about, but lived in Brooklyn while going to school. I went to Pratt, but I don’t like to credit school with my talent.
Out of all the schools I’ve been to, MCC has the best art program.
I have one high school teacher who will always be solely responsible for my interest in art and pushing me in the right direction.
ACT:LIVE: Does that teacher have a name?
That was Mr. Woodard, at Churchville-Chili.
ACT:LIVE: How do you view your art? I mean, what’s the vibe you send out?
I think I have a sense of humor that other people may not see or don’t know how to react to.
I think that comes through with the titles.
ACT:LIVE: You paint a lot of face portraits, are these models in front of you while you paint?
I paint from a lot of photographs. I have a lot of these old journals and magazines and they have the greatest photographs of people. I use those for a basis, and then turn it into whatever it ends up as.
ACT:LIVE: What drove you to portraits?
I’ve always been drawn to people; even as a kid I would do portraits of Garth Brooks and New Kids On The Block. It’s hilarious to look at now.
ACT:LIVE: How old are you?
I just turned 25.
ACT:LIVE: How long have you been involved in the Rochester art community, and what has your involvement been?
Last year I kind of decided to use it or lose it, if you know what I mean.
ACT:LIVE: Meaning, get involved or stop doing it?
Yeah, I never really showed my art before.
ACT:LIVE: Have you found many opportunities to get your work out there?
Yeah, especially working with Pat (Gaffney), he helped me out a lot and gave me my first big push.
He threw the ‘Sunglasses Only’ party at Tilt and that got me back into it.
ACT:LIVE: So you won the award for best painter at Artist’s Row, tell me more about that.
This group of people came into my tent and began scrutinizing and asking what everything was, so at that point I thought I was in trouble because of my tent size.
I didn’t know if they were asking me all these questions because I am a painter and I had prints…I just thought I was in trouble.
So, then they left. Then, they came back and told me I was best in show for painting!
ACT:LIVE: Is there any sort of support that comes along with winning the award or is it just a pat on the back?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. I was just really interested to find out that my demographic is broader than I had imagined.
People that I would have never guessed to be interested in my art were approaching me all day.
It’s much nicer when a total stranger compliments your work than someone who may feel obligated.
ACT:LIVE: I have had many people tell me that the artists in this town desperately need more resources to help get their art sold and into the hands of the marketplace…what are your feelings on what can be done about that and is that important to you?
Well, selling things and making money is all well and good, but if you’re not doing it if you have to do it, then you shouldn’t be doing it.
I love all these alternative art spaces we have like Lux, Bug Jar, salons and Laundromats that want to hang our work. I mean, that’s great, but we also have places like Rochester Contemporary, too.
I can’t tell you the last time they had a big solo show for a Rochester artist.
I say represent the people that are here in Rochester, the people who are really working.
I just think Rochester Contemporary could do a lot more to represent.
ACT:LIVE: Do you know Bleu Cease, the director?
No, I don’t, but if he isn’t going to feature Rochesterians, he should take Rochester off the name.
That’s my only gripe, so to say.
I think we have a really great community though; everything you could ever want is here.
There is every kind of craft person, musician and so on.
ACT:LIVE: Pat Gaffney and the boys of RIPROC have made some really great headway to open the doors for a lot of different artists here in town with their events, how have you been received at those events and how was your experience at the Mash-Up?
I don’t think there was as much focus on the art as there was before, but more on the part of the audience. It’s Halloween and people just want to dress up and get drunk.
I just think there were 10 pounds stuffed into a five pound bag, but I always have a great time. It was a success in the sense that I could get my art on the wall and people could take it in. I win. (laughs)
I think shows like the Ludachrist show are more geared towards the art side of things and people were really more interested in it. They had questions left and right.
ACT:LIVE: What are some of your other favorite art venues…and what is this place, Café Vas?
Café Vas is a cool little place over on Merchants, Mike Hanlon from Hanlon Photographic and Beth Sumner were both showing some work there. It’s a fun little coffee shop in the Merchants neighborhood.
The Potential Life Gallery is a really awesome space, too. They have been bringing in a lot of fantastic art and music.
Every Sunday they do like, a noise music jam night. It’s really cool.
ACT:LIVE: Where did the .chickenbone. thing come from?
Ever have a nick-name that just stuck?
ACT:LIVE: Kind of.
Well, that’s where it comes from.
You won’t forget it, so it’s perfect.
ACT:LIVE: So, where is your next showing?
December 5th, The High Falls Gallery. They’re doing a show called ‘Portraits: Our City, Our People’.
I actually met Sally Winslow, the lady who runs The High Falls Gallery at Artists Row and she invited me into the show, so, big thumbs up to Artists Row, all the way around.
ACT:LIVE: So last question, what kind of music do you listen to?
Tom Waits is the most amazing, ever. I love Morphine, Black Heart Procession, Jedi Mind Tricks, Brother Ali.
ACT:LIVE: And, her superhero name is undoubtedly, .chickenbone..
She’s right, once again proving there ARE cool things to do besides just drink at the bar!!
You can find .chickenbone.’s art at The High Falls Gallery, December 5th and at almost any RIPROC event.
You can also find her at Ultimate Tattoo in Henrietta.
Right now we're listening to:
Blu & Exile "The World Is" ("Below The Heavens", 2007, Indie)