Tall Tales: An ode to a generation of weirdos

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The bad Gremlin, as interpreted by Chad Beroth (left) and Dane Walters (right). (courtesy image)

Sitting outside of Camino Bakery in downtown Winston-Salem, Dane Walters and Chad Beroth share similar features: light-colored hair, a few days’ growth of a beard and a pensive air.

For artists, collaboration can take many different forms; be it sitting down and writing a song together, sharing the storytelling in a novel or brainstorming ideas over a few drinks. It is a thing of beauty to see two artists come together to make and bring to life something out of two truly different visions. It was this idea that gave birth to the dark, intense art of Tall Tales, the latest collaboration between Walters and Beroth.

“We landed on the idea of portraits,” Walters said. “From there we began to assign our limits, sizes and all of that.”

Tall Tales features 13 portraits with a primary focus of an ’80s theme running throughout it.

“We wanted to capture all the weirdos,” Walters said. “All of the characters and creatures that have been inspiring to us and our generation of visual artists.”

From Gremlins and Pennywise the Clown of Stephen King’s It, to Back to the Future’s Doc Brown and a darkly striking image of David Lynch, the art came to life with each artist painting one half of each image. One of the largest paintings includes an iconic image of Eleven, a character from the popular Netflix series Stranger Things.

Each artist took to the details of the image in different ways; the worlds and backgrounds of the portrait are similar, but patently different. The glazed-over expression resting behind the portrait’s eyes reveal two emotions at once: While in Beroth’s side there is a lonely, hopeless longing, Walters’ half shows us the darker, nosebleed side of the character, just after her moments of rage.

Tall Tales runs at Delurk in Winston-Salem through Nov. 26. For more information, visit delurkgallery.com

It’s clear how, while they both used the same subject, the halves reflect each artist’s distinctive style and vision. While Walters’ hand produces technically intricate images with a disturbing, dark quality to them, Beroth’s colors include a paler tone, and his style leans more to the abstract in each brush stroke. The split style of this collaboration lends itself to creating three separate, and yet tightly knit works. The little intricacies of each side reveal each artist’s eye, what they settle on as the focal point and what seemingly minute details remain consigned to the shadows, but when hung side by side, a third image is born.

“I think the hardest part for me was working with an artist like Dane,” Beroth said. “I’ve been a fan of his work for so long and he is such a technically profound artist. I was honestly worried how my work would stand up next to his, literally. When you’re sitting next to one of his paintings, 13 times over, it’s a little intimidating.”

Beroth and Walters have been a part of Delurk since its opening in 2011. Though they’ve been longtime friends and fellow artists, the feeling of respect and brief moments of insecurities are shared.

“Chad is one of the hardest working artists I’ve ever seen,” Walters said. “I work a lot slower and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up with how prolific he is. He can just turn out amazing art one after another.”

Since the opening of Tall Tales on Nov. 3, more than half of the paintings have already been purchased.

“Delurk made this show, really,” Beroth said. “Had it not been for Delurk, for this great community of artists, we would never have known each other.”

Out of the 20 paintings that originally made the list for what Beroth and Walters set out to include in the show, time allowed only for 13, and yet each provided its own challenges.

“For me, ET was the hardest,” Walters said. “I had to keep setting it aside and putting it off because I felt it was just too big, it was intimidating. But I think now it’s become my favorite.”

Walters and Beroth plan to release the images that weren’t completed in time for Tall Tales as they’re able in the coming months. Otherwise the two artists are letting their next projects come about organically.

“Dane’s next project is music,” Beroth said. He meant that literally: Walters is also the drummer for Winston-based band Dark Prophet, Tongueless Monk, which is recording a new album over Thanksgiving weekend.

“For me, all I do is visual art,” Beroth added. “I paint every day, non-stop really, so I’ll just continue with the work I do.”