Tag Archives: Beauty Pill

Beauty Pill’s Chad Clark Wants To Be Arto Lindsay When He Grows Up

Beauty_Pill_Chad_Clark_600-1

The 2015 release of Beauty Pill’s Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are was an event in many ways. For one, it was the D.C. band’s first album in 12 years. But it was also part of a bigger artistic happening that included three very public stages of creation.

Conceived by Beauty Pill singer and songwriter Chad Clark, Immersive Ideal began with the band recording Describes in Arlington, Virginia’s Artisphere theater, where anyone could come and watch them work. Once the album was complete, a multimedia installation was created featuring band photos flashing on screens as Describes played in surround sound. Finally, Beauty Pill performed the album, but in an unorthodox way: with the band members set up in corners of the room, and the audience in the middle.

“I don’t pretend that these were radical ideas,” says Clark over lunch at Kramerbooks in Northwest D.C. “If there’s any flag of D.C. art that I would like to fly, it’s that these things were organically generated out of curiosity.” Clark’s argument is convincing because his curiosity is obvious. He’s always searching for new ways to think about music and art, and you can hear that inquisitiveness in the dense, busy mix of Describes. Its songs bubble with ideas without becoming overloaded. It’s a glimpse into a brain that wants to communicate many thoughts but with exacting clarity.

Two years after its release, Clark recently put Describes on Bandcamp. “It feels almost like a reissue,” he says. “People love Bandcamp, they love the idea of it, and I’m into that.” Beauty Pill is about to embark on a short tour with post-punk legend Arto Lindsay (whose song “The Prize” was covered on Describes). We asked Clark about his reflections on the album, what draws him to Lindsay’s work, and what Beauty Pill plans to do next.

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Art Gallery: Ryan Nelson’s D.C. Punk Aesthetic

Ryan Nelson art collage

“I’m sick to death of looking at my art. I’m proud of it, but I feel like I’m drowning in it.”—Ryan Nelson

If you have any level of familiarity with the D.C. punk and indie rock scene, you’ve seen Ryan Nelson’s distinctive artwork on flyers, album covers, and t-shirts—even if you don’t know his name. Nelson worked at Dischord Records (which he describes “as good and ethical a place as you’d imagine it to be”) for a good chunk of the ’90s. He was also in Jury Rig, The Most Secret Method, Oswego, The Routineers and Beauty Pill, and he designed many of the t-shirts for the Fort Reno free concert series. Living in Alexandria, VA, these days, he teaches high school English, and is a father to young twin boys, but still makes time for music with Soccer Team and Minutes.

Self Portrait With Hair
Ryan Nelson, Self Portrait With Hair

Nelson’s artwork is heavily (and admittedly) influenced by both Raymond Pettibon and Jaime Hernandez, but he was first inspired as a child by seeing a painting his older brother, Marc (who was also in The Most Secret Method), did. Determined to pursue visual art from that day, Nelson started out tracing encyclopedia artwork and daily newspaper comics like Bloom County, and found himself mesmerized by the Lichtenstein pieces at the National Gallery of Art as a sixth-grader. “Without really understanding what the appeal was,” he says. “I was recognizing that there was a lot going on in just a small panel, and it has everything to do with the composition. There’s a balance, there’s a symmetry.”

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

In choosing to digitize his collection of the artwork he’s done for his and his friends’ creative projects, Nelson admits that he’s closing the book on a certain chapter of his life. “I don’t want to look at that stuff any more,” he muses. “My relationship with [my past art] is complicated. I’m really proud of all of the things that I’ve done, like I can look back at a wake of projects that I’ve finished…but at the same time, I’m sick to death of looking at my handwriting. I’m sick to death of looking at my art. I’m proud of it, but I feel like I’m drowning in it.”

If you’ve been living with a wealth of your own work for so long, that perspective makes sense. But for those of us who either aren’t familiar with Nelson’s piquant, emotionally resonant art or who feel our nostalgia-strings tugged by seeing his familiar linework, this tour through some of his most beautiful pieces proves a buoyant experience. Scroll on to see some of Bandcamp’s favorites; the full digital gallery can be found here.

Ryan Nelson art

 

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

Ryan Nelson art

Jes Skolnik