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Neon Bones


by Brad Ford Smith 8 Aug 2008

Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas artist and art conservator. To catch video of Tonybones talking to Think’s Krys Boyd about his work, move on over to Art&Seek’s feature content. City Smash by Tonybones. (The Public Trust) This week The Public Trust opens the exhibit Tonybones – An exhibition of new work. If […]

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Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas artist and art conservator. To catch video of Tonybones talking to Think’s Krys Boyd about his work, move on over to Art&Seek’s feature content.

City Smash by Tonybones. (The Public Trust)

This week The Public Trust opens the exhibit Tonybones – An exhibition of new work. If you’re not familiar with Tonybones, he started out as a graffiti artist whose tormented stick figures have been seen across the Metroplex. Then about three years ago, the Dallas Police knocked on his door and basically told him to stop doing graffiti or else. He is one of the few people who has both fingerprints and photographs of his artwork on file at the downtown courthouse.

Over the years he has exhibited in various alternative galleries and venues. These exhibits focused mainly on the translation of his signature graffiti style into paintings, drawings and sculpture.

This exhibit at Public Trust promises to be a new plateau for the artist. In this exhibit, Tonybones has slowed down his improvisational tendencies in order to expand the narrative and define the individual images. He’s stepping a little bit back from that graffiti immediacy so that he can explore just how far an artist can push raw street imagery before it finally snaps and falls apart.

There are 18 new works on canvas, and two projects that could break new ground for the artist. One is a series of seven screen prints that he produced in conjunction with Art Prostitute for the show at Public Trust. The other is a series of three neon wall sculptures that he outsourced to a neon production company.

In both of these projects Tonybones, who is known as being a hands-on kind of artist, has set up scenarios where he develops the imagery and then hands over the physical making of the art to technicians. He has removed himself from the manufacturing process, which means he has to be sure of the work before it goes into production and that explains his slowing down and defining of images.

Can an artist with such a highly developed skill for spontaneous image making create artwork using process-oriented methods without compromising that street smart attitude?

It’s an interesting question and a good read reason to go check out Tonybones’ latest exhibit at The Public Trust.


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  • Rawlins Gilliland

    The funny thing is I bought this piece you show here..City Smash 2. Went to the opening last night. He’s very interesting and this piece I had to have. I mean what boy-man doesn’t have comic book dreams where you are Godzilla-at-large.

  • Kudos to KERA for featuring Tonybones. He’s one of my favorite local artists. I went to the opening night, and his work is just amazing. It looks even better up close and in person.

  • Brad Ford Smith

    I agree with you both. This new work by Tonybones is developing a strong comic book style. It would be very interesting to see his rendition of a graphic novel. My favorite work in the show is the diorama of Joanna in the whale.