INFP Part I: The Mediator

According to their type description, INFPs seek goodness and per their name, are great communicators.

They also are story tellers. Whether it be Eleanor Ray’s soft, intimate interiors, Zachary Carlisle Davidson’s illustrative prints or William Paul Thomas’s plush blanket series, these INFPs are writing new narratives – narratives that have been otherwise overlooked, ones that use new materials, ones that make space for the digital and ones that star new characters.

INFP Part I: Eleanor Ray, William Paul Thomas (interviewed here) and Zachary Carlisle Davidson (interviewed here).

ER3Eleanor Ray, Green Construction Fence, 2013, Oil on Panel, 4 x 5″

WPT1William Paul Thomas, Eatin’, Polyester Fleece, 80″ x 60″

ZCDZachary Carlisle Davidson, Echo Chamber

ER 1Eleanor Ray, Villa Livia III, 2016, oil on panel, 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches

WPT2William Paul Thomas, French for Antoine, Polyester Fleece, 80″ x 60″

SCD2Zachary Carlisle Davidson,“tHE pLAcEs U wiLL GO”, screenprint – spraypaint stencil- chine collé




Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagon

James Payne

Shawn McBride

No Place Gallery, 9.8.17 – 9.29.17

Curator: James McDevitt-Stredney

JP1Documentation photos courtesy of Jake Holler and No Place Gallery.

Shawn McBride (b. 1990; Ashland, OH) is a L.A.-based painter, for now at least, with deep roots in Ohio. A graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design, McBride lived at Skylab Gallery and kept a studio in No Place Gallery before leaving Columbus for balmier climes.

However, the artwork in McBride’s No Place Gallery exhibition, Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagon, was brought into being close to Ohio’s capital. The whole body of paintings and drawings on show was created in August 2017 at Open Wabi, an artists’ residency in nearby Fredericktown, Ohio, on the site of the former Sun Glow Furniture factory.

JP2Shawn McBride, I Believe In Having Warts Removed Immediately, 2017, 7.5’x 5′, acrylic, collage on canvas.

“Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagonis the name of a celestial being who controls the universe in the 1989 B movie Monster High. The being’s name means “Monster in Charge.” In the film, Syridium Damianus Hectophatasmagon resolves a conflict with a character named “Mr. Armageddon” by playing in a basketball game between intergalactic monsters and a high school basketball team. Therefore: “Monster High.” The film has been described as, “Kind of like Michael Jordan’s Space Jam but much, much worse,” as well as being “completely boring.” Yet another reviewer put it this way: “It’s really tough to be entertained by anything this inane, chintzy, and uninspired.” In a time when The Room (2003) is a cult phenomenon solely for its ineptitude, Monster High is still unable to be processed even on that level.

In conversation, McBride told me he wants his paintings to be like Monster High: not scary, nor funny; not simply bad, per se, nor just good. When familiar judgments like these fail to resolve through viewing an art object, it can produce a blank indeterminacy that frustrates the audience’s expectations. McBride describes this indeterminacy as a “state of multiplicity” that he aims to achieve.

JP3Shawn McBride, A Doozie, 2017, acrylic, collage on canvas.

McBride’s state of multiplicity – of multiple, unresolvable experiences – can be seen in one of his vertical diptychs, an acrylic painted collage titled A Doozie. In its top half, a head channeling Otto Dix’s Great War invalids rests atop a toddler’s triumphal arch. Resting against this mangled death’s head is a symbol that retains the semiotic residue of both a peace sign and a Mercedes Benz logo, which contradicts the spirit of the ghastly visage it overlaps. The bottom half of the diptych, singing in a full Stuart Davis brio, works to pull its all-too referential top-half into a world of joyous abstraction, where the colors of the Pan-African flag predominate, presenting, through form and color alone, a social formation in opposition to the grim imagery culled from European imperial wars. This push and pull from abstraction to representation; deliberate art historical reference to naive imagery; horror to elation; keeps the viewer’s interpretation of the work moving, never settling into an easily received idea.

JP4Shawn McBride, Killer Condom Routine, 2017, 25″X 17″, acrylic, collage on canvas.

In Killer Condom Routine (2017), another of McBride’s diptychs on show, tubes pilfered from Fernand Léger empty out into a laughing clown’s, or pinhead’s, masked face. The motif of the mask circulates throughout the exhibition. It is a metaphor for hiding meaning – “masking the truth” – but also, it is a metaphor for the act of painting, which is always a representation of the thing, and never the thing itself. Divining actual meaning from paintings, McBride suggests, is like trying to read facial expressions under a mask.


Shawn McBride, I Heard Myself Today, To See If I Still Hear, I Opened Up My Ears, The Only Things That Hear, 7.5′ x 5.5′, acrylic, collage on campus.

Enmeshed in an era of overdetermined and overwhelming meaning, McBride’s paintings ask if there’s a freedom to be found in an artwork that can be looked at, but not settled. If there isn’t quite freedom, perhaps there’s relief. Relief, because indeterminacy is a more faithful reflection of the lack of intention in our lives: We live in places that are an accident of birth, doing things that feel more like having things done to us, in edifices, like Open Wabi, that no longer contain the operations they were built to house. That disconnect between the intentions of the past and the desperation of the present is why the anesthetic ketamine is en vogue. K’s eerie, dissociative feeling allows one to regard oneself as, and through, a mask; as a representation of something one can embody but never be. This is what Americans are now: we are not the leader of the free world; we are a mask our past wears, anxiously, in the present, to suggest nothing has changed since we were. We aren’t Jerry Seinfeld during the dot-com boom, but, rather, an upside down, white mask pasted over that cultural memory, able to forcibly articulate our past, but unable to claim to be an authentic extension of its continuity.

This dynamic is captured in one of McBride’s titles, a corruption of a lyric in NIN’s “Hurt“:

I heard myself today. To see if I still hear.
I opened up my ears. The only things that hear.

After his opening, McBride insisted our group catch the midnight premiere of It at the South Campus Gateway Theater. Of course, It was sold out. Instead, we went to the Ugly Tuna Saloona, a bar known for two things: blue raspberry fishbowls and the unsolved disappearance, on April Fool’s Day, 2006, of an Ohio State University medical student named Brian Shaffer. Shaffer walked into the bar – he did not walk out. The indeterminacy of what happened to Shaffer – murder, suicide, voluntary disappearance – spurred a citywide fascination with the case. It allowed for any characterization of Shaffer and his motives to be posited, from Shaffer as a coward who ghosted his soon-to-be fiancée, to a folk-hero who literally escaped into a bar; from a victim of the “Smiley Face Killer” to a nervous wreck in the midst of a mental breakdown due to his mother’s recent death. Out of the Big Ten banality of the Ugly Tuna Saloona emerged a prism, which, no matter the angle one viewed it, nor the light shone upon it, only reflected the viewer.

In honor of Shaffer’s escape from life’s overdeterminations, and McBride’s evasion of meaning, I threw a blue raspberry fishbowl off of Ugly Tuna Saloona’s balcony and into the void, laughing.

James Payne
Columbus, September 2017

Artist Interview: Zachary Carlisle Davidson

Anna Buckner

source (1)
I met Zach back in grad school at IU and have continued to keep up with him and follow him via social media. His work is relevant, playful, serious, perceptive, beautiful, anti-academic and yet still fully intellectual.

After the violence in Charlottesville, I was struck by a post Zach made on Instagram in regards to his lack of surprise surrounding the event. His words, like his work are vulnerable and honest, and he has been kind enough to share more of his thoughts with us.

Here’s his post:

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.36.59 PM

AB: Can art really change anything?

ZCD: I don’t think there is a singular or definitive means for art to change anything but it can in the right place at the right time.

Let’s take the impact of memes and other quick media designed to shared impulsively for an immediate response.  How often are the terse phrasing in often esoteric one-liners more impactful in outlined bubble text over a clumsy photoshop compared to the article they lifted original image?  Why are so many reaction GIFs shared featured rely upon the pantomime of black people?  Look what Pepe has become, and can’t forget implicit messaging through emojis use either. Or, a prez who’s managed to manipulate a crafted image (which is kind of all of them).  “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, amirite?

Internally and personally, I know my thoughts bounce from clear conviction to imbued insecurity to new inquiries to other tangential whereabouts when I’m reanalyzing conceptual messages I want associated with a work or series.  When I add in concerns of technical application into this mix of thoughts, it can help me choose which media I want to utilize best together (not sorry, Greenberg) to be a bit subversive, since I think that’s my agenda.

Actually –when I really think about it– I always integrate some DIY ethos into the classroom because I do believe in explicitly telling my students that the causality of their actions will impact others, and the context will inform how it’s approached. So, yes, I’m betting on art changing some/any/every-thing.


AB: That makes a lot of sense to me. GIFs are a part of our current vocabulary and so it is confronting to see a GIF that functions beyond its ability to reference pop culture for a few laughs. Could you talk a little more about your own relationship with GIFs?

ZCD: GIFs are byproduct of a few influence intersections woven in my life.  Obviously, my imagery relies upon cartooning aesthetics HEAVILY so it has been a means for me to emulate that inspiration while trying to construct a niche that complements my other work.  

Originally, the GIFs were all based on screen-prints, lithographs and woodcuts that I manipulated. I had attributed some romantic notion of the never-ending repetition as a looped printmaking edition. It was silly, but let me play within a finite matrix to see variability in my compositional designs. Now, they are more commonly generated from illustrations that have shapes intended for animated purposes.

Whenever I have flown over the last few years, I decided to make a game out of how many GIFs I can make during the layovers using old sketches I had scanned.  The most I’ve made was six, but that was a long trip. Most are very simplistic and some are junk but I manage to produce something that if not resolved before the trek, I at least know enough how to finish it to fulfill a role I have planned for it.


AB: I love this idea of a GIF as a sketch. It breaks down the notion that you need a big, private studio to create Art, which seems totally in line with using GIFs in the first place. Where else do you find influence? (Either within the art world, or outside of it)

ZCD: I read many hours daily from news to fake news to graphic novels to how-to’s to rap lyrics to short fiction, mostly narrative but some prose.  I do this when I wake up and before I fall asleep usually, and I’d speculate it serves as catharsis that permits me to think about my day.  Probably that way for many people.

Sometimes I google search the name of a country I’m reading about in the news followed with the term ‘cartoon’ to see if I can watch a video if possible. If that doesn’t work, then ‘art’ comes second.  I’m totally poaching ideas I see, but I think it also instill a time for empathy because I’m ultimately going to latch onto something relatable –be it emotive or a visual impact to mimic.  I recommend everyone do this with at least a country you want to or intend to visit.

Most importantly, trying to contribute to social justice is of the utmost relevance to me because I would literally have nothing without its impact on the lives on my family, many people I love, and most of my heroes. As a guiding force, it helps purport an attitude of wisely if sincerely with the work I make.




Check out more of Zach’s work on his website and his instagram.

Artist Interview: Amber Vittoria

Anna Buckner

Amber Vittoria is an illustrator living and working in New York City. Really I should be posting this on a Wednesday – because WOAH can we talk about a serious WOMAN CRUSH? But also just a woman who is CRUSHING it – her illustrations have been featured in It’s Nice That, Man Repeller, and Teen Vogue. Thanks to Amber for sharing your beautiful work with Command Zine and taking the time for this interview!

Plant Goals


(AB) Ok so this first question is more of a clarification – these are all digitally rendered, right? They are so painterly! You seem to move effortlessly between fine art and design. Do you see distinctions between the two?


(AV) That is correct! I block the color in a rudimentary way, print on an older laser-jet printer (which yields the beautiful screen-print effect), and add the linework using colored brush pens. In regards to fine art vs. design, I try my damnedest to not categorize myself; at times I’ll catch my mind attempting to organize and define the work I’ve been making, but try to focus predominantly on making.


(AB): Oh I would have never have guessed that! What lead you to this process? Now that I’m looking more closely at #RexythecoachDino I can see a grid forming in the pink background from the printer – It reminds me of one of Agnes Martin’s meticulously worked grid paintings. I could imagine that there’s an element of unpredictability created through the printer – do you find yourself responding to these *accidents* when you add the line work?


(AV): Playing with different paint pens, brush pens, etc. and wanting a flat color lead me to achieve the flat color ideal digitally. Experimenting with different printers allows for these unpredictabilities, which is incredibly fun to field once I apply the line-work.




(AB) Your subjects are simultaneously serious and lighthearted. Who are these women? How does humor play into your work?

(AV) Majority of the inspiration pulls from women I know, women I see on the subway, on the bus, in line for lunch, online, etc. Because of this, the natural balance of humor and pointedness finds its way into my work.

Keep Swimming


(AB) Can you talk about your color pallet?


(AV) Piggy-backing off my last answer, the color is what brings the lighthearted, whimsical element to my serious-focused pieces. It welcomes the viewer to come closer to the serious subject and not fear staying awhile.


av5Teen Vogue College Series


(AB) Do you do anything to get you in your groove while in the studio? Snacks? Music? Karaoke?


(AV) I’ve found talking to others while working is incredible; it inhibits me from over-thinking.


(AB): Wow – interacting with people in the studio? Truly breaks the stereotype of the isolated and tortured artist – I’m into it! If you could chat with anyone in your studio (dead or alive) who would it be?
(AV): I would say my grandfather; he passed two years before I was born. I’ve been told I’m similar to him, and it would be lovely to meet.


All New Very Sexy Bra



Check out more of her work at her website and instagram!