Feature Stories

Larry Carey is the Mystery Artist Behind Vice Palace's Awesome Concert Flyers

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"Larry is my right-hand man," Peña says emphatically of Carey. "His flyers are not only amazing, but it's what people are starting to recognize. Some people are waiting just to see what the next show flyer is going to look like."

Who exactly is Carey? The answer is both simple and not. He has a full-time job, he's a husband and a father. He's also a DJ and an artist on the rise with a reputation for being reclusive. Carey is interested in psychology and surrealism and creates his art with an improvisational approach.

"I can't really back up. I never do," Carey says, sitting down at a coffee shop for a rare in-person meeting. "You can be 80 percent through and still screw it up." He is not exactly sure what drives him or makes his art so effortless. Perhaps it's collective consciousness, spirituality or most likely, obsession. But on a good day the art creates itself. "It is almost like watching from behind the pen," he says. "At what point do you run out of ideas? Well, you don't."

Carey has been obsessed with visual arts for as long as he can remember, particularly drawing. For several years Carey's work has been displayed mainly at Kettle Art in Deep Ellum, where he first submitted for an open call. These intricate works of art are often presented in mandala form.

Back when Carey was earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of North Texas, a professor used the term "risk drawing." The professor referred to the technique in a derogatory way but it caught Carey's attention. It was a factor in his decision to use an automatic drawing approach after quickly putting together a long grid structure of small squares to fill with images. With this creative process, there is no pre-drawing and it's all in "one take," paralleling live music improvisation.

Carey is a big fan of R. Crumb, who has a clear influence on his style, but Carey's art doesn't try to tell a story. In the controlled setting of a symmetrical structure he improvises surrealist doodling, aiming for "real dream imagery" like Salvador Dali. He empties mental space by filling one compartment after another.

From a young age Carey has been inspired by music, and it has become an important part of his creative process. So it's not too surprising to hear that he also makes electronic music as DJ earWIG, under which name he has built a large collection of music. He describes his sound the way he describes his drawings: "Collage-oriented, sample-driven, kind of like a found sound-object," and "very little of it has any rhythmic structure at all." Carey has never performed live, but his music has played in public during art shows a couple of times.

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Jeremy Hallock