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Trash Lamb Gallery hosts Rick Froberg’s illustrated history

“When you don’t see style, it’s good style”

Poster party people: Melody Jean Moulton and Rick Froberg.
Poster party people: Melody Jean Moulton and Rick Froberg.

“He has a book out? I love that guy! I love that band!” Rick Froberg shows the enthusiasm of a teenage metalhead when discussing former Hillcrest resident and Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, who recently published his autobiography, Confess. Mind you, Froberg, a former Encinitas resident, is no teenager. It’s just that his energy changes dramatically when discussing his influences and his passions, as opposed to when he’s discussing his art. “I’ve always considered myself an illustrator and not an artist,” he says in his self-penned bio. “A day’s work for a day’s pay and all that.”

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Nevertheless, Froberg’s art is being highlighted in a new exhibition directly evolved from posters made for the San Diego underground scene of the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s, of which he was an integral part — with bands such as Crash Worship, Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, The Obits, and his current group, Hot Snakes. The “instant gratification, or the closest thing to it” he writes of in his bio is at odds with the “more serious” work he has done. His etchings bring to mind 15th century engraver Albrecht Durer, and portray the creepiest rats this side of the Inquisition.

Place

Trash Lamb Gallery

2365 30th Street, San Diego

The exhibition is well-matched to South Park's Trash Lamb Gallery, which hosts Rick Froberg - Let My People Go. Art and Illustration 1988 to Present through March 6. It’s the antithesis of stuffy and staid, living up to its tagline: “Artist-run and unconventionally curated.” Proprietor Melody Jean Moulton, who prefers to be referred to as “lead janitor,” opened the gallery after losing her job at the Whistle Stop Bar when the pandemic forced closures. “I remember working my last shift,” she recalls. “Suddenly, we were shut down and people were reaching out to me, asking if I needed anything. I had been wanting to concentrate more on my art, and this space became available. I felt like I had no window of time to decide. It was: do it, or wonder what could have been. I’m a proud person, and I’ve had a job since I was a teenager. But people began offering to help me, and I took them up on it. I am extremely grateful.” Moulton’s own art is both harrowing and beautiful, akin to that of lowbrow icon Robert Williams, and sports pandemic-centric titles like “There’s No Going Back Now,” “Everyday, A New Fear,” and a series entitled “Pandemic Meals For One.”

All parties involved are connected through music. Moulton met Froberg and other local musicians by going to see their shows, and to see national acts, such as her beloved Patti Smith. Local poster art is endemic to the music scene. The Fall Brewing Company, which provided Froberg-illustrated cans of craft beer in a 20-case limited edition, plasters their South Park tasting room with posters for past punk and independent shows. Froberg’s art fits in seamlessly. Does Froberg think San Diego will ever again see a scene with the power of the ‘80s-’90s underground scene as represented by those old posters? “I really don’t know. It could be there now, you know, it’s a young person’s thing. Us old guys have done what we were going to do.”

I mention a piece of his entitled “Equis,” which was inspired by Sidney Lumet’s film version of the Peter Shaffer play Equus. The image captures key moments of the psychodrama: a horse head with enough bone exposed to stir images of death is striking. But it’s the vacant eye sockets that echo the mutilation of deified equines that drive the film. “I haven’t seen that film in a long time, but yeah, it’s a stud and definitely left an impression. This etching reminded me of it. I like his [Lumet’s] quote about how, when you don’t see style, it’s good style, and he showed that as a director.”

Given the changed landscape, both musically and socially, I mention Halford again. The point I want to make is that no one would want to go through life being closeted and living a dual life the way he did, nor do they have to any more. But my poorly worded statement “No one wants to be Judas Priest” gets cut off immediately, and Froberg says, almost defensively, “I’m sure someone wants to be Judas Priest.”

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Poster party people: Melody Jean Moulton and Rick Froberg.
Poster party people: Melody Jean Moulton and Rick Froberg.

“He has a book out? I love that guy! I love that band!” Rick Froberg shows the enthusiasm of a teenage metalhead when discussing former Hillcrest resident and Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford, who recently published his autobiography, Confess. Mind you, Froberg, a former Encinitas resident, is no teenager. It’s just that his energy changes dramatically when discussing his influences and his passions, as opposed to when he’s discussing his art. “I’ve always considered myself an illustrator and not an artist,” he says in his self-penned bio. “A day’s work for a day’s pay and all that.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Nevertheless, Froberg’s art is being highlighted in a new exhibition directly evolved from posters made for the San Diego underground scene of the mid-’80s through the mid-’90s, of which he was an integral part — with bands such as Crash Worship, Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, The Obits, and his current group, Hot Snakes. The “instant gratification, or the closest thing to it” he writes of in his bio is at odds with the “more serious” work he has done. His etchings bring to mind 15th century engraver Albrecht Durer, and portray the creepiest rats this side of the Inquisition.

Place

Trash Lamb Gallery

2365 30th Street, San Diego

The exhibition is well-matched to South Park's Trash Lamb Gallery, which hosts Rick Froberg - Let My People Go. Art and Illustration 1988 to Present through March 6. It’s the antithesis of stuffy and staid, living up to its tagline: “Artist-run and unconventionally curated.” Proprietor Melody Jean Moulton, who prefers to be referred to as “lead janitor,” opened the gallery after losing her job at the Whistle Stop Bar when the pandemic forced closures. “I remember working my last shift,” she recalls. “Suddenly, we were shut down and people were reaching out to me, asking if I needed anything. I had been wanting to concentrate more on my art, and this space became available. I felt like I had no window of time to decide. It was: do it, or wonder what could have been. I’m a proud person, and I’ve had a job since I was a teenager. But people began offering to help me, and I took them up on it. I am extremely grateful.” Moulton’s own art is both harrowing and beautiful, akin to that of lowbrow icon Robert Williams, and sports pandemic-centric titles like “There’s No Going Back Now,” “Everyday, A New Fear,” and a series entitled “Pandemic Meals For One.”

All parties involved are connected through music. Moulton met Froberg and other local musicians by going to see their shows, and to see national acts, such as her beloved Patti Smith. Local poster art is endemic to the music scene. The Fall Brewing Company, which provided Froberg-illustrated cans of craft beer in a 20-case limited edition, plasters their South Park tasting room with posters for past punk and independent shows. Froberg’s art fits in seamlessly. Does Froberg think San Diego will ever again see a scene with the power of the ‘80s-’90s underground scene as represented by those old posters? “I really don’t know. It could be there now, you know, it’s a young person’s thing. Us old guys have done what we were going to do.”

I mention a piece of his entitled “Equis,” which was inspired by Sidney Lumet’s film version of the Peter Shaffer play Equus. The image captures key moments of the psychodrama: a horse head with enough bone exposed to stir images of death is striking. But it’s the vacant eye sockets that echo the mutilation of deified equines that drive the film. “I haven’t seen that film in a long time, but yeah, it’s a stud and definitely left an impression. This etching reminded me of it. I like his [Lumet’s] quote about how, when you don’t see style, it’s good style, and he showed that as a director.”

Given the changed landscape, both musically and socially, I mention Halford again. The point I want to make is that no one would want to go through life being closeted and living a dual life the way he did, nor do they have to any more. But my poorly worded statement “No one wants to be Judas Priest” gets cut off immediately, and Froberg says, almost defensively, “I’m sure someone wants to be Judas Priest.”

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