Robert Pollard Does the Collage




Robert Pollard rose to rock legend  by heading up the epic 1990s indie band Guided by Voices, but his artistic talents span far beyond the lyrical sort. Call it a less than secret double life, if you will, but Pollard is also a master of collage and, this Friday, the singer-songwriter will host the opening of “The Public Hi-Fi Balloon,” an exhibition featuring a series of grungy, psychedelic collages he’s been pasting together over the past six months.

Like most of us, Pollard was first exposed to his medium of choice during elementary school. “I especially enjoyed putting animal heads and other strange things on human bodies,” he recalls. In his adult life, this affinity for arts and crafts led him to design almost all of GBV’s surreal, pop art-esque album covers, many of which were featured in artist Todd DiCiurcio and actor Michael Imperioli’s 2007 exhibition, “Do the Collage.”

The works in “The Public Hi-Fi Balloon” put a Duchampian twist on Pollard’s earlier album-cover works. On display at THE 45 SPACE on August 27 and 28, Pollard has created an imaginary record store, which will be stocked with fabricated LP covers, 45s, magazines and coffee table books.
Pollard says his penchant for making fake record sleeves predated his actually playing an instrument. “When I was in high school, I wanted really badly to be in a band, but I didn’t know anyone who could play, so I formed an imaginary band with a few fellow art students,” he recalls. They made LP covers and T-shirts, “…and a few of our classmates actually thought it was for real.” He also cites a recurring dream from the time he was in college—driving to a non-existent record store “filled with rack upon rack of records by bands that I had conjured in the dream. With ‘The Public Hi-Fi Balloon’ I’ve come close to re-creating the dream.  That’s why it’s going to be insane,” explained Pollard when asked about the root of his elaborate theme.
Cited among Pollard’s favorite works in the show is Zero Hits, an album cover composed out of clusters of high school yearbook images: “It features a montage on the back of about 17 such shots with band names, so you start to associate the group of kids with the name.” The show will also include over 70 framed an unframed collages, as well as “a few other surprises” that have yet to be revealed. A handful of ex-bandmates are on Pollard’s guest list, but what do they think of his artwork? “It seems a lot of them dig it. I think secretly, and sometimes openly, my peers respect the insanity.” Regardless of his musical peers’ opinions of the art, insanity is sure to ensue on his upcoming Guided by Voices U.S. reunion tour. As Pollard says, “Shit yeah, it’s cool.”