IT³ caught up with Winnipeg’s Reetbot, one of this country’s most hard working new artists, in a church at a Christmas craft fair. He spoke about his upcoming Santa themed show, his city, music, feelings, and pizza.
Performer Kram Ran, newly back in Winnipeg, tagged along.
Reetbot’s upcoming show, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…, opens in Winnipeg on Thursday, December 10th.
IT³: How are the fans, Reetbot?
Reetbot: What fans? I have no fans, unfortunately. I have this one crazy stalker girl who basically rips off everything I do. I have some fans in my apartment actually, but I have to crank them to get them to work… and then they make this crazy noise like, durrrrrrrrrrrrr…
What’s the show all about?
Santa’s struggle to cope with the debt that Christmas brings each year. He pays slave wages to the elves, but the cost of gas…
What about the reindeer?
They’re a myth.
Really I just painted Santa because he’s creepy. But it could also be interpreted as my love for pizza.
In what way?
I always eat pizza while painting. It makes me feel like I’m on heroin, it surges through my body and sometimes I can’t remember what’s happening. It’s my comfort mechanism. When I was 20 I found out Santa wasn’t real. Now I fill the void with pizza… and paintings of Santa Clause.
Who the fuck is Reetbot?
Reetbot is a group of ten people. They’re all sailors. No, he’s just some stupid kid and he paints these little characters. Honestly he’s not even real. Basically, I found a Reetbot well and I pull these things out of it. It’s an endless well of crappy paintings, and I just pull these out of it… I don’t know.
Why is the well in Winnipeg?
Because we’re the center shit hole of Canada. No, there’s so much good stuff coming out of Winnipeg right now; there needs to be really TERRIBLE art to contrast it. It’s like an ego booster. “If Reetbot can do it, anyone can!” Plus, it’s the best place in the world.
Are you the guy who spray painted my garage the other night?
No no, that’s Re-boot. Reetbot doesn’t paint houses or cars, only children in strollers. And breasts.
Will you paint a deer in a forest for my grandpa’s living room?
I have like 10 deers in forests already. But if he wants a custom made one, totally. Still lives are my speciality, but I love nature paintings too.
What is the nicest thing a stranger’s ever said to you?
I got a call after my show last year saying great things. This guy called me Shitbot, and said the gallery shouldn’t have Reetbot shows because the neighbourhood gets plastered every time with graffiti up and down the block like a plague. I thought that was a big compliment – it must take a pretty special person to accomplish that. It’s like being in the mob, but I’m a white kid from the suburbs. It all comes back to pizza. I had another show where I played that message on a tape player, and people could listen on headphones.
They left a message?
Yeah, on the gallery’s machine.
What’s going on artistically in Canada right now?
Oh man. This is the first time I’ve left my apartment in a month. Graffiti everywhere, it never sleeps. Yesterday I was waiting for the bus, and a guy asked me to buy one of his portraits. It was awesome, but I had no money. So that’s happening. People are hustlin’. Oh, and Reetbot shows.
How does graffiti cope with Winnipeg winters?
It thins the herd. Graffiti loves Winnipeg winters. Reetbot only paints graffiti in the winter. But I don’t know anything about it.
What are your thoughts on this craft sale?
I love the caroller. Lots of cute girls. Some sweet treats over there. I saw a kid sneezing on them earlier, and I’m thinking I might buy one so I can get sick and miss work on Monday. Sales are good, I actually sold something. So that’s a step forward.
What gets Reetbot out of the house?
If my internet connection goes down then I have to go to the library. I can’t order pizza on the phone, because I’m scared of the phone. I need to order pizza online.
So just pizza?
Whenever City Champs play a show. Oh, and craft sales. At churches.
Top five albums of the decade?
Just wing it.
Alright… Matching Socks, Missing Feet by the The Bonaduces. The Get Up Kids: Something to Write Home About. American Football’s self titled… Dog Disco by Leatherface, and, um…. wait, let me think for a minute.
My Downtrodden Smile – My Downtrodden Smile
My Downtrodden Smile? Are you in that band?
I wish. I was 15 when they played their last show at the Albert, and I wasn’t sneaky enough to sneak in yet.
What do you say to bands or artists who pass over Winnipeg because it’s a frozen shithole?
I say, I stole your music on the internet and I never want to see your art again. Also, any band that has come through and stayed with me can attest that I make the best grilled cheese sandwiches and have the cuddliest cats, so they’re missing out.
Kram Ran: I make the best grilled cheese sandwiches.
Reetbot: I don’t know… we’ll see. We’ll have a cook off.
IT³: What does this city need the most?
It doesn’t need anything – it’s perfect. It needs more youth oriented programs. And more pizza places. I want pizza with sesame seed crusts.
Last time you cried?
Last night. I cry every day. Life is hard. I listen to too much Dashboard Confessional, also I write too much poetry for my own good. But seriously I hate life. I get really depressed and I cry. Some days I cry twice a day. Or three times. There’s no limit. No one’s ever caught me though.
Does your art come from the place of secret tears?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes I’m so upset that I throw something, rip a canvas, and make my art even better. One canvas I ripped and had to sew back together. I was like, oh man, this is awesome. But mostly my tears are self serving. I’m wasting time when I should be painting. One day I’ll learn to multitask.
What’s next post Santa show?
Go explore the world in a canoe; disappear. Write the greatest musical anyone has ever seen – all disco trance music with a hint of soul. About a fox who lost his hole, so he grows up into a bitter old fox man. I’m still working out the kinks.
So this is the farewell show?
Yeah, in this life.
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… runs from December 10th-19th at the Cre8ery gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Opening night is the evening of Thursday, December 10th.
The Cre8ery: http://cre8ery.com/
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#/event.php?eid=223466048792&ref=mf