By Todd Houston
RRI: Let’s start by talking about your passion for painting and art in general. You graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and have been pretty busy doing what you love ever since. Tell us how you got involved in painting murals.
Yes, I received my degree in ‘90 from Rockford College. I happened to develop a love for large scale drawing while in college and quickly became a follower of ‘super-realist’ Chuck Close’s work. His mass-scale, close-up (no pun intended) portraits were astounding to me. And that is what formed my love for portraiture early on. It wasn’t long before I became known as the ‘wall hog’ around campus. Just one step into the Clark Arts Center studios and you would see my work taking up the entire studio walls. I figured no one else was using them, so why not?
In 1995 I formed Adamany Art & Design here in Rockford and in the 20 years following have painted literally hundreds of murals both here in the Midwest and throughout the country.
RRI: My kids and I personally love the mural you did at the Beef-a-Roo on Alpine and Sandy Hollow. How often do you get called for “touch up” work?
Thank you, that one is officially my longest standing work to date. As for ‘touch-up’, that mural specifically required a one-time partial re-do three years later due to gang graffiti and I’ve not had to do anything with it since. Touch-up work for me hasn’t been what you would call the biggest money maker for me (laughs).
RRI: What’s the most challenging job that you have encountered thus far and why?
I would definitely have to say my Egyptian-themed ‘Star Cinema’ Murals in Council Bluffs, IA, painted in 2003. This was my largest job to date. The work consisted of over 6,000 sq. ft. of murals. The showpiece of that theater is its 3,100 square-foot dome that spans 60’ across and is over 40’ off the ground. After two-and-a-half months of research, planning & design, the job required the hiring of three apprentices to help me paint over 250 linear feet of canvas here in the studio over a three-month period. Then I spent over nine weeks on location painting the massive dome and columns and installing all of the canvas work. That job gave me back problems for some time afterward.
RRI: You’re also a seasoned veteran of the local Rockford music scene and a very fine drummer. Tell us how you got your start playing music and which bands you were involved with locally?
Why, thank you. I pretty much have been playing all of my life. My mother was a local music teacher as well as a pianist and vocalist. I believe I got it all from her. After begging my parents relentlessly, I received my first kit for Christmas in 7th grade. My first ‘real’ band was called “Ript” at age 18. I went on to play in several all-original bands including Zion Crest, St. James & Scarlet Winter (all from Wisconsin), then with Rockford’s own Mirrored Image. After leaving Mirrored Image there was Buick Makane & the Drill, then later the Lust Killers. After the last band folded I decided that I would no longer pursue music as a full-time venture and start to focus more on my art career. Today I’m back into music and am currently playing drums for the Harvest Bible Chapel of Rockford, as well as for Mob Zero.
RRI: What are your thoughts on iTunes and downloading just one song as opposed to buying a whole album or CD?
I guess I’m still old-school as I love CDs. Nothing beats holding a tangible item in your hand with actual ARTWORK. Truthfully, most of my iTunes consists of my downloaded CDs. As for iTunes though, I do think it’s cool that you can just purchase one tune, because let’s face it, there are way too may ‘filler’ songs out there.
RRI: Rockford still has a handful of festivals that feature live music but has lost a few along the way including OTWF.
What are your thoughts on how the music scene in Rockford has changed over the last 25 years, or has it?
Yes, it definitely has. First off, it’s really hard to make money in today’s scene, as opposed to the days of old. The days of walking off the stage with a couple hundred bucks in everyone’s pocket seem to be long gone. And just like my art, you get what you pay for. I do miss the days when most clubs had actual stages, big house systems and lighting. It’s a nasty catch-22 having to both work harder to set gear up, as well as spending more money to supply your own system.
RRI: Favorite local restaurant to go for pizza?
Giuseppe’s by far. But being the homebodies that we are, we tend to order delivery more. As for pizza joints we actually sit at? I would have to say Geri’s, out by Giovanni’s – underrated to say the least.
RRI: Best way to prepare venison?
The key is the tenderization process, as well as the marinade, and I have over a dozen of my own secret recipes. Just ask anyone who’s been to our place for ‘em, and they’ll tell you I grill up the most flavorful and tender steaks they’ve ever eaten. And thanks to my son, Johnny, who hunted with me on his first trip ever this year and got three deer, including one on his first ever morning out. We certainly didn’t go hungry but I got skunked.
RRI: Favorite Saturday night album?
These days, anything by Alter Bridge. Simply the best band out there.
RRI: Ludwig, Tama or Pearl Drums?
Well, I have still have some Ludwig equipment, as well as a set of Pearl congas. But I must go with Tama. I am loving my ‘89 Granstar kit thanks to Randy Rainwater.
RRI: Peter Criss or Eric Carr (former KISS Drummers)?
I’ll probably get beat up by all those Kiss traditionalists, but I have to go with Eric Carr. His technical abilities and showmanship far outweighed Chriss’ in my humble opinion. I had the chance to meet him back in the day, as well. What a humble spirit he was – RIP.