Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Milton Gravy on God, the Subconscious & True Love

Drew Davis, also known as Milton Gravy, enters the small bistro looking curious, almost as though he had left something here that he was returning to find. He spots me, and looks shocked, even though we had agreed to meet, and then his face warms into a dodgy smile, eyes darting back and forth a bit, and for a moment I wonder what has surprised him. We awkwardly shake hands and I notice his t-shirt. It reads: ‘Got Your Tickets to the Gun Show?’ with two arrows pointing at his lanky biceps, which I believe is a salute to Dwight Schrute, a character from The Office, one of Drew’s favorite television shows. He begins to tell me all of the things I imagine he thinks I want to hear: current exhibit (Higher Grounds coffee shop in San Luis Obispo), his newest paintings dedicated solely to swing dancing, a new hobby of his, and some of the commissioned commercial work he does. But that is not why I am here, and Drew picks up on this when he notices I have not turned on my tape recorder. I am interested in Milton Gravy, Drew’s alter-ego (not to be confused with a pseudonym) who is the genius behind Drew’s cartoons and personal body of work that layers a bizarre and beautiful mix of fine art, confusion, irony, chaos, bliss and deep feeling.
April: Who is Milton Gravy?
MG: He is a mystery. He’s kind of a separate part of me in a sense. My fine art is more Drew Davis. Milton Gravy is more of a cartoon, a different personality all rolled into one. I have different plans for Milton Gravy.
April: What are those plans?
MG: To start a comic called ‘Milton Gravy Cookbook’, but not a cookbook, something artsy and funky with art, comics and poetry.
April: Do you enjoy Milton Gravy more than Drew Davis-in terms of the art each produces?

MG: Yeah. Milton Gravy is more popular, more trendy. I enjoy doing that a lot. Milton Gravy is more from the inside. The characters in the comic book portray their own life is what I’m thinking about. There is a lot of feeling behind it- while the other side [Drew Davis] is more plain. It is not like I look at a landscape and draw a landscape, it is like there are these characters and they are doing things. I guess it is kinda subconscious maybe.
April: Where did you grow up and what was that like?
MG: You know ups and downs. I was raised in a Christian household in Nipomo with three younger sisters- pretty normal if you are looking in from the outside. I dealt with it all pretty well. I was home schooled from the third grade on, my mom did not like the public school system, so I graduated when I was younger, 16 or 17. Started going to community college for a bit. I think that really allowed me to pursue my art a lot more then. I also did not have the peer pressures at the early age that the public school kids had.
April: I was really intrigued by a quote on your Facebook page by CS Lewis, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance and if true, of infinite importance.” What does this mean to you, if you don’t mind me asking?
MG: No, not at all. I consider myself a Christian, following Jesus’ way, the one true way, and I try to have that play a large role in my life as much as I can. A lot of people claim to be Christians but are hippocrates-bad examples of being Christian. Granted, I am a bad example of being Jesus’ way-I am not perfect! Growing up, I always went to church and was involved with youth groups and then when I was kicked out of the house at 18, I was not wanting to live by their [parents’] rules so it was not working at that point, I went to go live with friends. I knew if I really needed help, they [parents] would help me out, but I also knew that they would hold out until I really needed help. But, that was good, too. I learned a lot from that. I know a lot of people who haven’t had that experience and can’t function by themselves. So this house that I was living in [with friends at 18] was like a total crack house. I had pretty much hit a bottom. I wasn’t doing crack, but I did realize I needed to do something because I wasn’t going anywhere. I quit smoking, cut off that group of friends and started looking for another youth group to go to. So I found this group of guys, in fact I am moving in with them soon, so I took a positive turn and am hoping to learn a lot. Some of my drawings, I was pretty high when I did them, and I think since I quit, they have gotten better.
April: Where was Milton Gravy at this time?
MG: He was there. I started doing Milton Gravy a long time ago. I never planned it. I just opened myself up. I don’t have a lot of preconceived ideas about it. For instance, it is hard to answer the question ‘who is your favorite artist?’ If I see art I like, I subconsciously store it, and then it comes out at some point.
April: You make a lot of references to God and the subconscious. How do those two themes relate to each other?
MG: Honestly, I think my subconscious pushes me away from God. I think we all have our sin nature, our carnal desires, and that is all on the inside, so that is what separates us from God essentially. That is what I believe. We can do good things for or to people, or we can stab them in the back, there are definitely two natures. Both of those natures come out in that character, Milton Gravy.
April: What about in Drew Davis?
MG: If I were to make the separation, because they are both me, Drew Davis is a little more surface level, a little easier for everyone to swallow, you know like flowers and landscapes and whatever. I think I may be heading in the direction of the two [Davis & Gravy] coming together as one, in a sense. I am trying to be more honest with myself, and that is who I am-Milton Gravy. It’s a process.
April: Is Milton Gravy capable of things Drew Davis is not?
MG: At this point he definitely has a freer character. I don’t really feel like I have to perform for people. My drawing style is more Milton Gravy; my painting style is something else. Not that I want it to stay that way. When I first started drawing, I was really into drawing monsters and mazes with colored pencils. So, I can see this [Gravy] as my roots, too, and that is a strong connection. When you are a kid, you draw whatever you want, and it is very freeing. Every artist has to have the ‘am I selling out’ conversation. There has to be a crossover between what people want and what you want to do if you want to do it [art] for a living. I enjoy the commissioned work I have to do, get to do. But, Milton Gravy is not fully developed commercially, but I definitely want to, that is one of my goals.
April: Where do you see yourself in the future? Or even in your fantasy future?
MG: I definitely would like to open up my own gallery. I have had a few people encourage me to do so. I have not been around much, but New York or Paris based on photographs and stories I’ve heard of those places sounds good. You know, marriage, kids.
April: Do you believe in true love?
MG: I think love is a choice. I think the love God has for us is the example of love we should follow. Being selfless. Complete selflessness is true love. I don’t think that exists on earth. But I will give it my best shot.

interview by the Godfather, April Worley. Milton's Yellow Head by Milton Gravy (click to link to his online shop)

1 comment:

Miss Amy O said...

Drew is one of my favorite local artists and a wonderful guy, too! Can't wait to see your next show, Drew!!