art: so many forms

i am currently obsessed with roz chast’s cartoons. roz has been drawing cartoons for the new yorker, among other publications, since 1978. (her first cartoon for the new yorker was published when she was just 23!) i’ve never been much of a cartoon fanatic, but her stuff is so smart & witty. it’s all too poignant for me, as well, because she is a sort of “professional phobic,” as the new york times describes her.

i can definitely be anxious about life sometimes, but her anxieties are much more interesting.

to clarify, roz has a long list of these intriguing phobias. she hates holidays. she hates loud noises & large crowds of people. she doesn’t care for amusement parks. she’s anxious about her decorating abilities. she worries that she’s not normal. she’s constantly anxious. she’s even anxious that people thinks she anxious. she seems so odd, to say the least – odd enough that i want to be her friend.

i really love the urban family anxieties that she pours into each piece of satirical art (because that’s what any good cartoon is). she is real & honest & likable in a quirky sort of way. her cartoons are consistently endearing. i’ve come to expect her to speak eloquently – in a cartoonist’s way – about the anxiety-ridden side of life. she always delivers.

roz’s interesting background first got me interested in her work. the anecdotes she tells about her life seem to breed her art.

one of these stories happens to include halloween … she & her equally quirky husband live in a clapboard colonial in connecticut, where they’re known for their elaborate halloween displays. the funny thing is, roz hates halloween & it is her husband’s favorite time of year. he decorates the yard with enough props & characters that he has to rent a storage unit in town during the year to house all of it. neighbors & friends began to dump random give-away junk in their yard for his use on halloween. (this all began one year that he decided to buy a casket at the local funeral home to decorate with for the holiday – who does this?) but the funny thing is, roz has a sort of phobia about it all – each year she nervously sits inside all night, hanging out with the family’s parrots, eli & marco, as her husband hosts the block party of the year out in the front lawn on the day roz most dreads.

mr. & mrs. chast are polar opposites in many ways, but they seem to inspire one another & these are the sorts of stories that artists are happy to work from in their art. apparently, her life is filled with a ton of little vignettes such as the halloween one. she’s quite an interesting person with an interesting history.

& as any talented artist has the ability to do, chast has opened me up to a form of art i once scoffed at.

her self portrait (with her husband getting one of their kids ready for halloween):



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