We chatted with Cue Perry about the ways Pittsburgh inspires his art and what an ideal day exploring his neighborhood (Northside) would look like.
A native of Manchester in the Northside of Pittsburgh, local artist Cue Perry is inspired by his surroundings. By channeling his views on social, political and cultural issues into visual representations, Perry showcases culture with illustrations and drawings that are commissioned and displayed all around the city.
As an artist, where in Pittsburgh provides the most inspiration for you? Is there a specific neighborhood, place you like to go, etc.?
I love to walk the trails and enjoy nature in the city. It helps me clear my head to make room for creativity. Some of my favorite places are Riverview Park, any of the riverwalk trails and the Overlook.
How is body painting or even live painting different than producing work at home or in the studio? What draws you to this type of art?
Body painting and live painting are very, very different than creating in a studio. With body painting, you have to deal with personalities of the model or models and be considerate of their comfort level above all else. [It’s] more of a collaborative effort with you and the model. Live painting is exciting because people rarely get to see how art is created, and I often come up with concepts on the spot, or get ideas from the crowd. I try to make it a bit interactive if possible and fun for everyone. It’s a huge change of pace over being isolated in a studio, painting.
Let’s talk about being an artist in Pittsburgh. Do you think is it easier than in bigger cities? What about Pittsburgh helps or hinders you as a professional artist?
The art scene in Pittsburgh is growing. A bit slower than I would like to see, but growing nonetheless. I think it’s actually harder in Pittsburgh to thrive as an artist; the market isn’t nearly as big as New York or California. Pittsburgh is a historical city; I feel that is a huge help in motivation and inspiration. From sports to arts to culture – a lot of great things came from this city, and I plan to be one of them.
You are from the Northside (Manchester, specifically). If you were going to make a perfect day of exploring the Northside, where would you go?
I would start my day getting breakfast from Lindos, then walk a few blocks and check out the Mattress Factory in the Mexican War Streets. After that, I’d stop at Gus & Yiayia’s for icey balls. The nostalgic feelings are unmatched once you see that orange and yellow cart. From there, either a walk to PNC Park and catch an afternoon baseball game. Or if I’m in a more relaxed mood, I’d check out Arnold’s Tea on East Ohio St. It is always a good vibe there, and I always bump into friends.
Everyone knows Andy Warhol, but who are some other Pittsburgh artists that inspire you?
I have a few, actually. Romare Bearden – once I discovered he attended a Pittsburgh Public School, I was instantly intrigued. Baron Batch, although he isn’t from Pittsburgh, he is based here. Early on, I had quite a few conversations with him, and he really pushed me to actually become an artist. Darrell Kinsel – I met Darrell when I was 22 years old, randomly at a bus stop, and to see the things he has done with Boom Concepts is nothing short of amazing.
We listened to your interview on the “#24HourHustle” podcast, and after receiving a surprising email, you have some of your art hanging in the mayor’s office. Is there any other unexpected places that folks can see your work? Where were some of your favorite places to have an art show? Where would you like to have your art on display that you haven’t yet?
Yes, actually the piece I had in the City-County Building sold last year. Unexpected would be the cigar bar BLEND in downtown Pittsburgh; they have two of my pieces. The restaurant Honest John’s in Homestead and the Urban Academy of Pittsburgh are huge supporters. I also have work displayed at the University of Pittsburgh Community Engagement Center in Homewood. Live body painting at the Science Center was extremely unexpected, and last year I designed the cover of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music’s annual brochure and they unveiled it at the Carnegie Museum and invited me to display art there that evening. I would love to have an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, like a six-month exhibition. I love to work on larger canvases, and not many galleries have the space for them.
You collaborated with Knotzland on some bow ties, and now you have your own Leona’s ice cream sandwich. What collaboration is next? Who would you love to work with?
Working with Knotzland was a great learning experience. I also recently did a collaboration with Surmesur custom menswear. I would love to work with Wigle Whiskey or Stateside Vodka to come up with some cool ideas.
Header Photo: Alexander Corrie