What You Don't Know about The Norva's Rick Mersel

© 2011 Rick Mersel
Rick Mersel is a well-known figure in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. He's the co-owner of one of the hottest (and coolest) rock clubs in the area, The Norva in Norfolk, named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 5 concert venues in the country. (He also co-owns the The National in Richmond). While Rick is busy bringing awesome music acts to Norfolk, he also paints when the muse strikes. He gives us the lowdown on his artistic ventures.

Q. Tell me about your background in art. Could you draw nice stick figures growing up?

© 2011 Rick Mersel
My mother was both a painter and a sculptor and encouraged us to pursue artistic endeavors, however her talent did not make it through the umbilical cord and into me. As a child I could throw and catch a ball, shoot the duck with my sweet tennis shoe skates, and do some pretty radical tricks with my fake BMX bike but that is where my talents stopped (actually I was fantastic at both Battlezone and Defender). Sure, I could draw a house and maybe a bird and in my high school years I could draw the Pink Floyd and Aerosmith logos but that was it. Because I went to college in New Orleans, each summer I had the choice of coming home or staying for summer school. When I whipped out my brain scale, staying in New Orleans with the 18 year old drinking age easily outweighed burning my skin off at the beach trying to pursue hot lifeguard chicks that just did not seem to be interested for some reason (you better believe they are full of eternal, unremitting regret now!). Since I took summer school, I had an easy course load when the year began so I began to take Art History as sort of a blow-off credit. One thing I learned from my college years (the rest is very hazy) is that Art History is for me. Combining history with pretty colors, I was sold!  I enjoyed Vermeer, Henri Rousseau and Modigliani and strived to figure out what drew me to these guys (I guess it was sort of like Yacht Rock vs Grunge vs Hair Metal to put it into my present vernacular). But as far as letting out my creative gremlins, I turned to music and began to play the guitar and chose to "paint" my emotions with loud, repugnant twangs instead of greasy paint. 

© 2005 Rick Mersel
Q. What motivated you to start painting?

So here is where the story gets interesting. After my second daughter was born with some potentially dire issues, from which she has fully recovered, I needed an outlet to ease literally months of heightened tension. I decided slapping and throwing paint onto a canvass a la Jackson Pollock would be a good way to take out some frustrations and aggravations. Well I grabbed a couple of books, watched a couple of videos for basic techniques and was ready to get started. I first tried acrylic, but that medium just was not "goopy" enough to accomplish the true mess I was intentionally trying to create. I grabbed oil next and things began to happen. I think after many years of using Photoshop to create concert posters, flyers, web banners, etc, it had taught me layering and shadowing techniques that I was unaware that I could apply to painting. All of a sudden the mess started to resemble real scenes and I guess subconsciously I began to paint serene scenes and pictures of storms passing. I was encouraged so I tried out several different techniques. I guess some of them looked good because they actually made it passed the tough but very beautiful gate keeper and they now hang in my house. 

© 2005 Rick Mersel
Q. How often do you paint? I'm sure you're quite busy with your day job.

Since my time is increasingly limited, I paint basically as an outlet when I feel a creative urge. Hopefully, when I invent that cell phone app that makes me millions (damn Angry Birds!), I will have more time to devote to my divine pursuit of artistic mayhem, but until then I will keep Rockin' and Rolling !

Q. What's on your playlist when you paint?

Here is a list of some songs I jam to while I paint ... Many are from the good ol' days!

Sixty Eight Guns - The Alarm
Would? - Alice In Chains
Feed The Tree - Belly
Suddenly - The Bogmen
Cannonball - The Breeders
Under The Milky Way - The Church
Brimful of Asha - Cornershop
Dim - DADA
New Age Girl - Dead Eye Dick
Punk Rock Girl - The Dead Milkmen
Don't Run Wild - Del Fuegos
Straight To Hell - Drivin N Cryin
I Want It All - Eve's Plum
Soulfish - Everything
Mighty KC - For Squirrels
Whoever You Are - Geggy Tah
Unsung - Helmet
Little King - Hollowbodies
Bittersweet - Hoodoo Gurus
Come Anytime - Hoodoo Gurus
Stars - Hum
Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction
My Sister - Juliana Hatfield
Hear and Now - Letters to Cleo
No New Tale To Tell - Love and Rockets
Kim The Waitress - Material Issue
Hear - Moonpools and Caterpillars
Chloe Dancer - Mother Love Bone
Grey Cell Green - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
Between Something and Nothing - The Ocean Blue
Cut Your Hair - Pavement
She Says - The Rave Ups
Alex Chilton - The Replacements
3 Strange Days - School of Fish
Nearly Lost You - Screaming Trees
Drown - Smashing Pumpkins
Behind The Wall of Sleep - The Smithereens
Kool Thing - Sonic Youth
Somebody To Shove - Soul Asylum
Plowed - Sponge
Seether- Veruca Salt
Hobo Humpin Slobo Babe - Whale
BBQ - 2 Skinnee J's
Bend The Light - Fighting Gravity

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