“Matt the Weird.” Matt Ritter is ready for that nickname after people take a gander at his latest paintings and illustrations at Appetite for the Arts at the Erie-Ottawa International Airport Aug. 15-17.
Here’s a sampling: A gaggle of 1930s-style cartoon characters fronting a band. A melting Mickey Mouse, his shoes dripping away into nothingness like runny eggs. And a painting of Jesus, conventionally posed but wearing a mask resembling hot-rod character Rat Fink.
“I’m going back to my roots as an illustrator, but with the technical skills I developed doing portraits and landscapes and experimenting with color for so many years,” said Ritter of Castalia, also a brewer at the Catawba Island Brewery. (The chalk drawings behind the bar are his.) “I get inspiration mainly from my childhood, when I was slinging pizza with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and being obsessed with Mickey Mouse and the world Walt Disney created. It’s fun to take those experiences and reimagine them as an adult.”
Matt was always a fan of the weirder, “darker side of things” – H.R. Giger (his designs inspired the creature in the movie “Alien”), Salvador Dali, George Carlin. But only recently did he become confident enough in his painting skills to revisit his ability to create otherworldly characters. His preferred medium is acrylics, although “I never felt I understood color until I began painting with oils on a daily basis,” he said.
“I still enjoy painting many things, and I’m thankful for the purpose my earlier work served,” Matt said. “But I’m moved on with a sense of reinvention, and I feel extremely happy with what I have going on.”
See Matt’s creations – as well as other artists’ jewellery, paintings, metals, woodworking, sculpture and photography at Appetite for the Arts, a fundraiser for the Greater Port Clinton Area Arts Council. It kicks off in the huge new hangar behind the Liberty Aviation Museum with “The Main Course” gala 6 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15.
Partygoers can bid for special art during a silent auction, listen and dance to the music of the Junk and the Naked Bacon Band, and enjoy gourmet sliders, made-to-order paella and other offerings from 1812 and Cielo Grande Tapas restaurants at a variety of serving stations. Tickets are $75 for the gala and are available online through portclintonarts.org and locally at Mary’s Blossom Shoppe, Keith A Fleming Gallery, Bassetts and Real Living Morgan Realty Group.