When talking to Thomas Ahrens, who paints under the moniker Bat-Brain, it's hard to keep up. He jumps energetically from topic to topic, sometimes without finishing sentences. The 25-year-old Chula Vista native even laughs about how transcribing an interview with him would be a nightmare.

"That's where Bat-Brain came from," he says. "My friends are always, like, 'Where the fuck is your head at? You're over here one second and over here another second." But it all makes sense, and I'm relating to it, and I have a story to tell. They're like, 'Dude, it's like you have a fucked-up bat in your head.' In a sense, it kind of is. I'm everywhere."

Nothing sparks Ahrens more than talking about his art. "Power," his bold piece on the cover of this week's issue of CityBeat, was done solely with Sharpie paint pens and markers, his implements of choice. It's inspired by the idea of empowerment and symbols from Rastafarian culture.

"To me, living in Chula Vista, you embrace all that culture," he says, then names various Chula Vista reggae bands and the club nights he frequents.

More than anything, Ahrens has no patience for ego. He gets riled up talking about other artists who've turned their noses up at him before realizing he's an artist, too, or have tried to one-up his work.

"It's like I just bought this cool soccer ball and people will be, like, 'Well, I have this whole bag of soccer balls.' And I'm, like, 'Cool. So do you want to play soccer or not?'" he says.

Ahrens draws and exhibits whenever he gets the chance. Next up, he'll be part of Horrible Monster Summer, a group art show and benefit for the Horrible Monster Society artist collective, opening from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Evolution Fast Food (2965 Fifth Ave. in Bankers Hill). 


Write to alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also bug her on Twitter.

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