In the 10 years that Tractor Room has been open, David Russell Talbott reckons he’s had an art show at the Hillcrest restaurant and cocktail bar nearly every year. He recalls the first show in the summer of 2007, but struggles to remember all the details of every show since then.
“I think this is the eighth or ninth one,” says Talbott, when asked about The Last Call, a show of new work opening Thursday, July 7, from 6 to 9:30 p.m., just a few days before the Tractor Room closes for good.
Talbott is known for his noir-inspired brand of pop-surrealism that he’s lovingly dubbed “Pulpcore.” Think of it as Rockwellian Americana and vintage Hollywood as filtered through the mind of someone like Chuck Palahniuk. The playful, but dark subject matter was often perfectly suited for the den-like atmosphere of Tractor Room.
“There’s humor in it and it’s satire, but it’s also a commentary on the issues and things that we may be turning a blind eye to,” Talbott says. “I enjoy doing the art, but I’ve always felt that there has to be a point to it.”
Even before he started showing his work at Tractor Room, Talbott had a long history with owner Johnny Rivera. The two went to high school together and played in a band called Infantry. Even after the band split, the two remained close and Rivera offered Talbott a hosting job when Tractor Room first opened. This eventually led to the art shows.
Talbott’s work for The Last Call will feature new pieces from a series called “Zombies Among Us,” that he says is more of a social commentary on what he calls “our walking dead culture.” There’s also works from his vintage comic-book series called “Batvisions” which spoofs the propagandizing, Golden Age era of superheroes such as Wonder Woman and Batman.
“I took these old stories like with Wonder Woman, for example, instead of her fighting gangsters, she’s Mexican and fighting the Tea Party,” Talbott says. “It’s using the same format but just inserting new people into those scenarios.”
Talbott says he’d be open to showing his work at Rivera’s other local restaurants such as Hash House a Go Go and Great Maple, but is happy with the legacy of the Tractor Room shows.
“It’s all very bittersweet,” Talbott says. “Obviously, I loved doing the art shows there, but we’re hoping to go out on a good note.”