Terri Beth Mitchell is a pop-surrealism painter who likes poking fun at the excesses of American culture. She's a bit of an undercover feminist, too, often using bright pinks, glitter and an otherwise stereotypically girly palette to make fun of the ways women are often represented.
In other words, her paintings are both poignant and hilarious.
"I don't think I can take myself seriously," Mitchell says, sitting in her North Park apartment beneath her portrait of a reclined Michael Jackson blowing a big pink bubble while stroking a bright-blue blowup dolphin. "There's probably some sort of insecurity going on there. I feel comfortable being funny. I feel safe there—like, it's not serious, so how can you criticize it?"
"Jesus Fish," the piece on CityBeat's cover this week, was Mitchell's contribution to the Release the Kraken exhibition at Little Italy's Subtext gallery in 2011. The curators of the show collected paintings from estate sales and thrift stores and handed off the works to dozens of artists, who then added their own sea monsters.
"I didn't know what to do with mine," says Mitchell, who'll have a new piece hanging in Everything Framed, an exhibition opening at La Bodega (2196 Logan Ave. in Barrio Logan) from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 7. "Then it just hit me that it would be funny to make a freshwater trout with Jesus' head on it. Kinda creepy. Kinda funny. Kinda edgy. I don't really think it's that edgy, but I'm sure someone does."