It's an artist's job to transport us, but that's no big secret. A Claude Lorrain landscape can just about take you to Tivoli, Italy, at sunset and a John Singer Sargent can make you feel like you're all but in the room with those four girls.
For me, the first time I saw Sean Naylor's drawing on this week's cover of CityBeat, I immediately thought of little Sarah, a childhood friend. Poor. Little. Sarah. An overactive imagination at age 6 and prone to assign feelings to inanimate objects, she was always the crying type. Steal her doll? A crime on a par with kidnapping. Insult her stuffed lion? She'd threaten to tell her mom if you didn't apologize to the beast.
And then there was the piñata incident. I'm sure any remaining neighbors from that particular block still recall the banshee-like, blood-curdling scream that came from my house as soon as I busted that papier-mâché-and-cardboard zebra's ass. The kids scrambled like pigeons on some tossed-away bread crumbs. Sarah just screamed and cried. I'm sure that by the time I killed that zebra and collected its Tootsie Roll innards, it was already her best friend in the whole world. Goodbye, zebra.
Admittedly, I haven't thought about that little girl in years. I'll bet she still owns all her stuffed animals. An artist's job is to transport us. Sean Naylor is a good artist.
'When I was originally envisioning the idea of my exploding piñata, I knew that I wanted to make something kinda comical and colorful, but a little gross and cute at the same time,' Naylor says, when asked about that poor donkey in 'When I Explode.' 'I've been asked many times what exactly the pink gooey stuff coming out of the little guy is. Bubble gum, perhaps? I don't think anyone has been terribly disturbed by my work, but I can always tell when someone doesn't quite get it on some pieces.'
A critic might peg him as just another low-brow artist in a scene saturated with them, but his work is much more playful, influenced by a steady diet of animation and Mad magazine. He freely admits to being more influenced by Ren & Stimpy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than the sunset and the Sargents of the world.
'Some of my non-commercial artwork is kind of random, kind of creepy,' says the 27-year-old transplant from Daytona Beach. 'But, hopefully, it's kind of funny, as well. I enjoy making people laugh and always try to bring that out in my artwork.'
He's channeled this talent into a professional career creating art for Harley-Davidson's seasonal catalogs, as well as artwork for musical acts like Tim McGraw and San Diego metal band As I Lay Dying. He fancies it enough but would love to see his more comical, original work hanging in a gallery.
'The art scene here was a huge plus for why I moved here,' Naylor says. 'There's a lot of great art coming out of San Diego right now. I'm a big fan of the monthly evening art events like Ray at Night and Kettner Nights and would love to show some of my work at one of them some day.'