Spelunking in the Mind of a Mess: Darin Latimer on his Deathless-ness

Self-proclaimed ‘restaurant guy’, scrappy collector, writer and untrained artist, Darin Latimer is stepping into the public eye for his first, and might we say, long awaited, gallery show.

Deathless-ness: 10,000 Works (Eyes & Teeth Dept.) is a show informed by Latimer’s life-long obsessions on collecting from open spaces, writing, and one charismatic nod to a particular Emily Dickinson poem. Spending time around Darin, seeing his work and reading his words will happily shattered any concept school or pop culture has instilled in you as to what it means to be an artist. He is the representation we actually need in the art community. A human who creates.

In an interview with Latimer, he opened up about his background and relationship to the work.

In the Penal Colony (for James C. Harrison)
“On conventional checklists I am, or was, one of all the following sorts of collectors – Antique, Record, Book (decidedly), Movie, Movie Poster, Vinyl Sculpture (or Toy), Comic Book, Baseball and Basketball Card, Commercial Sign and Packaging, Art (particularly Sculpture because I can’t yet make my own) – these are the conventional categories and the detritus of most of them are still hanging around in my life somewhere.”
-Darin Latimer

“..on the brass tacks level, I have almost no technical training.,” said Latimer. “If someone walked up to me and said ‘the fate of the Free World depends on you making a lithograph – Right Now!’ – I’d give it my best but the kids at Dick Blick would have to tell me how to do everything.”

And that they would, happily. In hoity artistic circles, sometimes the driving force can become more a game of who has the thorough ‘technical’ training–forgotten is it that the best form of training to art is having lived.  

“… (in the past) … I simply could not figure how to make the picture in my head and would struggle quite ineptly towards it. I came to realize this might be a back door to a good thing,” Latimer reveals.

A creator since childhood, his mother would drop him off at workshops when he wasn’t drawing on the job at his father’s store. He would skip school to spend days digging through any and every open lot of land for treasure, spelunking, and photographing.  

“I did find ways to get there … but I also started letting go of the urge to reproduce that very image (which almost always started with drawing) and not just accept that I was making ‘something else’ but fight to get to the something else and make it memorable and different..”

Green Maureen (Quiet Man)
-Darin Latimer

If life turns out nothing like we plan, and art is a representation of that life, it would only make sense to have the plan in your mind be a stranger to the outcome on the page. But why is this gap so often seen as a failure, when there is power in owning that difference, and power in welcoming the stranger you end up with, getting to know that piece of art and therefore a little more about yourself? We are not our imagination, we are what we do.

“If I wanted to be fancy I could talk about the successful ‘rhythm’ of some drawings versus others, but that would diminish the contribution of those ‘failed’ drawings to the better ones…I now enjoy getting socked in the jaw to see what happens after,” he says.

Who’s going to tell the kids at Blick?

Like all artists, the personal trials of Latimer’s life have played a role in the creation of Deathlessness.

“.. while preparing for this show, I had a health crisis,” admitted Latimer. “It turned this show and my approach to making art into another ‘something else’..” ‘Something else’ being a transformation, and again vastly different than expected.

“In the months running up I went through dozens of tests and was expecting a very grim diagnosis.. (I got) kind of the best bad news possible. I began making 2, 3…half a dozen new works a day. It’s all in the show,” Latimer said.

And he does mean all. In helping load the show, I was able to personally experience the mass amounts of work in Latimer’s portfolio. Would you like to sit? Just hold that on your lap. You’re welcome.

City of God (Land of Z)
-Darin Latimer

In preparation for the show, there was discussion of art hanging from the ceilings, or utilizing ceiling space, both of which I had never heard discussed for an opening. There is a small bit of my ‘something else’.

Lastly, I asked Darin to explain what ‘deathless-ness’ means to him. Is that any different than life itself?

“The reason this show is called ‘Deathlessness’ is a movie and literary reference. The movie reference has an echo of regret because it was never made, and I should know. I wrote it,” Latimer said. “The title had a two-fold inspiration for the script.  I culled it from an Emily Dickinson Poem. This is the poem – (titled “I Am Afraid to Own a Body”)

I am afraid to own a Body—

I am afraid to own a Soul—

Profound – precarious Property—

Possession, not optional –

Double Estate – entailed at Pleasure

Upon an unsuspecting Heir –

Duke in a Moment of Deathlessness

And God, for a Frontier

Whether anyone else sees it, buys it, even cares – I can realize an image or a thing all by myself. I like that.”

The opening reception for “Deathless-ness: 10,000 Works”  will be held at the Elephant Room art gallery, 704 S. Wabash Ave., on April 6 from 6-9 p.m. Artist Darin Latimer will be present. Contact kim@elephantroomgallery.com with inquiries.

Article by Taylor Imel


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