Crossover Artists: Branching Out with Lynch, Byrne, and Atwood


You’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale, like, four times since tenth grade and worship Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet. And the Talking Heads Stop Making Sense? Default party soundtrack. These pieces of pop culture history are classics, sure, but things get really interesting when an artist so accomplished in one field — filmmaking, music, literature — gets antsy and takes up a new hobby. After the jump, we check in with crossover artists Margaret Atwood, David Lynch, and David Byrne.

David Lynch’s Crucifixion (2008-9) and I Burn Pinecone (2009), courtesy of Griffin LA.

David Lynch: director, auteur, visionary. Add in a dose of ambiguity, dark humor, a distinct aesthetic, and little bit o’ crazy and you have all the fixings for a visual artist of the highest caliber. Earlier this year, Lynch contributed artwork for Danger Mouse and Sparkehorse album Dark Night of the Soul, culminating in a multimedia art/sound installation with Danger Mouse at LA’s Michael Kohn Gallery. This month brings Lynch’s first painting show in a decade, now on display at Griffin, also in The City of Angels (where else? David Lynch is Los Angeles). His “monumental” canvases are sized eight-by-ten feet and incorporate terrifying creatures and ambiguous landscapes — though we have yet to see blond women, red curtains, or dwarves.

Bicycle racks designed by David Byrne in New York, photos courtesy of New York City DOT.

Former Talking Head David Byrne is no stranger to the exploration of creative disciplines. He scored The Last Emperor, designed bicycle racks for the city of New York, published five books, dates Cindy Sherman, and is collaborating on play about Imelda Marcos. His latest book, a “behind-the-handlebars viewpoint” of cycling through urban environments, is as much a meditation on city planning as it is a non-fiction narrative. Sample sentence from The Bicycle Diaries: “Riding a bike through all this is like navigating the collective neural pathways of some vast global mind.” We’re hoping he helped design the book cover, too.

To promote her latest novel — The Year of the Flood, a follow-up to the apocalyptic Oryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood is taking her show on the road with a series of performance art pieces disguised as book promotion. Not the average strategy for a grand dame of fiction; in fact, Atwood’s publisher Ellen Seligman calls the project “unprecedented” in the field of publishing. Each performance (sorry, in Canada only) feature 14 hymns which Atwood composed with the help of L.A.-based Orville Stoeber. The lady’s tech-savvy as well: Atwood helped design the book tour website and is posting to a blog and a Twitter feed.