Political blood sport
Christopher Jerome Baxter
Sacramento, CA 95816
Christopher Jerome Baxter, known simply as Jerome, creates paintings both political and nightmarish—which is kind of the same thing. In his first solo show ever, Jerome’s art reflects the grittier side of human nature, but his brushwork depicts this blood and gore in a most beautiful way. When Jerome isn’t painting, he’s busy beating drums and trying to not get parking tickets. You can take a gander at his work at the Upper Playground now through the end of April.
Can you tell me about this piece where there are demons about to tear this poor man to shreds?
Well, do you ever feel like things are trying to tear you apart? It’s kind of scary to me. This piece depicts demonlike creatures tearing into this guy. … It’s all about metaphor.
Tell me about this piece with Jesus and some female, pig-demon creature making out.
It’s titled “Inseparable.” Just the idea that good and evil are inseparable, and that it doesn’t matter if stuff happens and you think it’s evil, but realize that shit happens and that you can’t help the fact that you really can’t fight evil.
Are you originally from Sacramento?
No, I was born and raised in New York.
How’d you end up here?
You know, I’m still trying to figure that out. I just kinda wandered here in the ’80s. I like having the space and a yard and a driveway; that’s mostly why I like living here. In New York, everyone is on top of each other. There are a lot of cool local artists here, like Skinner, and Mike Rodriguez, too. The temperate weather is also nice.
Tell me about your show at Upper Playground.
It’s called Applied Chaos Theory, and it’s a collection of my acrylic and watercolor paintings. I’ve shown in a few group shows before at places like The Brickhouse [in Oak Park, 2837 36th Street], but this is my first lone show.
You like syringes.
A lot of people use drugs as a metaphor for many things. Like, people use drugs as a way to escape reality, and it doesn’t work. Karl Marx once said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Sometimes it’s used to keep people from engaging in critical thought. People use literal drugs in hopes of doing the same thing.
You’re also a drummer?
I’ve played for about 15 years. I’m in three bands: Dissident Aggressor, the Department of Evil [sometimes with Tribe of Levi] and Armed Forces Radio. The bands I play with channel pretty much everything from old-school hip-hop to Clash-style rock.
That’s pretty diverse.
I like to keep things interesting so I don’t go out on, like, a killing spree. I can’t afford the bullets anyway.
Or the gun, for that matter.
My neighbors hate drummers. I get the evil eye whenever I leave my home.
Oh yeah, one of my neighbors really hates me and called the cops multiple times. They always seem to come after we stop playing, which is always 10. Usually after practice, we all go to the bar, so no one is home when the cops do arrive. I had to hear through other neighbors that the cops had been at my place. Finally, I had to call the cops and ask them if I was causing problems. I said, “You know, the neighbors have been telling me that the police have been over here. So, uh, what’s up?” How do you like that for a change?
Have you talked to the neighbor?
Well, no one would tell me who it was, but I figured it out through process of elimination and through other people in the neighborhood.
Is she elderly?
No, I heard through the grapevine that she’s religious.
Give her a present. Send her “Inseparable.”
No, I don’t want any problems. We’re still practicing, so it’s cool. I was willing to work it out, but she refuses to speak to me. Whatever, you always have those neighbors. Plus, I haven’t had any court dates or tickets or anything in a while, which is unusual. (Knocks on wood.) No need to light the fire; I have to remain incognito.