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Vary rarely do you come across an artist who creates for the sake of creating. No agenda. No need for anything. This can almost become frustrating, although it is an admirable characteristic. You can walk into his garage, and see amazing art. Hold on, I don’t think you heard me. UH-MAY-ZING art. Lots of it. Maybe that’s what a true artist really is. Aaron Frisby is a father. A husband. His wife is an artist as well, creating jewelry and paintings. He is a teacher, but one that actually teaches. I’ve never met someone who didn’t have anything but nice things to say about this guy, so I was really looking for reasons to not like him. I didn’t find any. Maybe he spits his gum out on the sidewalk, or doesn’t tip well, who knows. I’m going to have to tell myself that, or I’ll just end up hating him for being unhateable.

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Serial Optimist: You have been known to spend hours at a time in old bookstores, antique shops. What’s the appeal?

Aaron Frisby: “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Going into an antique store, I am rarely seeking out anything in particular. There are objects I look through every time, records, postcards, photographs, but it’s the unforeseen items that get me excited. Sometimes I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Other times I run across something I used to own, or my brothers used to have, and it brings back the past. Also, I dig the set up of such spots; the way a booth owner arranges his/her section can be pleasing to the eye.

As for bookstores, I have particular authors I look for. My interest in reading is endless, for whenever I find something I like, it leads me to something new, and the process starts again. There is always something, someone, I am interested in. There, too, are the times that a book catches my eye, and that has the potential to start an entirely new obsession.

SO: You have been skateboarding for many, many years. What are your thoughts on how mainstream is has become? It’s like the new soccer for kids. Do you follow any current skaters, or care about things like the X-Games? If not, why?

Aaron: I was lucky enough to become addicted to skateboarding in the late eighties and early nineties, when the general public viewed us as punks, misfits, outcasts, undesirables, and I would not have wanted it any other way. This misunderstanding and distance from straight society allowed us the room to let our freak flags fly. Although there was a common thread among the small group of skaters in my town, each of us was unique. This individualism would become apparent, evident, in each skater’s style, which to me was the most exciting and important. With skateboarding becoming more “normal”, that is nearly lost; all the kids now try to do the same thing and they are not touching what once was. I don’t care or am not scared. There will always be the real deal out there, untouchable to the “normals”. As for the X-Games, I am not interested. They are trying to make money and are trying to make an art form a sport, both of which are ugly actions. I may watch it if I come across it, out of my love and interest in skateboarding, but I know that the X-Games arena is not where the action, or the magic, is at. It’s in the streets. I still somewhat follow the scene. I don’t feel I need to have every magazine and video that comes out, but I am totally still into skateboarding. My all-time favorite professionals would have to be Mark Gonzales and Jason Dill. Other, younger guys I like to watch are Dylan Rieder and Nate Broussard. My real heroes though are my friends who still roll, and the punks at the park.

SO: You have recently been taking lots of photographs as opposed to painting, what has drawn you to the lens as opposed to the brush?

Aaron: I don’t know that I do one any more than the other, really. I love both mediums and can be satisfied by each.

Actually, what I have been working on lately has been combining the two, so…
Nothing draws me more to one than the other. With me, though, when taking photos, I am somewhat on the move. I guess that is how I see photography, in a sense: catching a fleeting moment while you can. Painting is more stable, where setting is concerned. I have attempted to paint things that I photograph, and I suppose I’d like photographs of the images I paint. I guess it all comes down to composition; I put things in a frame.

SO: You’re an old soul, like old books, old writers, old movies, etc. Are you a fan of anything 2010? Are there any authors/artists/musicians that are current that you like?

Aaron: Most all the authors I read are dead- that’s true. I have read David Sedaris, but I haven’t really given anyone a chance. My friend writes me good letters, and I enjoy those. As for contemporary artists, I dig Chris Johanson. It’s tough. I am just not exposed to that much contemporary work. Again, my friends make cool stuff, and we share. I’m into the oldies, though. Maybe I am most up to date, out of those three, with music. There are a lot of current bands I like, maybe the top being The Evangelicals, out of Norman, Oklahoma. I really love that sound. Of Montreal is who I listen to when I mow my yard. I like what Atlas Sound does, and Animal Collective…

SO: You have been creating great art for a long time, yet you seem to have separation anxiety when it comes to getting rid of it or selling it. Explain that.

Aaron: I just have always had trouble with the transaction. Being a collector myself, I have a problem with letting go of things that I dig. Photos, no sweat; I will part easy with those, for I don’t have to lose it, but my paintings or collages are one-of-a-kind and I like them around, or they are part of a series (that’s one I use) and can’t be separated. People say that I could make another one (painting, collage, etc.), but I know that I couldn’t. They just come to be and I have more sentimental value in them than what money could buy. Now if the price were really attractive, I would reconsider…

Plus, I have a daydream that when I die the archive will be discovered and the kid will be set.

SO: When was the last time you giggled, and why?

Aaron: I giggled heavy a few nights ago at a buddy’s joint. He is a natural storyteller and spins naughty tales with voices and expressions that are the tops; Chris Noll should be famous. I listen sometimes to comedy tapes, and those make me smile.

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SO Note: Buy Aaron Frisby’s photography books Antique Shop and Curious from French Books, and check out his work here.