When Washington residents were told to “stay home and stay safe,” Rick Perry of Olympia knew just what he had to do: He began work on an oversized drawing that has been evolving as he adds characters requested by local children.
Started on March 28 with a pair of raccoons, the densely packed drawing that is the centerpiece of Perry’s Oly House Arrest project now includes an alien abducting a cupcake, a cheetah-patterned sloth, a talking taco and even an appropriately unpleasant-looking COVID-19 virus.
Drawing whimsical characters is nothing new for Perry, who makes art mostly under the alias P. Calavara, and neither is doing interactive projects. He’s made quite a few of the large drawings, using 22- by 30-inch paper — “the biggest size they sell at Michael’s,” as he puts it.
“I did one at my kids’ elementary school, Lincoln, a year or so ago,” he told The Olympian. “The kids would tell me what to draw. They would put notes in a box and then I would take it home and bring it back on Monday morning. The kids loved seeing it updated. They would flock to the library at recess to get caught up.
“It’s one of those little things for people to look forward to,” he added. “We’re all trapped at home, so I thought I would do something to try to help entertain people a little bit.”
Perry’s concern for keeping kids entertained makes sense when you learn he has three of them — Thurston, 10; Dashiell, 7; and Bastian, 5 — and even more sense if you’ve tried talking to him on the phone while the trio is home with their dad serving as supervisor-in-chief while his wife, Audrey Perry, is teaching science via computer to Washington Middle School students in another room. He’s interrupted often by such mini-crises as Bastian crying over literal spilled milk.
Perry also is marking the pandemic with masked versions of plywood cutout monsters he calls Krommitters, colorful characters ranging in height from a few inches to 6 or 7 feet.
“I can’t for sure remember why I made the first ones,” he said. “The kids told me to make a monster, and that was something I could crank out very quickly and easily. … The front of our house is covered with these monsters, and I brought a bunch of them to Arts Walk four or five years ago.”
The masks are, of course, recent additions to mark this time of pandemic.
“It’s just a reaction to the situation we’re all living in,” he said. “I come at art from a cartooning and comics background. If you’re doing a cartoon animal or a cartoon anything — if you’re making a piece of pizza that’s alive — the symbol to make it a girl is eyelashes.”
He envisions the creatures scattered all over town at the homes of people he knows, forming sort of a scavenger hunt.
When, that is, he has time to get more made while caring for the children, dealing — as everyone is — with an international health crisis, updating the House Arrest drawing and working on the next installment of his serialized novel “Kahnaway.”
“I’m just a compulsive creator,” he said. “I’m always drawing, or writing, or painting, or whatever. I just have all of this stuff inside of me that I have to find a way to get out, kind of a mix of emotions and, like, when you get a song stuck in your head that tortures you until you can listen to it to get rid of it. It’s like that, but with desperate cartoon robots and animals drinking coffee while contemplating their depression.”
Oly House Arrest
- What: Check out the day-by-day changes to a giant drawing by Olympia artist P. Calavara (also known as Rick Perry), download coloring pages and check out photos of Calavara’s masked monsters.
- Where: http://olyhousearrest.com