Seemingly, there’s no household material that Carl Horn will not make into art, even when he was little and crawling around his childhood home in Huntington.
“I used to doodle on the kitchen floor,” Horn said while taking a break from hanging his artwork at Toast in Port Jefferson for his exhibit in the monthly FRESH Art Long Island show. “My parents had to make a fake linoleum floor for me to draw on and wean me on to paper.”
From the looks of the art he was hanging for his show, it didn’t work out exactly as his parents planned.
Horn uses wood, house paint, insulation and burlap to make three dimensional work all with a dark undercurrent of skulls, death masks and – apropos of the season – the macabre.
“I have a little bit of a dark side,” Horn admitted.
In one piece titled “Forever Mine,” the artist fashioned a hand grasping a burlap covered Voodoo doll sculpted out of foam insulation. The sculpture is attached to a piece of wood dripped with household paint to make it look weathered. The theme behind the art is taking a person’s heart to the grave, according to the artist.
Like much of the artwork in his show, it’s dark but with a bit of whimsy.
He’s learned to skillfully craft his materials so that it doesn’t overtake the art. It’s about the image, the craft is apparent but invisible to the viewer.
Horn’s use of material is translated from his day job as the owner of a sign shop in Northport called Eclipse Signs. He is surrounded by stuff that he can grab and transform into artwork.
A graduate of Walt Whitman High School in 1991, Horn went on to take Advertising Art and Design at SUNY Farmingdale. He hit the streets to find work after college and landed a gig painting murals on storefronts mostly illustrating seasonal themes and images of food on the plate glass window fronts for delis and gas stations.
“I was getting paid nothing but loved every minute of it,” Horn said. “I was a graffiti artist who got paid.”
He got involved with FRESH Art Long Island when a friend introduced him to the collective of local artists. His pieces, with their morbid themes and dark feel were perfect for the October show leading into the Halloween season.
The show is titled “Grimm.” Like the German brothers whose collections popularized folk stories and fairy tales, some of them thematically dark, Horn tells a story in his work.
One set of work depicts the Seven Deadly Sins in a series of skulls.
“The idea is death by your sins,” Horn explained.
In another called “Sugar Girl,” he painted his muse in a death mask inspired by figures depicted during the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated on Nov. 1 to remember friends and family who have passed on to the next world.
Horn described his work as morbid.
“The more into it I got, the more sadistic the pieces became,” he said.
Though his work is dark, Horn himself has a disarmingly normal look. He says his business meetings with clients prevents him from going too far off in his personal appearance but vows the exterior doesn't match his interior.
“My natural appearance should be covered in paint,” he said.
The opening of Carl Horn’s exhibit “Grimm” with FRESH Art Long Island will be Thursday night from 7 to 11 p.m. at Toast. His art will be showing through the end of the month.
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