Photograph of Jeremy Cross by Thomas R. Cordova, Long Beach Post

Story telling is the most powerful tool we have against repeating mistakes and avoiding disasters.

Jeremy Cross

If his paintings are any indication, a journey into dark lowbrow artist Jeremy Cross’s head would be disorienting in the best possible way.

Jeremy’s warped clown-colored interpretations of skulls, zombies and other misfit characters are often surprising and always fun.

Jeremy throws himself into any form of artistic expression that crosses his path. He is an oil painter, pyrographer, fabricator, graphic designer, carpenter, musician, and a podcast host.

Jeremy is also the Co-conspirator of the Dark Art Emporium (DAE) gallery and store in Long Beach alongside owner Jeremy Schott. He’s put his mark on that gallery and Schott’s other venture, the fantastic pizza place 4th Horseman. Of 4th Horseman Jeremy says, “The aesthetic is bonkers. Like all 4 of our heads exploded and dried to a crust on the walls 30 years ago. A lot of care went in to making it look like its been there for decades.”

I caught up with Jeremy to find out not only how he is coping with social distancing, but also to see what is happening with the small businesses he’s aligned with in these difficult times.

F.T.W. by Jeremy Cross

As Co-conspirator of an art gallery and a parent in addition to being an artist, how has your daily life changed since the spread of Covid-19?

Like everyone it’s been a complete upheaval. But I don’t want to sound like I’m in the worst situation, luckily I’m not. But it has its challenges.

Homeschooling is hard as hell. The Graymonster [Jeremy’s son] isn’t an easy going child, he’s stubborn and smart and manipulative. Makes us both proud and frustrated as hell on the daily.

But I’m also getting a lot of painting done. I’ve also been playing and recording music and doing a lot of yard work. So being productive hasn’t been an issue.

But the isolation can be draining. I’m a very social creature. I’ve had a few moments of real darkness, but again, I’m lucky and have my work and my family to focus on and support me through those.

Along with Jeremy Schott, you’ve poured a ton of energy into building small local businesses that mean a lot to artists, patrons and pizza consumers, what is it like seeing those businesses closed and what are your hopes for the future?

The support for the Horseman has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Having the gallery move just before the crisis was a real bummer. We spent months moving into and creating a much larger gallery that looks amazing and only a few hundred people got to see it before we shuttered. We are going to pull through and the doors will reopen. And I like to think our community will rally hard when that happens. Its going to be like opening the flood gates.

But we need people supporting us with online sales in the mean time. Our next show is going to be a real doozy and while we are bummed that “COMMUNION” will be opening in a closed gallery, we have started using Virtual Reality to create a way for patrons to visit from home.

The soft opening of Dark Art Emporium in Long Beach shortly before the stay at home order took effect in California. Photo provided by Jeremy Cross.

Some of your paintings have featured monstrous caricatures of despot or fascist-like characters, but generally your work feels surreally unmoored from reality. During this time when things feel hyper-real, do you think there is space for the type of work you create and why or why not?

It’s funny, much of my work in the past year has been centered around groups of characters, tightly packed together and reacting to one another in public settings. So that feels extra surreal right now.

I have also been embracing the humor in my work. It’s always been there, maybe less obviously than now, I decided to let it take the center stage. It’s a big part of who I am and how I function in society. I talk a lot of shit and poke a lot of fun at people. I like to think its with a good spirit and my paintings better reflect that now.

Maybe now more than in any other recent time, we need things that make us laugh.

Lurchin Parade by Jeremy Cross

What role (if any) does art and the artist have at a time of crisis?

Art is so important during hard times, it acts as mirror, spotlight and historian. Reflecting the world it’s created in and sometimes distorting it just enough that we see things from a different perspective. It can hold the light into the darkest corners and either show that there’s nothing dangerous lurking there or illuminate the danger in a way that draws attention to the problem.

And art has always been a great historian, documenting the world and its horrors. Giving us an alternate view of those moments in time.

Art is a form of story telling. Whether it be painting, writing or music. Story telling is the most powerful tool we have against repeating mistakes and avoiding disasters.

Additionally, what responsibility (if any) do galleries and patrons have to support artists at this time?

I know a lot of people just don’t have the means right now to buy art, but for those that do, it’s vital.

This will pass and if we don’t keep the places that exhibit the work we love open, then they’re just going to be gone.

I also hope struggling galleries find a way to make it work, be creative, think of new ways to get your artists work seen and people interested.

We have a lot of things in the works. And some of them are going to be really fun for our supporters. For one, I’ve finally got my Podcast! “Art Pit – The DAE Podcast” ep 1 is in the can and will be out for consumption very soon! [Since Jeremy and I corresponded, Art Pit is online]

Grave Study 6 of the Evergreen Cemetery Los Angeles by Jeremy Cross

Are you making art? If you are making art, what have you been working on?

I’ve been painting. I’ve also had a few commissions I’m working on/ graphic design projects, so I’m staying busy.

I recently began combining my love of visiting old cemeteries with my work. Under the moniker JC GRAVES (yup im dumb), I’ve been taking the photographs I shoot at the cemeteries and doing oil studies of them. I’ve done about 15 so far. We have been visiting a lot of cemeteries since the apocalypse began. I’ve gathered enough shots for another 30 easily. So I’m planning on diving in to that soon.

I also have two big shows coming up in the next 18 months or so: a feature at DAE and a solo exhibition at Stranger Factory sometime next year.

So I’ve been working on those. Creating lots of studies and finishing paintings. I want to make them both killer shows that will surprise people with both the increased skillset and content of the works.

Are there any supplies or tools that you rely on or would like to have but are currently struggling to get?

I’m lucky that I’m an art supply hoarder. I’ll be ok for awhile. I also get a lot of materials from hardware stores, not art supply joints, so that helps.

What kind of art have you been consuming and why? Is this different than what you typically consume?

Aside from the work that comes in to our gallery, I’m not seeing much, I’ll be honest. But I am also not seeing a lot of galleries posting.

But the live painting trend on SM is great. I’m doing it too. It’s a great way to get some social interaction while working. And with a virtual tip jar, you might make a few bucks as well.

Love Rebel by Jeremy Cross

How is your mental health? Do you feel that you have been doing things to take care of yourself and if you do what are those things?

I’m ok. I’m always a bit of a nut, I mood swing like I’m hanging from a rope. So that’s pretty normal. I smoke a lot more weed these days to keep it under control and from affecting my family. We are pretty good at allowing space and giving each other support though.

Like I said the isolation can be hard. But we are all finding ways around that. Zoom parties are fun, and I actually call people now just to check in and see how they are. We should all be doing more of that, I think.

What shows at Dark Art Emporium have been cancelled or postponed?

We actually had a month without a show planned due to Monsterpalooza, so we have only pushed out 1 show so far. Communion was supposed to open this month, now it’s in May.

I’m guessing galleries set their schedules months or even longer in advance. Without concrete dates ending quarantine how are you handling things moving forward?

Yeah we usually have ourselves booked out more than 12 months, but we have halted.

We are still booked through the end of the year though and are hoping things track to keep that the same.

It’s a lot of wait and see at the moment. See what works, what doesn’t and just doing our best to keep the hope up that this will resolve sooner than later.

Conversations at Alex by Jeremy Cross

Have you changed tactics in marketing your personal work digitally? Or are you trying to reach fans of your work in other ways?

I’ve been pushing my Patreon. I post a lot of stuff there first or only there. I won’t post finished pieces for a solo show on Facebook or Instagram , but I’ll post it there along with live videos and time lapses of me working.

It’s all about creating another way to engage your people. But it’s tough getting people on board, even for a buck a month. if anyone wants to check it out. I even posted a new song there yesterday.

For someone whose livelihood depends in part on small local businesses, has your financial situation been affected by the spread of Covid-19?

I’m very lucky that I live in a multi-income household that is currently sustaining. But we are playing it safe.

What can we do to support your work at this time?

Support my Patreon, that would be the best way. Or buy my work, either from me or the galleries that rep me.

I have a lot of prints and originals up in my store at

Stranger Factory has a number of my originals .

And there are still more prints and originals that are only available through the DAE .

Thank you so much to Jeremy for taking the time to answer these questions.

You can hear Jeremy and Jeremy shoot the shit on their new Podcast, Art Pit. I recommend it if you feel like you need some twisted company.

DAE is physically closed, but they are still doing online shows on their website. The group show Communion opens this Saturday online.

The 4th Horseman in Long Beach is still doing delivery and pick up of their delicious horror inspired pizzas (not delivering to Los Angeles unfortunately so none for me right now sad face.)

To see more of Jeremy’s artwork, visit his website, his Patreon, DAE, Stranger Factory, or follow him on Instagram.