bill ross

How would you describe what you do?
I see myself as a sort of confessional artist/painter.   I describe what I do as “slap stick surrealism”.   An artist writer friend, Matt Morris said my work takes the viewer to a place where birdbaths are terrifying.  This is what I want to do.  I strive for an overall weird intensity in my work.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  I draw from my childhood mostly, hence the confessional piece, and I try to create absurdly intense imagery using cakes, animals, giant trees, appliances, water towers and occasional bird baths all in bright concussion color.

What am I working on now?
It is a busy spring.  Tomorrow night 4-29-11 we are opening a show called 2+2=5 at Thunder-Sky Inc.  A nonprofit Gallery I help to run.  I have a number of collaborations in this show with some other great artists from the Cincinnati area. Check it out at  I just had a large show of my work at The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center.  The show was called “The Art of Food”.  I am currently working on a couple of collaborative pieces with artist Drew Kidd for a show called “Superwhat?” that will open June 25th at Greenwich Gallery.  I am also very excited that I will have work in the June show at U-turn Gallery here in Cincinnati in a small arts district known as Brighton.  My partner Keith and I are also preparing for a Thunder-Sky Inc exhibit at Howard Finster’s “Paradise Gardens” near Athens GA. in the middle of May.

What have been the greatest influences on my work?
I would be lying if I didn’t say first and foremost Keith Banner.  He is an amazing writer and visual artist as well as a creative thinker and I am happy to say we have been together for 21 years as a couple.   But besides Keith as far as visual artists go, I would say Max Ernst is the artist I find myself going back to as well as Thomas Hart Benton and Ed  Keinholtz.  I also draw from the confessional poets Ann Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Theodore Roethke.  My favorite poem right now is “The Lost Son”.  It is truly amazing!

What is the greatest misconception about you or your work?
I am not sure if there are too many misconceptions about my work.  I think people either really get it and love it or they don’t get it and disregard it and that is fine with me.  It truly makes me happy though when people like what I do and I am thrilled when people actually want to buy my work.  As for myself, Rupaul says “What other people think or say about me is none of my concern”.  I love this little piece of sanity

What do you see as the main strengths and weakness of my work?
I have been told I have an obviously recognizable style.  In my solo work I tell people I am basically painting the same painting over and over again no matter how hard I try to do something different.   I have realized this is probably a good thing.  However for me it gets harder and harder to try to figure out new ways to make it interesting both for myself and for the viewer.  With having an easily recognizable style you can quickly get pigeon holed.  So I try to break free from this by working collaboratively with other artists as much as I can.  Through collaborating I can pull my head out of my ass so speak and do something truly new that wouldn’t exist without the other artist or artists.

How has technology impacted upon your work?
Technology has not affected how I create work.   I do everything by hand.  I don’t even use power tools when I am building panels or framing etc.  I like the feel of using a hand saw, hammer and nails etc.  However, Facebook has done wonders for me in getting my work out into the world.  Shortly after posting a few piece on my fb page last year I was offered a show at a gallery I truly respect called 1305 Gallery.  This led to another show and another.  After my Dad died in Jan 2008 I had pretty much stopped painting my own projects altogether. Once I was offered a show I started painting again.

What’s the greatest piece of advice you would like to pass on?
Give it all you got!!!  Seriously!  If there is something you really want to accomplish you have got to put your whole heart into it.  This is the only way to figure out your own strengths and weakness.  All lessons that are meaningful are learned the hard way.  Besides being a social worker for people with disabilities I also co-founded a studio for people with disabilities here in Cincinnati called Visionaries and Voices.  I am proud of what I created.  The experience also helped me to understand what I needed to do and what not to do with the next project, Thunder-Sky Inc. because I truly gave what had to give, basically until it hurt.   I now know to control what I can and let go what I can’t.

Where can we find you on line?
It’s weird I know, but I don’t have a website of my work.  I just never thought about it.   You can see my work on my Facebook page and on also the 2+2=5 blog through Thunder-Sky site.

What are you reading?
Sad to say but I don’t read as much as I would like.  I am just to ADD I suppose.  Besides the poets I love that I already mentioned, I am reading David Sedaris’ “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk” I want to read “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, when I can find time.

What are you listening to at the moment?
My music mood is dictated by the season.  Being that it is spring I have in the C/D changer “Fragile” by 9 Inch Nails, Nina Simone’s “Greatest Hits”, Kanye West new disk, Grizzly Bear and “The Shepherd’s Dog” by Iron and Wine.  I still love the new one by Interpol as well. I just played it too much.

Anything else we need to know?
Check out Thunder-Sky Inc. either on facebook or at learn a little bit about Raymond Thunder-Sky and what Keith and I do.

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