David Xavier Harrigan, a.k.a., Tomata du Plenty (1948–2000), was one of the founders of Seattle’s early-1970s punk scene with the Ze Whiz Kidz counterculture theatre troupe and fronted acclaimed L.A. synth-punk band the Screamers. In 1982, Du Plenty found an old set of paints and brushes in an alley behind Hollywood Boulevard and began to paint. He also appeared as an art critic on the public access cable television show “What’s Bubbling Underground?” in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
This exhibition features a series of portraits of boxers and musicians that Du Plenty painted in the mid-1990s, donated to the museum by Gordon W. Bailey. Prints and zines by other artists of the West Coast punk scene provide background: Gary Panter designed the Screamers logo, Mark Vallen was known for his fanzines and album covers, Winston Smith was the designer for the Dead Kennedys in San Francisco, and Raymond Pettibon designed the logo and other graphics for L.A. groups Black Flag and the Minutemen. These and many other visual and cultural sources informed Du Plenty’s paintings. As Du Plenty once quipped, “Punk rock, especially in the early days, . . . these people had library cards.” In his art, as in his life, Tomata embraced his outsider status, saying he would rather sell 100 pictures for $25 each than one picture for $2,500. Today, his bold portraits of those he admired are powerful testaments to the vitality of the scene he helped form.