UCSC graduate Cahill Wessel showcases his unique artwork at downtown Santa Cruz’s First Friday art tour. Through his ink and watercolor techniques, Wessel portrays the usual as unusual, his panache for the bizarre both a mix of shock and humor. Photo courtesy of Cahill Wessel.
Photo courtesy of Cahill Wessel.

Cahill Wessel gets a kick out of turning humans into dinosaurs.

His creations may lounge by their pool, sip a cocktail or two, and take the “chilling” to the next level.

Having graduated from UC Santa Cruz last winter quarter with a fine art degree, Wessel is full of inspiration and ready to take over a variety of art scenes with his ink, watercolor and unique stylistic approach.

“What I do is incorporate objects that are familiar to everyone, something easily recognized like a taco or skull, and pair it with something completely different,” Wessel said. “Before, these objects are not connected, but by pairing them together in random fashions, people can’t help but draw some association between the two objects.”

Although some may find his art shocking — with works bearing titles such as “Rhinos and Elephants Having an Orgy While Baseball Players Hit Homers” and canvases showcasing penis banana boats — Wessel tries to keep it humorous and lighthearted, giving his audience a great space for their own interpretation.

“I don’t want my work to be too direct,” Wessel said. “I just want to create funny scenes that have little things happening within them that add to the story, whatever or whomever’s story it may be.”

As a young futurist and creative thinker, Wessel sees what is to come as exciting and positive. However his work may be received or interpreted, he continues to create spaces in which all forms of stimulants and moments of time collide — kind of like an explosion.

Explosions. He likes those too, and it is reflected in his work in a splattered haze of bright colors and layered patterns.

“I like watching things blow up, but sometimes the wrong things blow up, and that can be really sad and unfortunate,” Wessel said.

The opening of Wessel’s art show at the First Friday event was “awesome,” he said.

“It was really refreshing to talk to a broader audience and see people of generations other then my own interested in my art work,” he said.

The theme of the works exhibited at Stripe was encompassing, and created an opportunity to take things with a grain of salt and in a bit of a humorous way, just like Wessel’s art:

Everything explodes these days.

Wessel said that pop culture magazines and television commercials often inspire the composition of his work: He says he envisions “modern trends, struggles, and accomplishments” when working on each of his pieces because the best art is what is relevant to our modern society.

“When art is up-to-date, it becomes practical,” Wessel said. “When art is practical, that means it’s up-to-date with what is happening in different sects of our modern culture.”

Ideally, Wessel would love to make a living creating art for all sorts of scenes, be it the amped and unrestricted style of skate art, the radical and real idea of live art, or the more simplistic independent show art. In the mission statement on Wessel’s website, his work is best described as an exploration into his interest for the new and his deep-seated openness to the sense of modernity that is often rejected within the art scene:

“We are constantly surrounded by our wildest dreams, our worst fears, and our highest hopes and aspirations,” Wessel said. “My work strives to explore our modern circumstance.”

He strives to take the simplistic and turn it into someone’s wildest dream, someone’s worst fear, or someone’s hopes and aspirations, whether his subjects be football players caught in an animal orgy or pin-up girls with babies for heads.


Check out Cahill’s art at Stripe in downtown Santa Cruz, 107 Walnut Street. His art will be up until Feb. 3. Prints of his work are also for sale.