Arts DEVO: Sisko’s world

David Sisk, aka Sisko
Jason Cassidy

RIP Sisko

Chico lost a giant in the local arts scene this past week. David Sisk, better known as Sisko, died suddenly on March 21 while hiking in Upper Bidwell Park. He was 75.

The clip below is from a 2014 interview for Guillermo Mash’s old “Without A Roof” series, chronicling the day the artist was taking down one his pieces of “chimp art” (a whimsical form of guerrilla art). The paint-and-plywood cartoon of a blue Buddha-like figure had been sitting on the pole in the once-vacant lot at the corner of Main and First streets for more than three years. The art and its public display is the perfect snapshot of the much-loved local artist’s approach, but for a bigger picture, there’s no better overview of the man and his work than a 2013 article by longtime CN&R editor and writer Bob Speer, titled “The World According to Sisko.” Here’s an excerpt from that feature, starting with Speer referencing that little blue Buddha:

People familiar with the art of David Sisk will recognize it as one of his whimsical “Sisko” figures, those odd little round and nearly featureless characters that seem to pop up everywhere in his eclectic work—on billboards, T-shirts and bolo ties, on cutout wall pieces and posters, and on furniture, paintings, postcards, pins and photographic assemblages. They are Sisk’s signature image, the imaginary alter ego of Sisko the artist, and they are emblematic of what makes his otherwise politically charged and spiritually challenging art so accessible and enjoyable.

His friend and fellow artist Bruce Ertle calls it “sort of an activist guerrilla type of art, but one he makes lots of fun, which enables him to slip in his message. It’s so harmless and appealing you don’t realize you’re being told something—to stop and think and reconsider. …

I’m not an art scholar, and there’s a lot I don’t know,” Ertle continued, “but with him I think we have an original.”

Shed a tear, drop a beat

During his time in Chico, Rami Rodriguez has been behind some of the most fresh and challenging music being made around these parts—from his solo experimental work as DMT to his wild and often chaotic performances as an MC for the genre-bending rock/rap/punk/noise crew PERVERT. His latest project is Lagrima (“tear” in Spanish), a sound collage endeavor that’s composed on Rodriguez’s trusty Akai MPC 2000XL sequencer/sampler and draws on wide array of available sounds, including sound bites from dollar-bin records and repurposed warped cassettes that have been recorded over. The end result is the 13-song Moss, recently released on Spotify and cassette. I spoke to Rodriguez this week via Zoom, and he talked about how the new solo persona came about during, and because of, the pandemic.

Lagrima – Moss

“I’ve been thinking about it for a minute, but having so much time to myself and having to focus on a lot of self assessment and all the insanity in the fucking world, there was like this crazy feeling of a paradigm shift. It just felt necessary to start something fresh, something new. … With changing the name [from DMT to Lagrima], it’s kind of like a reworking—really trying to finesse, and have more intent with, the shit that I’m doing.”

Hear Lagrima’s moody, sometimes noisy, broken-beat soundtrack for quarantine times on Spotify.

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