To enter the lair of Noah Lyon is to walk into a world where Day-Glo paint holds court, and an endless stream of buttons, stickers and photocopies flow freely. You are immediately engulfed in Lyon’s bedroom-turned-viewing-area and hallway-turned-rotating-gallery installation, a throwback to the ’90s and reminiscent of _Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test_ imagery. The walls are covered in scrawled one-liners from Homer Simpson, Mr. T., Jesus and Dick Cheney, and Lyon’s studio devotes prime real estate to the artwork of his friends.
Noah Lyon attended art school at New York’s Cooper Union, and since 1993 has been making art and music under the moniker Retard Riot. His multidisciplinary work, which is based on the premise “never grow up, never give up,” draws from the unlikely beauty of everyday spaces like computer screens and subway walls. Last year, for his project “The Living Installation: PART DUEXX TRACYING EMINEM,” Lyon lived inside the pre-renovated 33 Bond Street Gallery for 14 days, creating new work each day and inviting other artists to contribute to the installation. His ongoing button series—Lyon boasts he has made nearly 30,000 buttons to date—brought him record earnings at the Beaver College art show in Cincinnati as well as a challenge by fellow button-maker Andrew Jeffrey Wright to participate in a button-off. (It was a tie, but many agree Wright had an unfair advantage because the battle took place in his hometown.) Lyon’s little wearable artworks, which bear one-liners like “John Waters Plants” and “Roomy Jewlyani for Mayor,” are mostly one-offs, although the characters or phrases sometimes pop up again in Lyon’s drawings, stickers and installations.
Perhaps the most memorable of Noah Lyon’s reoccurring creations is a character called Ronald McHitler, a cartoon with the face of Hitler but the garb and the red hair of the McDonald’s mascot. Lyon says that he invented the character when he “just drew the two as one entity and found a great deal of humor in it,” but the image speaks volumes about the artist’s thoughts on corporate America. One day, while wearing a Ronald McHitler T-shirt, he happened to be introduced to the creator of the Happy Meal. “This guy did marketing for McDonald’s for 30 years,” Lyon remembers. “I offered him a button, but he shook his head and said, â€˜They’d kill me if they found that on me.'”
Lyon is full of stories of casual confidence like this one. He first met Jan Stene, the man who would become his art dealer in Sweden, on a street corner in New York’s high-profile Chelsea district. Stene happened to ask Lyon for directions to a gallery and 10 minutes later, still on the sidewalk, the dealer had purchased two of his drawings. One short year later, he was hosting Lyon’s first European solo show.
It is the unpredictability and spontaneity in Noah Lyon’s life that continues to be the driving force behind his creations. And whether you choose to be a patient observer or active collaborator, Lyon’s strange world will enchant you with a playful mix of sincerity, irony, dysfunction and hilarity.
For more of Noah Lyon’s work, visit “Retardriot.com”:http://www.retardriot.com/.