ARTIST SPOTLIGHT #15: Wayne Hollowell

artist spotlight Jan 23, 2018

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT #15:  Wayne Hollowell

By Cynthia Underwood

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Murder! Affairs! Addiction! Oh my!

Introducing Wayne Hollowell, painter of high profile people involved in scandals and the misery of fame. His art is garish, homo-erotic and at times, grisly. You might think of his work as the painted version of The National Enquirer and while that's sort of right, the difference is that his paintings are entirely, 100% the truth. 

So that you know, this is the last written Artist Spotlight before it becomes my much anticipated video series, Art Now TV. Artist Spotlight and Art Now TV both delve into exposing the nitty gritty of what the artist is thinking, why they are drawn to their subject matter and what they are trying to convey through their art. This is neither a conservative look at what's happening in the art world, nor is it racy. This is simply what is actually happening in the art world right now. I want to know how you feel after you read this. Please do tell in a comment on my web page.

Ok, back to the Murders! Affairs! Addiction!

Cynthia says: Imagine a man in a suit. He works in finance. He’s intelligent, diligent, attentive and polite. He wakes up early to get to work on time to put our finances in order. He is the man that moms want their daughters to marry. He is Wayne Hollowell.

The truth is that while Wayne is indeed the financial man described above and a solid fellow, he is also a gay man who is obsessed with beauty icons, the tragic side of those who murder and the macabre since he was a youngster. He explores these topics in his various painting series, like "You Kill Me" from 2016, "Death Becomes You" from 2016 and "Dead Porn Stars" from 2014.

Is Wayne a nutcase for his obsession with Manson, Jon Benet, Aileen Wournos and others like them? Could be, but no, he isn’t. Wayne is shedding artistic light on what we watch on TV on series like Law and Order and the news everyday. He is showing us moments of despair in the lives of the famous in an arresting and fresh manner. He is asking us to consider these celebrities as real people with real issues. I love his work.

Wayne says: I grew up during the seventies in rural North Carolina. My dad was a Methodist minister and a teacher. I was obsessed with movie stars from a very young age. My obsession is apparent in the books I was drawn to. When I seven years old I was given the oversized book “Life Goes to the Movies”. I carried it EVERYWHERE. I think this was the greatest gift I ever got and was a huge influence on me.

I also lived for the next issue of Rona Barrett’s “Hollywood” magazine and would spend hours all by myself drawing the goddesses, like Suzanne Somers, Farrah Fawcett, Angie Dickinson and so on, that graced the pages.

I was about nine when my older sister got the book “Helter Skelter”. I used to sneak it from her room and pour over the pages. Then at night I’d be frozen in terror thinking that the Manson girls were going to sneak into my room and kill me.

Manson and His Girls 2017 60x60 acrylic:

Gladys and Elvis Presley 2017 acrylic 60x60:

Wayne says that he has always felt that Elvis never really recovered from the death of his mom. She was the love of his life, as Wayne's mom is his. In his painting, Wayne shows Elvis deep in thought laying on his mom's grave. He wants her back. His mom is visible to the viewer as though we have a direct view of her from where we stand.

Marilyn/ Jesus 2017 60x60 acrylic:

Wayne says: there is a moment in Marilyn Monroe's last movie, "The Misfits “, written by Arthur Miller, where she runs outside and looks up at sky and cries out "HELP". It’s such a powerful moment in the movie and yet also feels like such a REAL cry for help in her own life. She was such a magical and sad beauty. She is so fascinating. I was thinking of that scene in the film when I started to paint and this is how it ended up. Originally I was just going to have the sky above her but then added Jesus as though her desperate cry for help might be heard by him.

Wayne says that he's most focused on the celebrities who died tragically. "There’s something magnetic about watching these beautiful and almost unreal looking people on screen and knowing such a sad fate awaited them". Wayne captures this in his pieces. The dark side of fame is a subject that Wayne says he could paint about forever.

In Wayne’s series, Death Becomes You 2016, he depicts the final moments of some of his favorite stars who met a tragic fate, such as the beloved Princess Diana.

Cynthia says: I LOVE YOU PRINCESS DIANA!!!!!

Death of Princess Diana 2016 60x60 acrylic  

Te amo Selena, Portrait of Selena's Murderer Yolanda Salvidar 2014 30x30 acrylic from his Lady Killer series. In Wayne's painting he depicts the murderer. We see her misery and are both repulsed at her vulgarity and wondering WHY she was actually driven to kill the beautiful Selena. An odd bit of information about Yolanda Salvidar is that she was the president of the Selena fan club and was manager of Selena clothing boutiques. 

Wayne’s series, “YOU KILL ME”, is about murderers and victims with crazy tragic televised stories, such as Jon Benet and The Menendez Brothers. Again, we are both repulsed and yet, cannot look away. In his Menendez Brothers painting we see a homo-erotic view of young brothers who may or may not have been sexually abused and went on to kill the very people who inflicted this horror on them: their parents. RIP? or not?  

 The Menendez Brothers 2106 60x60 acrylic:

Wayne says: Funny story about my Menendez brother’s obsession- I was absolutely in LOVE with Lyle Menendez. I was especially into his hair. I was shocked when I found out he was wearing a hairpiece. I mean, he was about 18 at the time and not really at an age that guys normally go bald and get a hairpiece. This hairpiece of his is the very hairpiece that his drunk mom, Kitty snatched off days before the murder. At the time I had a huge bald spot growing and decided to go to hair club for men - I got a toupee/hairpiece exactly like Lyle’s but it was a disaster. The tape would not stick and it was constantly falling to one side of my head or in my eyes. I was a waiter at the time and it was a nightmare keeping that thing from falling off into people’s food. I couldn't deal with it and so went bald for good - but I did have the Lyle hair for a hot second.

Wayne says: I really wanted the Melendez Brothers to be found not guilty because I believed their story of abuse and didn’t think they should be put away for life. I really felt bad for them even though they did a horrible thing.

Wayne says: I have the same feelings for Aileen Wuornos - I think she was such a tragic person and I do believe she was brutally raped and then later killed in self defense. 

Roman Ragazzi 2014 48x48 acrylic from the Dead Porn Stars series:

Cynthia says: this is one of my favorite series of Wayne's. Its edgy. It's beautiful. It's deep.


You may have noticed that I, Cynthia, wrote "Wayne says" a few times in this article.  I did this purposely as it's so close to "Jane Says" the song by Nirvana led by Kurt Cobain who is yet another tragic star: Jane Says  the video (click on Jane Says you'll see the video) by Nirvana. Thank you so much Wayne! I enjoyed getting to know you and your work so much!

Wayne went to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He now lives and works in Virginia.

Wayne’s Facebook page is:

Wayne’s website:

Wayne’s Instagram: is:


Cynthia Underwood’s Facebook page is:


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