Special Guest Interview: Artist Amy Crehore

Ten Things I Had To Ask Amy!

While perusing the digital catacombs of the internet for interesting bits of ukulele arcanum, I was confronted by an image that drew me in like a fly to it’s “web”.

Tickler Ukulele #1

The image was that of an incredible hand-painted ukulele with a monkey and a little clown hanging from the sound hole. Once I was in the website of artist Amy Crehore, I was met by many more of these fantastic painted ukes and banjoleles, in addition to wonderful paintings, prints and  graphics that prominently featured ukuleles.

The Art of Amy Crehore

Something was definitely going on that I had no knowledge of. I needed to know more.

Tickler #1 Back

So, after an hour or so salivating over these gorgeous images of scantily clad island beauties and odd, sailor-cap wearing monkeys, I decided to contact Amy and see if I could get a few answers…

Amy Crehore

She obliged me, and what follows is our exclusive conversation, and a peek at some of her amazing work. Enjoy!

In addition to your fantastic paintings on canvas of lovely ladies, mischievous monkeys and their ever-present ukuleles, you also paint those inhabitants on actual ukuleles! Tell us a little about how you got that idea?

My husband, Lou Reimuller, is a part-time luthier. He built the first uke for me to paint. Tickler Uke #1. Being musicians and antique instrument collectors, we had been thinking about it for a very long time. The idea was spurred on a few years ago by Rick Turner who had wanted me to paint some of his. I had already done a series of paintings of monkeys and girls for various L.A. and Seattle art shows (example: The Blab! shows). I used the motif from one of my paintings for my first painted uke.

The Creature by Amy Crehore

Later, when I was contacting galleries in L.A. to set up a solo show, I had the idea that we could build some ukes to hang next to my fine art paintings as art objects and that the images could play into each other and tell a story. One gallery that I approached in Culver City was booked up, but another gallery offered to give me a show within a year. However, I realized that building the ukes from scratch would take too much time, so I started collecting antique specimens, mostly from the 1920s. This turned out to be a lot of fun and, at the same time, it was an education. These ukes reflect the design trends of the art deco period and I was happy to enhance them with my artwork.

Crehore Studio
The result was my “Dreamgirls and Ukes” fine art solo show in Los Angeles at Thinkspace. There were 13 painted ukes and 15 oil paintings. The show was written up in Inked Magazine and various others.
Where do you find the ukes?
That’s my little secret.
Are they vintage, toy or custom-made?
None of them are toys. Although they are as cute as toys. A lot of my ukes are vintage ukes from the 1920s (I call them my Tickleroos), but a couple of them have been designed by me and custom built by Lou. We are now working on Tickler #3 from scratch which will be a concert uke. Tickler #2 is a pineapple uke. (I’m so proud of that one!)
Tickler #2
After you paint them, are they still playable?
They are all playable and sound great, and in the case of vintage, they have either been lovingly restored to playability or happen to be in mint condition. I would not have it any other way. However, one may not want to play them very often, but rather treat them as fine art collectibles and one-of-a-kind examples of my art. After all, the best specimens in the finest instrument collections are ones that have not been destroyed by playing. Some are quite rare.
I heard you are also in a band – are ukuleles part of your music, as well?
Yes. The ukulele fits well into the type of music I play with my husband – authentic jugband, early jazz and blues of the 20s and 30s. We prefer the sound of the black musicians of that period.

The Hokum Scorchers
My band ,The Hokum Scorchers, played music at the opening of my “Dreamgirls and Ukes” show last year.
Lou played a banjo-uke on a couple of numbers.

Where is the most interesting place we might see one of your painted ukes hanging?
In a contemporary art collection.

Ol' Whatsisname...

Does the monkey with the hat have a name?

You just gave me the idea for a contest for my blog. (Little Hokum Rag)
Buy This T-Shirt!
Tickler Ukulele’s – a great T-shirt design, but is it a real company?
Of course. 🙂
Where can our readers acquire some Amy Crehore art and merchandise?
There are prints and t-shirts at www.amycrehore.com
(contact amy@amycrehore.com to inquire about original paintings and fine art ukes)
Last question: Banjolele or Ukulele?
Whether it be in the form of a banjo or a little guitar or a pineapple-shape, each one has it’s own voice, lending itself to different types of songs.  I love the sounds of both as well as the design details.
Banjo-ukes make great little canvases to paint on. Soprano ukes have a strong tradition of novelty designs.
Loving the history of art and music as I do, having been a professional illustrator as well as a fine art painter my whole life, a musician and vintage instrument collector, it all goes together.
Amy Crehore’s Tickler Ukuleles – Music for the eyes.

About BeatNik

BeatNik is a 21st century bohemian: animator, game developer, artist, and super ukulele geek! He also is a new dad, and owns and operates http://UkeCanPlay.com!

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23 Comments on “Special Guest Interview: Artist Amy Crehore”

  1. Hey CelticSeamus!

    Took a listen to some of your tracks at ezfolk – excellent stuff!

    I’m a fan of Irish music as well, Young Dubliners, Pogues, Great Big Sea, Dropkick Murphys…

    When I can’t be playing uke while swinging in a hammock, I’m having a Guinness in an Irish Pub!

  2. Hey I’m over on ezfolk.com and just had to say what a nice site this is too.

    This Amy lady is certainly very talented. Great interview

    Keep up the good work. Graet name ukecanplay.com btw!

    Now I just gotta get me a uke! lol

    Cheers, Slainte & Mahola,

  3. Great post. I am just starting my blog as well. Do you find it hard to have something to say, because I don’t feel like natural writer and it seems to come natural for you.

  4. The “don’t play it” thing is exactly why I’ll never own an Amy Crehore painted instrument. But I’d *love* to own some of her other artwork.

    I especially love the monkey since I’ve written a tune called “Naughty Monkey” and he is often pictured in somewhat naughty situations.

    You can hear “Naughty Monkey” as performed by my band Snake Suspenderz — and completely free, I might add — here:


    (Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?)

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