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Rik applies the Vulcan Neck Pinch to Rocket. (Rocket likes it.)

Southwestern Surrealism by Rik: "Desert Angel"

By Karine Swenson

(Excerpt) My next visit brought me a bit closer to downtown Joshua Tree, to Zono Art Productions, the home and studio of Rik Livingston. Livingston and his wife, Cat Livingston, share their charming home with two cats, Mysterio and Rocket.

Livingston and his wife have lived in the desert since 2006. At first, they were part-time residents, spending the other part of their time in San Francisco. In 2008, the recession propelled them into becoming full time residents of Joshua Tree. Livingston has always been an artist, despite coming from a mid-western family with no other artists to influence him and no real connection to the art world. Art was just an innate part of him. He was known for his artistic skills in high school, but didn't know what to do to be an artist, or how to approach pursuing art as a profession.

After a short stay in New York, Rik went on to earn a BFA from Wichita State University and an MFA from the Art Institute in San Francisco. He was able to get scholarships to help him pay for most of his art education, but he also worked as a picture framer to help pay the bills. Despite having a family who didn't really understand his drive to pursue art, he continued to follow the path of a true artist.

Livingston has made a career as an artist by not only selling paintings and fine art, but also by doing cartooning, illustration and graphic art. He also taught art for a while. While living in San Francisco, Livingston became involved in Whitney Young, Inc., which is an organization promoting child development for young children in San Francisco. He ran a 5,000 square foot art gallery as part of his involvement in Whitney Young, Inc. for three years. The gallery had nearly a hundred artists involved, and Livingston was the Art Director. Livingston found that the responsibilities of the gallery left him little time and energy to devote to his own work, and moving to the desert provided him with the change he needed to pursue art full time once more.

Livingston is inspired by comics and advertisement, and considers his work to have a strong retro flair. Color and humor are both important to him. In times past, it seemed like people had a strong focus on the future - it held hope and the potential of space travel and other exciting innovations. This element is strong in his Zono Art. His distinctive and light-hearted style does go through changes without losing its overall character and feeling. Seeing so much of his art hanging throughout their home does give a person the feeling of being transported, and anyone who enjoys a humorous take on life will enjoy Livingston's art. Livingston shows his paintings and assemblage at Woods in the Desert Gallery, The Art Queen, and Hwy 62 Art and Antiques. To meet this visionary artist in person, however, your best bet will be to make this a stop on your Hwy 62 Art Tours this year. Livingston is planning to offer a line of cards, books and refrigerator magnets in addition to his paintings and assemblage this year for the Art Tours. Don't miss it!

A wall of collectibles and memorabilia in Livingston's studio.