WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Most Dangerous Artist in the World

Dec 27, 2013

Some people prefer to drink vodka. Steve Cross prefers to paint with it.

“I like to paint at temperatures of -20 to -40,” said Cross. “I paint with vodka (because) it doesn’t freeze at those temperatures. It’s a very rare medium.”

Credit Good Migrations Studio

Cross does not have to look hard to find such extreme weather conditions. He lives in Alaska, where his Good Migrations Studio is located.

Cross grew up in western Illinois and is currently displaying some of his works at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in Monmouth.  The exhibit remains open through the end of January.

Cross is sometimes referred to as “The World’s Most Dangerous Artist.”

“I paint with knives and machetes. That’s how I got the nickname,” Cross said. “I whip blades around and flick them onto canvasses. They’re called ‘carved canvasses’ because I make long broad strokes with the blades.”

Steve Cross speaking with one the visitors to the opening reception at the Buchanan Center for the Arts.
Credit Rich Egger

Cross said he owns copyrights on 14 techniques, including what he calls “vodka skapes.” He said many of his techniques came about from experimenting.  And he said he’s not a big drinker – he reserves most of the high-grade alcohol for painting.

Cross returns to western Illinois to visit family during the holiday season so this year he got together with the Buchanan Center to also hold the public exhibit.

He plans to do some traveling in the year ahead. He’s constantly experimenting and will be seeking particular ingredients that cannot be found in Alaska.  He declined to comment on what he’s looking for but did say he will be “…traveling to remote jungles and diving under the ocean.”

Cross said the project is called the “World’s Deadliest Painting.” 

At the same time, he will be working with impoverished children to create a mural. He said that project could take him behind enemy lines. His studio already works with homeless children in Fairbanks, Alaska, and it’s looking to expand its horizons.