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Selective Focus: Joe Klander

Joe Klander can definitely be called a multimedia artist. He paints, he sculpts, he puts opponents in a full nelson. His art show last year at the Duluth Art Institute was called “Strongman” ond explored his heroes and influences as a kid. He will appear on the upcoming season of America’s Got Talent, and a documentary about him is currently making the rounds at Film Fests, opening last weekend at the Fargo Film Fest.

JK: From what I’ve been told I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, and watching pro wrestling not long after that. Mike Scholtz’s documentary “Kinderchomper” hit on my childhood-like arts and crafts art exhibit I was working on and my life as a pro wrestler father and husband. I am constantly reaching back to my boyhood imagination and dreams for inspiration and for some reason always ask myself the question “Would me at the age of 10 think this is pretty awesome?”


Predator painting

Ever since I was a kid I’d invent and draw my own wrestlers. I had a whole league of goofy characters who I’d draw in matches. When I “grew up” I had the opportunity to become a wrestler and bring my own character to life. I had my first match in 2001 and wrestled while still going to college, starting a career, getting married, having children, adult stuff. My brain just absorbed all those action movies, comic books and wrestling show I watched as a kid.

The Barking Spiders

I have been part of a tag team called “The Barking Spiders” with my cousin since 2007. We’ve been able to wrestle legends we grew up watching as kids. I’ve been able to travel around the world like Street Fighter character. I brought my character to The Gong Show on ABC and most recently America’s Got Talent on NBC. I’ve also been able to continue working on my art and illustration. I have my creativity I can perform for an audience and things I can create in the quiet of my home. I find them both rewarding and challenging. Staring down the America’s Got Talent judges and a full auditorium in Los Angeles was the biggest challenge to date I think.

Auditioning for America’s Got Talent

I guess this is where I should say my characters name is “Uncle Clutch” or “Kuro Kumo Clutch” in Japan. A YouTube search will most certainly give some results. Twitter @kurokumoclutch as well. I realized when I had done some illustrations for former Duluth mayor Don Ness for his book Hillsider that I have no place for people to view my artwork. I keep meaning to rectify that but still haven’t gotten around to it. Of course also the Kinderchomper documentary is making its way in the film festival circuit. This June it will play locally at the Free Range Film Festival the weekend of June 29 and 30.

T-800 (left) is constructed of such things as cereal boxes, egg cartons, cans and acrylic while Terminator I in the background is modpodge on cubicle wall.
photo by Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

May 29 is the premiere of America’s Got Talent on NBC. Be sure to tune in and see how the judges enjoyed the ventriloquism Uncle Clutch performed for them. This spring I’ll be getting back to work on a new exhibit but no details on that yet. I’m going to London this spring and walk some galleries hopefully to find some inspiration. However, if I don’t find it in Degas, Rembrant and Van Gogh I will just have to go back to He-Man, Mr. T and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

Power Glove

1 Comment

Helmut Flaag

about 2 years ago

Poor baby, scarred for life.

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