Rocker Darren Vorel taps his other creative side for visual art show

If you’ve spent any time with the DuPage music scene, chances are you’ve met Darren Vorel.

The outgoing Villa Park native has been a staple on suburban and Chicago stages for years, playing with The Carbonas, Backdrop and for nearly 12 years with The Scissors, as well as his current gigs with pop-punk band Showoff and fronting the punk rock quartet That Lying (Expletive) with his brother Eric Vorel and Plain White T’s members Tom Higgenson and Dave Tirio.

Vorel’s roots in the fine arts run deep as well, from classes at Willowbrook High School to working with his mom and grandmother. He also flexes his creative, albeit more commercial, muscles as an art director for a suburban ad agency.

His two-night show, “Art Will Fix You — Artwork(s) of Darren Vorel,” Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8-9, at The Chicago Publishers Resource Center, will showcase many of his creations from the last three years.

His quartet (and resparking of interest in fine art) started with a broken heart.

“You really pay attention when you go through a hard time,” Vorel said. “It slows you down a little and makes you look at stuff. Your mind is open a little bit more.”

Naturally, his collaboration on breakup songs with Higgenson and Tirio needed an album cover.

“Dave (Tirio) and I, we both painted in high school together. … I started graphically putting together a bunch of different designs and Dave said ‘Dude, come over. Let’s paint this thing. Let’s do this for real.’ And that sort of sparked my creativity. Both of us actually started painting a ton again.”

Darren Vorel presents some of his artwork in the show “Art Will Fix You” this weekend in Chicago. – Courtesy of Darren Vorel

Paintings and mixed-media work make up the bulk of Vorel’s show, along with some photography. There will also be a few flyers from musical performances, but more for the process of their creation, wherein Vorel tackles the painting first before going to work graphically.

“The whole umbrella of all this,” he said, “is … trying to make something good out of something bad. And the last three or four years of doing the band has really opened me up creatively, not just with the music but also with all the stuff you’re going to see in the show.”

In addition to Vorel’s work, the show will feature two paintings by his mother, Susan Vorel, and two by his grandmother, Genevieve Kawczynski, as well as a recent collaborative piece with his high school art teacher Robert Fritz.

“If you don’t know me, it would sound like (the band) is very aggressive, but I was raised by my mother. My father passed away when I was 15. So all I know is what my mom has taught me, and this art show is so involved with her and my grandmother. … They both are the people who taught me how to paint at an early age and taught me about art.”

The show kicks off with an opening reception Friday. Saturday night will feature musical performances by Tom Higgenson and Eric Vorel and comedy by Kristen Toomey.

So why is now the right time for this show?

“I think because I was scared of it,” Vorel explained. “I look at blank canvasses or things I have around my house, and I don’t want anyone to see it. But the things that scare me the most I feel are the challenges in my life I need to overcome. … I’m always big on working on something and moving past it. So I wanted to do this, put this stuff out there and get myself ready for the next life challenge. I told myself I wanted to do a play before I die. I wanted to do an art show before I die. I feel like everything we do with music is 100 percent gravy now because I’ve done so many wonderful things and had so many wonderful experiences. Music has been such a gift in my life.”

• • •

“Art Will Fix You — Artwork(s) of Darren Vorel”

When: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 (opening reception); 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Dec. 9

Where: The Chicago Publishers Resource Center, 858 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago,

Info: Free;


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