Artist of the Week: Eric Helgas
Eric Helgas is 22, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. He recently received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Eric’s work revolves around media and its constructed realities and addresses ideas of desire, illusion and artifice.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just self-published my third book titled WHO PUT HOT SAUCE IN MY JUICE and I’m currently working on a new project right now that should be released sometime later this year.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I’m constantly watching bad reality television on my roommates Netflix account. Hopefully she will renew her subscription next year. I can’t get enough of Rock of Love…
How did your interest in art begin? I’ve always been a very visual person, so becoming an artist seemed natural. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? My work focuses a lot on iconic imagery and challenges the viewer’s perception of the objects I choose to photograph.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I shoot medium format film and work mostly with an on-camera flash. My use of blatant artificial light helps to inform the ideas that my work explores. My choice of subject matter is also a huge part of my process- whether I’m scouting models I meet on the internet, or shopping in 99-cent stores. I’m always looking for cheap, accessible objects to photograph.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I just saw Piotr Uklański’s show Pornalikes at Karma. I’m fascinated with the idea of porn stars that resemble celebrities. It totally speaks about the extent of today’s celebrity obsession, which is definitely something I have been exploring in my own work.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? I always have an iced coffee at hand when working, even in the winter.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? When I’m not working on art I’m usually out people watching, eating bagels or eating bagels while people watching.
What are you really excited about right now? Astro-turf, porcelain veneers, cannolis and tabloid magazines.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I have no idea. I’d probably have a degree in something normal and boring.
Artist of the Week: Robert Chase Heishman
Robert Chase Heishman (b. 1984) is an artist living and working in Chicago. His artistic practice is predicated on the use of photography and video as means of exploring image production, self-referentiality, peripheral vision, conditions of framing, and the everyday. In his recent photographic series, _IMG (2012-), Heishman creates minimalist glyphs made out of colored tape that generate a slippage between visual flatness and real-space dimensionality. His on-going, life-long project, My Falcon Crest (Namesake), focuses on his relationship to the origins of his name: a 1980’s actor and character from the popular soap opera Falcon Crest. Heishman has shown work at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alderman Exhibitions, Subterranean Gallery, Chicago Cultural Center, MDW Fair, Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts Toronto, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. He has created an original set design for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s Split-Sides (2003), provided artwork for Icelandic band Sigur Rós’ album BA BA TI KI DI DO (2004), and has spoken at Columbia College of Chicago, Kansas University, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art. His work is held in the collections of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Walker Art Center. Heishman completed his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute (2008) and his MFA from Northwestern University (2012).
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Currently, a feature length film I made with artist Brendan Meara, Long Fuse, is on view through June 2nd at the Hairpin Arts Center in Logan Square as part of the exhibition, Presence Of Absence (Curated by David and Debra Tolchinsky, and supported by the Contemporary Arts Council). The focus of Long Fuse is upon the very earth beneath our feet and this moment in time. A fuse burns a path across public and private space day and night, throughout spring, summer, fall, and winter. Leaving a scorched trail where it has been, the pressing question is how, when, and where it will end. The Presence of Absence exhibition also includes work by Christopher Baker, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Melika Bass, Paola Cabal, A. Laurie Palmer, and Katarina Weslien.
This coming September I have a two-person exhibition with artist Megan Schvaneveldt at Roots & Culture. Since 2011, Megan and I have been collaborating under the name ibid., a project that is comprised of events constructed, performed and recorded in public spaces. Our performances are both elaborate and lo-fi, using everyday materials to create celebratory and theatrical events. When on location, the video is made accessible to a passerby through the use of a QR code tag which links the viewer to our event that occurred in that space. The Roots & Culture show will largely be comprised of new ibid. videos / objects, with some additional works from each of our individual studio practices peppered throughout the gallery.
Additionally, I will be presenting new photographs from my _IMG series sometime this fall…still forming the details of this engagement. I am also making a lot of new work — including completing the editing of a 25-minute soap opera that I filmed last year; a new, top secret photographic still life project; and assisting with Summer Forum planning / fundraising.
What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s in your Netflix queue? Still finishing up a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Just watched the Ai Weiwei documentary film, Never Sorry.
How did your interest in art begin? My interest in art began when I discovered ee cummings. From there I discovered John Cage’s music. And, not long thereafter, and rather fortuitously, I met Merce Cunningham. I was eighteen years old. I ended up collaborating with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, designing an original décor (set design) for the work, Split-Sides. This was my formative introduction to art—working with Merce, the magnificent MC/DC dancers, Executive Director Trevor Carlson, and the other Spilt-Sides collaborators: Catherine Yass, Jim Ingalls, James Hall, Radiohead, and Sigur Rós. Following this, I rigorously studied art history, photographic theory/history, contemporary art, and continued to make work. Now, here I am.
What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Cognac.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? I enjoy the company of others, my family, and the friendship of my partner, Emily Kay Henson.
What are you really excited about right now? Arrested Development Season 4 on Netflix May 26th!
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I’d be a stand-up comedian. Though my cousin, Ryan Mason, has me beat. My third vocation/calling would be to be in a soul (or disco) band.
What are you listening to right now?
And lastly, this: http://idiotglee.bandcamp.com/album/life-without-jazz (post-doo-wop)
What past trends in art would you like to see be brought back?
Artist of the Week: Zachary Davis
Zachary Davis was born in Brooklyn and grew up in New Jersey. He studied Art and English at Wesleyan University. After graduating, he moved to Portland, Oregon where he is running a residency and gallery called Appendix Project Space. He is also currently working with NYC’s American Medium gallery on curation and web projects.
How long have you lived in Portland and what brought you there? I moved out here right after college with my studio-mate, Josh Pavlacky, who grew up nearby, and I’ll have been here five years this summer. It was mainly the promise of doing more art with a good friend rather than anything I knew about the city, but I also have a cousin who lives nearby, and I have really fond childhood memories of visiting her house in the greenest, soggiest forest I had ever seen and finding slugs as long as my hand.
How has living in Portland affected your art practice?Besides specific people and projects that I encountered here, I count the landscape and the weather as big influences. Woods and waterfalls here are really spectacular and accessible, and some of the most alive, tectonically raw places nearby are also totally interpenetrated with housing, which keeps me thinking about the interface between human and nonhuman structures. I think there are a lot of people here doing serious lifestyle experimentation, too. There are five sensory deprivation spas within four miles of me right now.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I recently released an online piece with Eternal Internet Brotherhood, a group of artists organized by Angelo Plessas in Mexico, and I just presented the same piece in Seattle at a group show organized by Daniel Glendening.
How did your interest in art begin? Escher prints and t-shirts were always around thanks to my dad, and we had a Mark Tansey print depicting of a group of yogis and scientists consulting with a gnarled tree that I absorbed pretty deeply before I ever realized it was unusual. I drew tons of sci-fi and comics when I was a kid, and for a while in high school I was making moody, surrealist Microsoft Paint drawings and putting them online. I also played a lot of computer games, and found that making a really good custom Starcraft level gave me the same satisfaction as making a good drawing.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like?I’ve made a lot of work with materials found in pet stores. Good colors, weird relationship between domestic luxury and imaginary primeval experience. More traditional materials like wood, stone and clay are appealing to me right now, too, though maybe they’re destined to be a support or a foil for weirder stuff. I like visual/intellectual material from computer games and data visualization. I’m usually reading when I think of a piece or a show that I want to make. Not many additive processes, lots of experiments. Most of my impulses toward video or moving image lately have ended up as online projects with non-deterministic animations.
How has your work developed within the past year? More acceptance of impulses I don’t totally get, more awareness of broad trajectories or tendencies in my thoughts/work, more balance between freedom and legibility, more object empathy.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Lots of work on my computer, with a fair amount of incidental surfing. But I plan to be outside as much as possible this summer, which will involve at least one long bike trip and lots of swimming in rivers. I read a lot, usually a three-way alternation between science fiction, essays on art, and science/philosophy.
What are you really excited about right now? The half-dozen gigantic sci-fi movies that are opening right around now. Hosting amazing artists in my living room all summer. Programming an artificial neural net.
LVL3 is looking for another intern
Gallery Assistant Application: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bz4MJn8Bv_xvZE9HU1R4aGgzNk0/edit?usp=sharing
Artist of the Week: Bevis Martin and Charlie Youle
Bevis Martin and Charlie Youle live and work in Nantes, France. Both Martin and Youle earned their BAs in Fine Art from Sheffield Hallam University, and Youle earned her MA in Printmaking from the Royal College of Art.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. We are two British artists living in Nantes, France. We met at art school in Sheffield in 1997, and started working together in 2004. We work mainly in sculpture, often ceramics and we look at the transmission of ideas through images and objects—how knowledge is passed on in text books or school displays.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? We’re recreating some ‘Eureka’ moments from the history of science out of clay—a bit like nativity scenes from a folk art museum but with Newton under an apple tree or Archimedes in the bath. These almost mythological moments of pure thought and enlightenment are being rendered with some ham-fisted modeling.
If you had one wish what would it be? CY: I spend a lot of my time dreaming about a studio multiplex that belongs to us, with a dirty room, a clean room, an office, a kitchen, a store room, an outdoor studio for summer, an empty room…
BM: At the moment, nicer weather.
How did your interest in art begin? CY: Looking at an MC Escher book with my brother as a child, and as a teenager spending hours looking at record covers whilst listening to music in my bedroom.
BM: My dad is an artist so drawing and painting were a big part of my life as I grew up. He has a very meticulous, detailed style that I strove to imitate for many years.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger, what would you say? BM: We make conceptually muddy work about our half-remembered memories of lessons from school.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? CY: YouTube videos of people trying to explain the fourth dimension.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? BM: Currently we make a lot of work in ceramics. We go to our studio almost every day and work on a few sculptures at the same time dealing with the different steps in their production—modelling, hollowing out, building up, firing, glazing and so on. We’ll also do some talking and drawing to work out what we are going to do next.
CY: There is also an ongoing process of collecting books and found drawings and other sources that inform what we do, which involves going to lots of junk markets and charity shops as well as visiting museums and spending too much time on the internet.
What artists are you interested in right now? CY: Seulgi Lee, Antoine Marquis, Emmanuelle Lainé, Bruno Botella, Philip Guston, Georgio de Chirico, and a surrealist from Nantes called Pierre Roy.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? BM: We have a two-year-old daughter so we play Duplo with her.
How long have you lived in Nantes and what brought you there? BM: We’ve lived in Nantes, France for 10 years now. We came over when Charlie was invited to do a year-long residency at the art school, and we ended up staying.
CY: It wasn’t our intention, but France treats her artists well, and our being foreign gives us an exoticism that seems to cast a rosy glow over our work.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? CY: Not sure if this ever happens, but I’d like a viewer to feel slightly unsettled, after seeing something that seemed at once very familiar and very strange, like a badly made bootleg tape. Maybe embarrassment to be laughing at an infantile joke.
BM: With a niggling sense that something is wrong.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? CY: I feel like I’ve narrowly escaped a career in advertising…
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? CY: After my first visit to Venice, I dreamed about it every night for a couple of weeks. I always love going to Paris too.
What were you like in high school? CY: I think we were probably quite similar—academic and bright but rude to teachers. I got into trouble for my cheekiness, and feel quite embarrassed by what I did.
BM: I was quite a swot and worked hard. I don’t think I was rude to teachers. I also liked to think of myself as kind of poetic and dreamy so I was probably pretty pretentious and annoying.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? CY: We did one solo exhibition where I had the impression that no one was interested in what we’d done, everyone gave our work a cursory glance before heading to the drinks. At one point one of our ceramics fell off the wall and smashed, whereupon everyone ran into the exhibition space to have a look. It felt humiliating that not only had we badly hung the work, but that its destruction caused more enthusiasm than anything we’d ever done.
Artist of the Week: Olivia Locher
Olivia Locher was born 22 years ago in the woods of Johnstown, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Manhattan. She received her BFA in Photography in 2013 from the School of Visual Arts. Olivia’s art is grounded in dreamlands and consciousness, while Olivia herself is generally dreaming. She breathes carefully and dances very rarely.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Olivia Locher and I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania twenty-two years ago. For the past four years I have been living and working in New York City. I make photographs.
How did your interest in art begin? I started making photographs when I was seventeen years old, I began by photographing people I found interesting. A year later I decided to go to art school to study the medium.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? The pop art movement, experimental films, stock photography.
How has living in New York affected your art practice? Living in NYC has been ideal for my studio practice. Everything you could possibly need is practically right at your finger tips, not much of an effort needs to be made for getting supplies and materials. I created a home studio because I’ve found not having separation from work and home to be extremely fruitful for my process.
What artists are you interested in right now? Kenneth Anger, John Baldessari, Matthew Barney, Wolfgang TIllmans, Asger Carlsen.
Favorite music? Arthur Russell and Harry Nilsson.
Artist of the Week: Ryan Lauderdale
Ryan Lauderdale lives and works in New York, NY. He received his BFA from the University of Texas in Austin and is currently pursuing his MFA at Hunter College. He was born in Cushing, Oklahoma.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I grew up in Oklahoma then moved to Austin, Texas when I was about 19. Spent several years trying to make music but eventually fell into the visual side of art. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for about 2 1/2 years. I study at Hunter College, work as a graphic designer (my main skill is powerpoint) and I also make sculptures.
How has living in New York affected your art practice? A lot. New York has something about it that I think affects all people working here. The place is on visual steroids, which is both an inspiration and also something that you desperately want to get free from…sounds like the Internet.
Growing up out in the country, cities were always alien-like. Architecture felt spiritual and the cleanliness of mall spaces and the suburbs felt like a possible future. In a way, no city could compete with the outlandish dreams I had about them as a kid. NYC comes pretty close though.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Furniture design is huge… Karl Springer, Mario Botta, Milo Baughman. Interiors. Bruce Goff architecture. Chrome. Brass. Malls. Object Oriented Ontology…reading Levi Bryant today. Star Trek NG. David Lynch. William Eggleston. Haim Steinbach. Music. Meditation. Henri Bergson. The Internet.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just finished a show at Sadie Halie Projects in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
I have a few things coming up this fall, the biggest one being my thesis exhibition at Hunter. So this summer I’m hunkering down and trying to get most of the production complete so I can start figuring out the arrangement aspects.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops? It is usually some other form that acts as the jumping off point into sculpture.
This past summer I was heavily obsessed with late 70s jazz-fusion and the almost clown-like synthetic sounds of Weather Report. I was also falling deeply in love with furniture from the same era. I started thinking of creating physical pieces that would be a vestige of these two things, mutated furniture haunted with those sounds.
As things get created, new interests and information floating around in the headspace can’t help but be grafted into the production of the work. You’re left with a Deleuzian assemblage of, by this point, completely abstracted references. It’s a half-intuitive, half-semantic process that grows the body of work.
Lately, I just came off a trip back to Oklahoma where I took a lot of 35mm photos of Oral Roberts University, a space-aged Christian utopia in the Tulsa suburbs. This stuff is all in the same spiritual spectrum as Weather Report or Aphex Twin or Pierre Cardin furniture or glass shelving at Home Depot…at least to me. I’m attracted to things that seem to have some sort of unspoken connection. The work aspires to be like a residue of these connections.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I’m a big believer in what David Lynch has to say about meaning. It’s always been my hope to create a space/image in which a viewer can easily slip into. My ideas are there and I think they are somewhat direct, but I want the viewer to have the freedom to mesh with the work and insert his or her ideas and feelings into it. The goal, I think, is that the mood surrounding my work begins to interact with the viewer’s and they walk away with an intuitive knowledge of the work. Words can often pollute an art experience, so having meaning be more fluid and conversational is key.
Describe your current studio or workspace. Hunter has been blessed with a lot of space in Manhattan so right now I have a very large studio and part of another room that I use as a photography area. Most of my work is built with what I call “jpg-consciousness” where a work is conceived with its online life in mind. This allows things to be in flux in the studio, modular pieces get rearranged and mutated into newer work. Having a clean space free of visual noise to set up arrangements and periodically photograph them has become increasingly important.
I also use a shared wood shop to fabricate my work, and am looking forward to the day where this is totally integrated into my own space and no longer two floors away.
What artists are you interested in right now? I am a big fan of Ian Pedigo. I’m really interested in the intuitive nature of his arrangements and the sort of “thing-logic” that goes along with them. He seems directly tapped into his materials. It’s almost as if he is more of a conduit for some deeper intuitive process than the one calling the shots. The objects seem to know where they want to go within a piece and the pieces know where they want to go in a room.
I’m also in love with Oneohtronix Point Never and some of the other kraut-like synth stuff coming out these last few years in the music world. Grouper, Emeralds, Steve Hauschildt are all sound-tracking my life at the moment.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? I feel like I stay in the same really predictable online spaces. I remember when I was a kid in the 90s having these moments where you would travel way out to progressively weirder and weirder sites online. You would start on one subject and surf through a stream of consciousness from site to site eventually arriving on what felt like a different planet. Now it seems more about traveling within the territory of social media sites to find other users/content creators.
I’d say I look at Tumblr the most. I have my portfolio there and keep a sketchbook/blog. I like the jogging a lot and lately have been opening up Vince Mckelvie’s tumblr pretty often to bliss out on his gifs. I also, like most people, frequent facebook often. Nick Faust’s facebook feed has replaced all my art-blog needs. It is a constant flood of forgotten and under appreciated artists. Other than that, I google a lot of furniture.
What were you like in high school? I was a hippie.
Artist of the Week: Daniel G. Baird
Daniel G. Baird was born in 1984 in New Jersey. He is currently living and working in Chicago, IL. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011. He recommends everyone skydive at least once in their life.
How did your interest in art begin? My interest in art began sometime in middle school after my family got our first computer. I became fascinated by 3D modeling programs and taught myself how to use them to make things. I would model objects and render them in the modeling program’s default renderer. To take these things out of the contour lines that showed its shape, the program would place the object as if it was in a totally black room with a single spotlight above it.
When I was in high school I made paintings. I began to paint images that were of subjects in a room with a spotlight above them that faded into a black background. I only recently realized this connection between the 3D modeling program and the paintings I had made after a visit home for the holidays. I think I could say that it was in these that I began to make works that I could call my own and that were not reproductions of other masterworks. I suspect it was also this experience of making virtual objects that has led me to working in sculpture as I do now.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? My process is rooted in research. I am interested in the history of objects and the tethered meanings that come by way of their use. Experimentation also plays an important role in my work. I try to work against my initial impulses for how things should look and twist it in an unexpected way.
I like to reference the idea of an object through reproducing how it is constructed. This generally consists of using direct references of scale and proportion of already existing structures and things. Physically, I like to use specific materials for the direct historical ideas and meanings that come attached to them. The use of the Vehicle Assembly Building’s structure, its scaled down nature, the clad faux-marble facade and its title after the Greek mythological character Endymion are all different materials to me. I consider the description of a “material” to be a slippery one.
3D scanners, marble dust, colored plastic, a rock from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, bird wings, 3D renderings, clay, broken computers, airplane parts, silica desiccant, or iridescent diffracting foil used to deter birds are some of the materials that interest me currently.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? The Lascaux Cave replicas, taxidermied birds, Pareidolia, touchscreens, contrails, mythology, bird feeders, future artifacts, the form of capsules, Felicity, CA, the feeling of spring approaching, disembodied airplane wings, anything broken that is produced by Apple, scaffolding, skateboarding deterrents, 3D printing, 3D scanning, Oriented Strand Board, light stands, the pantheon, sun tunnels, thrift stores, kid drawings, Acanthus plants, Yucca Mountain, hardware, the future.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I am currently working on a large series of pieces that I have been referring to as “pulls.” They are plaster works that I mold then cast in a white Carrara marble dust and resin or have 3D scanned into a computer. They are created by making very simple hand gestures into a malleable material and vary in proportions from the size of a hand to the length of a body (roughly 71”). They are very surreal and almost primordial.
I have been collaborating with my good friend Haseeb Ahmed for the past couple of years on a project we initiated in Maastricht, the Netherlands at the Jan van Eyck Academie. It is called Has the World Already Been Made? and is a diverse project that culls together 1:1 molds of architecture and objects from around the world, physical fragments of historically significant works of art and simultaneous performances to produce site-specific installations. I feel that this project as a whole embodies the description, “dimensions variable.”
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I currently have a show up at the Institute of Jamais Vu in London and a show of a collaborative project between me and Haseeb Ahmed that recently closed at Roots and Culture here in Chicago.
Haseeb and I have quite a few shows lined up in the next year in New York, Maastricht, Leipzig, Leeds and Paris with our collaborative project.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? IRL - Ben Schumacher at Bortolami was one of the most compelling shows I have seen in a very long time. Other ones of note were Nick Bastisat the Hills Esthetic Center, Paul Nelson at Julius Caesar and Charles Harlan at JTT. I also just saw the Heidelberg Project in Detroit and that was absolutely otherworldly.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? I try to skateboard as much as I can. Go on adventures to seek out obscure places, camp, hang out. I internet a lot. And I try to read often.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I was a pretty dedicated baseball player when I was younger. If not art, I think I may have tried to pursue baseball for as far as it would have taken me.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? The otherworldlyness of the gypsum deposits in the White Sands National Monument outside of Alamagordo, NM has a special place in my heart. Other places of note would be anywhere around Joshua Tree, a particular backyard in Miami, FL, and in my studio on a rainy day.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? Astronauts speak of this feeling of understanding the wholeness of the world and the interconnectedness of everything after the experience of seeing the world as an object that could fit between your fingertips. This “overview effect” is something I would like to feel physically by way of seeing the earth as a small marble.
Artist of the Week: Lauren Clay
Lauren Clay grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta. She received her BFA in painting from Savanah College of Art and Design and her MFA in painting and print making from Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduating VCU, she moved to New York in 2007.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My work utilizes the mythology of modernist form and thought as a vehicle for exploring matters of the psyche, metaphysics, perception, and alternate realities. The traditional forms of modernism (such as monochrome painting, the plinth, and the grid) become like characters that play out my personal anxieties and quandaries—both art-historical and existential. By utilizing these forms I am also addressing the trappings of historical context.
How did your interest in art begin? I come from a family of artists, obsessive craftspeople, and do-it-yourself-ers. Just in my immediate family alone you will find a photographer, a musician, a potter, a flint-knapper, a seamstress, a conceptual artist, a soap maker, a couple of carpenters, a stained glass artist, and a spoon carver. We like to make stuff. When I was growing up, our house was full of projects and I’ve always felt very comfortable making things. Early on I began to lean towards drawing and painting. I went on to get both my BFA and MFA in painting.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Lately I’ve been making a series of large wall pieces. I’ve been thinking of them as big fat shaped monochromes. They are dimensional and have a very layered, textured surface— further confusing and questioning the support’s ability to exist as both object and image.
In these works I’ve been exploring the idea of the painting support as a non-image, and the surface as non-painting. They are all about transformation, and flatness versus physicality. Paintings in an existential crisis.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now I am preparing for a small solo show at Grounds for Sculpture, a sculpture park outside of New York. The show is part of a series of exhibitions featuring emerging artists. For the show I am making a body of work based on David Smith’s Cubi series.
How has your work developed within the past year? Lately my work has changed a lot. My past work consisted mostly of sculptures assembled from smaller objects. Currently I’ve been making work that has a more focused dialogue with painting, and drawing less on outside references for imagery. I am more interested in pattern, texture, and faux surfaces.
What artists are you interested in right now? Ken Price, Franz West, Imi Knoebel.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Zach Harris at Zach Feuer Gallery that just opened this month.
What are you really excited about right now? Recently I discovered through a friend’s recommendation the writings of Carlos Castaneda. I am totally fascinated with his descriptions of altered states of reality through the use of shamanistic practices and plant-based hallucinogens, as taught to him by a native Mexican man of the Yaqui tribe. There is a lot of skepticism and mystery surrounding his writings. Whether it’s fiction or fact, doesn’t really interest me, as there is so much truth and symbolism to be gleaned from his writing.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? If I didn’t make visual art I would probably write fiction…
Favorite music? 60’s acid rock, and folk. Lately lots of Grateful Dead, The Zombies, T.Rex, 13th Floor Elevators, Neil Young, Joni Mitchel. Etc…
Artist of the Week: Austin Lee
Austin Lee was born in Las Vegas, NV. He is a graduate of Tyler School of Art and is currently studying at Yale School of Art in New Haven, CT. He showed his paintings in New York City for the first time last year in the “Virgins Show” curated by Marilyn Minter at Family Business Gallery.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? I took a digital animation class with Johannes DeYoung last year and it helped me become more comfortable with 3D modeling. I thought it would help with my painting but I ended up making a lot of sculptures instead. I love when new tools and techniques can take you in a direction you weren’t planning.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? I usually start with a digital drawing on my iPad. I think of it as an infinite sketchbook. If the drawing is worth exploring further I will make a painting with the drawing as the starting point. I mostly use acrylic paint but I try to use whatever the painting insists on. If it goes well something magical happens during the translation and I end up with something worth looking at.
How has your work developed within the past year? I have started to embrace my mistakes. Accidents can become “eurekas” and get me to places I couldn’t think of.
How did your interest in art begin? One of my earliest memories is drawing a horse in grade school. I remember the other kids liked it and that made me feel good. Since one of my most recent memories is painting a horse in grad school I guess things haven’t changed too much.
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your work? The best and worst reaction was the same instance. I had an artwork vandalized but I thought it was great because it proved that at least one person saw it. It happened during an alumni sculpture show for my undergraduate college. My proposal was to make unplanned work during the installation responding to the gallery space. One of the things I made was a tiny painting that I put into a dark corner. I liked the idea of sneaking a painting into the sculpture show. It was hard to even see the painting so I was surprised when I stopped by the gallery and noticed someone had written on the piece. I made a little sign letting people know that the words were added and put it next to it. The artwork in the show was insured but I didn’t get any insurance money because I initially wrote priceless as the value. Before the opening and before the piece was vandalized I was contacted by the school because “priceless” is not an acceptable response. They asked me to change it. Together we decided the work I had not yet made was worth 0 dollars.
What artists are you interested in right now? Recently: Laura Owens, Jeff Elrod, Llyn Foulkes, Anoka Faruqee, Deb Kass, Stephen Powers, Wendy White, Jacob Lawrence, Always: Stanley Whitney, David Humphrey, Marilyn Minter, John Wesley, Frank Bramblett, Dona Nelson, David Hockney, Matisse Inspiring Friends: Paul DeMuro, Andrew Brischler, Dustin Metz, Kati Gegenheimer, Mark Gibson, Katrina Mortorff, John Szlasa
How has living in New Haven affected your art practice? I moved to New Haven for school and it has been an amazing place to focus on painting. I have met a lot of people here that I know will be lifelong friends and met many of my painting heroes.
What’s your favorite thing about your city? Whenever someone visits, we go to the Beinecke rare book library, Yale Art Museum and then Frank Pepe’s pizza. Having great art so close by has allowed me to spend time with specific pieces and get to know them. One of my favorite artworks that I found here is a sculpture called Last Gasp by Robert Arneson.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? I try and fail to play music. The problem I seem to be having is that it takes a lot of dedication and painting always seems to win that battle.
Favorite music? I love all types of music and I am always looking for new things to listen to. If anyone has any suggestions go to my spotify account.
Artist of the Week: Dmitri Obergfell
How did your interest in art begin? Art making is something I have always been bound to and it has changed and developed with me as I grow.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? The idea generally determines the material I use. The most consistant part of my process is my obedience to the idea over the material. Rather than trying to make the materials conform to my idea, I try to find the most suitable material to express the idea. This concept-driven process often creates variation in material and form. As a result my work ranges in materials from things like graphite to inflatable balloons.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I would like the viewer to have an experience that temporarily removes them from their ego and lets them consider a broader sense of being. Our egos are such a finite thing in relation to everything else and I would like to provide scenarios that illustrate that.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Right now I have a solo exhibition titled The Visigoths at Galleria Upp in Venice, Italy. The Visigoths exhibition is an exploration of concepts around the transition of culture. The works are Greco-Roman busts made of plaster and graphite. The busts are used as drawing tools to make marks on the gallery walls. In the performance of the piece the busts wear down as the graphite transitions into a drawing on the wall; the finished work, thus, is always erasing itself. Also, in August, I will have a residency at Vertigo Gallery in Denver that will end with a solo exhibition in the space. The title of the exhibition is By Hook or Crook. The work will revolve around acts of delinquency and question the motives of these types of acts.
What are you really excited about right now? I am working on a new work that investigates the relationship between natural and human-made materials. I am essentially generating crystal patterns into rectilinear picture planes that will be 3D printed and mounted to the wall. I am working with NW Rapid Mfg in Portland to do the 3D printing. The 3D printed objects will ultimately become chrome-plated pieces that will appear to hover off of the wall. This is my first experience using 3D printing to execute a concept, I see a lot of potential projects that could develop from this process.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? I saw Alberto Scodro’s exhibition at Via Farini in Milan. It was a very poetic exhibition about nature being used to destroy itself. I also recently saw James Turrel’s new Skyspace at Rice University and the Rothko Chapel in tandem in Houston. My brother, Darius, had just passed so it was a very emotional and cathartic experience.
What are your thoughts about the art scene in Denver? From my perspective, Denver has its ups and downs in relation to contemporary art. It is a cheap place to live and work with an amazing community of artists. I have a hard time imagining a more supportive community than Denver. Unfortunately, Denver artists don’t have much support outside of each other and it creates a glass ceiling. The city often feels like it is on the verge of turning into a special place for contemporary art but the infrastructure is not there to support the growth. My hope is that Denver will develop a more sophiscated collector base and institutions that will allow artists to grow and support themselves through their practice.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I grew up on horse racing tracks in the western United States because my mother trains racehorses. My estranged father once told me he hoped that I would become a jockey. I don’t think I am built to be a jockey, but if things were different maybe I would be more involved with horse racing in some way.
Favorite music? My “favorite” music changes, but UGK is consistently in my rotation. Right now I am listening to several things from DJ ipodammo’s Trill City mix to Real Magic’s recent release, Deep Breathing. The most inspiring thing I have been listening to lately is Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers. I’m not Christian, but I don’t know if there is anything better than listening to Sam Cooke sing about god.