Interview with Andy Kehoe for “PRISMATIC”

Thinkspace is proud to present PRISMATIC from Pittsburg-based artist Andy Kehoe. PRISMATIC is a body of work that speaks to both the freedom and fear of the unknown. Through the prisms of fantasy and imagination, Kehoe considers the variegated nature of mixed perceptions that shape our endless versions of experience. In our interview with Kehoe, we discuss his evolving creative process and technique as he approaches each new piece; in addition to dreams and desire for collaboration.

Kehoe’s work is best experienced in person.
Make sure to come into the gallery during PRISMATIC‘s showing from now through October 21st.

SH: What is the inspiration behind PRISMATIC? Are you exploring a specific theme or narrative?
AK: Throughout my career, my goal has been to create a sense of wonder, mystery, and grandeur. I feel my recent work has really started to tap into those facets of emotion so with PRISMATIC, my goal was to take those themes and emotions to another level visually and conceptually.

On the surface, PRISMATIC applies an expanding color palette and use of a greater range of color than in previous work. I also used some iridescent and pearlescent paints that give the paintings a physical shimmering and glow when seen in person. Visually, I wanted this show to be bold and vibrant. Beyond the surface, I wanted the pieces to expose the hidden layers of reality that surround us.

Until the discovery of the spectrum of light using prisms, humans accepted the idea of light being white and colorlessness. It was initially accepted that the prism colored light, when in fact it separates it and reveals the entire color spectrum. This spectrum extends beyond what we can observe with the naked eye and even what we label as “color.” This makes me wonder what other layers exist around us and are neglected due to our limited understanding. What other mysteries can we not yet see?

There are very few natural things that occur in a singular or even dual reality. There is no black and white, but in fact, a multitude of gray or “in-between.” For example, there is no pure emotion, motive, or perspective. Almost everything in existence is beautifully and sometimes maddeningly layered. I have been working with layers for many years, even before the use of resin, and my work continues to progress technically and conceptually. While I don’t have the ability to explain the mysteries of the universe in a practical or scientific sense, I do possess imagination. I see imagination as a gift to help explain the mysteries of reality and expand beyond what is known. I’ve always been interested in the concept of a multiverse but my work looks at this idea through the prism of fantasy and imagination. The world I create is layers of imagined universes and though those universes are more apparent, they are no less mysterious.

Technically, I wanted to put more focus on painting for this show. I have learned a lot working with resin over the last few years but mostly I have learned I prefer working with resin primarily as a medium itself. I wanted to refocus the work to the techniques and textures I can create and not just the three-dimensional elements of resin. By applying pigments and wet paint in the uncured resin, I am able to create an organic chaos I could not bring out just working with oils. That kind of uncontrollable randomness is very hard to consciously create because no matter what, my mere human mind always tries to create order. It brings an intriguing juxtaposition when combined with the very calculated and ordered parts of my work. For this show, I made the decision to use fewer layers of resin so I could spend more time painting within each layer. This allowed me to bring more detail, attention, and care to each individual layer. It also allowed me to work larger due to the overall weight of the resin. My early resin pieces were very heavy and cumbersome. As my imagination and ideas continue to grow, the larger format allows the universes to breathe and exist. That being said, the thin resin sill adds an amazing amount of depth but I’d be wary to call it three-dimensional.

SH: Nature is a strong element in your work, have any of your pieces been inspired by a specific place?
AK: I wouldn’t say there’s any specific place. A lot of influence definitely comes from growing up in western Pennsylvania and having access to a big forest in our backyard. My brother, Ben, and I used to run around those woods like wild animals. Exploring the mystery of the woods as a kid certainly stuck with me. In 2010, I moved back to Pittsburgh from Portland. The move home was a cross-country tour of amazing national parks like Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Devils Tour, and the Badlands. I was blown away by the grandeur of it all and those sights certainly left a lasting impression.

SH: As your work tends to address the elements of the “unknown,” what unknown is most daunting to you?
AK: I don’t see the unknown as daunting. The unknown is, of course, very terrifying by nature, but it’s also equally inspirational and wondrous. The cosmos has an incomprehensible scope and magnitude that generates both fear and awe. That emotional duality will always inspire me and spark my imagination. I definitely try to evoke that feeling through my own work and it’s a major reason that I was drawn to adding cosmic elements to my paintings. (Aside from it being really fun to paint!)

SH: What is your creative process? Can you walk us through a day in the studio?
AK: When I’m working on a show, I usually wake up, make some decaf coffee (regular coffee betrayed me and now makes me feel like death), give the dog and cats some treats, cook some eggs, and check up on emails and other mundane administrative things. Then I’ll go up to the studio and formulate some sort of game plan for the day. Because I work on several pieces at once, and each of those pieces consists of a few layers of resin, every day is a singular adventure.

A normal day can consist of working out concepts with writing and sketching, cutting masks for airbrush, applying clear base acrylic layers to new resin layers, experimenting with some new materials, taking pieces down to the basement for airbrushing, and of course, some actual oil painting. Some layers take a while to paint and sometimes I spend a whole day on one piece, but I usually end up working on a few different pieces in a single day. If there are any pieces that are ready for a new layer of resin, I’ll usually do this towards the end of my workday. I close out my night by putting on headphones and washing all the brushes I used throughout the day. That task can be pretty daunting and it’s tempting to skip, but I love waking up the next day with a fresh set of brushes to work with.

SH: We know you continue to challenge yourself as an artist with each body of work, but was there a specific piece in this exhibition you feel unexpectedly challenged you or took you on an unexpected journey?
AK: The most challenging piece for this show was Worlds Apart. I wanted to somehow create two different worlds existing at once, on different layers, and have them blend into each other. Somehow. Logistically, it took a ton planning and brainstorming. This was done mostly by staring at the piece for hours and wondering how the hell I was going to pull it off. I spent a lot time tinkering and improvising and, by the end, many of the initial conceptual elements were shifted and readjusted. It was also hard to know how things would come together until I painted the very last layer. There were some very tense and uncertain times with that piece, but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

SH: In past interviews, you’ve shared that you have very vivid dreams. Do you have recurring dreams or locations? What is your earliest dream memory?
AK: Yes. My dreams are very epic. Haha. I have all types of dreams. Sometimes I have action packed dreams full of guns, explosions, and impossible odds of capturing a bad guy or saving the world. I also have dreams that could be considered nightmares, usually consisting of an ominous and unseen threat closing down on me, and those around me. Those dreams are pretty frightening but also very intriguing and exciting.

Mostly I find myself wandering around strange, alluring landscapes. I’ve seen so many amazing and indescribable places in my dreams and I can only remember fleeting glimpses of them. They’re impossible to verbalize and properly explain, but I do attempt to evoke the feelings these places give me. Some of these places I do revisit in dreams, and one specific landscape is what inspired the piece Reoccurring Shores. In my dream, I find myself facing a vast, quiet ocean from a snow-covered, rocky shoreline. I am always there at the very end of sunset or the very beginning of sunrise. I am not sure where this place exists but it feels like the very bottom of the world, as far as you can be from civilization. The salty ocean air is so crisp, cold, and clean and the only sound is the gentle lapping of small waves on the shore. It’s an overlap of profound tranquility and a frightening feeling of utter isolation. I feel so small and so wonderfully insignificant in this place and I reminisce of it often in my waking hours. I have wanted to capture this image for a long time and this painting feels very close but to truly capture it, I think the painting would have to been around 20 feet while keeping the character the same size. One day.

SH: How have you grown as an artist in the last 5 years and how do you hope to grow in the following 5?
AK: There has definitely been a learning curve with the resin. I feel like I’ve figured out so much by using it over the last 5 years. Being more comfortable with the resin has allowed me to focus more on the actual art and less on the process itself. This has been really energizing for me. PRISMATIC is more ambitious because it was less about experimentation with resin alone but the combination of all of my skills and tools I have learned and practiced. I am also more comfortable painting on resin and it feels great to bring back those techniques. Truly mixing my old ways with the new and continuing to learn so much with every piece I make. I hope to continue using those lessons and keep pushing my work into new territories. On top of the technical growth, I’ve also grown as a human being, and continue to expand my mental horizons. That definitely has a profound impact on the direction of my artwork.

I really want to do more collaborative work in the future. Working from home as an independent artist can get pretty isolating. I know there is no way I could work on a project and paint everything manually so I plan to take some digital painting classes. I’ve always wanted to be good at digital painting and I’ve tried to figure it out on my own, but I’m so damn used to the feel of brushes and mixing paint on a palette. I know I can persevere; I’ll just have to get some expert education. Plus I have some other personal projects that I want to spend some time on, and being able to do digital conceptual art would be very handy.

SH: What about another artists’ work excites or fascinates you? Who do you think everyone should look up?
AK: I love a mix of good craftsmanship with art that is still mysterious and imaginative. If it’s well made and makes me think, “What the hell is going on in this person’s mind?” I’ll likely be attracted to it. Having a unique visual style goes a long way, but having a distinct and defining voice is more important to me. Essentially, artwork that’s comfortable in its own skin. Some specific artists that come to mind are Aron Weisenfeld, Esao Andrews, Femke Hiemstra, AJ Fosik, and Martin Wittfooth. There are plenty more, but it would take way too long to list them.

SH: What was playing in the background during the creation of this body of work? Does what you listen to inform the mood of the pieces or are they separate?
AK: It’s a constant mix of music, podcasts, and audiobooks. I really like working to music in headphones. It puts me in the zone and I become immersed in the work. I actually picked up some nice wireless headphones for this show because my corded headphones kept getting caught on things in my studio, my drafting table chair being the main culprit. Nothing tears you out of a good creative session (or inspires a quick, hot rage) like having headphones suddenly ripped off your head. In the beginning concept stage, I zone out to ambient, non-vocal music. Later on, I move on to whatever albums fit my current mood. Music can definitely add to the mood of a piece I’m working on, and sometimes it’s just something to fall into and be creatively motivated by.

Audiobooks are a huge part of my listening regimen. I usually listen to 15-20 audiobooks per show. I mostly listen to fantasy books and series with a sprinkling of non-fiction and general fiction. The fantasy genre consists of a lot of descriptive world building, which inspires my imagination and puts me in a good creative mood. It also helps me push through more tedious parts of paintings, such as endless straight hours of trees and grass painting.

SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music etc.
AK: My ultimate dream is to animate a story of my own creation, and I’ve been writing my own story, on and off, over the last few years. That being said, the ability to work with some of my current favorite authors like Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, or Patrick Rothfuss would be amazingly insightful. I’d also love to collaborate with J.K. Rowling so she could inject magic and humanity into it, and could help me name my characters. She has the best names. If I could work on a personal animation project, it would more likely be influenced by filmmaking than animation, so I’d like to pick the brains of my favorite auteurs like P.T. Anderson, Wong Kar Wai, Guillermo del Toro, Stanley Kubrick, Alfonso Cuaron, and Wes Anderson. Terrence Malick can also throw some philosophical tidbits my way and make me contemplate the war of man and nature.

As for painters, I don’t think I’d want to collaborate as much as be a fly on the wall and observe some masters like Bosch, Bruegel, Goya, or Caspar David Friedrich. To see their processes and techniques from conception to completion would be astoundingly fascinating and enlightening.

SH: When not in the studio, what would an ideal day look like?
AK: My studio is at home, so sometimes it feels impossible to get away from work. For that reason, I try my best to take Sunday as a day of guilt-free slacking. Those days usually consist of hanging with my wife and the animals, playing some video games or board games, watching some good TV or a movie, and ignoring email at all costs.

Interview with Alvaro Naddeo for “Not Forgotten”

Thinkspace is proud to present Not Forgotten from Alvaro Naddeo in the Project Room opening September 30th. This is Naddeo’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, only months after exhibiting a few works in the Thinkspace Gallery office. A rotating area of the gallery featuring works from new artists to the Thinkspace fold, or returning pieces from group exhibitions across the globe. Naddeo is a self-taught painter whose works explore various urban environments and the objects found in them that have shaped his memory and imagination. Autobiographical in nature, the compositions contain symbolic references to his own nomadic past and his transition through the landscapes of several different cities and countries. We interviewed Alvaro Naddeo for “Discarded” back in March where we deep dived into his creative process, today we explore more of the artist.

SH: You recently showed in our office space in March, and now a solo in the project room, what can we expect from this new body of work?
AN: This new body of work is, in my opinion, an extension and an evolution of what Thinkspace showed at the office space earlier this year. The theme, tone, voice, and medium are the same, but the ideas got pushed further and the exploration was broader. I like this new series a lot more than the previous one (which I like too!). I believe the composition of these paintings is cleaner and the concepts are clearer. I’m very happy with this body of work.

SH: What do you think is the role of the artist in society?
AN: I believe the role of the artist in society is to provoke, question, raise concerns and share thoughts about the society we live in. Most artists are very good at making observations on what’s going on in the world, pass those observations through a personal filter, and then put them back out there by sharing them with society. All of that while celebrating aesthetics.

SH: How do you approach each piece in a new way that challenges you as an artist, and motivates you to push your artistic voice?
AN: Each piece is more challenging than the previous ones because I’m looking for new ways to express a similar thought. I always want the recent pieces to look better and fresher than the previous ones, so that’s another challenge.

My motivation comes from the desire to express myself. I’m a shy person but I do have an opinion and I like to share it with others and since I don’t do it much verbally, I feel motivated to do it through painting. I’m also motivated by the connection that is formed with people who like what I paint. I feel that the group of people that my paintings connect with are really interesting. It seems that they are a very small fraction of the general public, but they are very engaged and intense.

SH: What plays in the background while you’re working on a composition?
AN: I listen to a lot of podcasts from Brazil and the US. Sometimes a little music plays, but mostly podcasts.

SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music etc.
AN: I would love to collaborate with Pixar. I hope John Lasseter has a google alert for every time his name appears somewhere and he receives this interview and checks out my art!

SH: How have you grown as an artist in the last 5 years and how do you hope to grow in the following 5?
AN: The improvement I’ve experienced in the last 5 years as an artist is huge, not necessarily because of where I am now, but mostly because of where I was then. I don’t show almost anyone what I was doing 5 years ago. It was clearly necessary to go through that and to paint those pieces to get where I am now. That’s normal. That’s the journey of most self-taught artists. It takes a while to figure out many things. There is so much to learn in terms of technique, composition, color use, scale, etc. In the next 5 years, I wish to grow, even more, improving my technique, learning to draw better, and also to be able to paint more hours than I do now.

SH: If you had a dinner party, who would be the guest of honor? What would be the menu? And what is the one question you’d ask all your guests?
AN: I would have three guests of honor: Kurt Vonnegut, Julio Cortázar, and Stanley Kubrick. Dinner would be whatever they like and sushi for me. The question would be: How would you like to improve as a person?

SH: Answer the question you would ask all your guests.
AN: I want to be able to always and constantly desire less of everything and to continue being grateful for everything good that happens to me.

Join us for the opening reception of Not Forgotten on September 30th from 6 to 9pm.

Interview with Josh Keyes for ‘Implosion”

Thinkspace is proud to present Josh Key’s first Los Angeles exhibition in a decade, Implosion in the galleries main room. The sold out exhibition explores the fears around our current political climate in Keye’s familiar dystopian future. Last year, our detailed interview with Josh Keyes covered his creative process and artistic career. For Implosion, we had a bit more fun discussing favorite colors and dinner parties. Implosion is on view now through August 26th at Thinkspace Gallery, Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 pm.

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?
JK: This body of work emerged from the fear and anxiety surrounding this presidency, and the possible impact it could have on the future of the world. I also like dancing horses and sunken ships.

SH: This is the first time you’ve shown in Los Angeles in about a decade and your first solo with Thinkspace Gallery, do you have any specific thoughts or feelings about showing in LA again?
JK: LA is a mysterious city, like New York, Los Angeles is a state of being, with less grinding cogs like New York, LA is fueled by plastic dreams. I think my work should feel at home in this land of fractured nightmares and dreams.

SH: To those who would argue against the importance of art in society, how would you explain what art is and the artist’s role in society?
JK: Art is like a fart, or a fragrant flower, both are necessary to express the human condition. I fail to see anything, object, app, clothing that is devoid of some aesthetic element. We breath, live, eat , and see he world in terms of design. The major change, there is no hierarchy anymore, the gods, critics, and authorities of what is good and bad taste are dead, all is and everything is equal in this ocean of static. The artist dreams, creating a hybrid of personal experience with cultural mythology, resulting in the highest form of emoji.

SH: Do you remember the first time you showed your work in public? What was the piece, and where were you?
JK: I was arrested, oh wait, my work not my privates. I was in high school, and I entered an art show with a small painting, it was a copy of one of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, over Rembrandt’s shoulder was Disney’s Goofy giving a silly smile. It won first prize.

In our interview with you last year, you shared a lot about your creative process, education, and artistic growth; so our questions this time around will be a little more fun…

SH: What pop-culture item; music, movies, tv, incident etc.. that has shaped you creatively?
JK: I’m a sci-fi film junky, and soundtrack addict. Since I was a kid that genre has inspired my imagery and painting compositions. I grew up watching Harryhausen films like the original Clash of the Titans, and John Carpenter’s The Thing, and also films like Brazil and The Cook the Thief His Wife and Her Lover. They left a significant imprint on my aesthetic sensibility, ever since I have been drawn to things that slightly disturbing and also beautiful, like my wife.

 

SH: If you were reincarnated as an animal, what do you think you’d come back as and why? Is that the same as what you would want to be reincarnated as?
JK: My students said I reminded them of a meerkat from a Disney film, manic and twitchy. Naturally, of course, I would come back as a mighty lion.

SH: What was your favorite color as a kid? What is your favorite color as an adult? What is your daughter’s favorite color at the moment?
JK: Silver was my favorite color. It wasn’t really a color but the reflective quality, it held all colors. I suppose my favorite color now is bluish green, maybe subconsciously because that is what color my toddler presents me with in her diapers. Her favorite color is YELLOW and in paint form, it must be applied to every surface of both house and body.

SH: If you were to host a dinner party for five people dead or alive, who would you invite? What’s on the menu? And what would you ask them?
JK: Trump, Bob Ross, Jane Austen, James Brown, and Herman Munster.
Menu: A conveyor belt of moving food plated by Willie Wonka and the Oompa Loompas.
1. What is man?
2. What is truth?
3. What is man’s responsibility to truth?

Interview with Ken Flewellyn for “Stay Gold”

Thinkspace is proud to present Stay Gold in the project room featuring new works from Los Angeles based artist and Thinkspace veteran, Ken Flewellyn. Stay Gold is the first solo exhibition with Thinkspace Gallery from the realist painter. The works dissect the intersection of diverse cultures and Hip Hop with portraits of women that challenge our assumptions about identity and cultural homogeneity. In anticipation of the exhibition, our interview with Ken Flewellyn discusses his creative process, cultures, and best brunch places in Los Angeles.

Join us for the opening reception of Stay Gold at Thinkspace Gallery, Saturday, August 5th from 6 – 9 pm.

SH: Your work is inspired by bringing Hip-Hop and Japanese cultures together. At first glance or thought, these cultures seem in diametric opposition of each other, but can you outline how they might be more alike than they are different?

KF: I think it’s a natural inclination to simplify when thinking about culture. We always think similar or different which is very black and white. Cultural identity is complex and nuanced, and more malleable than similar or different. I want people to expect cultures to clash and when they don’t then question what notion led them to expect that clash in the first place. I hope that in my work there’s a harmony or balance that’s struck illustrating how subculture and traditional culture compliment each other.

SH: Can you explain a bit of your art background and education?

KF: I started as a photographer, I carried a camera with me everywhere clear into college. I eventually took a figure drawing class to fulfill a requirement and loved it. I’ve never really stopped making art. I later graduated from Cal State Northridge with a BA in Art, Media, Design and a focus in illustration. Once I graduated I popped around doing a bunch of different creative jobs, whatever I could get my hands on. I did some toy design, some graphic design and web development work; I even worked in visual effects for a while painting backgrounds back into movies. I was still painting at night but I wasn’t really doing anything with the pieces. Eventually I reached out to LC at Thinkspace for a portfolio review. He’s helped me along the way to refine my skill and make work I can be proud of. I showed my first piece ever at Cannibal Flower, his one night art event. There I was introduced to an art community that lifted us all up. The painting lessons I’ve learned from fellow artists like Ariel DeAndrea and Matthew Grabelsky have been invaluable. I think combined with what I’ve learned from Andrew, Shawn and LC about the gallery world I can definitively say the best of my education has taken place outside of school.

SH: You walked away from the paintbrush for a while and picked it up again 6 years ago. Can you share what brought you back to the canvas?

KF: About 6 years ago I injured my right hand bad enough that painting wasn’t really an option without surgery. I had injured myself at my day job and even with surgery I was looking at a long recovery before I’d be able painting again. What can you do right? So I got the surgery and just didn’t paint for a while. After a certain point I realized not painting was driving me insane and using my right hand was hell, so I started learning to paint with my left. Haha those paintings were terrible. I never gained the same dexterity or precision that my right has but it was a good exercise thinking how to solve problems from the opposite side. I kept this up and started working in galleries to immerse myself in art until the day I could paint with confidence again. Once I regained better control of my right I had all sorts of new ideas to explore and finally a way to do it accurately.

SH: If your body of work inspired a cocktail, what is the recipe and what would it taste like?

KF: I think it would be like a Vieux Carre, maybe with a Japanese twist.

Let’s say:

1 shot Suntory Whiskey
1 shot Cognac
1 shot Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Benedcitine
1 dash Peachauds bitters
1 dash Aromatic bitters

Served in a short glass with one big cube. It would be a little sweet and smooth, but with a punch.

SH: Walk us through a day in your studio?

KF: Well a Sunday painting shift starts with brunch am I right? Once I’m back I’ll grab a cup of cold brew and get myself prepped to paint. If I have a new album I want to check out or new podcast I’ll normally start that up, put my phone on silent and the get busy. I’ll mix all the paint I think will be necessary for that session before I start. Ill normally get a good 12 hours in a day on my days off only really stopping for dinner or a cocktail now and then. Once I’m at that 12 hour zone, if my brain is mush I’ll call it for painting and use the rest of the night to thumbnail new compositions while I watch sometime mindless.

SH: What is your creative process from concept to completion?

KF: They all start in my sketchbook. I think like a lot of illustration students my sketchbooks are full of thumbnails; tiny ideas for pieces jotted down as quickly as I can. I don’t really care about accuracy I just want to get an idea of down on paper. In a way the simpler image the better at this stage. I may do 50 thumbnails before I find 1 that I like. I’ll then draw it from a bunch of different angles and then crop and move things around and crop until I have an idea I think is clear. Now I can elaborate to better flesh out the narrative. Once I feel like the concept is clear and concise I set up a photo shoot to get the reference ill need. Once I’ve got all that I’m ready to get to painting. From there the piece kind of takes on a mind of its own. Even though I have a plan and reference, I’m not bound to it, this way I can allow for moments genuine inspiration. Flexibility in the plan is key.

SH: Were any of the pieces you’re showing particularly challenging, if so, which pieces and how did they push you to grow as an artist compositionally and with technique?

KF: I try to make sure there’s a new challenge in every piece but “Triumph” definitely pushed me the furthest. That piece took a lot of patience; I worked on it for months. I’d work on it for a week or so and get frustrated and put it away. A few weeks later when I finished another piece I’d be ready to dig back into it. Now that it’s done it opens the doors for so many possible new pieces, with new imagery. I’m stoked to get back into the studio and work out some new ideas.

SH: What excites you about other artists’ work?

KF: I think technically I look at use of color the most. I admire artists that use a broad pallet and still find harmony organizing every color imaginable into one composition. I also admire artist that have mastered same finesse with a very limited pallet and range. Both show a great amount of control and foresight and make for stunning pieces.

As for subject matter, Surrealist painters that envisioned mind bending worlds with incredible beasts get me every time.

SH:  What did you have playing in the background while you painted this latest body of work, Netflix, podcasts, music?

KF: If I’m doing Netflix I’m normally watching stand up or a documentary. For a while Netflix had 3 hip hop documentaries everyone should check out:

Stretch and Bobbito(History of 2 bad ass DJ’s influence on Hip Hop)
Fresh Dressed(History of Hip Hop Fashion)
Hip-Hop Evolution (The History Of Hip Hop)
All three were fascinating with an awesome soundtrack.

I also watched a ton of Doctor Who. I’m even watching it now, while I fill out this interview.

When I was listening to music I was deeply immersed in hip-hop, funk, break beat, and trap. I’ve been hooked on Spotify’s discover weekly and daily playlist all year. I’ve probably logged 8-12 hours daily.

All of my podcast are nerdy:

Freakonomics(economist do nerd stuff)
This American life
Lavar Burton Reads(LB reads you a story!)
Ryan Posseins Nerd Poker(Ryan plays D&D with friends)
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know(nerd game show)
Lore(‘real’ ghost stories)

SH: Favorite brunch food, and second best brunch spot in Los Angeles? If you’re nice enough, you can also share your number one brunch spot.

KF: Haha you’re not getting number 2 and number 1, that’s crazy. Best brunch food? I’m thinking shrimp and grits, or maybe I’m just hungry, it’s impossible to tell.

I’ll give you my number 3 and my new fave. Number three is Metro Cafe in Culver City. It’s Serbian style food with mad delicious scrambles, sandwiches and even fresh salads for the weirdoes that have salad at brunch. They have good coffee and better wine/beer and parking is easy.

My new favorite spot though is The Mar Vista. They’ve got killer food(chilaquiles!), sangria in a glass the size of your head, and mellow vibes spun by Mr. Numberonderful while live painters work on pieces. It’s the Sunday get down.

Interview with Terry Arena for ‘Swarm’

Thinkspace is proud to exhibit artist Terry Arena in the office area this upcoming Saturday. Terry Arena’s Swarm is a series of works of detailed and delicate renderings of bees in graphite on gessoed objects. In anticipation of Swarm, we have an exclusive interview with Terry Arena to discuss the inspiration behind her work and creative process.

Swarm is on view Saturday, August 5th through August 26th.

SH: What inspired Symbiotic Crisis? Was there a singular moment that triggered this decision to explore this topic in your body of work or did it slowly evolve?
TA: I had been making work about food culture. Think homemade meal prep, processed food, gmo’s, organics, etc… One day I heard an interview on NPR that was discussing how bees were being transported across the country to pollinate various crops. The visual of hundreds of thousands of bees loaded onto an eighteen wheeler struck me as odd. I had never really thought about the bees’ role in food propagation. It’s pretty critical when you consider bees participate in producing a large part of our food supply. The almond industry alone is a billion-dollar industry and is reliant on pollination for its success. At that point, my focus shifted to bees and colony collapse disorder(CCD).

SH: What do you love about working with graphite? And how has the medium helped to shape your work?
TA: I love that it is an ordinary low tech material, yet has the ability to be very sophisticated. Originally, it came into the work because I felt it supported the notion of simple methodologies having worth. In my research of food culture and then CCD I kept finding that maybe the best solution to problems (proliferation of varroa mites for example) might be to step back and let the natural order of things occur (swarming in spring to break the varroa life cycle). And my work is analytical, so graphite just works in that regard.

SH: What is your creative process? Can you walk us through a day in the studio?
TA: It really depends on where I am in a project. For the Symbiotic Crisis (bee) pieces there is a lot of surface prep. I might spend time cruising thrift stores looking for cookie tins to draw on and then I get them home to clean, sand, and prime. After that, it’s many layers of gesso with sanding between each layer. While surfaces are curing I often go through my source materials or look around the garden for new subjects. I draw both from life and photo references, so I have a pretty good collection of dead things in my freezer. It’s a little odd, but my family and friends know about my work and are always saving me dead bees, interesting bugs, and birds… I have four dead birds in the freezer. They are beautiful. Once surfaces are ready, I pose my subjects in a set and take lots of photographs with various lighting. Then it’s a line drawing followed by hours of rendering under a magnifying lamp. This year my goal was to complete 100 drawings in for the series. They are all essentially done, but I have a handful that I am still editing. There is always something to do in the studio either for my current work or projects I am planning for the future.

SH: What is your favorite fruit and/or vegetable?
TA: I would be very happy eating an avocado every day…maybe even two!

SH: Your work in the past was inspired by the Slow Food movement. Do you find exploring these ideas and circumstances the world finds itself in within your work a form of analyzation or is it more of a catharsis? The work giving you a voice in the greater conversation.
TA: I must admit that I really enjoy the research from studying my subjects under the magnifying lens to learning about pesticide use. I also think I just want to feed my family delicious healthy food that will not cause harm over time. Maybe it’s a leave no trace theory…no extensive trace (I am realistic) of strange chemicals in our bodies or the environment. I want to be a part of the conversation of protecting the bees and providing better food systems. It takes a collective consciousness to make big changes socially and this subject resonates for me.

SH: What inspires you and draws you to other artists’ work?
TA: I’m a sucker for craft and wonderment. It’s a thrill and wholly satisfying when work can evoke joy or challenge you to consider ideas much greater than yourself.

SH: What do you listen to while drawing; podcasts, Netflix, music? What should we check out?
TA: I’m definitely in an information phase right now. I try to keep up with the world by listening to NPR and then lighten up with the comedic takes of Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah. I often slip down the rabbit hole of Youtube and have found great interviews and documentaries on Rachel Carson of Silent Spring, Noam Chomsky for his views on just about anything, and a little Elon Musk cause rocket ship rides to Mars and 3D underground transport are pretty fascinating!

SH: If your work inspired a cocktail, what would be the recipe and what would it taste like?
TA: I’m more of a whiskey on the rocks gal, but at Campfire in Carlsbad they make amazing drinks that are so beautiful and tasty I would love to have provided inspiration for one of their creations. A real beauty with a kick is their “Roasted Beet”. The flavor is bright with a bit of spice. Think gin, ginger, honey, lemon and thyme with a vibrant magenta color.

Interview with Noségo for “Ingress”

Thinkspace is proud to present Noségo’s latest body of work Ingress’ in our project room. Noségo’s colorful and detailed paintings that reference themes like urbanism, the vulnerability of nature and the wild, mysticism, healing, mythologies, and art history are mesmerizing and hypnotizing. In anticipation of Ingress, we have an exclusive interview with Noségo to discuss philosophy and creative growth.

SH: What ideas were you exploring while creating this latest body of work?
NG: While working on the show I’ve been in a bit of a reflective period and I feel that the search of a deeper idea of who I am sparked the visual inspiration for the work.

SH: You always aim to challenge yourself with each new body of work, do you feel you experienced any breakthroughs while creating Ingress? Breakthroughs regarding technique, composition – anything.
NG: Yes most definitely, I feel overall I learned not to force what I’m creating and to have patience
with myself and the work.

SH: Your work has a very philosophical element to it. What is your personal philosophy towards life, do you follow any formal philosophical thought?
NG: Yes, I follow several things I’ve learned over time. I think my opening was in high school after reading “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Overall my personal rule is to always grow and just forever be a student.

SH: You’ve painted murals in cities around the world, I’m sure everyone is special in their own right but did any city have a particularly memorable story?
NG: Each one has a highlight or memorable moments but I don’t recall anything to stand out over another.

SH: What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment in your art career thus far?
NG: Honestly… just having an art career. I try to only do the things I love and I feel being able to do that at the moment is the biggest accomplishment.

SH: What were you listening to in the background while creating this body of work?
NG: Everything from music to podcast and documentaries.

SH: What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day at the studio?
NG: Sleep.

SH: What has recently influenced your creative palate?
NG: Trusting what I think I want to see and experimenting.

 

Join us for the opening reception, Saturday, July 8th from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Interview with Drew Leshko for “The Only Constant”

Thinkspace is proud to present Drew Leshko’s latest body of work The Only Constant’ in our project room. Drew Leshko’s highly detailed sculptural works in paper and wood depict architectures and urban spaces of his beloved and changing Philadelphia. In anticipation of Leshko’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Drew Leshko to discuss copy cats, changing cityscapes, and the symbolism of iceboxes and dumpsters.

SH: In our last interview with us your went into great detail about your creative process and technique, what makes you fearless to the “copy cats” or so open to sharing your process in such detail?
DL: Well after this boom of copycats, I find myself reconsidering things for sure….I think that there is more to my sculptures than how they’re made– It’s an ongoing, cultural conversation that is communicated through my sculptures. I guess I’m fearless about sharing because I’m working with some of the best galleries in the world that have already acknowledged the innovation, I’ve been supported by amazing collectors, and am showcased by important press organizations. Copy Cats are inherently unoriginal, and it’s sad to imagine living a life like theirs — void of original ideas, scrapping from the handiwork of others, trying to use that as leverage or shortcut for “borrowed” ideas. Copy Cats are a real problem though. I’ve been working on these since 2005 and can’t believe the amount of people mimicking my work all of the sudden.

SH: What do you think is the role of an artist in society?
DL: Tough question. It seems lately that there are so many conceptually thin works created these days, where the artist is more interested in the bright colors and decorative qualities rather than the works having more to discover and communicate. If you look through the classics, so many of the great works by the masters were telling stories and speaking to cultural issues. For me, i think its important to translate what is happening in the world around you through what you’re creating in the workshop so that painting or object may live as a reference to the past.

SH: You’ve given the advice to young artists not to get frustrated, what has helps you to stay grounded and push forward with your art?
DL: Everyone gets frustrated, but this all comes naturally to me. These projects are something that I want to pursue. If I had to force myself to be grounded and push forward, it would be really tough. It would almost feel like work. haha.

SH: The sculptures document the changing landscape of your city. You’ve said you’d like to document other cities but need to have a sense of the buildings and changing neighborhoods. If you could travel through time, what cities would you want to document and what time periods?
DL: My works now are examining the re-development of the city, as people are repopulating a previously abandoned place. To me, it would be really interesting to create a series that is the inverse of this process, documenting parts of the city after “white flight”, one of the initial cultural transformations of industrial American cities. Let’s say the 1960’s. As for the city, Baltimore would great (i was born in Baltimore), but really any city with a strong heritage of blue collar industry.

SH: How has Philadelphia not only shaped you as an artist but as a person?
DL: Philadelphia is a great place. A place that I’m incredibly proud of. The city has shaped me as a person through the cultural diversity in the community. It’s quite the melting pot. In the last few years, the art scene is really changing here. Collectors seem to be popping through galleries and supporting the community all of the sudden, which is great. But before this trend, the city made me stronger— Those 8 or so years making these works without anyone noticing, without good opportunities. Without Philadelphia incubating me that through experience, I don’t think I’d be able to fairly value what I have built for myself now.

SH: What do you listen to in the background while creating work?
DL: This year I’ve been listening to the “Up and Vanished” podcast (cold-case murder mystery). I listen to music mostly. The Hold Steady, Craig Finn, Tigers Jaw, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Dave Hause, Elliott Smith, Conor Oberst, Jawbreaker— A lot of lyrically driven stuff. And also a lot of hip-hop. I’ve lately been listening to a lot of Cam’ron, Dipset, Big Pun, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and 2 Chainz.

SH: In an interview with Wide Walls, you expressed how the dumpsters and ice boxes symbolize addicts and drug dealers, but you don’t elaborate on this point much. Do the other objects you sculpt hold any additional symbolism?
DL: My favorite band, The Hold Steady, has a song that really resonated with me and encouraged the metaphor of the dumpsters and ice boxes as dealers and users. The song is called “Rock Problems”, but the theme is reoccurring throughout their discography.
“That one girl got me cornered in the kitchen.
I said I’ll do anything but clean.
She wants to know what I liked better
Being a trash bin or an ice machine?”

I like that metaphor a lot, but there is a bit more symbolism too. Not only are the dealers and users being pushed out of the neighborhoods I’m addressing, but the dumpsters and ice machines are being pushed out too. The new versions of the neighborhoods are too polished to have “eyesores” lining the sidewalks. New regulations, laws, and codes are forcing business owners to find new solutions for their trash, and no longer able to utilize their sidewalks, for the ice boxes, as parts of their stores

The beer distributors and cigarette shops are strewn with advertisements aren’t necessarily symbolic or metaphorical. But, they should be considered from a cultural perspective— it seems these type of businesses and advertising strategies only occur in the economically depressed areas. It’s a systemic problem that perpetuates class differences that need to be addressed.

SH: What about another artists’ work excites or fascinates you? Who do you think everyone should look up?
DL: I really like artworks that tell a story. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time in some of the more depressed parts of the city. I keep coming back to a series of photographs by artists Jeffrey Stockbridge. The photographs are incredibly powerful and the accompanying texts are pretty great. He’s exploring the same parts of the city but from a more cultural anthropology scope. Check out his site! I recommend exploring the “archives” section, where you get a bit of background info per image. https://kensingtonblues.com

 

SH: If you were hosting a dinner party, who’s on the guest list, what’s on the menu, and what would be your icebreaker question?
DL: This question stresses me out. I’m not always a comfortable host.

SH: If your artwork inspired a cocktail or a beer, what would it be made of and what would it taste like?
DL: I’d have to go with a no-frills, Philadelphia classic— the “Citywide”. It is a cheap domestic beer and a shot of whiskey. perfect.