Interview with Brian Mashburn for “Origin Stories”

Thinkspace is proud to present Brian Mashburn’s solo exhibition ‘Origin Story’ in our main roomWe’ve been showing Mashburn’s signature hyper-realistic and resonate smoky landscapes for the last three years and this is his first solo main room exhibition. We are excited to present this Ashville-based artist’s most substantial body of work to date, as he explores the origin stories of the self through desolate compositions.  In anticipation of Mashburn’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Brian Mashburn to discuss his latest body of work, his favorite and least favorite aspect of his work, and time travel.

Origin Stories opening reception is from 6 – 9 pm this coming Saturday, April 7th in our main room

SH: Tell us about this show. What is the inspiration? What were you exploring in the work?

BM: This will be my first solo in the main room at Thinkspace and I’m pretty sure it’s the largest single body of work I’ve made to date.  I’m excited and very grateful for the opportunity, looking forward to spending a few days in LA, too.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the notion of narrative history and origin stories both on a personal level and on a wider cultural or societal one.  Our identities are often couched in origin stories – a recounting of major life events such as where you grew up, people you knew and loved, tragedy endured and avoided, that all come together to form the present moment.  It’s also to do with heritage, a word that carries somewhat unfortunate euphemistic attributes these days, but nonetheless, from what tribe are your parents are from?  Grandparents?  How did they come to be here or there?  It’s interesting to me the level at which this sort of thing shapes our current experience in and of the world.
Also birds.  Lots of birds in this show.


SH: What 3 websites do you check every day or people you follow on social media?

BM: My daily media diet is centered more around podcasts than websites or social.  I don’t know that I have 3 websites I visit daily unless you count Gmail and maybe YouTube or Netflix, but as far as podcasts go there are quite a few I listen to regularly.  I like The Weeds and Ezra Klein’s show, Bill Simmons, WTF, On Being, Fresh Air, Us and Them, Unexplained, Past Present, Conversations with Tyler Cowan, and many more.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

BM: It’s always exciting when something new or experimental works out.  I’m always trying to improve or evolve in some form or other – sometimes things just work out, which is great.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?

BM: In the same vein as the previous question, it’s frustrating when the work feels stagnant.

SH: After a show what do you do? Do you take a long break, vacation, a particular ritual? Tell us. 

BM: I always think I’m going to take a break but in reality it rarely if ever happens.  I generally take a couple extra days when I’m in California to go somewhere, maybe camp, be out in nature.  In the days leading up to a big show I tend to get pretty burnt but as soon as it’s over the main thing I want to do is just get back in the studio.  Something about idle hands feels dangerous.

SH: How do you plan out your compositions?

BM: Most of my compositions are pretty basic at their core.  I’ll occasionally do a thumbnail sketch and decide on a compositional stem or armature on which I’ll build the picture.  More often I’ll just have a general design in mind, such as one based on an ‘L’ or ‘O’ and just feel it out as I go – working background to foreground.

SH: How often are you in the studio, do you work on the pieces daily or do you have creative spurts with concentrated efforts of work and then long periods of not working?

BM: I work every day with varying degrees of success.  I almost always have at least a dozen paintings in the works.  There is the occasional day when I don’t paint but rather work on reference and research.


SH: What do you eat when working on the show? Are you a 3 square meals kind of person, or have snacks on hand?

BM: I probably eat better when a deadline is approaching.  It’s basically the only downtime I have so I try and make it count. I’ve been cooking a lot lately, too, been really into cast iron.  I find it very rewarding to not be completely inept in the kitchen.

SH: If you were to collaborate with a band or musical artists to create a music video inspired by your artwork, who would you work with?

BM: Elvis.

SH: Has there been an artistic catalyst in your life? Something, someone, some event that made a significant impact on you that has lead you to where you are now.

BM: Yes, all the time.  I particularly like when something mundane gets the ball rolling, like when the power goes out or unexpected overnight snow.


SH: What’s in your toolbox? AKA what paints, brushes, tools would we find in your studio? What do you wish was in your studio?

BM: Lots of brushes, mostly Gamblin and Winsor/Newton oils, several easels, a computer and iPad.  I would love to have a studio with higher ceilings and better light.

SH: You have a time machine, and you could do anything / go anywhere for 24 hours, and would not interfere with the space-time continuum. What would you do? 

BM: It would probably be something nature-related, like go see a short-faced bear or woolly mammoth.

Check out past interviews with Brian Mashburn for his previous exhibitions with Thinkspace Projects. 

2017 Interview with Brian Mashburn

2015 Interview with Brian Mashburn

ALVARO NADDEO INTERVIEW ON TONER MAGAZINE

Toner Magazine recently interviewed Thinkspace Family artists Alvaro Naddeo.
Naddeo started showing with Thinkspace last year and has received a massive positive response from the community. His thought-provoking work connects with people from all walks of life as they reflect on consumerism, mobility, identity, and more.

Jump over to the Toner Magazine website to read the full interview.

Where do you get your inspiration?

On the aesthetic level, I’m really inspired by everyday marginalized, urban, quotidian objects, and inspired by trying to find an angle or a composition where those uninteresting objects obtain a new and compelling beauty. I’m also fascinated by the natural decay of those elements, observing how everything loses its original color, shape, and texture, how sunlight, heat, rain, humidity wind and time add an organic and particular texture to them.

On a political level, I’m inspired by the opportunity to share my point of view of the world and to connect with people who think alike. Its very interesting to me to use art as an instrument for criticizing the things I see and disagree, like overconsumption, social inequality, programmed obsolescence and the consequence they have over the exploited third world countries, nature and planet as a whole.  – Alvaro Naddeo for Toner Magazine

Alvaro Naddeo’s next solo exhibition with Thinkspace Projects opens June 30th!

Interview with Amy Sol for “Bird of Flux”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Amy Sol’s solo exhibition, Bird of Flux. The exhibition features new delicately rendered paintings and the artist’s venture into sculpture, which both captures the suspended breath of introspective meditation. In anticipation of the exhibition opening, Saturday, March 3rd, our interview with Amy Sol discusses her new medium, ways of tackling self-doubt, and an inspired cocktail.

SH: In your last exhibition with us, “Garden Gamine” you had experimented with oil paints in order to continue to challenge and push yourself artistically, in this exhibition you’re introducing sculptural work for the first time – what was your journey into sculpture? How long have you known this is a direction you wanted to explore, and what was the learning curve like?
AS: I began casually playing with clay a couple years ago and immediately fell in love it! There is something magical about working in physical space, and co-inhabiting with the thing you are creating. I’m also a very hands on person, I like to craft and tinker and trouble shoot, so this was the perfect project for me. Oil-based clays are my favorite clays to work with right now. I can quickly shape ideas into blocks and later on it is forgiving enough to let me manipulate it without totally erasing the essence of the original sketch. Since oil clays are not permanent, I had to learn how to make molds and cast them. I choose resin as the first material for casting simply because I didn’t have access to a kiln. I then discovered that it is limitlessly versatile and super interesting to work with. It has been a crazy steep learning curve… but I decided to attempt this medium and accept the crunching of hundred of hours and inevitable mistakes as part of the process.

SH: What was one of the most challenging pieces in this show, and why?
AS: The most challenging piece I made for this show was “Ine” the life sized-ish bust. It was the first thing I’ve ever made in this scale. Before this, I’d only made relatively small toy-sized things. I had to overcome some obstacles in relation to physics which I didn’t anticipate due to the scale and the weight of the material itself. I began working on the piece in August last year and after three months of trying and failing, I had to revise my method altogether. I learned so much of what I know now from making this, and difficult as it was at times, it was the most fun and rewarding as well.

SH: What is your favorite aspect about what you do / being an artist and least favorite aspect?
AS: Favorite aspect of being artist is that I get to express myself in the way that comes most naturally to me and which I find the most exciting – through visual mediums. Least favorite is that requires a massive amount of self-discipline and physical demands – extreme single minded focus, being still all day, and repetitive motions.

SH: Do you ever find yourself in a creative dry-spell or burdened by self-doubt? What do you do to pull yourself out of it?
AS: Yes, I do occasionally get hit with the artist block or self-doubt.. It is still something I am trying to figure out but have gotten much better with over time. When I feel a dry spell come about I sometimes find that a simple change of scenery and stepping away can help reset my mind and allow inspiration to come from the external world. Also, talking with others artists and learning from those with have great work ethic helps keep things in perspective.

SH: If “Birds of Flux” inspired a cocktail, what would be the recipe and how would it taste?

AS: wow, haha! love this question!
okay here is my recipe :

gin / or any clear liquor
10 butterfly pea flowers brewed to make 30 ml of tea / cool
Lemon Verbana and sugar
citrus juice
splash of elderberry liquor

muddle the lemon verbana ( bird feathers ) & sugar
shake the gin with ice and pour gin
add butterfly pea tea – butterfly flower from Southeast Asia which produces the bluest edible blue found in nature.
let your mind wander into the blue abyss …
add elderberry and citrus juice last and watch the blue fade into a rich purple!


Opening reception of “Bird of Flux,” Saturday, March 3rd from 6 – 9pm

Thinkspace Projects
6009 Washington Blvd.
Culvery City, CA

Interview with Van Arno for “Upright”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present New Contemporary veteran Van Arno’s solo exhibition Upright in our gallery’s main room. The exhibition features Arno’s dynamic figurative work that plays with proportion and distortion throughout the composition from narrative to the technical elements. In anticipation of the exhibition opening, Saturday, February 3rd, our interview with Van Arno discusses his perspective on the evolution of the New Contemporary art movement to his creative process. Also why Salvador Dali is not on the list for a dinner party.

Opening reception, Saturday, February 3rd  from 6 pm to 9 pm. 

SH: As the body of work in this exhibition was developed on highlighting the individual figure, where did you draw inspiration to develop the composition?
VA: I didn’t set out to do a series. The first piece I did was Sweet Tart, and I was really happy with how it turned out. I had cropped into the figure a lot, so although it isn’t a huge painting (24”x 48”) she is slightly larger than life. I was excited to do more work along those lines, and the series came out of that. It’s Upright because all but one are vertical compositions.

My horizontal piece, Susanna And The Elders, is composed differently, and in a sense, it is a transition piece leading me into this new series. It’s a biblical story about a woman who is spied on while bathing by two old men. It’s been painted a lot through history, and it is usually about intimacy invaded by voyeurs. I felt observing a person whose life has deteriorated and is no longer able to behave rationally is far more invasive.

SH: How has your creative process evolved over the years? What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?
VA: For a long time my work was very focused on narrative. I would find some nugget of a story from history or mythology, and try to use it as a launch pad, to make the story reflect my skewed opinion about the event or general human behavior.

My new series is more focused on individuals, specifically these models. I’ve worked with some of them for years, and I know most of them pretty well. My struggle was to avoid doing pin-ups, so I wanted them to be strong, in control, self-possessed, and most of all individuals. This seems very of the moment right now, but when I started the series 2 years ago, #metoo was not on anyone’s radar.

SH: If you were to have a dinner party, which 5 people would you invite (dead or alive)? What would be on the menu? And what is the one question you’d ask from everyone?
VA: Well, I respect lots of kinds of creativity, but I’d invite artist because I’m interested in what kind of people they are. Gene Kelly was a genius and shaped the last half of the twentieth century more than people realize. I’d invite Jack Davis because his Mad Magazine work really inspired my youth and because Todd Schorr told me a funny story about meeting him. I’d include Greg “Cray” Simkins because I just don’t see him enough. We need a historic Italian painter so that’s gotta be Giambattista Tiepolo- the Hemingway of Rococo Painting. The northern renaissance should be represented, so that’s gotta be you, Roger Van dear Weyden. Salvador Dali is not invited. He’d overrun the conversation and eat all the oysters. We are having oysters.

I’d let questions unfold organically

SH: In your work, there is clearly a love of form, especially the body, where do you gather your references? Does the form inspire the rest of the piece? Or does the composition’s story inform the form of the body?
VA: Sometimes I really have a character in mind, like Medea or the Mayan goddess Ixchel, and I find the model that brings something to the story. Other times I start with the model. If she has super strong legs, I give her 4 of them.

SH: What were you listening to while developing this body of work? Does your background noise influence the mood of the pieces?
VA: I rarely listen to music. It’s too distracting. ….This song makes me want to hear a different song by this artist, or a cover of it by another artist, and which album came out first? And is this person dead? And no I don’t want to hear this next song…

I like to have old movies on or marathons of tv shows I’ve seen. I find this just engaging enough, but sometimes hours pass before I look at the screen.

SH: Which piece in this show was most challenging and why?
VA: The Floor Is Lava was very challenging. I paint from reference photos that I shoot, and usually, the figure is composed of multiple photos because the poses are deceptively difficult. But on this piece, the perspective in my hallway was way different on different photos. Rectifying all this was a technical bloodbath.

SH: How do you know a piece is complete? When do you step away?
VA: It’s pretty tempting not to stop. Every piece I’ve done has elements that I could fix/improve. But, ultimately I stop when I’ve achieved communicating my intent. While I know I could polish it up more, I’d rather have it look a little rough. Like a human person made it.

SH: You have helped to shape what is now considered the New Contemporary Art Movement, what does the feel like to have been at the start of the evolution of something and to watch it progress?
VA: It’s remarkable because when I went to art school in 1984, fine art was a whole different animal. I was told figurative painting was extinct, and if I must paint, I should paint with a broom, or with cranberry sauce, and that video art was the future. Fine art was an austere, academic, inaccessible thing that no one liked. Now I see people at art openings on dates! Fine art became interesting and exciting. Robert Williams and street art and Juxtapose and Thinkspace did that! I’m privileged to have my career be part of this amazing transformation.

SH: What advice would you give to artists breaking into the art world and can you tell us about the first time you exhibited your work to the public, where was it? Do you remember the piece? (outside of school)
VA: My first show was at the Onyx coffee house on Vermont in LA, it’s now cafe Figaro and I still like to go there and sit in the room. I showed a bunch of paintings of Olive Oyl, who was my first muse. I bet I will paint her again this year. I am a teacher now, which I enjoy like crazy, and I’ve given out loads of advice. The best of it really boils down to – “the best way to start is to start… and you can’t fail at anything until you quit.”

Interview with Molly Gruninger for “Luminescent”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Molly Gruninger first solo exhibition in the Thinkspace project room,  Luminescent.  The exhibition features new pieces of her hyper-realistic oil paintings, a commentary on the way we adorn ourselves to express our identity. In anticipation of the exhibition opening, Saturday, February 3rd, our interview with Molly Gruninger introduces us to this new artists and provides insight into her creative process and evolution.

Opening reception, Saturday, February 3rd  from 6 pm to 9 pm. 

SH: Can you tell us a little about your background? Where are you from? Studied art? Favorite food?
MG: I’m originally from Indiana where I studied art at Ball State University. I initially wanted to be an art teacher, but after realizing I have no patience for kids, went into graphic design. However, painting has always been my true love.

SH: What inspired this latest body of work?
MG: I’d say this series plays a bit more on the past, present and future of adornment.

SH: How did you come to develop this hyper-metallic futuristic style? What is your creative process?
MG: Once I began studying design and learning about the marketing world, I became much more aware of the effect that visual advertising and the media has on our perceptions of beauty and identity. Themes relating to self and social image are now inspired by all walks of life, but that was where the idea stemmed.

SH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process? How long does it take to complete a piece?
MG: I take reference photos to use in the painting process, which is first staged using mannequins. I do some concept sketches and then construct my decorations, while keeping my composition in mind. Ideas come to me at random times, so I usually keep a list for anytime something pops in my head.

SH: What does a day in the studio look like? How do you structure your days?
MG: The beginning stage when I’m coming up with concepts and the project is still fresh and exciting is my favorite part. The worst part is the end when you’re trying to work through a lack of sleep when pressed for time.

Pieces usually take anywhere from 60-80 hrs.

A typical day varies, but I usually have to eat breakfast and wake up for about an hour before I can focus in, but once I get going, I’ll work for 10 hrs straight with the exception of little breaks here and there to step back and reassess my progress.

SH: We use our outer appearance as a form of expression, so how have you used makeup style, hair, clothing as a way to express yourself or shape a moment?
MG: My style pretty much says I’m lazy about style haha. For the most part, I strive for comfortable and casual. Even if I dress up, comfort is number one. I just use all my pent up style expression at Halloween, when I can become a peacock.

SH: If your artwork inspired a cocktail? What would be the name and recipe?
MG: Shiny Surprise: various liquor obscured by a cup wrapped in ribbons that you must drink through a straw. You don’t know what you’re gonna get!

SH: What were you listening to while developing this body of work? Does your background noise influence the mood of the pieces?
MG: I tend to listen to movies or podcasts. Sometimes high energy music like Daft Punk or Kraftwork, but I’m usually paying half attention to the things going on around me when I’m working. It might affect my mood slightly, but not so much the pieces.

SH: Which piece in this show was most challenging and why?
MG: Probably the one titled “Armored Guard”, where I used my fiancé as a model. Though he did great, people tend to be slightly more temperamental about the process than a mannequin.

SH: If you were to have a dinner party, which 5 people would you invite (dead or alive)? What would be on the menu? And what is the one question you’d ask from everyone?
MG: Jim Henson, Cloris Leachman, Alex Jordan (House On The Rock), Charles Darwin, Obama. I would ask everyone to give a detailed description of their most embarrassing moment.