Interview with Stella Im Hultberg for ‘Hollow Resonance’

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Stella Im Hultberg has been showing with Thinkspace Gallery for as long as our doors have been open and we’ve loved being a part of her growth as an artist. For her upcoming exhibition Hollow Resonance opening this weekend our interview with Stella Im Hultberg covers her artistic process, the inspiration behind her work, and her desire to always challenge and explore creative mediums.

SH:  What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What ideas or themes were you exploring?

SIH: I’ve had about a year’s worth of meandering thoughts and ideas like stream of consciousness, but they all started with my mom having been in a coma for the past year after falling and injuring her head. She’s unconscious but seems like she does have certain responses like clutching onto my dad’s hand, or trying to open her eyes. To me, it seems as if she’s stuck inside her sleep.

Trying not to be too sad, I was imagining that maybe she’s trapped inside constant dreams, and that hopefully, she is dreaming about her favorite times of her life.

Then it evolved into lots of thoughts about the transience of time and youth, the finiteness of our lives.

Last year, I used the flowers as a metaphor for beautiful pain/burden (and/or burdensome beauty) so I wanted the flowers to be heavier looking and more raw, less beautiful. For this body of works I wanted the flowers to show those beautiful, albeit fragile, happy moments in one’s life, so I tried to keep them more delicate looking. But they are still, like last year, a conduit through which I try to connect and sympathize with my mother and motherhood in general.

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SH: You’ve been working with Thinkspace for a decade now, what advice would you give to artists breaking into galleries 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/ doesn’t have to be a Thinkspace show).

SIH: The first real gallery show was a Vice-themed and Vice magazine sponsored event at now-defunct Project: Gallery in LA. It was a huge group show and I flew out from NYC just to be there since it was my first show. I believe it was in October of 2005, so almost exactly 11 years ago.
I had 2 pieces on plywood, in charcoal and acrylic washes. They were pretty raw and unrefined, and might not even be much recognizable.

I think Andrew saw my pieces there and contacted me right after that show, so my second show and on, were at Thinkspace Gallery.

I get quite a few emails asking me for advice on getting into galleries from young artists. I do think I really lucked out in that I started my art career right when the art scene started booming and galleries were reaching out to new artists.

There seems to be this general myth about artists that they’re all about talent. That’s some of it but most artists that I know and admire are the hardest, the most prolific workers. They work and hone their skills nonstop, even when they’re already successful.

The internet plays a big roll and if you work hard and keep posting artworks and just keep at it, I’m sure it’ll be a huge help to push you forward.
Keep on drawing! That’s what I keep reminding myself.

SH: What does a day in the studio look like? How do you structure your days?

SIH: In a nutshell, I work around the kid and her schedule. When I was painting a lot, my husband would take her out for hours a day so I could work undisturbed. Most day I can only work maybe an hour or two a day. But near the show date, I usually start working around 10 am after my husband and kid either leave or start playing by themselves at home and after other chores are done. Sometimes I work until they come home for lunch or sometimes until much later around 4 pm. Then I also work after putting her to sleep or nap.

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SH: What was playing in the background while creating this latest body of work; music, podcasts, Netflix?

SIH: I re-listened to 1Q84 for the 4th time, and I got to catch up with a lot of podcasts I’d missed out on in the past few months. I can only work in fits and starts now that I have a kid, so sometimes playing music makes me lose the sense of time, so unfortunately not much music lately. 🙁

SH: You said your piece “Hiding the Blue” was the first piece you approached with intention, where in the past other works flowed more spontaneously and you followed the piece. What is the balance in this show of intentioned work and spontaneous work?

SIH: This show was even more planned and thought out than ever (just compared to how I used to jump head in first in the past). Because of the time constraint of being a full-time parent, I had to make good use of the given time so I had to think ahead even when I wasn’t painting. Otherwise, it’s near impossible since a painting that used to take me a week (of long nights) now take up to a couple months!

I used to jump in head first if I had an image in mind or a loose sketch and let it develop organically like the stream of consciousness. I still don’t really start a piece with a super clear intention in mind most of the time but definitely much clearer than before because of the sheer mental incubation period away from the studio.

The one piece that was a surprise to myself is the largest piece (Age of Blooms) covered in flowers. I initially started it with a loose ink sketch, intending on filling it with watercolor. But it didn’t look right so I kept reworking it until it became what it is. It took a couple more months than I expected at first.

Next year, I’m hoping to be more planned – sketching out about 90% of the pieces instead of the current 45-50% before transferring to canvas or paper.

SH: If and when you experience creative blocks or self-doubt, what do you do to re-inspire you?

SIH:  Luckily being a parent and having much less time to create (compared to my childless days), I have had less creative blocks, because I don’t even have the time to create the things I want to. But self-doubt is something I’m very familiar with and I like to believe all artists are too – and that that’s what propels us forward as artists. And this idea in and of itself is a huge comfort. I keep questioning where I’m going, what I’m trying to convey and tell, what the whole story is and if it’s at all relevant or meaningful to me.

I think that’s actually a necessary thought process as an artist so I try to take it with humility.

SH: You’ve worked with inks, oils, wood, and even clay sculptural pieces. It would seem venturing into different mediums does not scare you. What inspires you to explore the different ways in which you express your artistic voice and how do you approach the learning curve in respect to also being a working artist?

SIH: Mostly curiosity and boredom. I often feel that aforementioned self-doubt and think maybe there’s a better way that I haven’t explored and/or what I’m doing isn’t working. Not having had formal art education and not having had exhausted all this during school might do this to you.

Learning curve of a new medium is a bit challenging while making your art the way you have. For me, I’m just trying to see if anything new sticks, but just like anything, you gotta put in your due time and effort to get the results. That’s why I haven’t showed that many sculpture pieces even though I’ve been “exploring” for years as I have not made many works I feel ok to show.

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SH: What advice would you give other artists who want to explore additional mediums without losing their artistic voice or vision?

SIH: To be honest, I don’t know if I’m the right person to dole out this kind of advice. I feel like I lose my artistic voice and vision all the time. I do have to try to refocus myself otherwise I’ll be jumping around from medium to medium and just having fun. But being an artist is like any job in that you still need structure, due diligence, and self-discipline.

I try to set aside special studio days where I’m allowed to explore other things. Other times I gotta get cracking and do work!

SH: You have a lot of fans of your work, but whose work are you a fan of? What is it about an art piece that will draw you to it?

SIH: I have too many artists I admire to name them all but in general I am drawn to art that moves something inside of me by the unique way the artist has chosen to express “their stories”.

I have always felt like a blur of a person so people with strong identities and ideas really draw me in. And when they can express their unique world as art, it’s hard to not be in awe.

SH: You’ve moved around the country a few times, do the places you live influence your work? The New York years have a heavier color palate and stroke to it, whereas the Portland years seem brighter more colorful. Are we reading too much into this?

SIH: I think you’re spot on. I think also that the said geographic differences also coincided with different chapters of my life – we moved to Portland after we had a kid. So NYC was childless life and Portland is as a parent.

My life in New York was filled with incoming influences. I feel like the introvert in me always struggled to seek the quiet so I could figure out and listen to what I was trying to say with art.

Now in Portland with no family or close friends, I am able to focus and think a bit better. Becoming a parent, too, has had a huge impact on my outlook. My blurry edges as a person seem to have gotten a tad bit crisper – if that makes any sense.

I was never one to marvel so much at the flora of any given city but seeing so much of it in Portland really made me love it. My mom loved flowers and plants, and seeing so much of them here reminds me of her and her absence (or just the disconnection) a lot. Flowers that appear in my works these past couple years really is my effort to connect with my own mother as a mom myself now.

SH:  You and Audrey have shown alongside each other over the years, what is your favorite aspect of Audrey’s work and about her as a person.

SIH:  Audrey is just so talented and hardworking too. I love and admire her technical and stylistic consistency over the years, having a clear voice. Her clean, delicate lines and subtly conveyed emotions really makes you feel like you’re looking at a beautiful fragile being in a vulnerable moment.

One of the things that strike most people when they meet Audrey as a person, I think, is how humble and down to earth she is for the massive talent and following she has. She’s a very cute and adorable person with an immense talent, in my opinion.

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Please join us for our opening reception of Hollow Resonance this Saturday, November 12th from 6-9pm.

Interview with Sean Mahan for ‘Rendered Problematic’

Sean Mahan Interview

In anticipation for Sean Mahan’s upcoming exhibition Rendered Problematic in Thinkspace Gallery’s project room, we interviewed the artist to discuss his artistic voice, themes of the show, and where he’d go in time.

Check out our interview with Sean Mahan below and attend the opening reception of Rendered Problematic Saturday, October 15th from 6 – 9pm.

SH: What is the inspiration behind Rendered Problematic? What ideas were you exploring during its formation?

SM: I chose the title “rendered problematic” because it was descriptive of both the rendered illustration style and the conceptual ideas I wanted to approach with the show. I was interested in problematizing how our modern environment alienates us from flourishing to our full potential. I’m interested in asking questions about human nature, about what individuates us and what enables us to be sweet and kind to each other. What is shaping our identities and to what extent are they plastic and moveable? I thought a lot about the ideas for the show and the ideas for each painting before considering how they would look. I wanted to experiment with the idea of naming each painting first and then assigning it to myself to be illustrated. It’s a little bit backwards of how I normally work, which is first dealing with the image, the colors, the visual content, which starts to suggest and reveal my feelings toward an idea. But for this show, starting with the idea in full form first and then responding to it visually was sort of like reasoning toward my feelings as opposed to feeling towards my reasoning, if that makes sense. I think painting is a good way to put these two together to give them equal voice.

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SH: An artist explores different styles before coming upon their unique artistic voice, how did you develop your voice? When did it click?

SM: I started painting on wood in the early nineties. My dad is an architect and wood worker, so I think that had an influence. I’ve always had an interest in technical drawing which is probably inspired by my dad as well. One of the first jobs in Florida that he had was doing technical illustrations for NASA for the first space shuttle. In his studio he has all these cool blue print drawings of the shuttle and the platforms surrounding it during its construction. I remember using his drafting tools when I was little to try and render my plans for the ultimate skate ramp.

Skateboard graphics from my childhood in the 80’s were also a big stylistic influence. I must have drawn and redrawn all the early Powell graphics ten times over when I was young. Looking back at some of those early skate graphics I can see similarities in how I like to compose a painting with a central subject surrounded by objects encoded with a secret meaning.

There were other influences as well, but I think I settled on the style I’ve been working on after doing several album covers for the post-hardcore band “Twelve Hour Turn” in the early 2000’s. I liked having my art positioned into a context of dissent and social critique. It’s also great to have a soundtrack that accompanies your painting.

SH: Expression is very important in your work, how do you find your faces/emotion? What kind of reference material do you use?

SM: I like to depict a pause in normal thought, an interruption of expectation. I like the way that reflects in facial expression. For this series of paintings I built complex references to paint from; a kind of photo montage that is then carefully painted. I take some photos, find some photos, and take them apart and reassemble them into the image. For example, a face might be built from eyes from one photo, hair from another, nose from another, etc. I’ve always been a fan of the photo montage artists, Linder in particular. The way she took images from how femininity was being portrayed in women’s magazines and how it was being portrayed in men’s magazines and combined them into one troubling image is great. I’m doing something similar to make a reference, but then the final image is painted so the source images become irrelevant to the finished painting.

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SH: What’s your creative process? How does a piece go from inspiration to conceptualization, and then final work?

SM: I plan a lot before beginning a painting. I like to assemble ideas and put together a reference. Then I make a drawing on tracing paper and transfer it to be painted. I mix most of the main colors I’ll use and keep them in numbered glass jars. Then, I usually paint one section at a time, start to finish, and at the end add any final colors to pull things together.

SH: What were you listening to while creating this body of work?

SM: I like to listen to lectures on philosophy, critical theory, cognitive science, ethics, etc. I also listened to several classes on cultural studies and political philosophy during this series.

I listen to music some while painting too. While painting this series I listened to some Norwegian/Swedish indie pop like Soda Fountain Rag, Avind, Je Suis Animal, Frida & Ale. I also listened to Spook School, Trust Fund, Color Me Wednesday, My Little Airport, and the record channeled from the mind of Lil’ Bub, that one’s really good.

SH: What is your studio space look like, clean or messy?

SM: My studio space is in my house and it’s organized and very clean. I have a drawing table from my dad’s architecture office in the 60’s and a record player and lots of records.

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SH: What do you do with your day/time when taking a break from painting?

SM: I live at the beach in Florida, I grew up surfing and still surf a lot. I like growing papayas. At our house the papaya flowers are pollinated by hummingbird moths, which I love to see each evening. I also really love swimming in the springs. Florida has the highest concentration of freshwater springs anywhere in the world and there are so many beautiful springs nearby.

SH: You’ve shared you’re inspired by the works of Käthe Kollwitz, how did you discover her work? What is your favorite piece by her?

SM: We had a library of art history books in our house growing up. I think that’s where I first saw Käthe Kollwitz’s printmaking. I loved the stark and sad imagery and how there was still a beauty sitting there along side it. I later discovered I wasn’t alone in appreciation of her art as I started to see her prints on hardcore records in the early nineties – like Floodgate and others.

I like to call what I paint “social realism” in the same way she made social realism. There is something sweet in us that persists despite our suffering and alienation and I think she captured that well. I really like her woodcuts “Visit to the Hospital” and “The Widow, I” for example.

SH: What is the significance of the vintage appliances in your work, ie: sewing machine, radios, can opener?

SM: In “rendered problematic” I’m exploring the relationship of the subject and their objects, how we form our identities around objects. We identify with things we own and allow that identity to be shaped for us. There is a mediation in our identity formation, a control and direction imposed. There are also some natural objects in the paintings, like flowers, that are being compromised, suggesting an imposition on flourishing to our full potential. I also like using vintage objects because I’d like to fetishize the obsolete. Kind of like doing an anti-advertisement for anything new to interrupt our compulsion to keep buying and disposing.

For “rendered problematic” I also wanted to present objects in a way so that they become the real subject of the painting. A subject/object reversal of sorts, suggesting how we objectify each other, make each other instrumental, and how we romanticize the objects we buy.

SH: If you could go any place in time and not disrupt current events or future events, just to participate in the world and observe it – where would you go and what would you do?

SM: Maybe go hang out with Carl Sagan. We could go get some vegan boba teas and hang out next to a waterfall and see where the afternoon takes us.

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Interview with Sandra Chevrier for “The Cages; and the Reading Rooms of their Lives”

Sandra Chevrier Interview

In anticipation of the opening of Sandra Chevrier’s exhibition The Cages; and the Reading Rooms of their Lives we interviewed the Montréal based artist to discuss the inspiration behind her work, creative process and what superhero powers she’d want to possess.

Check out our interview with Sandra Chevrier below and come out to the opening of The Cages; and the Reading Rooms of their Lives at Thinkspace Gallery Saturday October 15th from 6 to 9 pm.

SH: What inspired you to explore comic books as a way of communicating themes of identity, of the expectations that are placed on women?
SC: I am often choosing to highlight the fragility of the superhero, their own struggles, and weaknesses, exposing the humanity within the superhuman.
Despite all the playfulness of the thing itself and all the “CRASH BAM POW,” superheroes are also fragile. There is also a certain melancholy in these different faces as if these women experienced a situation that they did not wish. As if they were “slaves.” An offset of American comics, synonymous to entertainment and fun. This is exactly the goal of the series, a daily struggle for us all against that which is imposed by society and the very expectations we impose on ourselves. I keep myself busy in many ways; single mom, business woman, artist, the household, romance, errands. It puts a lot on one’s shoulders. We overwork ourselves. We are all slaves to something, of something.

SH: What specific ideas or themes were you exploring in this latest body of work?
SC: In the greater body of my work, the images used within the ‘cages’ series range from scenes of conflict, triumph, and defeat. This particular body of work i will be showing at ThinkSpace Gallery; gives focus to the numerous emotions a person lives, the stories that makes us who we are in more than only a way and the different sides of our personalities; our strength, our weakness, our power, our light and darkness, hope and dreams, nightmare and tragedies…. and thus within the superhero multiple masks imagery. The words, the onomatopoeia as well as images becomes vehicles for carrying the symbolics or emotions charge of the pieces. We are all more than one story, more than one book, we are a library, a reading room. The sounds almost becomes audible, as if they were bouncing in echo against the portrait; one that hides but also lives the action of the comic books storylines.

SH:  Your work address the dichotomy of strength and fragility that exists within the superhero and self; what defines strength to you and is there strength in fragility?
SC: Superman, when he loses his battle against Doomsday, the image of his red cape tattered planted in the ground as a fallen flag has an intense beauty and incredible power. This is just one example among many others. We are merely human; men and women and we are entitled to the flaws and errors.
We should embrace them, instead of seeing them as weakness.

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SH: If you were a super hero what would be your super power and mission statement?
SC: I’d like to have the power of healing people. Physically and mentally. There’s so much darkness in humans heart and head, the world would be so much beautiful if happiness was more common.

SH: When you paint the comic book scene instead of using the comic book itself in mixed media, do you create the scene from scratch or is it pulled from an existing comic book story?
SC: When I create the mask in mixed media, I will work a lot more by instinct. I go with the image that speaks to me, but when I sketch and then hand paint the comics, I am the one creating the story. I sometimes create new images, will had my own words, will create a different story then the original one.

SH: What is your process like in selecting the scenes you want to portray on the portraits?
SC: I usually go with what the portrait will inspire me. I’ll try to go with certain kind of emotions. Hope, Strength, Courage, Darkness, Despair, Sadness. It helps to choose with what Superhero i will work with. Batman is the incarnation of darkness, just within the colors you can feel it; purple, blue, orange. Superman is the true Super hero, the colors are light and vivid; blue, yellow red….

SH: What are your favorite materials to use?
SC: I’m a big fan of watercolor, I like not having a perfect control. It always surprises me. I just let the colors dance with the water and leave their traces on the paper. I paint with acrylic and also will use pastels, graphite, pencil colors…

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SH: Walks us through a day in the studio?
SC: I start earlier now that my son started school. So I take him there and then my work day Always starts with a coffee. I work in a tiny home studio, people think its crazy for me to still be working in this little space with huge canvases but i have always liked to work home. My brain never really stops working so I like having all my material near in case I decide to work a little in the middle of the night. So…. yes, coffee….and another one and then i like to prepare my backgrounds and let them dry while I sketch or paint. I need to be productive. So that things are always ready when i need them to be. I usually will work for 6-8 hours non stop, maybe drinking a smoothie meanwhile to stay healthy and focused and then i go get my son to school, spend i nice evening with him and then when he is asleep i often will go back to work for a few hours.

SH: What inspires you? What do you do when self-doubt creeps in?
SC: What inspires me; The day to day life tragedies. The small ones and the big ones. I’m lucky to have great people surrounding me, i easily can fall in a dark place and self-doubt and freak out. My agent, that i prefer calling my partner helped me more then once in these situations. Sometimes just talking to someone and remembering why I do it. I feel so lucky to have a passion, i am truly blessed. I love something so much that it makes me dream. I hope my son will be as passionate as I am about something.

Art to me is not only a way of expression, it is a language on its own. I’ve always used it to release my inner demons. I now try to reflect not only my inner vision but find a matter that will speak to a larger audience.

SH: When you’re not painting, what is your favorite thing to do?
SC: I like spending time with my son, going to parks, i also will often take a few days and travel just to get out of my head a little. I also really enjoy clothes; love spending time finding gems in thrift shops, vintage stores. im a crazy collector, so i also enjoy flea markets.

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SH: Describe your artwork in three words –
SC: A Dance of dichotomy

SH: In your work, you address the expectations society places on women through the narrative of superheroes, but what about the inherent expectations we place on ourselves. How does society’s expectations of women breakdown, if women first don’t break down expectations of each other. What truth or thought do you hope people take away from your work?
SC: In past interviews, i often said that it is not just about expectations that society places on our shoulder but also the barriers that we impose on ourselves. We are our worst judge and sometimes our worst enemies. I’ve been so blessed with some people testimony’s regarding how my work inspired them, the best rewards are truly these stories and the time people take to let me know how my Art had an impact on their way to see life and in a certain way I’ve helped them trough my work. A Norwegian polo champion wrote to me last year, telling me about is a personal story. All is life he had been a champion, never failed, then one day he had a big accident with is horse. He taught is life was ending and didn’t know who he was anymore. He saw one of my painting and understood that if Superheros can be fragile sometimes, so do we. As mentioned before; we are human, men and women, and we are entitled to the flaw, the error. He found is courage in my Art.

Also, another incredible testimony would come from a mother who lost her daughter from cancer. She said my painting reminded her of her little girl that fought like a superhero till the end.
Let’s all forget about the standard of our modern communication, the limitations within our world, our self-imposed expectations, and the cages we have allowed to bar us from the fullness of life’s experience.

Sandra Chevrier

Interview with Allison Sommers for ‘Bruxism’

Allison Sommer Interview

Allison Sommers has been a part of the Thinkspace family for over a decade now and we’ve loved watching her work evolve over the years. In anticipation for her upcoming exhibition Bruxism, we have an interview with Allison Sommers discussing her inspiration and what Eau de Sommers would smell like.

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?
AS: Most directly, the work probes the twinned experience of personal anxiety and the macro fin-de-siecle distress of the current political, civil, environmental, existential moment. I’m dealing less with the actuality of anything in particular than the expressionistic physicality of it— the falling-apart, the chewing-of-nothing, the grasping-at-past, the disquietude of even existing at all right now. There are explorations of embodiment and disjointedness that are continuations of themes I’ve been digesting for a few years, and a nod to a particular piece I’ve seen from Pergamon, which planted the seeds for a lot of the disintegrating classical bodies I’ve been playing with lately.

Bonus Story: I first saw the Pergamon Altar and the various other pieces that informed my work in Berlin a few years ago; oddly enough, they were in New York this year for a wonderful exhibition at The Met. I was lucky enough to be invited to a lecture and reception a few months ago, where I actually met the fellow who “discovered” this monumental head– it had been forgotten in storage for decades, and he stumbled across it and helped research and bring it to its current prominent position in the collection. Isn’t that funny!

New Works by Allison Sommers

SH: You’ve been showing with Thinkspace for the last ten years. As an artist, how do you push yourself artistically without compromising your unique style?
AS: I’ve been extremely lucky that Thinkspace has been along for the ride for almost a decade because I have indeed been evolving my style over the years. One of the best antidotes to stagnation, I think, is curiosity, or boredom, however you want to put it— I’m constantly mining my influences and circumstances for new ideas, constantly becoming obsessed with this work of art or that film or diving into this other new book. I feel like my work evolves pretty organically as I eat through all the art and culture around me. I follow where the thread leads, without too much concern as to how it relates to previous work, but my work is grounded in my hand, if that makes any sense, and therefore has at least a soupçon of unity, I hope.

SH: Do the characters you paint constantly live inside your imagination and you have to race to capture their story? Or are the scenes you capture created in the moment of visiting them?
AS: I don’t really approach my work, or art-making, in that way— I don’t have “characters” per se, but rather, perhaps, expressionistic stand-ins that anchor the paintings. They’re less narrative “scenes” so much as they’re fillings-of-blankness, emptyings of my hand and mind.

New Works by Allison Sommers

SH: What’s a common misconception about you, your art, and about artists?
AS: I can’t speak for other artists, but I bristle at exegesis most, I think. I completely understand the desire to have a painting mean something, or to have the painter tell you his meaning for his work, but I’d rather the viewer take their own journey there, since understanding mine is necessarily impossible. There’s no allegorical equation here. Half the time, I don’t know what my own work means, unless I’ve spent some serious time navel-gazing after the fact.

If I were to say anything against misconceptions about other artists, I’d quote Baldessari: “talent is cheap.” The work of art is located in the je ne sais quoi, not how well painted the piece is. Well-painted art is deadly boring, if that’s all it’s got going for it.

SH: If a perfume was made based on your latest body of work, what would the scent smell like – the notes?
AS: It’d have to be a little salty, a little spitty, with a floral aspect like the most shameless flowers— the magnolia or so— that just smell so overwhelmingly yellow like a wet cloak, like hot fresh cream, like coitus. Like the smell of the inside of a clean, greasy animal skull that’s been in the warm ground, sweet and familiar and unhappy.

SH: What are your favorite tools of the trade?
AS: Have (Alvin Draft-Matic) pencil, will travel. I have a library of Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks in my fire safe. Also, of course, gouache, watercolor pencil, copier pencil, chalk, a few crayons I found on the ground… nosebleeds collected in jars…

New Works by Allison Sommers

SH: Your work is incredibly meticulous and you’ve shared that it’s had an effect on your eyesight, how are you dealing with this change?
AS: Well, I’ve been scaling my work up over the years, so I’m feeling fewer effects on my eyesight than I had previously. As the title of the current show suggests, I’m actually having more of an effect on my body through anxiety.

SH: What elements of other art inspires you? What artists are you fawning over right now?
AS: I’m omnivorous when it comes to art, and right now I’m stuck orbiting twin suns— I have this somewhat inexplicable obsession with seventeenth and eighteenth-century painting right now, which I used to rather despise; have been spending a lot of time at the Frick and the Met. At the same time, I’m absolutely in love with the frenetic multi-discipline work of a few more current fellows whose large-scale pieces I’ve seen over the past year— William Kentridge at both BAM and the Met, for one. I aspire to combine more film, moving sculpture, poetry into my work like that, with hopefully an iota of the energy with which he manages to pull it all together. I was elated to see Marcel Dzama’s recent collaboration with the New York City Ballet, I’ve adored his work for years, and it was thrilling to see it put to such a large scale. Some of the current assemblage works I’ve been producing owe an obvious debt to Cornell and other similar artists. So, I’m pulled towards the foofy bewigged floral stuff on one hand, the gooky, gestural, modern mass ornament on the other.

New Works by Allison Sommers

SH: For those not familiar with your work or artist background? What inspired you to pursue a career in art, most artists and creative people are making things since their childhood but there is a significant difference between having artistic talent and being a full-time artist. What drives you?
AS: I am one of the “most” here, having been making things since childhood, and taking the utmost pleasure in it. I didn’t go to art school, and after University ended up turning an internship at a newsweekly into first a graphic design job and then art directorship. By that time, I was already working with Thinkspace, so I did my painting at night after work, and was thoroughly exhausted and frustrated, so by the time that we moved to New York, I knew that I wanted a path bending more directly towards my art (“sh*t or get off the pot,” as my folks would say). So, I tried to take all the time that I’d given myself by only taking part-time and, eventually, no-time work, and just filled every hour with drawing (and the flaneuserie and indulgent self-contemplation requisite of an artist). I’ve been extremely fortunate that somehow this all can be rounded up to being a full-time artist. It’s cliche, but I really can’t imagine doing anything else, and I’m so incredibly grateful that, at least right now, I’m able to have the luxury of so doing.

SH: What were you listening to during this latest body of work, podcast? Playlist? Netflix?
AS: I am only exaggerating a little when I say that the first month or so of work, I only listened to “The Wall” and then “Golden Brown” by the Stranglers, over and over. It’s my power music. No apologies for the big gobbets of prog-rock I listen to. I spend a lot of time listening to the radio— WNYC for at least six hours a day, WMFU in the evenings sometimes (Dave the Spazz’s show on Thursdays, in particular). Our classical radio station in New York is abysmal, so sometimes I’ll check in online with WETA, which I used to listen to when I grew up in Maryland. There’s a little radio station that popped up this year in a shipping container a few blocks away called “The Lot” that has given me an incredible amount of pleasure over the hours and hours in the studio, and I love that I can just zip down there with the dog and draw in their little yard if I can’t stand being inside anymore. I try to never miss Chances With Wolves’ show. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to the playlist that I made for the show opening, so I suppose folks will get a bit of what my aural background was when I was wrapping it all up. If I must watch a video whilst working— I think it’s bad for your art, but sometimes you need something to push through the long late hours— it’s usually “Downton Abbey” or “The Knick”, or “Call the Midwife” if I’m feeling a little weepy.

Allison Sommers Postcard

The opening reception for ‘Bruxism’ is next Saturday, September 17th from 6 – 9pm. Visit our website for more information on Allison Sommer’s ‘Bruxism’.

Interview with Ozabu for 彷徨 (Wander)

Ozabu Interview

Next Saturday, Japanese artist Ozabu will be exhibiting her latest body of work at Thinkspace Gallery in the project room. Ozabu’s graphite drawings are highly rendered with subtle line work leaving a weightless ghost on the paper. Our interview with Ozabu for 彷徨 (Wander) is slightly edited to compensate for the language barrier but gives insight into her self-taught discipline and if she drinks coffee or tea.

SH: As a self-taught artist, what motivated you to pursue a life in the arts and what books or techniques did you study to develop your own artistic style?
OZ: My parents are a big influence and introduce me to art. They like drawing and love art, so we’d often go to museums and draw together at the park when I was a child. But as I grew older, I became less interested in drawing. Then about 5 years ago, I suddenly was inspired to try drawing again and realized I did not have the skill to draw as I wish I could. So, I decided to start again from that point on. I’m attracted to the profundity express in graphite and now here I am.

I didn’t use any reference books to learn drawing. I’ve never researched what kind of techniques or tools other artist use. I would just see a piece in person and then analyze it, teaching myself the technique and trying out different tools until I understand how the piece was created myself.

Ozabu Wander 1

SH: What is the inspiration or theme behind this latest body of work?
OZ: I’ve always pulled inspiration from the things that I’ve felt and my experience with a bit of Japanese extract. I experienced the death of an important person in my life around the time I started working on this show. So the pieces in the exhibition include funeral and parting scenes. I felt that the more I drew, that dark place within myself is what was brought up when drawing those pieces.

SH: Many of your pieces involve birds or feathers the elements adding movement and dimension to the work. Are the birds and feathers also symbolic?
OZ: Yes. They possess something that I don’t have. I don’t know why, but they’ve always fascinated me very much.

SH: What are your favorite tools to work with?
OZ: Mechanical pencil and pencil of Staedtler and Pentel

Ozabu Tsuibami

SH: What is a common mistake people make with drawing?
OZ: That they don’t put their emotions into the drawing.

SH: When not working on art, what captures your attention and takes up your time?
OZ: Walking around places full of nature

SH: Are you a coffee or tea drinker?
OZ: coffee, of course!

SH: Who are a few of your favorite artists right now?
OZ: Esao Andrews,Dan Quintana,Ito Jakuchu,James Jean,Jessica Joslin,Katsuya Terada, Kikyz1313, Kent Williams ,Gakkin, Fuyuko Matsui, Vania Zouravliov and more!

SH: Are you left or right handed?
OZ: Left handed but pencil is right

Ozabu Kitsune

The opening reception of Obazu’s 彷徨 (Wander) is Saturday, September 17th from 6pm to 9pm. Please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website for more information.

Interview with Amanda ‘Mando’ Marie for ‘The Light Touch’

Amanda Marie Interview

Amanda ‘Mando’ Marie’s latest body of work “The Light Touch” opens this weekend in Thinkspace Gallery’s project room. A collection of work that shows her signature golden-book illustration stencils and textured layers. Our interview with Amanda ‘Mando’ Marie discusses her creative process and artistic path.

SH: What is your favorite golden book children story?
AM: I don’t necessarily have a favorite, but I do remember collecting tiny versions of Scuffy the Tugboat, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, The little Red Hen, and a bunch of other classics from Hardee’s kids meals.

Amanda Marie Red Book

SH: How did you develop your artistic voice?
AM: Mostly trial and error. Trying new things, seeing and finding visual techniques that I liked together. When I first started art school I would go buy the expensive paint and canvas. I met some friends who had a gallery in a warehouse called ‘the wheelbarrow’ in lodo Denver. I was working at a framing wholesaler at the time and the boys at the gallery had a bunch of rolls of old vinyl wallpaper. We started to take the frames that they were throwing away at the frame shop and stretching vinyl wallpaper over them. It gave us all as young kids who just wanted to make the opportunity to do so freely. We would have art shows and sell our work for dirt cheap. It was fun.

SH: What made you explore stencils and the style you have today?
AM: After ‘The Wheelbarrow’ split up Ryan went to Miami where he is now ‘Miami’s best graffiti guide’ and a forever amazing dude, my then boyfriend Calan and I moved into a basement studio of Andenken Gallery (which is now located in Amsterdam). We hung out with old and new friends in the scene, all interested in different mediums. They ended up teaching me way more than I ever learned at Art school.

An old friend of Calan’s, but a new friend of mine, named Decker, rented one of the upstairs studios. He was a super chill snowboarder kid and was stenciling on everything. I decided to give stencil making a try. Later that year I was working at a pizza place down the Street Called Two Fisted Mario’s. I made one of the little girls and stenciled two of them for this tip jar that at the pizza place. My boss came by and loved it and asked if I wanted to show at his bar ‘Double Daughters’ next door. I got to work on making paintings with a lot of the characteristics that I’m still using.

Hyland, the owner and curator for Andenken, came to my opening and also liked the work and asked if Calan and I would like to show in the basement of the gallery. The show went well and he offered me a solo up tairs. That show also got a lot of good reaction. I guess it was partly feeling like I was in a nice stride and partly the reaction from so many people enjoying the styles I was using that made it stick.

Amanda Mando Marie

SH: What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work?
AM: There is always a million things that inspire the work. I don’t always know what the story is until I paint it. The work is usually a reaction to life and all that is swirling around. Life is so complex.

SH: You’ve traveled a lot creating murals and for exhibitions, do you have a favorite city? Are your murals influenced by the location they are created?
AM: Lots of favorites for sure. There is no lack of beautiful places in our world. I love almost every place I’ve been for one reason or another. There is a ton of the world I haven’t explored yet. But, influences do enter the work from traveling. The background color that I use on most of my murals is the dark green color that they use on most of the buildings in Amsterdam, which is the first place I left the country to visit for work. Portugal has beautiful patterns, Scandinavia uses color so well and has such a perfectly simple way of illustrating.

Amanda Mando Marie

SH: Some of your pieces have dozens of layers and other work more minimal, how do you know a piece is complete?
AM: Instead of completely buffing old paintings that I wasn’t quite happy with I started to buff the parts I didn’t like instead, Then add more imagery on top of that and so on. Mess it up, try and fix it, mess it up, try and fix it, until finally, the mess became part of the solution. Though recently I have been getting more minimal. I just like the way the work looks with less texture sometimes.

SH: What is your creative process? Is your studio messy, neat, or somewhere in between?
AM: Both. I clean it up before I get started and when I finish, but the in between is a disaster. Usually, there are piles of stencils scattered all over the floor. It can be a problem. I end up spending a lot of time digging to try and find one that I used a day or week before, they get walked on and torn. Not the most efficient, but it works.

SH: What do you do to push through self­doubt, a common problem amongst artists?
AM: The root of why I make paintings is because I like to. Whether I’m putting them out there for other people’s eyeballs or not, ‘making’ would still be what I was doing. Also, I can’t and don’t expect to please everyone. It really isn’t a contest.

Amanda Mando Marie

SH: Your work has a very vintage post­ World War II style with a modern edge, is there something about that time period that holds some specific meaning to the work a part of style?
AM: No Not really. It’s what I first found success with and I’ve been able to grow with this style.

SH: If your work was used at the basis for an animated short, what would be the plot? Who would write the script or be cast as the lead voice? And what style of animation would it be?
AM: A short film on something super practical like how to fix a flat tire on an old dutch bike, or how to pop popcorn over a flame. You know useful. I really like Alan Watts voice, he could read the script. I don’t know who I’d have write it, but someone with sarcasm and a sense of humor.

SH: What’s the best advice you’ve received as an artist? What’s the best advice you can bestow for life?
AM: ‘You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.’ has been something a friend told me and advice that I seem to continually need to remember. My advice would be to remember, it’s supposed to be fun.

Amanda Mando Marie

Join us for the opening reception of ‘The Light Touch‘ this Saturday, August 20th from 6-9pm. The exhibition will be on view through September 10th.

Interview with Cinta Vidal on PR0HBTD

CINTA ON PR0HTD

If you’re still not convinced of the epicness that is Cinta Vidal’s neck craning work, then check out this great interview she did with PR0HBTD.  Tomorrow, Saturday, August 13th is the last day to view Cinta Vidal’s ‘Gravities’ and Adam Caldwell’s ‘Dark Stage’. To view all available work from the exhibitions please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website. Visit PR0HBTD.com for the full interview with Cinta Vidal.

I think we all live in the same world but inhabit it in different ways. We often share a landscape but see it from different points of view. I am passionate about the idea of being physically close to someone but mentally far. In order to show this idea, I play with the various orientations a painting can have. You will never be able to see all points of view at the same time, so you must choose which one you see upward. I think this also happens in life: All points of view are possible but we eventually choose one. – Cinta Vidal for PR0HBTD

Cinta Vidal ‘Gravities’ Show Pieces:
http://thinkspacegallery.com/shows/cintavidal-2016/show-pieces/

Adam Caldwell ‘Dark Stages’ Show Pieces:
http://thinkspacegallery.com/shows/adamcaldwell-2016/show-pieces/

Thinkspace Gallery hours are noon – 6pm, Tuesday through Saturday.