An interview with Tran Nguyen

An interview with Tran Nguyen

Tran’s statement on her latest series of works for ‘Nurturing The Uneased Soul’:
Human distress and weariness of the soul are prevalent illnesses we’ve all encountered in our existence. It is ubiquitous to say that life is hard and it’s even harder to relieve ourselves of this chronic disquiet. It is my hope that the milieus portrayed in Nurturing the Uneased Soul pay homage to those who are facing everyday-life difficulties – you, your family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, or even strangers.

The visual metaphors that are depicted in my paintings capture our emotional turmoil. They embody someone that we can contemplate with, something that reorganizes our cluttered mind. It’s somewhere that nurses the unattended thoughts we’ve tucked away, deep inside our psyche. My imageries serve as a reservoir for the mind to collect itself, replenish itself, and resolve itself from its emotive tension. My hopes are that once the viewer has plunged into my oeuvre, they are able to emerge from the pilgrimage with a new, untarnished mindset. With whatever existent hardship you may be enduring, I deeply hope it can help nurture your exasperated soul.

For more, check out the following interview I just conducted with Tran last week…

Please talk a lil’ bit about the general concept behind your new series of works for “Nurturing The Uneased Soul”.
The new series of work furthers my exploration into therapeutic imagery. Each painting depicts a particular milieu of apprehension that conveys many of the prevalent distresses we frequently come across in life. Uneasiness such as ridding ourselves of wayward thinking or living a burdensome life can be abrasive to our soul, but these heavyhearted situations are what makes life even more precious. The adversity we deal with day to day are conducive to meaningful living. Thus, the intent of Nurturing the Uneased Soul is to act as a buffer or, as some have described it, “a squishy mattress” in overcoming these hardships.

'And Our World Came Tumbling After'

Do you use much photo reference or pretty much just rely upon your imagination?
Half and half — it’s used when needed. When I want a “real” feel to my figures, I’ll rely on photo references to capture those humanly imperfections or natural postures. I do try to limit myself from relying on them too much or else my surreal illustrations would end up overly “realistic.” So when I want to diverge from this tendency, I’ll let my imagination/artistic intuition resolve the rest of the painting.

Your work is filled with visual metaphors, please elaborate a bit if you can. Any significance to the recurring diamond pattern present in much of your work?
You’ve probably noticed that trees, birds, and other ornamental forms frequently reoccur in many of my paintings. I use the motifs to help embed the content’s general tone. Shapes such as the iridescent gold diamonds are not only used for aesthetic purposes but also to convey the duality of the complex emotions — the strenuous as well as triumphal aspect of confronting a tribulation. The haphazard of patterns also help create an ambiguous void for the figures to be cast into which furthers the surreal essence of my paintings.

'And She Said To Him'

What was the driving force in your life that led you to this particular direction in your narrative content?
Thus far, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had an easy life but I can’t say the same for others. I’ve witnessed many people that’s had their share of hardship, particularly my mom. I can’t help but feel compassionate to those whose life deviates from what they had hope for. I’ve always been interested in the welfare of others but didn’t necessarily know how to apply it to my career. Then, I came across Bruce Moon’s Art and Soul: Reflections of an Artistic Psychology, and his writings guided and synthesized my endeavors in a more concrete way.

What/who do you consider your biggest overall influence?
The people (and their situations) I cross paths with act as my muse. Their tense emotions and tribulations inspire me to compassionately illustrate these ineffable human conditions.

'Parting From Your Wayward Heart'

What’s your favorite thing about living in Georgia? What do you miss most about home?
Besides the fact that my family and friends are here, Georgia has a moderately paced lifestyle. Where I’m from, there’s a lot of the countryside and a little of the city side, which has been pleasant to be raised in. I live about five minutes from a vast corn field and the feeling I get from driving by it is overwhelmingly profound and unexplainable. Though it’s inevitable that I’ll venture to other places for work and personal reasons, in the end, I know I’ll come back home. It’s true what they say — “home is where the heart is.”

If you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
I’d open a public art studio that offers a variety of free workshops for people who like to draw, paint, print-make, sculpt, etc. In another section of the studio would be an open exhibit filled with a collection of art created by therapy patients — a kind of art that requires us to close our eyes and open our heart and soul.

What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your solo show with us?
I have some group shows that I’ll be participating in and an awesome collab show next year with a fellow artist. For now, I’m just taking it easy.

'The Color Of A Colorless Soul'

Tran Nguyen ‘Nurturing the Uneased Soul’ (in our project room)

Exhibition run dates: March 12th – April 2nd, 2010

Check out the works from ‘Nurturing The Uneased Soul’ here:

* This will be the last show at our Silver Lake location. We will relocate to Culver City this April.

4210 Santa Monica Blvd. in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles (near the Sunset Junction)

Tran Nguyen digital preview ready…

Tran Nguyen - "And Our World Came Tumbling After" - 12x16"

Tran Nguyen ‘Nurturing the Uneased Soul’ (in our project room)

Exhibition run dates: March 12th – April 2nd, 2010

Opening Reception: Fri, March12th 7-11PM

So excited to share this with everyone… Tran’s preview is now ready:

Please shoot me any questions or requests to and I will get right back to you.

Note: all works are framed with a 2″ white matte with archival backing in a clean white beveled frame with standard glass.

Look for an interview with Tran to be posted here in the coming days.

* This will be the last show at our Silver Lake location. We will relocate to Culver City this April.

4210 Santa Monica Blvd. in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles (near the Sunset Junction)

Imminent Disaster interviewed over at Juxtapoz…

“With a moniker like Imminent Disaster, you know you’re dealing with something heavy. This Brooklyn-based artist has been wheatpasting the streets for the past four years and now turns her attention to a highly anticipated gallery show at Los Angeles’ Thinkspace gallery.” – JUXTAPOZ

Check out the full interview here:

Keep up with Disaster here:

Featuring new works and an installation from Imminent Disaster and Armsrock

Opening reception: Fri, March 12th 7-11PM

4210 Santa Monica Blvd in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles

* This will be the last show at our Silver Lake location before we make the jump to Culver City this April. Don’t miss it!!!

An interview with collector Jon Halperin

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An interview with collector Jon Halperin

I first met Jon Halperin a number of years ago just after we opened our gallery and we’ve become good friends since then. Much like myself, he has strong ties to the music world, and we both often make comparisons between the art world and the music world. It’s really amazing how many correlations there are between the two. If you’ve ever met him, it’s undeniable how big a fan he is of the new contemporary art movement, he’s covered head to toe in tattoos featuring the artwork of Futura, Greg Simkins, Banksy, Scott Campbell, Shag, Derek Hess, Huck Gee, Shepard Fairey, Luke Chueh, James Jarvis, Frank Kozik, Murakami, and Joe Ledbetter (lord knows he’s added some more since I interviewed him a month back or so).

Oh, by the way, his dog is named Brooklyn and rules all (you’ll see him in a few pics below).

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His home is much like our own, covered floor to ceiling in art, toys and memorablia – a true treasure trove of pop culture goodness. Please read on…

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How long have you had an interest in art?
I started collecting in the early 1990’s. I used to go to Dark’s Art Parlour in Santa Ana, Soap Plant on Melrose (now La Luz), and a gallery in San Diego. I collected weird stuff…like serial killer art. I was doing my master’s in psychology at the time, so i was super interested in that type of stuff. It quickly moved to low brow in the mid 1990’s. Then to pop in the 2000’s. My collection is around 200 or so pieces at this point…

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Does anyone else in your family collect or create art?
Eh, parents bought art, but it never changed. I like to evolve, change it up, or i get bored. I don’t have a creative bone in my body. It took an hour just to write that sentence….no it didn’t, but it would have been awesome if it did. My grandfather painted cartoonish paintings in the 1960’s, 1970’s.

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Besides art, is there anything else that the collector bug in you searches out regularly?
I ride vespas/lambrettas. So I am regularly on and on the search for bikes. I like interesting blogs like coolhunting, stuff like that…I buy items that I like, but don’t necessarilly need. I am anything but a minimalist. I shop at costco.

Otherwise, because I book a music venue, I check out my music blogs/bulletin boards so I know what the hell I’m talking about.

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With artists like Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Shepard Fairey and The Clayton Brothers all having major retrospective museum shows in the past year or two, the future is definitely wide open for this lil’ bubble of the art world. Where do you see this genre of art (new contemporary, urban contemporary, pop surrealism, outsider, lowbrow, etc) going over the next 5-10 years?
It’s interesting…artists have blown up, but who is taking the torch from Ryden? No one is quite there…maybe it’s the economy dictating…maybe we are in a slight lull, maybe it goes in waves? I really don’t know….

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First piece purchased and when/why?
First piece was given to me by my parents. It was a painting of a bird by my grandfather who had passed away just prior. I love it…..It stands alone in my bathroom. As far as purchase, I really cannot remember…maybe a drawing by Roman Dirge?

Do you have any sculpture in your collection?
I have several pieces by Adam Wallacavage (pictured throughout feature). A chandelier and a wall sconce. I love them more than chocolate…and I f*cking love chocolate.

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Favorite piece you currently own?
Hell. How do you REALLY ask that question? How about ten? Fair? In no particular order:
1. Luke Chueh “I Am Not Your Plaything”
2. D*Face “Lenticular” edition of 80
3. Adam Wallacavage “Covered in Punks Blood” Chandelier
4. Banksy “Morons” sepia print
5. Invader “Onespace” original
6. Miss Bugs “Wonderful Angel of Death” Handfinished AP
7. Shepard Fairey “Sound Clash” original
8. Peter Gronquist “Louise Vuitton Chainsaw”
9. Jeffrey Brown – commission that he did for me as a surprise from my girlfriend
10. Miss Bugs “Don’t F*ck with a Duck Hirst” original

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What was your biggest score of 2009 collecting wise? Best score to date?
Best score to date? Any of my six Banksy prints….I realize that I may not be a lot to some, but I cherish them….
For 2009? Not really a “score”, but for my birthday, my girlfriend bought me the “This Are Two Tone” print by David Storey ( I absolutely freaking love it. He did all of the original art for the Specials and Two Tone Records in the late 1970’s/1980’s.

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Who is at the top of your want list?
Cept. I have a handfinished prints. I want an original.

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If you could add any piece of artwork to your collection, from any time period, which work would that be?
Banksy from 2002-ish. I realize I would appear mensa if I said Picasso or Chagal or something like that. But I am pop as shit. I make Britney Spears look metal.

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My wife and I would love to donate our collection to some sort of establishment, be it a museum or otherwise, so that the vision remains intact. We’re really creating a snapshot in time. With this in mind, do you see yourself ever stopping buying art and supporting artists? Even if your walls fill up? You are so young, that it’s bound to happen soon, but this is an addiction as we all know. So just curious of other’s long term plans.
I am a consumer. I am an addict of art. These pieces are my methodone. I will never stop buying. I put myself into debt now to buy a piece….I would have to be homeless, living off the land before I would stop.

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Please name an artist that might be off many collector’s radar, but that you enjoy and would like to offer some props to.
Cept, David Storey, Meggs, Joe Black, Miss Bugs, and Parker Jacobs

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Any final words or shout outs?
Thanks to both of you and Thinkspace Gallery for existing… you have introduced an incredible amount of artists to Los Angeles.

* First photograph of Jon in the animal suit by Kevin Knight (

An interview with Jesse Hotchkiss…

'Little Planet'
'Little Planet'

An interview with Jesse Hotchkiss

Opening in conjunction with ‘The World Unseen and Those In Between’ from Andy Kehoe is our second solo show with artist and professional skateboarder Jesse Hotchkiss. In Jesse’s new series, he aims to portray moments of dreamlike intimacy, both visually foreign and familiar, yet somehow comforting and empowering to the characters within his work.

“The feeling of surrender washes over everything—a relaxing if daunting position to be in. But Hotchkiss seems to imply that falling, sinking, even being buried, might be just another way to reach something higher.”

“Jesse Hotchkiss is one of these gifted individuals. He has a second-nature style when it comes to riding his skateboard and doing the crazy tricks. You’ve probably seen him somewhere at some time doing his thing, and maybe you agree with me that the dude has some natural talent. The thing is he’s also a very gifted artist and illustrator. His paintings and drawings come directly from the heart, and that’s part of why they’re so easy to enjoy.” – Jeremy Fish’s words in Transworld Skateboarding Magazine

Jesse at work on his deck
Jesse at work on his deck

Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for “Learning To Fall“? What’s the story with the show’s title?
This new body of work is a reflection of the place I find myself these days. The title, “Learning To Fall”, was extracted from a Blonde Redhead tune called “Falling Man”. The idea of falling, both physically and metaphorically, has been a potent image in my work. It also has played a big role in my physical life; I’ve been learning to fall off my skateboard for two generations. Last May I pinched a nerve in my lower back and was immobilized for quite some time. This injury was the catalyst for exaggerated confusion and darkness in my life. I was no fun for a while… The title and concept was created before this debilitating injury, but this fall only seemed to accentuate a feeling that was already there; a need to get back in touch with the physical. I feel like the more we are in touch with both our physical and emotional shells, the better we will be prepared to eventually let them go. End of life transitioning surrounds us every day, yet it remains one of the biggest taboos. Personally, I feel a great momentum to explore this concept with an open mind and heart; both in my work and life.

On your site you separate your work into four distinct categories (“Air,” “Land” “Love Lump” and “Water”). Please tell us a lil’ about each series?
These are general groupings for my past work. The catagories are essentially the four elements with Love Lump representing fire. The Love Lump series was for a Valentine’s Day themed show titled “Love It Or Leave It”..Look for my revamped website following the Learning To Fall exhibit (

You are also a pro-skater, tell us a lil’ bit about your crazy summer that saw you going across the U.S. and then some?
Thanks to a crash course with my amazing yoga instructor and chiropractor I was able to bounce back (pun intended) and return to my skateboard. Last summer I went on an epic road trip with my friends at American Misfits (a skateboard/comedy show on Fuel TV). For all of August I was driving (sometimes the iconic ’79 Mercedes Benz hearse, complete with skatable coffin) from Los Angeles to Portland, Maine. The premise of this trip was to document all the skate scenes we could find, add slapstick and bands to make eight episodes of American Misfit’s third season. I met so many new and old friends and experiences along the way it was like life in fast-forward. We hit 22 cities in 31 days! It was the best summer ever!…that is except for driving from Alaska to LA the summer before.

'Learning To Fall'
'Learning To Fall'

Much of your new work includes the use of drift wood, did you gather the wood yourself and if so, do you have a favorite spot you regularly hit up?
I’ve been collecting driftwood for years. Mostly I’ve found it on the shores of Goat Rock Beach, Hollister Ranch beaches, and various Alaskan and Oregon beaches.

How did spending time during your youth in New Mexico influence your artwork?
I spent the years between 5th and 12th grade in Santa Fe, NM. I became friends with young artists out there that were inspiring and also somehow affiliated with the skateboard scene. People like Nate Kraw, Joe Melvin, Mike Giant and Sam Flores became my peer teachers. Also I had an amazing art teacher (Gary Myers) in high school that supported all the exploring I was into. Aside from the people, the environment had a profound effect on me. My work often revisits those stark, muted landscapes of the Land of Enchantment.

Jesse at work in his studio
Jesse at work in his studio

If you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
First I would acquire a large plot of land with natural swimming holes, hiking trails and seashores. I would invite some close friends to help me build and live in this art house. It would be mostly handmade with lots of personality and space. There would also be a skateboarding component to this community.

Do you listen to music while painting/drawing? If so, do you have a current favorite that inspires?
Silence is golden, yet I also work while listening to music. I find welcoming creative sound-scapes in the music of Ulrich Schnauss, Built to Spill, Augustus Pablo, Tommy Guerrero, Abstract Rude, and Ratatat most recently…

What do you consider your biggest overall influence?
My grandmother’s example of passionate, creative living has influenced me the most.

'Transcending Form'
'Transcending Form'

What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your solo with us – both artistically and on the skate front?
After the Learning To Fall show, I will be exhibiting at Thinkspace Gallery again in January. The show is called ‘A Cry For Help’; it’s an endangered species benefit group art show. I can’t wait to see everyone’s creatures! The American Misfits episodes I skateboarded and acted in will be televised sometime next spring on Fuel TV

Also I have launched a environmentally conscious skateboard company called ShredLife with the producers of the American Misfits show, Laban Pheidias and Ted Newsome. Also on the team is Chris Lambert and Chuck Wampler. I hand draw the majority of the graphics.


My skateboarding/acting will be featured in a music film produced by and for the band Angels and Airwaves. It’s in celebration of their new album “Love”. I believe it will premier on Valentine’s Day ’10.

Back on the art front, look for me in a two man show at 2HeadedHorse Gallery in Echo Park sometime in spring ’10.

'Terra Fermentation'
'Terra Fermentation'

Check out the works featured in ‘Learning To Fall’ here:  

Please shoot a mail to if you are interested in any of the works in the show.

‘Learning To Fall’ featuring new works and a mural from Jesse Hotchkiss

Fri, Dec. 11th 7-11PM

4210 Santa Monica Blvd (near Sunset Junction in Silver Lake area of LA)