Interview with Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker for his Installation “Suzy Is A Surf Rocker” at The New Vanguard II

Can you explain your creative approach when developing your installation/solo for the New Vanguard II?

In developing my first solo museum installation, “Suzy Is A Surf Rocker”, I wanted to be very thoughtful and focused with my imagery. I began simply drawing sketches and writing down ideas, as well as collecting objects and ephemera to fill the large amount of wall space I was given. When I had narrowed down the ideas into a definitive, cohesive direction began the process of time management in my studio preparing all of the paintings, objects, photographs, and support pieces. Once I had begun the installation process at the museum the fun really started, but strategic editing had to also take place during the process. I always bring way more of everything than I need for a large-scale installation, and this was no exception! Finally, building what I had envisioned in my mind for months on the MOAH walls was an incredible…and at times exhausting…experience.

In 100 years from now, what do you think will be said about the New Contemporary art movement?

100 years from now I believe what will be said about our movement will be that it has been the most all-encompassing, inclusive movement in history. This movement has the most diverse styles, disciplines, genders, ethnicities, geography, exhibition venues…the list of inclusion goes on and on!  The New Contemporary Movement is the first to have grown up during the internet age…giving an instant platform to artists of all kinds worldwide. This kind of exposure has shone a bright light on artists and styles that would have never seen a glimmer in the past gallery/museum pantheon. This exhibition is a shining example of that fact!

What does it mean to you as an artist to have your work be shown at a museum?

Having my work…and our movement…shown at museums is the realization that all of the hard work of the artists, gallerists, collectors, and fans is being accepted at a whole other level now. Although, it still means almost as much to me to show my work in a local gallery, coffee house, warehouse pop-up, or anywhere that supports current and up-and-coming artists. The wide variety of venues available to new artists has had a huge impact on why The New Contemporary Movement has grown to museum levels.

If your body of work had a signature cocktail or drink, what would it be made of and called?

Oh man!!! I suppose it would have to be some kind of kitschy tropical drink with lots of rum and fruit juice…garnished with pineapple chunks, flowers and a tiny umbrella…and would probably be called “skibs kula’i wai”…loosely translated as “skibs knockout juice”…HA!

Favorite part about Lancaster, or something you learned about Lancaster during your time there working on your install for the New Vanguard II?

Oh, this one is easy…favorite for sure was the people! Not just the people who work in the museum…who were all amazing. The people in the shops, restaurants, bars…everyone was extremely nice and excited to see and meet us while we were out and about in their city.

There are a lot of amazing artists in the exhibition, and this question may be difficult to answer, but which artists in this show would you want to collaborate with on or steal an artsy secret/technique from that you want to use too?

Geez, come on!!!! I guess if I had to narrow down that insane list of talent…I would want to do a collab with Chris Konecki. I think his 3D, mixed media, sculptures, and ambiguously vintage imagery would mix well with my similar aesthetic. I would want to steal some of Jaune’s stenciling techniques…the details and accuracy he creates with that hard edge technique are incredible


Group Exhibition “Elysium” & Lauren Brevner’s Solo Exhibition Opening Reception Recap

Thank you to all that came out to support the opening of our November exhibitions. Congratulations to Atsuko Goto, Audrey Kawasaki, Stella Im Hultberg, Fuco Ueda, Jolene Lai, Lauren Brevner and Lonac on beautiful new bodies of work.

All three exhibits are on view through this Saturday, November 24 at Thinkspace Projects. Visit our website to view the available pieces from Elysium, Menagerie, and Summer in Zaberg. 

Photos courtesy of Birdman.


DULK is hard at work in his studio in Spain finishing up work on his debut North American solo show ‘Legacy’ opening December 1 at Thinkspace.

This December we will showcase DULK’s largest body of work to date along with two new print editions, a new sculpture edition plus a new mural for the good people of Los Angeles to call their own.

Please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter via our website to receive the advance preview for his show, which we’ll be sharing a few days prior to the December 1 opening festivities.

Get ready!

Interview with Fuco Ueda for “Elysium”

Tokyo-based surrealist artist Fuco Ueda’s dreamy new pieces for the group exhibition Elysium continues to showcase her ethereal acrylic paintings mixed with Japan Gofun shell powder that gives her work a unique glow. The movement in Ueda’s work is weightless reflected in the flowing waterscapes she’s created in her latest body of work.  Our interview with Fuco Ueda reveals the inspiration and creative heart behind the pieces.

Join us for the opening of Elysium Saturday, November 10th from 6 pm to 9 pm

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

JL: “To fall asleep” is inspired by the Buddhist Nirvana diagram. The Buddhist Nehan-zu (painting of Great Nirvana) draws the way the Buddha opens enlightenment and dies. Cambrian creatures are floating in “To fall asleep”. It expresses the flow of the world different from the current flow of time.

Communication II

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work and capture ideas for pieces; do you have a sketchbook on hand or is it just a note to yourself in your phone?

JL: I went to see the Buddhist Nehan-zu at a museum in Kyoto.
After reading and researching books on the subject, I will then draw simple outlines in my sketchbook developing and honing the ideas over time.

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

JL: Finding inspiration and watching the composition emerge.

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

JL: When the idea and image of my art is not clear.

Symbiosis 2017

SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece?

JL: “To fall asleep” and “Symbiosis 2017”
Because it pushed through some creative challenges I had imposed on myself. (However, I don’t think anyone would be able to detect the struggle)

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?

JL: All arts are a dream collaboration. I’d enjoy collaborating with music, movies, theater, fashion, and other fields. I am also interested in my artwork being used in media art and technology.


SH: Has there been someone or some event that has made a significant impact on you that lead you to where you are now? An artistic catalyst of sorts?

JL: I have been influenced by Japanese literature since I was a child. In addition, I’ve also been influenced by vintage Japanese comics, especially those made for the 1970s girl in Japan. At that time, it was an unconventional media showing cultural movements including SF, fantasy and homosexual elements, it had innovative content. The new female image was nurtured in those comics.

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?

JL: I put a canvas of cloth on a wooden panel, it has a painted base. This is a traditional white paint raw materials of Japan Gofun (shell powder) is also crowded mix. I paint with acrylic paint.

To Fall Asleep

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

JL: From this year, I became a teacher at a certain Art University in Tokyo, I enjoy those class. That is the University of my alma mater.

SH: In one or two words, tell us something that you really like or resonates with you about the work of each artist in Elysium.

JL: I have not been able to see the exhibits of other artists yet. However, I think that it is surely a wonderful group show. I am planning to go to LA at the opening, so I’m looking forward to seeing the exhibits.



Group Exhibition “Elysium” Featuring Audrey Kawasaki, Fuco Ueda, Atsuko Goto, Jolene Lai, and Stella Im Hultberg in Main Room, November 10th – November 24th

Group Exhibition – ELYSIUM
featuring new works from
Opening Reception:
THIS Saturday, November 10 from 6-9PM


Audrey Kawasaki is a Japanese-American artist currently living and working in Los Angeles. She attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where she was influenced by Manga and art nouveau. Her work depicts sensuous young women on wood panel, with a strong emphasis on line quality and facial expression.

The themes in Audrey Kawasaki’s work are contradictions within themselves. Her work is both innocent and erotic. Each subject is attractive yet disturbing. Her sharp graphic imagery is combined with the natural grain of the wood panels she paints on, bringing forth unexpected warmth to enigmatic subject matter.

The figures she paints are seductive and contain an air of melancholy. They exist in their own sensually esoteric realm, yet at the same time present a sense of accessibility that draws the observer to them.


The Tokyo-based Ueda creates surreal paintings of enigmatic girls in strangely beautiful incandescent dreamscapes. With larger than life flowers and creatures ranging from moray eels to butterflies, her paintings are like apparitions pulled from the shadowy depths of the subconscious. Her mischievous adventurers are innocent and devious, at times playful and others sinister, suspended somewhere between the waking world and the beyond. An inscrutable universe of lush neon chrysanthemums and florid skins, Ueda’s world is a hallucinatory daydream.

Ueda’s works convey the lonely meditative feeling of dreams, a world set apart from the existence of others and self-sustained by isolated dread and reverie. At times a darkness pervades with recurring symbols like skeletal hands and the fiery orbs, or hitodama, of Japanese folklore, thought to be the souls of the dead. Another recurring symbol that figures prominently in her works is the chrysanthemum, also a symbol of loss, death, and vulnerability. These surreal apparitions reinforce a sense of displacement and transience. Her lithe figures, often charged with a cryptic eroticism, dissolve into the webs of these conjured worlds; like figments crossing over into ghostly recesses.

The tone of Ueda’s works tends to shift towards a lighter and more whimsical extreme as well. Her girls are often surrounded by small birds, butterflies, underwater creatures, beribboned pets, and dazzling flora, in dreamily abstracted landscapes that seem to glow and hum with weird life. The combination of these light and dark extremes is often unexpected, and psychologically evocative. Beautifully illustrated girls drip with honey and bare skinned knees, while snakes, fish, cobwebs, and bright fungi surround and shroud them. Contrasts abound in her choice of palettes as well, with the mixture of deeply pigmented hues, dark blacks, bright neons and iridescent pastel purples and blues.


Atsuko Goto creates beautifully melancholic images of delicate figures cloaked and merged with natural elements, everything from flowers and butterflies to insects, birds, and fish. Her muted palette is as ghostly as haze, achieved through the unique application of diluted pigments made from semi-precious lapis lazuli, ink, and gum arabic applied to cotton.

Inspired by Japanese Shinto and the belief that nature is animated by divinity and sacred spirits harbored in every living and inanimate thing, Goto creates imagery that conveys this feeling of profuse life force and intangible mystery, offset by a darker suggestion of mourning and lament. Quietly meditative, her works exude a dreamlike calm and resignation despite their abundance of detail and the density of her compositions. Silence and forlorn composure define this existence of the preternatural.

Fragile in their tempered darkness, the works are subtle and near translucent – like the unknown light and strange optics of an otherworldly plane where everything is unsubstantial. A feeling of entrapment and isolation persists, however, in the quietude. Like hauntings from the subconscious, the paintings feel like faded dreams, surreal distortions bordering on the ominous. Unsettling, the muted beauty of these diaphanous idols loom, uncannily caught in a thin veil between worlds.


Jolene Lai is a Los Angeles-based artist and illustrator born and raised in Singapore. After studying painting at Lasalle-SIA College of the Arts in Singapore, Jolene studied graphic design at UCLA and spent a year working at a movie-poster design house, The Refinery Creative, before returning to focus on fine art.

She works primarily with oil on canvas or mixed media on watercolor paper. With bold use of color, shape and intricate detail, she creates images with a seductive aesthetic and subject matter that weaves in emotions of whimsy, melancholy, irony, and absurdity.

Lai seeks to engage her audience in works that are approachable, newly imagined spaces that the viewer is invited to explore on their own terms.


Stella Im Hultberg was born in South Korea, raised in Seoul, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and later in California. She studied Industrial Design and worked as a product designer before serendipitously falling into the art world in late 2005. Stella Im Hultberg’s paintings are conceived in varying combinations of ink, watercolor, and oils on paper, wood, and canvas. Her portraits of women are rendered in easy, flowing lines with soft hues that transcend the typical critiques of feminine beauty, inherent in today’s self-conscious society.

Hultberg originally studied Industrial Design at CSU, which naturally segued into work as a toy designer early on in her career. Work in the design industry serendipitously led to her building on her natural talents as an artist and a career as a self-taught painter soon followed. Having grown up in Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan, she has a diverse blend of cultural influences to pull from.

When not painting or drawing, she likes to eat, ride her bicycle, and play the New York Times crossword puzzle. After a decade in NYC, she now lives (and works) in Portland OR with her daughter and husband.