Opening Saturday October 13th Lisa Ericson’s “Border Crossing”

Lisa Ericson
Border Crossing
October 13, 2018 – November 3, 2018

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room are new works by Portland-based artist Lisa Ericson in Border Crossing. Ericson’s meticulously rendered, hyperrealistic paintings are executed in acrylic on panel with the use of minute detailing brushes. She depicts supernatural amalgams of wild animals, everything from the surreal winged rodents she’s fondly coined ‘mouser-flies,’ to entire, parasitical ecosystems perched weightlessly upon the backs of other creatures, each dramatically set against pitch black backgrounds. Technically breathtaking, the works are optically dizzying in their depth, color, intensity, and contrast. In Ericson’s universe visual poetry abounds: a tree of monarchs emerges fantastically from the shell of a placid turtle host, while an entire miniature coral reef drags close behind on a beta’s fins.

Ericson’s works playfully consider the order and balance of natural bodies and systems through their reconfiguration. Recognizing the delicacy and interdependence of all natural infrastructures, the artist plays with their improbable remix, altering proportion and scale to fictional extremes. Through the creation of often whimsical hybrids, she considers the beginnings and ends of individual boundaries and collective frontiers, looking to the generative potential of thresholds and crossovers. Through the recombination of familiar parts, entirely new, beautifully abhorrent travelers are brought to life in Ericson’s composite creature worlds.

New to the Family: Interview with Kaili Smith

New to the Thinkspace Family is Netherland born and Australia raised artist Kaili Smith. We’ve shown pieces from Smith in group exhibitions at SCOPE Art Fair during Miami Art Basel and the Honolulu Museum of Art in Hawaii, and are excited to be hosting Smith’s solo exhibition World Meets Petit Prince in London at Moniker next week, October 4th through 7th.

Kaili Smith graduated with a bachelors in Fine Arts at WDKA in Rotterdam in 2018, finished with a sold-out graduation show. Smith is now pursuing a master’s degree in New York after receiving a full scholarship at Parsons School of Design.

Kaili’s work focuses on the topics of globalization, normalization of behavior & criminality, a reflection on the increasingly integrated society of today, its beauty and its struggles.

His current series of works Le Petit Prince reflect on the bizarre conflicting reality of children growing up in an environment of crime, while at the same time showing the strength that children often find through this lifestyle, an ongoing cycle of criminality that many western countries still struggle to understand or deal with in a progressive manner.

Get to know more about Kaili Smith in anticipation for his show at Moniker.

SH: Your artistic voice spans a wide range of mediums including but not limited to video, painting, poetry etc. Does one medium inspire the development of work in another and so on and so forth, or are the concepts developed more independently of each other? What is your creative process?

KS: So I didn’t touch a paintbrush till I was at least 18 (in elementary school my teacher let me play outside during art classes because I was too distracting and never did the work). I started art school at 19 with nothing but a background in spray paint and a few months of brushwork. The turning point was when I found myself in a poetry class in the second year. Long story short I had the most amazing teacher, he wasn’t some crazy motivational speaker, he was just fun and took time to see how each student’s own life experiences could be translated into poetry, I ended up making some short pieces that to my surprise got great feedback. I something switched then and for around 2 years I wanted to try every possible form of art.

The different fields absolutely inspire each other. “The petit prince” idea first formed from a fashion installation piece which never got finished. I, however, started to see the disadvantage in spreading out too much. So for the past year and upcoming future, I’m focussing on paintings & short film work.

SH: What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

KS: For paintings, in this series, I have found a style in which I truly enjoy the process from start to finish. For a while, I would jump back and forward between hyper-realism and figurative abstract. In this style, I just take both and let them go against one another. It’s made the entire process fun as-well as unexpected as I let myself choose between applying detail & precession or working extremely expressively all in the same piece.

For short films, the script writing is the most magical part, when you start to create this world and bring life to characters and have full creative control on where it goes. About everything else after that is a complete organizational hell. Once you look back at the process of filming it becomes worth it, but the stress of having everything come together from casting, costume, scheduling, film-crew and more is extremely stress full. I just hope with the more experience as well as growing resources the process of making the film can become more fun.

SH: What inspired the !Le Petit Prince! series?

KS: Growing up with a French mother “Le petit prince” was a book often read to me. In the original novel, Le petit prince is about a young boy learning about the adult world. On a core level, my paintings are taking that same premise but with a reflection of the environment of my teenage/early adult years. Exploring small snapshot stories of children mixed into a world of “criminality” through the lens of fairytales & the royal golden age aesthetic.

My main objective is for the work to create an ongoing conversation about how we view youth criminality. A topic often misunderstand. My paintings always try to capture the control, power, and self-identity that children find in this lifestyle. Society often either victimize or in contrast demonize youth criminality. The problem is that it doesn’t give the perspective of the child. A child rarely thinks they are a victim and see themselves as taking control over their situation and surroundings. The issue with the victimization of children involved in youth criminality is that if they are given any form of a way out whether it is punishment or placement in a different area, we then expect that to be the solution, as we frame it is as getting the “victim” away from their oppressor. However when proven unsuccessful this is then used as a way to label any young repeat offenders as simply genetically “bad” children. To sum it up, if we pay more attention from the perspective of children for their decisions and also see the strength needed to survive & strive in this environment, we can then reach constructive solutions to deal with the problem.

SH: Your artwork addresses the worlds varying perspectives, how do you personally approach understanding a perspective that differs from your own?

KS: This is a tricky one to answer. I think I am just lucky that due to my extremely diverse family and different places I have lived, different perspectives was simply all I ever knew. Even before I was old enough to articulate it, I simply never questioned different peoples way of living and often would find myself adapting to it. different was just the norm I suppose. If anything, becoming an artist and an adult I have had to think hard about what my own personal Identity and perspectives are. In terms of my work, my latest series is very personal. In the past when making works about other peoples perspective I have simply tried to listen to what they are ultimately saying and not what I would want them to say.

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

KS: I love collaborating with musicians. If I have to dream… I would say getting Kanye or Kendrick to collaborate on a musical short-film and have Rei Kawakubo (Comme des garçons) & Viktor & Rolf design all the costumes. I would name some amazing filmmakers to join the process, but then I would have nothing to contribute…

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?

KS: There was a very specific turn of events in my life which I think shifted my focus a lot. When I was 18 I worked shortly at a cafe and met this French abstract artist who owned his own gallery and sold a ton of work. I had showed him some of my graffiti murals and he wanted to do a collaboration with me for one of his works. He offered $500 + material costs and 50/50 split when the work was sold. I honestly didn’t know what to make of him, but figured I didn’t have much to lose and that even if just the spray cans were covered I would have some leftovers to go towards trains. On the day I was supposed to meet him my house got raided at 6 am and I had to spend the day in jail. It was the 5th time since 14 I had been raided for graffiti. The next day I told him I’d lost my phone, luckily enough he told me to come by his gallery and that we’d go ahead with the plans. When I walked in he was still talking to some clients so I sat down and waited when they started talking about which paintings they wanted to buy and how one of the paintings was $60,000, I released all the sudden that this whole thing wasn’t a joke. We then drove to the studio in the nicest car I’d ever been in and spend the day working on our canvas. I never did admit to him what had actually happened the day before. But it was as if he could tell I was bit lost. Being in such a rich environment definitely was impactful within itself, but the time he took and lessons he taught me about self-value and the importance of putting good thoughts and energy into the world, were truly priceless. I don’t think they could have come at a more crucial time. and due to the circumstances had an extremely powerful impact that still influences me to this day. The universe works in funny ways…

SH: What plays in the background while you are painting, podcasts, music, tv shows?

KS: Music is a must. it was not asked for but here is top 5 albums playing while I’m painting.

1.My Beautifull Dark Twisted Fantasy(Kanye West)

2. 4 Your Eyes Only (J.cole)

3. Process (Sampha)

4. To Pimp A Butterfly (Kendrick Lamar)

5. Coloring Book (Chance the rapper)

Also on the podcast wave, I’m very interested in psychology and human behavior, try to balance it out with some comedy though, being too “woke” will only lead to sleep deprivation…

SH: What is an aspect of other’s artwork that really excites you, what are you drawn too?

KS: My head went into error when trying to answer this. I see value in all forms of creativity. For me, storytelling in an objective manner is powerful.

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?

KS: I feel like I can grasp the idea of the past. Let me go 500 years into the future and see what’s going on. However, I would highly argue it is impossible to go into the future and not interfere with the space-time continuum. Even if I was never allowed to talk about what I saw, that in itself would interfere with the space-time continuum. (stay woke)

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work.

KS: I’m a simple man…a tub of cookies & cream ice cream, my bed, Netflix and I’m happy.

With that being said a trip to a new place in the world every year or two, is good to recharge the creative juices and keep things in perspective.

Opening Reception of Cinta Vidal’s “Viewpoints” and Benjamin Garcia’s “Panacea”

Thank you to all those you came out to the opening of Cinta Vidal’s “Viewpoints” and Benjamin Garcia’s “Panacea” this month. A handful of Vidal’s pieces in this exhibition include a rotating mechanism that allows you to see the pieces from various viewpoints; and Garcia’s figurative subjects and mesmerizing layers, draw the viewer in. Both exhibitions are on view now through October 6th.

Interview with The Perez Bros

We’re excited to bring The Perez Bros in the Thinkspace fold, showing a few pieces from the duo in the Thinkspace office this month. The Perez Bros are identical twin brothers Alejandro and Vicente (born 1994) from South Gate, CA. After graduating from South East High School, they attended Otis College of Art and Design to pursue a degree in Fine Art focusing on painting. At Otis is where they began to work together as a collaboration duo.

They were exposed to Los Angeles’s car culture at a very young age, their father being a part of a lowrider car club for as long as they can remember. Fascinated with the culture, from the cars to the models, from the people to the music; through their paintings, they try and capture moments they witness at car shows. Larger paintings seem to invoke the mood and feeling of these car events, while smaller paintings encapsulate more intimate scenes. Through their work, they aim to bring the viewer into their world and a part of a culture that is their second home.

Get to know The Perez Bros better below…

SH: How do you approach developing a new body of work?
PB: To be honest, we converse a lot daily, and within those conversations, different ideas come up and we agree and act upon them pretty quickly.

SH: Where do you source inspiration? What are some of your favorite spots to take photo reference at?
PB: We don’t really look at other artists for inspiration, instead we get inspired by music. We’re influenced by song lyrics and watching interviews of our favorite artists. We hope that our audience is able to relate to us and our work, like people relate to music and artists. We get all of our photo references at car shows; particularly Lowrider shows and Mustang events.

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?
PB: Actually every part of our creative process excites us. We enjoy attending car
show events and taking pictures of the cars and people. We also enjoy every step that comes after: going through our photos and deciding which ones would make great paintings, building our canvases, applying the gesso, and then actually creating the painting. But what we enjoy the most is completing a painting and seeing our ideas come to life.

SH: What frustrates you about your work / creative process?
PB: One thing that frustrates us is when we attend a car event and we don’t find
anything interesting or inspiring to photograph. We leave the car event empty handed with no photo references for future paintings.

SH: When did the two of you first start working together as a duo?
PB: We first started to work together in our sophomore year at Otis College. We had an assignment to collaborate with someone in our painting class taught by Scott Grieger, which we naturally chose to team up together. After that, it became clear to us that this is what we should be doing.

SH: Who is an artist; musician, director, any art form – who would be a dream collaboration for you and what would you create?
PB: Definitely Kid Cudi. He inspires us every day. A dream of ours is to create the
artwork for one of his albums.

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?
PB: Our High School art teacher Ms. Tinajero influenced us to apply to art school, so we would say she definitely had a big significance in leading us to where we’re at now. She believed in our talent and always pushed us to work harder. We applied to Otis College and got accepted. Attending art school helped us find our voice and take our art seriously. Without Ms. Tinajero and Otis College, we don’t think we would be where we are at right now.

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?
PB: In our studio you would find a lot of Liquitex acrylic paint and gesso, brushes, raw canvas, stretcher bar tools. Just your basic tools to create acrylic paintings on canvas. You would also find a Bluetooth speaker, because music is a must. A tv and video games for when we need a break from painting. And a mini fridge and microwave, because artists also have to eat.

SH: Does your background noise influence the mood of the pieces? What’s on repeat in the studio at the moment?
PB: Yea, music has a big influence on our work. We can’t work on a painting without having music playing in the background. At the moment we have Kid Cudi, Mac Miller, Travis Scott, Interpol, and The Strokes playing in a constant rotation.


October 20 – December 30, 2018
Curated by Thinkspace Projects

Sandra Chevrier | Cages and the Allure of Freedom
Seth Armstrong | Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride
Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker | Suzy is a Surf Rocker
Brooks Salzwedel | Rut in the Soil

(Lancaster, CA) – The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Projects, is pleased to present The New Vanguard II, a dynamic group exhibition of works by international artists working in the New Contemporary art movement. The highly anticipated follow up to 2016’s successful first iteration of The New Vanguard, on view in tandem with this year’s POW WOW! Antelope Valley will feature special solo projects by artists Sandra Chevrier, Seth Armstrong, Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker, and Brooks Salzwedel.

A sequel to what was in 2016 the most extensive presentation of work from the New Contemporary movement in a Southern Californian museum venue to date, The New Vanguard II, in keeping with the first, will present a diverse and expansive group of curated new works. The group show will include new pieces by ABCNT, Adam Caldwell, Alex Garant, Alex Hall, Alexandra Manukyan, Amy Sol, Andrew Schoultz, Benjamin Garcia, Brian Mashburn, Carl Cashman, CASE, Dan Witz, Drew Merritt, EINE, Ekundayo, Ermsy, Esao Andrews, Evoca1, Fernando Chamarelli, Fidia Falaschetti, Fintan Magee, Helen Bur, Hueman, Hula, Huntz Liu, Jaune, Joel Daniel Phillips, Jolene Lai, Juan Travieso, Kaili Smith, Kathy Ager, Kikyz1313, Laura Berger, Lauren YS, Lonac, Mark Dean Veca, Mars-1, Martin Whatson, Masakatsu Sashie, Meggs, Michael Reeder, Milu Correch, The Perez Bros, PichiAvo, RISK, Robert Xavier Burden, Robert Proch, Ronzo, Saner, Scott Listfield , Sergio Garcia, Seth Armstrong, Snik, Stephanie Buer, Super A, Super Future Kid, TikToy, Tran Nguyen, Van Arno, and Yosuke Ueno.

Alongside the focused solo presentations by Chevrier, Armstrong, Barker, and Salzwedel, the exhibition will include site-specific installations by Andrew Hem, Dan Witz, HOTxTEA, Isaac Cordal, Jaune, Laurence Vallieres, and Spenser Little.

A movement unified as much by its diversity as its similitude, ‘New Contemporary’ has come to denote an important heterogeneity of styles, media, contexts, and activations over the course of its establishment since the 90s. Unified in its fledgling beginnings by a founding countercultural impulse searching for its own nomenclature, the New Contemporary movement’s shifting and inclusive designations have offered alternative narratives over the years to those popularized by the dominant art establishment and its conceptual predilections.

Though stylistically disparate, the work belonging to this rapidly expansive movement reveals a desire to reference the popular, social, and subcultural domains of contemporary experience, grounding, rather than rarifying, imagery in the familiar. Looking to the urban landscape and the kaleidoscopic shift of individual identities within it, these artists use the figurative and narrative to anchor their work in the accessible and aesthetically relatable. A fundamentally democratic stance governs the ambitions of this new guard, ever in search of novel ways to expand rather than to contract.

Sandra Chevrier | Cages and the Allure of Freedom
The Montréal-based Canadian artist creates mixed-media works that explore identity as a locus of competing imperatives and complex contradictions. Drawing parallels between the assumed invulnerability of the superhero and the impossible demands placed upon the contemporary individual, Chevrier creates literal and metaphoric masks by combining comic book imagery assembled from found and imagined sources. Her dystopian spin on the iconic figure of the superhero looks to reveal the flaws in the staged extroversion of the superficial veneer.

In Cages and the Allure of Freedom, her first significant solo museum presentation, Chevrier will be showing three life-sized, hand-painted sculptural busts for the first time alongside new two-dimensional works in acrylic, graphite, china ink, and pastels.

Seth Armstrong | Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride
Los Angeles-based painter Seth Armstrong creates paintings that seize time, near-cinematic moments of suspended or implied action. Some offer vast views, and others contracted intimacy, moving freely in and out of public and private spaces to create ambiguous vantage points. Known for paintings that self-consciously capture the act of looking – whether as a voyeur in trespass or a participant in the landscape – Armstrong captures the simultaneity of the city as a place of endless, contingent narratives, jarring interruptions, and suspenseful pauses.

In Lil’ Baja’s Last Ride, Armstrong combines his patented interest in the grittier recesses of urban life with his penchant for humor and a good inside joke, dedicating the exhibition’s title to his recently retired car, the unsuspecting casualty of a freak fire in the MOAH’s parking lot.

Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker | ‘Suzy is a Surf Rocker’
A Huntington Beach native based in Southern California, mixed media painter Craig ‘Skibs’ Barker creates imagery inspired by print media and the graphic sensibilities of 80’s SoCal punk and surf, the subcultural terrain shaping the 80’s in which he grew up. His works feel surreal and partial, intentionally stylized to the point of decontextualization. By framing figurative subjects with an element of voyeuristic ambiguity, Barker’s compositions have the intuitive spontaneity of a Polaroid and the deliberate staging of a stencil. Familiar and far, they feel strange in their proximity.

Brooks Salzwedel | Rut in the Soil
Born in Long Beach, Salzwedel creates translucent landscapes that shift in and out of solid and ethereal states. Like fluid worlds suspended in a cycle of perpetual haunting, the imagery often feels loosely real but undeniably hallucinated and invoked. His works play with the depiction of these unhinged natural and hyperbolically unnatural physical states, combining sparse terrains with fictional mountain ranges and shadowy, diaphanous atmospheres. His mixed-media drawing-based works are created using a combination of graphite, mylar and resin, tape, colored pencil, and ink.

Exhibition on view October 20 through December 30 at:
Lancaster Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, California 93534

Taking place as part of POW! WOW! Antelope Valley