Liz Brizzi’s “CDMX” opening April 27th

LIZ BRIZZI
CDMX
April 27 – May 18, 2019

Concurrently on view in Thinkspace’s project room is CDMX, featuring new works by French/Italian, Los Angeles-based artist Liz Brizzi. Drawn to the momentums of recession and dissipation that shape the physical character of city streets over time, Brizzi’s refined mixed media technique combines the hauntings of photography with the impressionistic intercessions of paint to produce ambiguously merged dimensions of time and space.

With selective omissions and emphases in her imagery, Brizzi interprets the photograph with stylistic and poetic introjections, refusing it the neutrality of an unmitigated document, and pushing and pulling its edges from the brink of abstraction. Her works subtly dramatize the erasure and preservation invisibly at work in not only our subjective attempts to remember our experience of time and place but in the living character and ephemerality of cities – forever the subject of interpretation and vague longings but seldom satisfied through literal articulation. Brizzi’s works capture something determinative and essential in the individual cores of cities – in the transience of their poetry and in the impossible task of freezing the living bones of their history in intangible progress. Both haunting and immersive, Brizzi’s cityscapes are full of the imperfect poetry and ruinous stirrings that make the study of erosion a more compelling pursuit than that of the pristine.

An avid traveler always in search of poignant pause and solace in the midst of the frenetic urban fray, Brizzi documents and explores the character of place, seeking its histories and stories in the edges and details, contrasts and tensions, that impress a place’s soul upon an observer’s memory. From Los Angeles to Tokyo, Brizzi’s work is based in an exploratory impulse, a desire to lose oneself in the anonymity of frozen observation. With works conspicuously devoid of human subjects, but rather filled with the traces of their work, life, and intervention, the images hover strangely in a register of heavy absence – strung somewhere between the empirically reliable and the poetically sapient.

In CDMX, Brizzi looks to Mexico City’s venerable history, architecture, and street life for the first time, creating works based on her recent travels and photographs there. Capturing her living impressions of its textures, light, and urban anatomy, Brizzi arrests a breathing world in a state of temporary athanasia.

Stephanie Buer & Daniel Bilodeau Opening Reception – January 5, 2019

Thank you to all those who made it out to the first opening of 2019. We kicked off the year with new works from Portland-based artists Stephanie Buer in our main room and New York-based artists Danial Bilodeau in the project room, with wire works by Spenser Little in the office space. The exhibition drew a great turnout despite the Los Angeles rain and set a nice tone for the rest of the year. Make sure to come out and see both exhibitions now on view till January 26th.

To view available pieces from Stephanie Buer’s “Wild Abandon” and David Bilodeau’s “State of the Art” visit the Thinkspace website.

Interview with Stephanie Buer for “Wild Abandon”

We are starting 2019 off with “Wild Abandon” from Portland-based artist Stephanie Buer. In her latest body of work, Buer returns to Detroit where she explores the city, and shares her finding through photorealistic paintings in oil, and charcoal works on paper. Buer captures the abandoned recesses of the city, finding unexpected richness in its desolation and quietude in its abrupt vacancies. Our interview with Stephanie Buer dives into the inspiration behind this new body of work,  what the role of an artist is in society and her dream creative collaboration.

SH: For those that are not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief look at your artistic background?

SB: I spent the majority of my childhood and even into adulthood, training as a classical ballet dancer. So I didn’t start pursuing drawing and painting seriously until College. I went to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where I studied drawing, painting and stone carving. Right after I graduated all of my stone carving tools were stolen and at the time they were too expensive to replace, so I started focusing on my drawing and painting. I also worked for many years in car design, while I lived in Detroit, once I saved enough to pay off my student loans, I moved to Portland and started making art full time.

SH: What inspired this latest body of work? What buildings and cities did you explore?

SB: This body of work was inspired by Detroit, a city I love and called home for 10 years. I had taken a break to explore and make work from other cities and was starting to feel a bit homesick, so I decided to go back home for this one. I was also inspired by the cold, snowy weather. It has been years since a good snowy winter and a winter break trip to see family, have coincided. There has been a lot of warmer winters in the last 6 years or so and I just love painting and drawing snow. It makes me so happy, I couldn’t wait to get out and explore. I was home for two weeks and the temperature was never above 20 degrees. It was so cold one of the days that my camera froze! My closest friend and old college roommate recently bought some property and a small building in Detroit. It’s in a neighborhood that is a bit newer to me, so I spent some time with her getting to know some of the places and buildings nearer to her new home. Spingwells, Del Ray, the Old Continental Motors Factory, Corktown, these are just a few of the locations that I worked from.

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.

SB: I usually draw very blank skies, just plain white paper most of the time. I made a larger drawing that had a lot of cloud work in the sky. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it was quite challenging and I think it turned out well. I also tried some new techniques with the painting of clouds too and I think it was successful. I guess I’m proud of the clouds. Sounds a bit silly but I am.

SH: Abandon buildings can attract interesting characters and private security, has there been a time where you had to talk your way out of a tricky situation? Is there a particular piece from that moment we can reference?

SB: I’ve been pretty lucky, in Detroit, there isn’t a lot of security. Birdman and I had to run and scale a small wall to get away from security in LA once, that was pretty fun. The climbing skills really came in hand.
In Detroit its more often very interesting characters that you run into, and I love that. While gathering images for this last body of work, my friend and I were stopped by an older man, taking his son and granddaughter on a tour of the neighborhood he grew up in. This neighborhood, like most in Detroit was lively but desolate, on account of the riots back in the 60’s. His son wasn’t too amused with the tour so he was excited to tell us some stories from his childhood. He told us that Stevie Wonder grew up in the same neighborhood as him and that as a young kid, he used to deliver milk. He was showing us where his house once stood. The drawing, Searching for Stevie Wonder, is that spot.

SH: What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? Why and what did you learn?

SB: The most challenging piece was definitely the large painting of the Continental Motors factory. It is the largest painting I have made to date, even building the canvas was a learning experience. I am a big fan of the artist, Rackstraw Downes. He paints a lot of wide-angle landscapes where he exaggerates the curvature of the earth in the horizon and building lines. I wanted to experiment with that and it was very difficult. I find very straight lines and square angles comfortable, they’re easy to make look perfect, but long sweeping, organic lines are so hard to perfect.

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

SB: I love painting and drawing. I get excited to be in the studio every day, even after doing this for so long, it never gets old. Going through new images and planning out pieces and bodies of work is exciting. Trying new techniques is exciting. I like the way that the work helps the viewer to see beauty in things and places where they might not stop to look. I love it!

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

SB: The sustainability and the business side of an art career are the things that frustrate me the most. There’s not much about the creative process that I dislike. Even the tedious bits, like laying in the construction lines or painting hundreds of bricks, I’m even starting to enjoy a bit of framing! Its just the business part of it that I find frustrating.

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

SB: I daydream about collaborating with a choreographer and a dance company. Sometimes my pieces feel to me like the settings on a stage and I wonder what types of movements and costumes someone would dream up to take place on the stages I would create. That’s a super outer space daydream though, never said it out loud before.

SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?

SB: I think the role of an artist in society has many purposes. It depends on the artist. A few things that I think are important though, are to challenge people, to bring into question the ways we live, and the choices we make. Its also to bring beauty into the world.

I would like my work to encourage people to have conversations about what it means to be more present, to be in the moment and observe the world. It’s a societal lifestyle change I see happening and it worries me. I would also like my work to challenge peoples relationship with the environment, to bring attention to our relationship with it and our responsibility to it. I had some great conversations with myself during the making of this body of work, about these points. I love winter, and I love snow, I love being in it, looking at it, capturing it in my pieces. The reality of it though, is that it is rare these days in the midwest. Growing up winters were always cold and snowy but its changing. I know my work is known for focusing on old, dilapidated buildings and graffiti but I wanted these pieces to also showcase the changes we experience with seasons, wintertime, a unique experience to the midwest which I think is not a guarantee these days. It may be something we look back on in a hundred years or so, as a memory. It doesn’t seem like much in capturing it now, but it may be what is most significant about work which artists are making these days. These thoughts definitely inform my life too, they teach me to live a life that is more aware of my impact. Per the earlier point too, I hope making art reminds me to be more present, to put my phone down and to focus on the things that are important.

SH: If your body of work inspired an ice cream flavor, what would it be called and what are the ingredients?

SB: That is an interesting question. There is a lot of snow in these pieces so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch, although, I’m imagining bits of brick and asbestos, some twigs sticking out . . . that’s yucky . . . maybe like vanilla with chocolate and Oreos and other messy looking bits, maybe in a brick patterned waffle cone!

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

A trip! I visited my family in Michigan for the holidays after I finished this last body of work, it was great motivation. A trip to the mountains or some time in the desert climbing is also something I really look forward to. I sacrifice those things in the middle of deadlines so its great to be able to fit them in again.

Join us for the opening of Wild Abandon, Saturday, January 5th from 6 – 9 pm.