Opening Reception of Noségo’s “Ingress” and Drew Leshko’s “The Only Constant”

We kicked off the month with a (third) eye-opening exhibition from  Noségo and Drew Leshko. The colorful dreamscapes from Noségo vibrated on the white walls with bright spirit animals holding within curiosities and stories to encourage our own reflection or simply enjoyment. Leshko continues to document the changing landscape of the hometown of both artists, Philadelphia.  He encapsulates, with great detail, the passage of time and gives meaning to parts of the city’s history that would be soon forgotten at the hands of a bulldozer.

Artist, Joseph Martinez rounds out the exhibitions showing eight pieces from his Designer Bag Lady series in the Thinkspace Gallery office.

All of the exhibitions are on view now through June 29th.

To view available pieces from NoségoDrew Leshko, and Joseph Martinez; please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website.

Interview with Drew Leshko for “The Only Constant”

Thinkspace is proud to present Drew Leshko’s latest body of work The Only Constant’ in our project room. Drew Leshko’s highly detailed sculptural works in paper and wood depict architectures and urban spaces of his beloved and changing Philadelphia. In anticipation of Leshko’s upcoming exhibition with us, we have an exclusive interview with Drew Leshko to discuss copy cats, changing cityscapes, and the symbolism of iceboxes and dumpsters.

SH: In our last interview with us your went into great detail about your creative process and technique, what makes you fearless to the “copy cats” or so open to sharing your process in such detail?
DL: Well after this boom of copycats, I find myself reconsidering things for sure….I think that there is more to my sculptures than how they’re made– It’s an ongoing, cultural conversation that is communicated through my sculptures. I guess I’m fearless about sharing because I’m working with some of the best galleries in the world that have already acknowledged the innovation, I’ve been supported by amazing collectors, and am showcased by important press organizations. Copy Cats are inherently unoriginal, and it’s sad to imagine living a life like theirs — void of original ideas, scrapping from the handiwork of others, trying to use that as leverage or shortcut for “borrowed” ideas. Copy Cats are a real problem though. I’ve been working on these since 2005 and can’t believe the amount of people mimicking my work all of the sudden.

SH: What do you think is the role of an artist in society?
DL: Tough question. It seems lately that there are so many conceptually thin works created these days, where the artist is more interested in the bright colors and decorative qualities rather than the works having more to discover and communicate. If you look through the classics, so many of the great works by the masters were telling stories and speaking to cultural issues. For me, i think its important to translate what is happening in the world around you through what you’re creating in the workshop so that painting or object may live as a reference to the past.

SH: You’ve given the advice to young artists not to get frustrated, what has helps you to stay grounded and push forward with your art?
DL: Everyone gets frustrated, but this all comes naturally to me. These projects are something that I want to pursue. If I had to force myself to be grounded and push forward, it would be really tough. It would almost feel like work. haha.

SH: The sculptures document the changing landscape of your city. You’ve said you’d like to document other cities but need to have a sense of the buildings and changing neighborhoods. If you could travel through time, what cities would you want to document and what time periods?
DL: My works now are examining the re-development of the city, as people are repopulating a previously abandoned place. To me, it would be really interesting to create a series that is the inverse of this process, documenting parts of the city after “white flight”, one of the initial cultural transformations of industrial American cities. Let’s say the 1960’s. As for the city, Baltimore would great (i was born in Baltimore), but really any city with a strong heritage of blue collar industry.

SH: How has Philadelphia not only shaped you as an artist but as a person?
DL: Philadelphia is a great place. A place that I’m incredibly proud of. The city has shaped me as a person through the cultural diversity in the community. It’s quite the melting pot. In the last few years, the art scene is really changing here. Collectors seem to be popping through galleries and supporting the community all of the sudden, which is great. But before this trend, the city made me stronger— Those 8 or so years making these works without anyone noticing, without good opportunities. Without Philadelphia incubating me that through experience, I don’t think I’d be able to fairly value what I have built for myself now.

SH: What do you listen to in the background while creating work?
DL: This year I’ve been listening to the “Up and Vanished” podcast (cold-case murder mystery). I listen to music mostly. The Hold Steady, Craig Finn, Tigers Jaw, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, Dave Hause, Elliott Smith, Conor Oberst, Jawbreaker— A lot of lyrically driven stuff. And also a lot of hip-hop. I’ve lately been listening to a lot of Cam’ron, Dipset, Big Pun, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and 2 Chainz.

SH: In an interview with Wide Walls, you expressed how the dumpsters and ice boxes symbolize addicts and drug dealers, but you don’t elaborate on this point much. Do the other objects you sculpt hold any additional symbolism?
DL: My favorite band, The Hold Steady, has a song that really resonated with me and encouraged the metaphor of the dumpsters and ice boxes as dealers and users. The song is called “Rock Problems”, but the theme is reoccurring throughout their discography.
“That one girl got me cornered in the kitchen.
I said I’ll do anything but clean.
She wants to know what I liked better
Being a trash bin or an ice machine?”

I like that metaphor a lot, but there is a bit more symbolism too. Not only are the dealers and users being pushed out of the neighborhoods I’m addressing, but the dumpsters and ice machines are being pushed out too. The new versions of the neighborhoods are too polished to have “eyesores” lining the sidewalks. New regulations, laws, and codes are forcing business owners to find new solutions for their trash, and no longer able to utilize their sidewalks, for the ice boxes, as parts of their stores

The beer distributors and cigarette shops are strewn with advertisements aren’t necessarily symbolic or metaphorical. But, they should be considered from a cultural perspective— it seems these type of businesses and advertising strategies only occur in the economically depressed areas. It’s a systemic problem that perpetuates class differences that need to be addressed.

SH: What about another artists’ work excites or fascinates you? Who do you think everyone should look up?
DL: I really like artworks that tell a story. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time in some of the more depressed parts of the city. I keep coming back to a series of photographs by artists Jeffrey Stockbridge. The photographs are incredibly powerful and the accompanying texts are pretty great. He’s exploring the same parts of the city but from a more cultural anthropology scope. Check out his site! I recommend exploring the “archives” section, where you get a bit of background info per image.


SH: If you were hosting a dinner party, who’s on the guest list, what’s on the menu, and what would be your icebreaker question?
DL: This question stresses me out. I’m not always a comfortable host.

SH: If your artwork inspired a cocktail or a beer, what would it be made of and what would it taste like?
DL: I’d have to go with a no-frills, Philadelphia classic— the “Citywide”. It is a cheap domestic beer and a shot of whiskey. perfect.

Drew Leshko Press Round Up

Drew Leshko New Work

Drew Leshko, currently showing new work in the Thinkspace Gallery office, has been receiving lots of great press across the internet. Here is a quick round up of links to more stories on Drew Leshko. Make sure to take a look at our interview with Drew where he goes into great detail over his process to create his miniature dumpster sculptures.

Beautiful Decay / ‘Drew Leshko’s Miniature Buildings Are A Study Of Neighborhood Gentrification

Dangerous Minds / ‘Miniature Recreations of Philadelphia’s Vanishing Urban Artifacts

Design Blendz / ‘Miniature Philadelphia

Hi-Fructose / ‘Drew Leshko Preserves Daily Urban Life in Paper Sculptures

Opening Reception of Nosego ‘Along Infinite River’ and Brian Mashburn ‘Witness’ exhibitions

along infinite river

Saturday, July 18th, Thinkspace Gallery hosted an opening reception for Nosego’s “Along Infinite River” and Brian Mashburn’s “Witness”, along with new works by Drew Leshko in the office. We released three prints that night, one from Brian Mashburn and two from Nosego that will be available on in the next few days. Please follow Thinkspace Gallery’s social media sites for updates. The new exhibitions will be on view till August 8th.

nosego mural

nosego main room

nosego hand

Nosego infront of piece

brian mashburn infront of work

brain mashburn flamingo

brian mashburn print

photo of a painting

black book nosego

observing work

thinkspace room

david and drew

thinkspace family

Interview with Drew Leshko

Drew Leshko Rusty Icebox

New works by Drew Leshko will be on view at Thinkspace Gallery July 18th – August 8th. The opening reception for Drew’s work along with artists Nosego and Brian Mashburn is from 6-9pm on Saturday, July 18th.

SH:  What is your process?
DL: I’m a sculptor that works mainly with paper so a lot of the process is knife work with a variety of X-acto blades. For the Dumpsters and small works, the process begins with a large sheet of hot press illustration board. I like hot press papers for their smooth textures and use illustration board as it accepts paints and pigments very well. By making a series of cuts and scores on the flat sheet, eventually the dumpsters fold into the desired shape. At this point, I’ll use some PVA glue to set the forms. Once dry I’ll fill all of the seams with plaster, then sand clean. Very heavy-handedly, I’ll apply enamels to the dumpsters, one side at a time allowing the paint to pool a bit so that they dry without brush strokes – I try to achieve the look of a real dumpster which most likely was sprayed with wet paint from an air gun. Once dry, I’ll start adding on the details — handles, wheels, hinges, lids, etc.

The most difficult part of the dumpster works is prepping the wheat pastes. I have them printed on a nice heavy, acid-free Matte photo paper so that the paper receives the ink nicely, but the scale of the paper is all wrong. It’s way too thick at this point, so I peel layers of the paper apart trying to isolate a very thin top layer that I then distress that with sandpaper, and manipulations by hand. This takes time and a whole lot of patience.

SH: How long does it take you to finish a single piece? For example, a dumpster and a small two-story building.
DL: The buildings are large undertakings. Even a small two story building takes me about a month, and I work around 40 hours a week in the studio… A lot of the work is the preparation of the paper building materials. Cutting, painting, and gluing bricks is a slow grind. Nothing is prefabricated, so everything is sculpted from a stack of blank papers and wood. In a way, each component of a building is worked on as an individual sculpture, then applied to the custom panel (building shaped) similar to a collage.

Dumpsters and small works are created in downtime while I’m waiting for glue or paint to dry on the big projects but are typically completed over a week or two. I like to have a couple different projects going at the same time so that i can bounce between them. My work involves a lot of very delicate and precarious glue joints, so I’ve come to terms with stepping away from them at certain points to protect the work I’d just put in. As the work is mainly paper, stray glue can be devastating and really wreck what I’d been trying to accomplish.

SH: Do you work from your own source photography?
DL: Yes, I photograph all of the buildings myself for reference images. There have been a couple of projects where artist friends have shared photos they’ve taken for me to use.

All of the wheat pastes are photographs that I’ve taken while wandering Philly. Most of them are from right in my neighborhood.

Drew Leshko Yams

SH: Who are your favorite artists at the moment?
DL: Alex Lukas, Jen Stark, and Erin M Riley

SH: What is the biggest misconception about being an artist?
DL: I’m not sure what the biggest misconception would be, but i know its not an easy lifestyle. I’m not able to make my living just off of my artwork, so i have to balance between studio work and work-work. So when i say that i work 40 hours a week in the studio, thats on top of the 30 hours a week i work to pay the bills. For an outsider it seems kind of crazy, but after doing this for almost a decade, it just is what it is.

SH: What is the most fulfilling part of being an artist?
DL: The most fulfilling thing for me is when someone really connects with my sculptures. I love to watch people getting excited about the work, but also getting confused about the materials being used. In particular, Swizz Beatz was really blown away by my buildings and the attention to detail. He said to me that he really connected to the work, as the building reminded him of his roots in New York. Though none of the buildings were from NYC, the architectural styles are mostly the same through Northeastern cities…. So by working with an architectural style like “Colonial Revival” or similar, the buildings tend to be more ambiguous and less Philly-centric.

Drew Leshko Counter Punch

SH: Dream project, if time and money were not an issue?
DL: The Divine Lorraine Hotel here in Philadelphia. Its massive and has it all — the architectural details, various states of decay and preservation, and a rich history. I think it would take me 2 years to sculpt it and it would probably be about 12 feet tall, so i’d need a bigger studio. hahaha

SH: Any plans to spend time in other major cities to help inform future bodies of work, or will Philadelphia be your muse for foreseeable future?
DL: My environment has really shaped my work, no doubt about that. But yes, I’d love to make a trip to LA and start thinking about building a new body of work for my next show with Thinkspace. The only problem is that i don’t know other cities well. My works are capturing a moment in time — buildings that are being torn down, re-purposed, and modernized, so without being a local and really in tune with the dynamics of particular areas, its tough to identify these types of places. I don’t just make buildings that are striking, its more than that.

SH: What do you do when self-doubt or inspiration dry spells hit you?
DL: Yea. self-doubt is a real thing for sure. Most of the time I’ll just put the work away for a few weeks and come back to it. I’ll start something new or different. This Venn-diagram seems about right.

creative venn diagram


Please visit the Thinkspace Gallery website for more information and we hope to see you out Saturday, July 18th.