Interview with Frank Gonzales for “Desert Discourse”

We’re excited to be showing new work by Pheonix-based artist Frank Gonzales in our project room for his solo exhibition Desert Discourse opening Saturday, March 2nd. Gonzales’s compostions showcase his love of botany and ornithology, combining both the organic and artificial, the natural and the contrived, to produce what the artist himself has aptly coined ‘artificial realism.’

In anticipation of Desert Discourse our interview with Frank Gonzales discusses the inspiration behind this latest body or work, and his love for prickly pear and John Coltrane.

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Were you exploring a specific theme or pushing yourself artistically in a certain way?

FG: I’m always trying to push myself artistically with each painting or body of work, at least I try.  The theme of my work is a continued exploration of the phenomena and sense of wonder I hold of the natural world. There’s been an introduction of aerosol in some of the works. Its been great To revisit my roots as a graff writer and play with the medium again. The quality of paint and options of colors offered these days are phenomenal. That kind of makes me sound old, haha. It’s just great to throw another medium in the mix and react to it. 

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.

FG: I really enjoyed painting Night Breed. It’s more specific imagery wise. Instead of stacking various elements I chose to illustrate a pollinating night scene of a Saguaro with Long Nosed Bats. There are so many different pollinators of the Saguaro, but a night scene with bats is just so badss. Its remarkable knowing a Saguaro doesn’t even produce flowers until its around 70 years old and can age well over 100 years old! Pollination of flowering cactus in the Sonoran Desert could be a whole series in itself. Who knows, that could be another venture to explore on the horizon!   

SH: How do you approach starting a new piece? Walk us through the process of a piece from conception to completion. 

FG: I’ll usually start by obsessing over a certain cactus or mineral or some sort of natural element as a jump-off point. Or I will just start putting down paint on a surface and react with shapes and colors, etc. Its a pretty organic process.

Once I have a surface I’m happy with I will start to research from books, pics I’ve documented, my desktop folder of images, or plants from my own collection. Once an element is chosen I’ll draw it on the surface and it grows from there. The painting will usually dictate what it needs. The hardest part is learning to step aside from yourself and let it happen without getting too heady about it.

The painting process is usually a blur of being in the moment. I love that the most. All sense of time is gone until you stop and back away. It’s an experience I think most artists can relate to. 

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

FG: It can be a love/hate relationship. Sometimes starting is the hardest part and also the most exciting. As mentioned above I think getting out of the way of yourself and moving with the process is exciting. There’s a sort of dialogue that happens I find enjoyable. 

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

FG: The times where you feel like you’ve run out of ideas or stopping yourself mentally before even starting. This is usually a sign that something needs to change. Find a different approach or just change the music. In the end the work will still be consistent, but its the mental chatter that can be a bit of a buzz kill. I definitely think the excitement and frustration balance each other out. You can’t have one without the other. 

SH: Is there a piece of knowledge or advice around being a working artist that you wish you knew 10 years ago? 

FG: Not really. Its an ongoing journey to be explored. 

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

FG: Hmmm, maybe Prickly Pear fruit! I would have to be a Paleta and all natural. HA! 

SH: If you could collaborate with any other artist (dead or alive) in any art form, such as music, film, dance etc… what would be your dream collab and what would you create?

FG: At first my thoughts would be to do live art with John Coltrane, but I wouldn’t get anything done because I would probably just stand there in awe. I would probably have to go with producing some type of super sexy and sensual botanicals for a Prince album. HAHA. 

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

FG: The role of artists in society is very vital. It’s how we communicate and express the unspeakable truths of natural phenomena. Language can only communicate so much. There are so many forms of art out there that inspire, inform and speak to me. It shows what it means to be human. It’s chaos, it’s ugly, it’s pretty, it’s functional, it’s useless, etc. It’s all out there. What matters is how we engage with it. It’s about what we choose to accept and not accept and to keep an open mind and heart regardless.

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

FG: a big sigh and some brews. ha!

Join us for the opening reception of Desert Discourse, Saturday March 2nd from 6 to 9 pm.

Frank Gonzales’s “Desert Discourse” showing March 2019.

FRANK GONZALES
DESERT DISCOURSE
March 2 – March 23, 2019

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room is Desert Discourse, featuring new works by painter Frank Gonzales. Born in Mesa, Arizona, the artist is currently based in Phoenix and incorporates the desert botanicals and bird specimens native to the surrounding area into his vibrant and detailed paintings. His love of botany and ornithology have sought expression in works that combine both the organic and artificial, the natural and the contrived, to produce what the artist himself has aptly coined ‘artificial realism.’

This balance between life and design is at the forefront of Gonzales’ practice; rarely ever planning a piece with preliminaries before its set to a panel, the artist is resolving the composition in paint as it unfolds in real time and as it’s made. The resulting works convey an organic sense of balance and an internal logic. In this new body of work, Gonzales incorporates looser areas of paint application, using a freer stylization to offset the precise handling of others, while he has also included new geological elements like crystals and geodes.

Amidst beautifully rendered natural specimens – everything from brilliant birds, exotic cacti, lush desert blooms, to prismatic rock – the artist’s surreal stylization prevails, bringing the extant to strange, vibrant, new life. Gonzales’ works are punctuated by moments of graphic mark making and intentionally synthetic motifs in bright, electric hues, providing visual contrast to the tightly rendered counterpoint of the wildlife specimens.

Inspired by the vastness of the desert’s natural landscape and the humbling impermanence it invokes, Gonzales combines the intuitive and the observed in a contemporary take on the Naturalist’s obsession.

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.

DANIEL BILODEAU’S “STATE OF THE ART” OPENING JANUARY 2019

DANIEL BILODEAU
STATE OF THE ART
January 5 – January 26, 2019

Concurrently on view in the Thinkspace project room are new works by Canadian, New York-based artist Daniel Bilodeau in State of the Art. Bilodeau’s paintings explore the symbolic fracture and disarticulation of the individual through the literal reorganization of the figurative subject. As a way of exploring the postmodern, free-appropriation of visual culture in an age of ubiquitously shared, albeit contextually impoverished, digital information, Bilodeau visualizes a subject literally spliced, divided, and simultaneously circumscribed by competing articulations of history, subjectivity, and identity.

Bilodeau’s paintings and mixed media works borrow freely from art history, observation, subject portraiture, and personal association. He references everything from Seventeenth-Century Dutch still-life painting to Sixteenth-Century Italian Mannerist Agnolo di Cosimo, known more famously by the epithet Bronzino, and Nineteenth-Century French Neoclassicist Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, among others. His subject is assembled through a revisionist appropriation of images, the collage of cultural debris, and an anachronistic sampling of sources drawn from past and present to produce a strangely exciting, ahistorical subject. Unhinged by the specificity of a singular or unified conception of identity, time, or space, Bilodeau’s portraits reverberate in uncomfortable and factious simultaneities, as though competing apparitional forces are visually ricocheting across spatial registers.

Combining abstract and realistic handlings of paint within any single given work, Bilodeau creates a dynamic and mutably elastic impression of portraiture, surreal in its freedom from the restraints of plausibility and time.