Final days to view ‘RAIZ’ at the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, California


Curated by Thinkspace Projects x Tlaloc Studios x California Cowboys Collective

Exhibition on view through this Friday, March 17, 2023:
The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
* Free Admission & Free Parking

RAIZ’ group show featuring new work from:
Antonio J. Ainscough
Fajar Amali
Michael Bardales
Ezra Brown
Karla Ekatherine Canseco
Rene Casamalhuapa
Young-Ji Cha
Sara Chakmakian
Leo Eguiarte
Sofia Enriquez
Isaac Escoto
Ha Haeng-Eun
Priscilla S. Flores
Genavee Gomez
Melissa Govea
Fabian Guerrero
Daniela Garcia Hamilton
Chuy Hartman
Emiliana Herniquez
Armani Howard
Carlos Jaramillo
Haylie Jimenez
Sydnie Jimenez
Jolene Lai
Andrew Lopez
Selena Lozano
Steve Martinez
Jay McKay
Gibran Mendoza
Aryana Minai
Vanessa Morata
Kristy Moreno
Mr. B Baby
Baby Mueller
Guillaume Ollivier
Chaz Outing
Jerry Peña
Perez Bros
Pinche Kid
Lily Ramirez
Marissa Reyes
Gustavo Rimada
Euan Roberts
Esperanza Rosas
Conrad Ruiz
Javier Hache Ruiz
Tamara Santibañez
Fandi Angga Saputra
Mia Scarpa
Aof Smith
Melly Trochez
Ever Velasquez
Jacqueline Valenzuela
Daisy Velasco
Manuel Zamudio
Zeye Oner

Anthony Clarkson ‘Enigmatic Dreams
Ken Flewellyn ‘Remix
Matthew Grabelsky ‘Riders
Anthony Hurd ‘Verified
Cody Jimenez ‘Efferverence

Brek | Love Yo Dreams | Mr. B Baby

To see more of Opening Night CLICK HERE!

Can’t make it in person? Click here for a photo tour for RAIZ and click here for the SOLO EXHIBITIONS!

Interview with Matthew Grabelsky for his current solo exhibition ‘Riders’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace presents Matthew Grabelsky’Riders where his new body of work continues his exploration of people with animal heads riding the New York City Subway, and in one case the London Tube. Each painting contains elements from pop culture (a magazine, a poster, a tattoo, a character in the background) which relate to the specific animal, creating a series of humorous tableaux. With a realistically rendered and highly detailed oil painting technique, his goal is to create the effect of looking at a scene on the subway as if it were a diorama at a natural history museum. The images present richly detailed moments frozen in time allowing the viewer to closely inspect every element and make connections between them to read an overall story. In this world, people are transformed into part-animal to create scenes that are strange, funny, and endearing.

Technically inspired by 19th Century academic and naturalist painters, Grabelsky creates these unlikely, surreal scenes with a staggering degree of realistic detail. The contrast created between the visual verisimilitude of the works, and the surreal improbability of their content catches the viewer in a prolonged moment of convincingly suspended disbelief.

Our interview with Matthew Grabelsky reveals how he linked up with Thinkspace, the reason he had to recreate one of his paintings, and which animal he would choose to do a self-portrait.

How long have you been showing with Thinkspace? What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

My first show with Thinkspace was back in 2012. I’d walked into the gallery without knowing anything about it and loved what they had up. LC was there and I started talking to him. He asked to see what I did and I showed him a few photos of my paintings. He loved them and showed them to Andrew. Andrew invited me to put a piece in a group show they had opening a few weeks later and I’ve been showing with Thinkspace ever since.

Seeing my paintings up at the Brand has been a huge thrill. I’ve been going to look at art in museums my whole life and seeing a room at a museum full of my paintings feels like validation. Around the end of college, I decided I wanted to be a painter. I would look at detailed realistic oil paintings and have this overwhelming feeling that I had to make something like that. Learning to do it took years of study and working on my technique and subject matter. When I stepped into the room at the Brand with my work for the first time I felt I’d accomplished what I set out to do all those years ago.

A handful of the pieces have film references accompanying their subway rider. Do these films have a greater meaning or reflect an influence on you as an artist/person? Or were they fun explorations in anthropomorphic associations?

I picked the films because they had fun associations with the animals in the paintings. In “Crow-Magnon” the figure has a crow’s head and is dressed all in black. Adding Brandon Lee as Eric Draven from “The Crow,” standing on the platform, struck me as fun goth touch. In “Giddy Up” the guy is dressed as a cowboy and has a horse’s head. I added the poster from “City Slickers” as well as Billy Crystal reflected in the window in his character from the film as funny connections to my city cowboy. In “Gotham Local” I wanted to make a Batman-themed piece because he’s always been my favorite superhero. Tim Burton’s first batman with Micheal Keaton was the seminal batman from my childhood so I used references from that film, including the batman logo on the t-shirt and Jack Nicholson as the Joker standing outside the window. In “Polly Wanna Cracker” a girl with a parrot head eats Ritz Crackers. I thought it would be funny to have a pirate standing on the platform. I chose a guy dressed as Keith Richards’ character from Pirates of the Caribbean because it felt culturally relevant. Finally in “An American Werewolf in London” a guy with a wolf’s head rides the London tube. This painting started as a joke when a friend said he thought it would be funny if I made a painting based on that film. I loved the idea so I filled the piece with references to the movie including dressing him like the titular character and even putting a still from the movie on the newspaper that he’s reading.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

Every time I make a painting I run into new challenges I have to figure out. Sometimes it has to do with the composition and sometimes it’s a technical aspect when I start working on the canvas. That’s part of what keeps painting interesting for me. This time around the biggest challenge had to do with painting denim. It’s a tricky texture because denim is made up of blue intermixed with specks of raw white cotton and faded to varying degrees in different areas. If not done right it ends up looking like plain blue fabric.

I spent a whole day painting the jeans in the werewolf piece and thought it looked pretty good when I went to sleep. I woke up in the morning and with a fresh eye, it just didn’t look right. I let it dry for a few days then painted that whole area back to white so I could start from the beginning. I experimented for a few weeks with different methods of layering the oil paint and finally found a technique that worked. I repainted the jeans and they looked great. There were several other paintings in the show with blue denim so I used the same method and each time it worked like a charm.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

The opening night blew me away. There must have been a couple of thousand people passing through that evening. I spent countless hours alone in my studio working on the paintings with the hope that they would connect with people and engage them. There were so many times that night that I would see groups of people looking at my paintings, talking about them, and laughing at the humor in them. Each time I saw that it made me smile and told me that all the work was worth it.

The “Hello Kitten” piece was a recreation of a similar piece that was lost, what made you decide to revisit this work? Where do you think (or imagine) that piece is now?

Sadly the first version disappeared during shipping and was never found. It was a very meaningful piece for me and it strongly connected with lots of people. I’m hoping that it either got sent to the wrong place or someone stole it so it’s still around somewhere.

It was the thought that it may have ended up in the trash that make me want to recreate it. I hated the idea that I worked so hard on the original and now no one may ever get to see it again. I had all my original studies so I decided to make a second version. I intended to stick quite close to the original but as I started the new version I found several things that I thought would improve it without losing what made the first one a success. I made it larger so the figures would be life-size. That gave the sense that the mother and daughter were in the same room with you. I added a red bow to the little girl’s hair to match the cartoon character. In the first version, she was just wearing socks so I added a pair of shoes. I adjusted the perspective slightly so that the girl’s head was fully surrounded by the blue of the subway seat which made her head pop out a bit more to focus your attention there. Finally, for a fun little inside joke, I removed the glasses from the guy reflected in the window. A lot of people have asked me who he is and he’s my friend who’s the father of the little girl. Since I made the first version he got Lasik surgery and doesn’t wear glasses anymore.

*On, 4/8/2023, Grabelsky announced the piece “Hello Kitten” has been found. Please visit Grabelsky’s Instagram for the story of the found painting. Interview originally published 3/14/2023.

(Study version)

If you were to do a self-portrait, what animal and iconography would be included in that piece?

I’ve been thinking about painting a self-portrait of myself as a raccoon. A big raccoon used to sleep in the bush right outside my studio window. I loved watching it and got kind of obsessed with raccoons. They’re super clever and can do amazing things with their hands. As someone who works with his hands all day, I can relate.

How has understanding the chemical properties of oil paint influenced the development of your technique?

I strongly believe that the medium you create art with has a huge impact on the end product. This ranges from the aesthetic qualities of a particular medium to the way that working with one might give you different creative ideas than you would get from another. There are many ways to make a realistic image from painting which reaches back to the beginning of humanity itself to more recently photography, digital rendering, and now even AI image generators.

I love oil paint for two reasons. Aesthetically oil painting has a unique textural look unlike anything else. Oil paint is extremely versatile. It dries slowly by oxidation with the air so it stays workable for a long time. That lets me apply oil paint to my canvas and blend into it to get very subtle effects. By adding different oils and solvents to the paint I’m able to adjust the consistency which lets me get a range in surface quality. The paint stands out a bit more in some places and is thinner and more transparent in others.

Secondly, building up an image with oil paint takes many layers and lots of time. The result is that I’m working with my hands directly on a canvas for many many hours and inevitably during that time I get ideas that I add to the painting that I didn’t have when I came up with the initial composition. These are sometimes big changes and sometimes small but they always make the image much richer than what I started out intending to paint.

The New York subway still remains your main backdrop/ third character in the compositions. In this body of work, you included the London Tube, but have you ever considered painting the LA Metro? If so or if not, please elaborate.

I’ve lived in LA for over ten years now but I’m still a New Yorker at heart. This series started on the New York City Subway and that has been the setting for the majority of my paintings. I love the subway because it’s an iconic New York location instantly recognizable to anyone who’s been there. It is also a central mixing place for people in the city. When I had the idea to do a werewolf in London, the London Tube seemed like an obvious spot to bring one of my characters. It plays a similar role in London as the subway does in New York. A scene from the movie that inspired the piece even takes place in one of the Tube tunnels. As far as Los Angeles, while there is a metro and I’ve ridden it a bit, it doesn’t feel like a particularly central part of the city. At its core, LA is still a car city. When I think of LA I think more of the landscape with its palm trees, beaches, and mountains. To that end, the one painting I’ve done set in LA so far takes place on the beach right in front of the Santa Monica Pier. If I do more paintings set in LA that is probably the direction I will take.

Studying in Italy led you to pivot your career path from astrophysics to art. What is a significant moment from that time there that has stuck with you and informed the person you are today, beyond just being a full-time artist?

My experience in Italy was amazing and changed the course of my life. I was fascinated by astrophysics and enjoyed studying it in college. However, when I was dropped into an immersive painting experience in Italy it gave me a different level of satisfaction. I was living in Florence which is a living museum. Just walking down the street I would pass incredible frescos, sculptures, and architecture. Italy has a sensuousness about it, more than any other place I’ve been. It is full of beauty and made me want to create beauty. Italians also have a way of focusing on enjoying life. Italy convinced me to be an artist professionally and also taught me to enjoy life along the way.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

There’s something I love in all of them but I’d pick the one I did of the crow. My mom was the model so it’s a particularly personal one for me. I got the idea for it when I was on a trip with my mom to Sicily. We were crossing the street and a car was coming which made her nervous and she made a sound like the caw of a crow. I instantly knew I wanted to paint her as a crow. The painting is full of references to my mom. “CAW!” is painted across the back of the seat on one side in my mom’s handwriting. On the other side, her name is painted to look like it’s scratched into the plastic, again in her handwriting. On another part of the seat, I put a sticker that says “I Love My Mom.” On the platform outside the window, you can see Eric Draven from “The Crow” which I saw in the theater with my mom when I was in high school.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Interview with Cody Jimenez for his current exhibition ‘Efferverence’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace presents Cody Jimenez’s ‘Efferverence, where he explores a world where emotions are embodied in physical forms. The emotions are represented through vibrant colors and shapes that affect their environment and characters around them. By using physical representations of those emotions, he investigates the dualities of beauty and danger that mirror mysterious forces he experiences in his life.

Cody Jimenez is a Mexican-American artist whose work focuses on the natural world through a lens of Imaginative Realism. He received his BFA in painting from NMSU in 2014 and MFA in painting from LCAD in 2017. His work has been exhibited throughout the country, including Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, Baton Rouge, LA, and Santa Fe, NM.

Our interview with Cody Jimenez shares how he started working with Thinkspace, his biggest challenge for his solo exhibition, and about the “mysterious forces” he’s experienced in his life.

Can you share a little about your background? How long have you been showing with Thinkspace?

I grew up in Southern New Mexico and now live in Southern California. I moved to CA to get my master’s degree in 2015 and I have been here since. I have been showing with Thinkspace for 2-3 years now. My first show with them was through a contest they were hosting through Instagram. They asked their audience to draw their cat and they happened to like mine enough to include me in a show later that year.

What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

The opportunity to have an exhibition at the Brand was really an honor. I did not think I would have a chance like this to show a body of work in an amazing venue. Once everything was hung up, and especially with all the artists in this show, it just felt surreal that I was a part of this show.

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

I have been exploring these themes of emotions coming to life since about 2015. This exploration of emotions came about when I thought more about how people often have an energy about, and if someone is really angry, sad, or happy, people can often sense this. I have not had the opportunity to really showcase a whole body of work together. I wanted to focus on building my world with narrative and start to hint at stories and relationships in these paintings.

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

I think the painting of my daughter, “12 Years”, was the most challenging. My initial sketch was different, she was running and it was a intended to be an active composition. When getting photos of her for reference, my idea wasn’t translating. After the 4-5 attempts of taking photos, I was looking through them and I came across one of her walking slowly while I was checking the lighting and this photo had a subtlety I really liked. I ended up using that one as a reference for the painting, it felt more like her and I just rolled with that idea. This taught me a lesson in just being open to different ideas and not to be so fixated on what I think something should be.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

Aside from talking to so many new people, one of my favorite moments was seeing people I didn’t know taking pictures of my artwork and bringing people into my area. It was one of those things I just did not expect to happen.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

When I’m able to have a full studio day, I like to take care of household chores in the morning, clean dishes, make coffee, etc., and then start drawing/painting. I am a creature of habit, and in general, that is a daily thing for me. This just helps me not have other responsibilities looming over my head. It is a boring ritual shrugging emoji.
An ideal studio day is when I can paint for a couple of hours, snack, more painting, walk the dog, paint, practice something on guitar, eat dinner, and paint up until bedtime. Thats a rare day, but when it happens its a dream.

The red panda and ravens are recurring spirits in your work. What draws you to these creatures specifically?

I have been completely enamored with red pandas for many years now. I even have a red panda tattoo on my right shoulder. Something about those animals is just captivating to me. Most seem to have a vast array of obvious personalities. They’re an endangered species, and surprisingly not many people know they’re actual name or what they are. Usually I hear, “Oh what a nice looking fox/cat” and I can understand why they think that, but it’s nice to tell them all about red pandas if that happens.

With ravens, other birds, I just love the variety of them. Also, they’re just dinosaurs, especially great blue herons. Those are some vicious birds, have you seen their feet and claws?? But I think a lot of these birds have this gracefulness and aggressiveness to them that can be fun to portray, it can really help a story in a painting.

You’ve shared in other interviews how your daughter’s curiosity when observing the world around her has influenced how you reframe your approach to looking at the world, and she is the subject of your piece “12 Years.” What are a few of the other lessons she’s taught you, and how have they influenced how you move through the world and your artistic evolution?

The strangest thing about having a kid is that they’re growing and changing all the time. It has been hard to realize that at times. It was not instantaneous, but this has taught me to be open to new things in the world and not expect the same results from something. The world is constantly changing, and if I were to just be old man about it and say “back in my day” (which is not even that long ago), I would just be a fool. I have to adapt and keep learning. That spills over into my artistic evolution as well, adapt and keep learning, or just be an old fool.

Can you elaborate on the “mysterious forces” you experience in your life? Are you familiar with the various clair-senses?

To me “mysterious forces” encompasses a lot of different things. I think the best example is what happened to me before my daughter was born. The summer of 2010, I had been out with my friends camping on July 3rd and drove back home the next morning. I was running on very little sleep, fell asleep at the wheel at 75mph, went off one side of the highway, overcorrected and flipped off the other side of the highway. My car flipped a few times and I was completely unharmed. Not a scratch on me. Later that year, my daughter was born. It could all be coincidental, a great safety rating on the car I was driving, or something more. I tend to fall in line with something more, that is the “mysterious force”. I actually wasn’t aware of the clair-senses, it seems worth understanding a bit more.

The environments you create put emotions into a physical form, and as an Aquarius, one of the signs that are known for emotional detachment. Do you feel that by painting emotion you’ve been able to understand your own landscape better? Or is astrology bunk and you’ve always been comfortable with all the feels?

Not that I don’t believe in astrology, but I never realized that was an attribute of an Aquarius. I do feel that being able to focus on some events in my life, I can allow myself to really process what the subject or story means to me. I am such a slow processor of information and my own emotions.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

Oh thats an easy one for me, Gustavo Rimada’s painting “La Hada”. I have loved his work for so long. This painting has a great composition and delicate rendering. There is the Guillermo Del Toro references, and there’s just a lot to admire in this painting.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

LA Times features b. Robert Moore’s first solo exhibition ‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’

“Moore’s work explores the complexities of being Black in America. He deconstructs traditional African tribes’ rites of passage and centers it on the rite of passage for African Americans, differentiating what coming of age means for the community here: survival. With works like “Amerikkka Made US ‘Crazy’” and “Messiah // Middle Child,” Moore dissects the life of Black youth and their resilience.”

‘Out the Mud: A Black American Rite of Passage’

Don’t miss this important show. Open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6pm through March 25th.

Thinkspace Projects
4217 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Photo Tour of Marissa Reyes’s ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You’ and Roja’s ‘Asco’

Thinkspace presents a photo tour of  Marissa Reyes’s ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You.’ in Gallery III and ROJA’s ‘Asco’ in Gallery IV.

All exhibitions are on view at Thinkspace Projects now through March 25, 2023.

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Continue reading Photo Tour of Marissa Reyes’s ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You’ and Roja’s ‘Asco’