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Art News – Sour Harvest

STRAAT Gallery presents ‘SHARED EXPERIENCE’ a two-person exhibition showing Kayla Mahaffey and Carlos Ramirez | August 20, 2022 – October 30, 2022

STRAAT is proud to announce SHARED EXPERIENCE, a two-person exhibition at STRAAT Gallery featuring American artists Kayla Mahaffey and Carlos Ramirez, co-hosted by Los Angeles-based Thinkspace Projects.

SHARED EXPERIENCE highlights the ongoing racial pressures and class separation still rampant in the United States and how Kayla Mahaffey (b. 1994 on Chicago’s South Side) and Carlos Ramirez (b.1967 in the Coachella Valley of Indio, California), even though decades separate their formative years, each faced many of the same obstacles growing up and still do to this day, simply for being a person of color in America.

This exhibition celebrates one of the museum’s ongoing and long term aims; to show the diversity and popularity of our worldwide street art and graffiti culture.

The opening reception for SHARED EXPERIENCE is Saturday, August 20th, 2022 from 5-9 PM, and will feature refreshments and live DJ’s. Both artists will be in attendance along with the curator, Thinkspace’s Andrew Hosner.

NDSM-Plein 1
1033 WC, Amsterdam
The Netherlands


Kayla Mahaffey is a contemporary artist and muralist specializing in illustration and fine arts. Her style being a mixture of pop art and Afro-surrealism, makes for a bright and colorful experience that packs a punch and sends an important message with each piece.

Born on the Chicago South Side, she has a strong sense of resilience and community that is displayed in her art time and time again.

She studied at the American Academy of Art in downtown Chicago, taking some classes, before leaving in 2017 to pursue art full-time

Carlos Ramirez’ painting and sculpture work often speaks of the inequalities within Mexican American communities and champions the common man as underdog.

Snakes, spiders, scorpions, and other bits of nature from his former life as a date farmer in the Coachella Valley in Indio, California, appear mixed in with Catholic symbolism, aliens, gang members, pop-culture references, and commercial imagery, giving brand logos and religious icons the same attention and placement.

Carlos’ work is tremendously resourceful, scavenging for creative materials within various abandoned desert locales.

As a former member of the seminal street art duo ‘The Date Farmers’, Carlos’ paintings continue to evolve, becoming denser and more meaningful while remaining alluring and magical.

Interview with Dredske for “Grind” | Exhibition on view August 6, 2022 – August 27, 2022

Thinkspace is pleased to present Chicago artist Dredske showing new works for his exhibition “Grind.”

Dredske’s work is an amalgamation of his artistic influences and exploration of mediums to give the viewer a glimpse into the artist’s life and the iconography that marks this moment in time. The work expands on the concept of the self-portrait, exploring instincts within the encapsulation of lifestyle.

Our interview with Dredske discusses the tenants of cultural icons, creative influences, and desired expertise.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I am an artist working in Chicago, born and raised on Chicago’s south side. The main focus of my artistic practice is fine art acrylic painting. However, it’s important to my process to experiment with other mediums and techniques which makes most of my works mixed media pieces. My particular perspective is based on my background in graffiti/street art, traditional drawing and painting, digital art, and illustration.

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

The latest body of work is inspired by my everyday life. It’s an attempt to give viewers a lil more of a glimpse into me as a person and the lifestyle I lead. Past bodies of work focused on so many things and ideas outside of myself (intellectualism); with this new body of work, I wanted to present something more from within (instinct).

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

The most challenging piece was probably the Grinder piece. It was my first time attempting to paint a grinder..it definitely help improve my focus and attention to detail.

What would you deem are the tenants of a distinct cultural icon or iconography?  

First, I think, is sincerity or a sense of genuineness (truth). Next, some kind of iconoclast nature..something new/different about it that challenges the old way. Finally, it has to be relatable. People have to be able to see themselves in it/through it.

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

Getting to the studio as early as possible and having a smoke and then painting all day and night.. sleeping on the floor… wake up…repeat.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

Music, weed, watching skate vids, reading, doodling, and making notes in my sketchbooks help to get the gears turning.

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

My favorite part is making marks with the paint and seeing what it does. My least favorite part is mixing colors.

Who are some of your creative influences?

There’s a lot. But to name a few: Bjork, James Joyce, Dj Spooky, Robert Rauschenberg, Mode 2, Shirow Masamune, Aphex Twin, Wesley Willis…people like that.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

Kung fu and getting bitches..lol

If you could throw a dinner party for five people dead or alive, who would be on the guest list? What would be on the menu? What would be the ice breaker question?

Guest list would consist of: Jiminy Hendrix, Sun-Ra, Henry Miller, Bjork (again), and Sonic Youth (counting whole band as one guest). I would have Red Lobster cater, and the ice breaker question would be, “who wants to smoke some weed?”

The ‘Grind opens on August 6th with a reception from 6 PM to 10 PM.

It will remain on view until August 27th at Thinkspace Projects

Interview with RYOL for “Ready Known” | Exhibition on view July 9, 2022 – July 30, 2022

Thinkpace is pleased to have presented RYOL‘s exhibition “Ready Known.”

The new body of work reflects his dissatisfaction with reality in comparison to the world he has imagined as a kid watching childhood cartoons. His pop-surrealist artworks are skilfully done, illustrating issues in a patriarchal society, social behaviors, and the fluidity of modern-day gender and gender roles.

Our interview with Ryol discusses the takeaways and curiosities he had after meeting Robert Williams, Kenny Scharf, and Shepard Fairy, along with his fascination with the role pop culture plays in society.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your background and what inspired your artistic pursuits?

I explore a variety of artistic mediums by imitating popular figures from the 1990s and 2000s.

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

My latest works are inspired by my observations of visual arts that I come across on social media or the internet. I see a generation of artists who use social media as a means of expression or simply to display their work, but I also see a slight preference for the visual forms they create. This, in my opinion, is a type of information that is quickly transmitted from one artist to another. The acceleration of information will, to some extent, affect the artistic tendencies of artists. Unlike in the past, when there were no social media, information may be obtained more slowly.

Visual resemblance may become commonplace in today’s world, and it may even become a concept in work. In this exhibition, I incorporate that background into the exhibition’s theme. The title of this exhibition, READY KNOWN, refers to popular forms or momentum that I bring intimately and essentially.

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

I live in a third-world country. Since I was a child, I have been exposed to Western pop culture, including music, cartoons, fashion, movies, and even food. I also learned a lot about American pop art history. I am going to have an exhibition in Los Angeles, and it makes me difficult to sleep because I am going to hold an exhibition where the pop culture that I frequently enjoy is born. And in this exhibition, I present myself as a consumer of pop culture.

What are elements of Indonesian pop culture that are uniquely Indonesian? Or what is an element of Indonesian culture that has the most global pop culture potential?

Pop culture is a popular culture in a society. I believe that Indonesia, a developing country with aspirations to become a developed country, is culturally similar to other developing countries. And I have my own opinions on popular culture. People in Indonesia are very friendly, helpful, and polite, even though queueing and littering can be a problem at times. Many large rivers are clogged with trash.

We also have traffic jams everywhere. Aside from that, I believe Indonesia is known for its diverse culture and strong traditional culture. As an artist, I am fully confident and ambitious that local Indonesian culture can be enjoyed globally, starting with batik, wayang, and local tropical culture that can be enjoyed as a popular product.

How important is experimentation in your creative process?

My creative process undergoes constant change over a predetermined time period. When I am working, my natural filter is my own boredom with what I have created.

When you were in LA, you were able to meet with a few notable artists who have been influential within the new contemporary space. Can you share what those various experiences were like?

When I met Robert William, I was more triggered when he explained his work process. I also had a brief conversation with Kenny Scharf. He added a new reference to my comprehension. With Shepard Fairey, I am curious about how he manages his studio and how he recycles production waste, such as collecting some production waste that he believes can be reused. They mostly have an impact on their respective portions.

If you could collaborate with any artist within any medium (movie, music, writing, etc.) who would you work with, and what would you develop?

First, I want to be able to collaborate on street art projects in every country. Then I would like to work with fashion designers to incorporate their products into my work. Virgil Abloh is one of the fashion designers with whom I would like to collaborate.

How would you describe the evolution of your artistic expression and work over the last three years? What were you exploring and the challenges along the way that informed the evolution?

I am very interested in popular culture. In the last three years, my creative process has been focused on how to process narratives in my visuals by experimenting with existing mediums such as acrylic, oil, and others.

I went through this process for nearly two years. In a certain point, I began to doubt my ability to explore as long as I was working. Finally, I started to consider the essence of the media, medium, and visuals that I chose and used. As in this exhibition, I believe my works are more significant in terms of medium and visual impact. The challenge that I face in the course of my work is delivering ideas in an essential manner.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/be an expert at?

I want to be an expert on what I am doing right now.

Thank you to those who submitted questions for this interview via Instagram

Interview with Sentrock for “Crash Course” | Exhibition on view July 9, 2022 – July 30, 2022

Thinkspace was pleased to present Sentrock’s ‘Crash Course‘ in Gallery III this past July. The exhibition explored the artist’s life right now as a new father living on the West Side of Chicago.

Sentrock uses this collection to find peace in life while everything around us is a struggle, hoping to pass that message on to the viewers.

Our interview with Sentrock explores his creative process, the places that shaped him, and what’s next for the artist.

For those unfamiliar with your work, can you share a little about your background and what inspired your artistic pursuits?

I was born in West Phoenix in a Mexican neighborhood. My first interaction w/ creating art was really art class in elementary school through a guest artist creating a mural for our school. After that, I got into graffiti, and that’s been the route that more or less led me here in my art. Growing up my pop was in and out of prison which has inspired much of my art and bird characters. The concept of freedom through an alter ego like a bird is very interesting to me. 

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

My latest body of work was just a reflection of where my life is at the moment, being introduced to fatherhood, dealing with my daddy issues but also figuring shit out –still reflecting my environment in Chicago and my neighborhood. 

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

I can’t say which piece was the most challenging; I would say being able to explore other concepts outside of my usual character was a challenge. I feel this body was a conscious flow of my art. 

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days? 

Wake up, take care of my baby boy for a couple of hours, jump on my bike and get to a local coffee shop. Get in the studio and start sketching free thoughts, respond to emails and just start getting on a painting that is in the works. 

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? 

Not really, I should but music and coffee. 

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

My favorite part of the process is getting lost in the sauce. My least favorite part of the process is getting lost in the sauce. Like how far can I go and dive into my art w/o being unsociable, hahaha. Like I like being into my art and losing a sense of reality, but on the other hand, I can lose my sense of responsibility. 

Who are some of your creative influences?

My creative influences are Mexican muralists the big 3, and the way they share messages through culture and art. Also Frida, I mean she really opened up the door for Mexicans to be emo. Also, I like cartoons, The regular show, Simpsons — all that. I feel my art is in the middle somehow ha. 

You’ve worked with many Chicago sports teams, like the White Sox and Bulls; how did those opportunities arrive at your doorstep? What is your favorite sport to watch and support? Favorite sport to play? 

Idk. Chicago loves and I love the city back, so we are all just fans of the city. We are a city of hustlers w/ heart. 

Do you have a mural project in the works? Where can people expect to see your next big wall?

I am currently preparing for my first solo museum show. It’s gonna consist of murals, paintings, and installations. 

Besides Chicago and San Juan – what cities inspire you the most? Or what cities do you want to visit for inspiration? 

The city I grew up in West Phoenix inspired me a lot, it’s the hood my Momma represented when she was younger, so it always has my heart bc of the good and the moments it built me to be someone w heart. 

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

I want to be a filmmaker. I want to share visual stories. I want to learn to write scripts and create movies, like Scorsese. 

Thank you to those who submitted questions for this interview via Instagram

The Perez Bros ‘Cruise Night 2’ showing at Thinkspace Projects | August 6 – August 27, 2022

Thinkspace Projects presents:

‘Cruise Night 2’

Opening Reception: Saturday, August 6 from 6-10pm

On view August 6 – August 27, 2022

Southern California is indisputably a hub of culture. With so many influences and interests it can be difficult to encapsulate, but The Perez Brothers have mastered just that. It is their understanding of LA, particularly the lowrider culture, that has generated such buzz and drawn fans into their world, eagerly awaiting more. A perfect example of collaboration down to the creation of the work itself, the identical twin brothers paint side by side, embodying the carefree spirit of the city while honing in on shocking emotional depth. With so much commitment to the city and such an understanding of its cultural history, it makes perfect sense that Thinkspace and The Perez Brothers would come together once again, two LA mainstays working together to leave an imprint on the cityscape.

This show, which is the third solo show for The Perez Brothers and the second with the gallery, is deeply rooted in their shared heritage–Los Angeles, but there is also a deeper connection as both the gallery and the artists have long demonstrated their commitment to integrating lowbrow interest and more refined techniques for a beautiful and engaging juxtaposition.

The Perez Brothers were immersed in California lowrider culture from a very young age, constantly in awe of their father’s own collection and often invited to join him for a ride on the weekends. These experiences were formative for the brothers, taking the cars and surrounding culture from a simple hobby to a true passion that they carry with them.

The organic influence of their childhood is only improved by refined techniques they learned at Otis College of Art and Design. With Fine Art Degrees in hand, they came to realize there is power in collaboration and formed the duo we see before us today. Each painting embodies balance, balancing their styles, their heritage, and their influence for something truly magical. Their flow and comfortability with each other is evident in each work. Through the showcasing of Southern California lowrider culture, viewers catch a glimpse into the complexities that leave an emotional imprint through each generation, layering exciting subjects with nuanced sentimentality.

“One of us paints all the details of the people in the image and then the other one paints all the details of the cars, including the chrome on the wheels. We tag team all of it. Sometimes we do half and half, and then we realized our styles would be better combined so there’s pieces of each of us in all of the art.”

Community is an incredibly important part of this body of work, which is quite fitting for such a community-driven gallery. In each one of the new works, “the people are the most important part of the piece. They make the image.” This commitment is apparent, with the subjects effortless evoking emotion and provoking human connection

The resulting show is a love letter to SoCal–the people, the weather, the whole vibe. With 6 works on canvas and 7 works on paper, the display is varied but the sentiment is constant.

This show takes full advantage of Thinkspace’s epic expansion, which now spans 8,500 square feet of exhibition spaces and 15,000 square feet of fully landscaped courtyard that connects the two spaces. It wouldn’t be Perez Brothers’ experience without lowriders, and luckily there is the perfect outdoor space for them, bringing new energy to the manicured area.

With a taco stand, light projections, a live painting by Angel Once, merchandise booths from local artisans and Timeless Vapes, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

The show opens August 6th with a reception from 6PM to 10PM. It will remain on view until August 27th at Thinkspace Projects.

About The Perez Brothers
The Perez Bros. eat, breath, photograph and paint lowrider car culture like no one else. Growing up in South Gate, California Alejandro and Vicente (Born 1994) were born into a family of motor-heads, so it was only a matter of time before the identical twins took to documenting customized vehicles and the homies who love them. Both attended Otis College of Art and Design to pursue degrees in Fine Art focusing on painting, which is when they started collaborating as an artistic duo. Their photographs, murals and paintings capture slices of SoCa