Interview with Amy Sol for NEXUS III at The Brand Library & Art Center

Technically self-taught, Amy Sol has spent many years perfecting her own mixed pigments and materials. Known for a distinctive palette with a subtle ghostly cast, her compositions possess poetically measured images that invoke melancholic pause in spite of their idyllic beauty and calm, feeling at times like the magic of fairytale tempered by the ambivalence of the adult.

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

I painted these works over the summertime of 2020 during the pandemic. I approached these pieces as a form of meditation & introspective peace I was searching for at  the time. The portraits for instance, are focused on medicinal plants I had as reference in my studio with a very limited colored palette. This allowed my mind to wander and relax a bit while I got lost in the small details. I had to look inwards to find calm during times when I could not find it in the outside world. It was my goal to communicate this with each of the paintings. 

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

I always drink tea and try to go on a walk before I work. I’m lucky to live in a pretty beautiful area where there are abundant trees and plantlife to look at. 

It’s was a challenge to stay free of distractions during some of the stranger times this year. I found that if I went straight to work and stayed away from my phone a bit, it helped me maintain a flow state necessary to paint. 

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? 

I listened to a lot of new music I found online, I really enjoyed instrumental lo fi and wavy music playlists just to have going in the background. I spent more time with my windows open just hearing bird sounds as well. I have a broad taste in music, it just depends on the mood and vibe of the moment!! 

When I start sketching, I definitely go for music to help with the creative flow. As things start to get technical and tedious I’ll put on an audio book or podcast to keep myself entertained. 

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on you? 

Many many, but off the top of my head I saw some Eyvind Earle originals at an art fair while I was a teenager. These works definitely sparked something in me and kind of woke me up to the possibilities. 

Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style? 

Sure, I do think his work inspired me to explore and experiment to find a way to uniquely communicate my love of nature. I also loved animation and his art was a sort of bridge from illustration to painting mixed with a strong visual language he made his own, I found all of that intriguing and inspiring. 

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

I think the painting Biome was a challenge to paint because I was trying to express a very strong feeling I was dealing with. It was challenging to synthesize this feeling into one simple and emotionally nuanced portrait but that was my goal.  

This piece started when I was experiencing some old emotions stirring up from my past trauma dealing with severe pneumonia. That trauma sort of re awakened because of this pandemic. This feeling blended into a concept, the reality of interconnectedness of humans and nature and the need to recognize vulnerability as awareness not weakness. 

I started off sketching mycelium-like forms to represent the lungs of the subject. The salamander is a symbol of vulnerability & vitality. I choose an Amphibian because they are sensitive creatures being both land and water borne. Because of this, they are considered accurate indicators of the health of the environment they dwell in.

Her floating head in the darkness sort of reflects this idea that because our minds & egos are all encompassing to our own human experiences, we sometimes forget how interconnected we are to other living things. 

This piece really helped me put some closure on my past experiences & navigate some unresolved emotions. 

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

I hope it will be looked back upon as a time of positive & progressive transformation in the psyche of humans and our push towards a better future. Many artists make art to send messages about what we care about & we communicate what matters most to humanity across a broad spectrum.


Visit for a self-guided virtual tour of Nexus III featuring a solo exhibition from Amy Sol at the Brand Library & Art Center .

Interview with Matthew Grabelsky for his exhibition ‘Animal’

Thinkspace is pleased to present Matthew Grabelsky’s fifth solo exhibition with us ‘Animal.‘ The show features the largest collection of new oil paintings to date by the Los Angeles-based artist.

Grabelsky’s works depict his subjects traveling on subways, often nonchalantly reading magazines or newspapers, while the protagonists in these dyads are strange, quasi-mythological human hybrids with animal heads. In Animal, the artist’s subjects find themselves coming above ground and exploring city centers and expanding their world view.

In anticipation of the exhibition, our interview with Matthew Grabelsky discusses the vibrant LA art scene, subway reading material, and the influence of growing up in a creative household.

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

Not really. I usually get up, take a shower, eat breakfast and am standing at my easel shortly after. Sometimes the work is slow to start and I find I get into a rhythm later on.

How much of the Easter eggs within your compositions are planned versus them coming to you while painting?

There are two phases to my painting process. The first part is the composition when I am figuring out what the overall painting is going to look like.

The second phase is the actual execution. The process of making an oil painting takes a long time. I am there with the piece thinking about it and looking at it over a period of weeks or months. As the painting develops, more ideas come to me that I didn’t think about at first. I will be working on the canvas and think: ¨Oh that would be fun, what if I add this to the scene?”

For example, in this show I have a painting of a monkey walking down the subway platform dressed in a business suit, eating a banana. While I was working on it I thought wouldn’t it be funny if I put a banana peel lying on the platform at a distance behind him as if he had eaten one, tossed the peel on the ground and grabbed another from his briefcase. It’s a small detail but I think it makes the story richer and funnier, and the painting better.

You grew up in a creative household where making a living as an artist was demonstrated to be feasible; at any point did you rebel against the idea of pursuing a career in the arts?

When I was growing up, making art was something I always did and loved but, honestly, I never thought about what my career would be. I didn’t rebel against pursuing art as much as I just didn’t think about a career at all. In high school I became interested in science through one of my uncles who was an astronomer. I pursued astrophysics in college and took art classes for fun. I was accepted into UCLA’s astrophysics graduate program and I deferred for a year so I could study painting in Florence. After a month living and breathing art in Italy I decided I wanted to be an artist and I’ve never looked back.

You’re piece “Here Comes The Sun” is your first piece set in LA; since you’re finally warming up to Los Angeles after eight years, what is your most and least favorite aspects of LA?

I was born in LA and often thought of moving back here. After growing up in NY and living and studying in Europe for 8 years it was time to come home.

The biggest draw for me here is the incredibly vibrant art scene. There are so many amazing artists working in Los Angeles. I bump into them frequently at shows, bars, and art supply stores and they keep me inspired. This community of artists is a great balance to the solitary life of spending many long hours alone painting in the studio.

What is the most challenging part about your characters exiting the subway?

The most challenging question is where are they going to go and what are they going to do. We’ll have to find out.
You will see several of the characters venturing out in my new show.

Aside from time and practice, what has helped you improve and hone your skills as a painter?

I have spent, and continue to spend, countless hours in museums in front of paintings, staring at them, analyzing and attempting to understand how they were painted. Then when I’m at my easel I experiment endlessly with my technique, working to understand and replicate what these masters were doing. Then I add the techniques that I find most useful to my repertoire.

What are three books you’d recommend for reading on the subway, and why? Where were you when you read those books?

I have read tons of books while riding public transportation in NY and the other cities I’ve lived in. Three of my favorites are: In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust; Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman; Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. They are all creative, absorbing, and long so you will have plenty to read.

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on you? Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style?

For technique and composition one of my top favorites is William Bouguereau. He was a wizard with oil paint and pictorial composition and I have learned a huge amount studying his work. For painting animals I look at Rosa Bonheur. She was one of the greatest animal painters during the 19th century. For concept and mood I love Arnold Böcklin. He painted characters from mythology in very wild, natural ways as if they were real characters who lived amongst us and who you might just happen to run across in your daily life.

Outside of painting, the next biggest influence artistically is film. My favorite film makers are Terry Gilliam, Guillermo Del Toro, and David Lynch. I love how they tell stories that contain fantastical elements but are set in the world we know.

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – what are you doing to create a sense of normalcy for yourself?

The biggest thing that has kept me sane during this time has been working for this show. I have been painting for it during the whole pandemic. It has given me a sense of purpose and kept me from losing my mind.

If your body of work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and name of your pint?

It would be called Animal Dream and would be made with all the flavors.

Opening Reception Saturday, November 14th | Guidelines Below

We will be having a public reception this Saturday, November 14 from noon to 6 pm. No appointment necessary, but masks will be required at all times, and social distancing enforced. Entry will be limited, as we will be sure to watch capacity and make sure no more than a dozen patrons are in the gallery at any given time. We want to assure the health and safety of our artists, staff and patrons.

We will also be offering timed visits each Saturday during the remaining run of the exhibitions. A link to a scheduling platform will be on our site in the week ahead. Please let us know if you have any questions at all. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to seeing some of you this Saturday.

Interview with Uri Martinez for Nexus III at the Brand Library & Art Center

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

I’m from Hospitalet, a gypsy area on the outside of Barcelona, where a majority of people come from the south of Spain. The music one grows up there with is flamenco. Flamenco comes from pain, but from that pain, we make a party. Life is sad but you can enjoy this and canalize this pain. If u ask a flamenco singer, he would say, the good singing, hurts. I think it’s a way of being in this world. The poetic and romantic: it can kill you but its love; and if it doesn’t kill you, it will make u stronger

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

Music, coffee, and a big huge smile are what’s most important, and if it’s in the afternoon, some rum. Sometimes while I’m painting I can hear my family singing and clapping and drinking, and at that moment it’s just magic – like amidst chaos comes order threw creativity.

When you were working on this body of work, what were you listening to in the background? Do you have a different soundtrack for the various stages of the creative process? 

I can listen to any kind of music really. I’ll have to stop painting cause my feet are moving and I’m more into dancing than into paint. I love rap, afro dance, dembow, reggaeton, bachata, cumbia, and any kind really.

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

Spain went into lockdown and I got closed into my studio with no materials, so I got into more detailed level I never tried. It was a struggle, where I got fuckin bored of myself and I wanted to try new shit. So I began to add more meaning by adding significant surroundings to my portraits. That first piece was the Q — the quarantine, inspired by a Haris Nukem pic.

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

We were all pricks on the internet but we had fuckin fun mate. I don’t know.

Sometimes I look into the art from the past and lots of times I think it’s pedo, to be honest. and with funny mustaches. 

I’m just a painter. I have no clever words. I grew up selling drugs. I’m drunk most of the time I’m not in my studio, but I’m reaaaaally happy.

For now, the Brand Library and Arts Center are unfortunately not welcoming visitors. This Saturday, November 7 at 1 pm we will go live on our Instagram to tour the show and we will also be sharing a professionally filmed video tour of the exhibitions on our Instagram and Facebook around that same time. A self-guided virtual tour will be shared shortly as well.

Interview with The Perez Brothers for Nexus III at the Brand Library & Art Center

Alumni of Otis College of Art and Design, The Perez Bros, are identical twin brothers Alejandro and Vicente from South Gate, CA. Exposed to Los Angeles car culture at a very young age, they are fascinated with everything in the scene from the cars to the models, the people to the music, and share a peek into that world through their paintings.

What was the inspiration behind the body of work that will be showing at the Brand Library & Art Center?

Growing up with our dad we would always go to lowrider car shows and cruise nights with him. Music is a really big part of the culture. One of our favorite songs that we would always listen to was More Bounce to the Ounce by Zapp. We wanted to sort of create some type of theme based around that song. The song has nothing to do with lowriders, but we like to connect it to lowrider car hoppers. So we decided to feature a car hopper in every one of the paintings in this show. 

Do you have any pre-studio rituals that help you get into a creative flow?

Every day after work, we go in to the studio and the first thing we do is take a long nap. Then we both eat a pepperoni hot pocket for breakfast. While we eat, we put on some music to get our creative flow going. Then we set up our paint stations and begin painting.

When you were working on this body of work, what were you both listening to in the background? Do you guys rock different soundtracks for the various stages of the creative process?

We listen to a lot of different types of music while painting. Nothing specific, but we usually stick to one artist or genre each day. Throughout the creation of More Bounce, we listened to a lot of Kid Cudi, Prayers, Tropa Magica, The Red Pears, Chicano Batman, Lowrider Oldies, and a lot more. We don’t really listen to a certain type of music for the various stages, it kind of just depends on what type of mood we are in that day.  

Is there an artist or piece of work that has made a significant impact on either of you? As a duo? Has that work influenced your own artistic voice/style(s)?

We look at a lot of different artists, but we don’t really draw inspiration from them. We get inspired through the city of Los Angeles, and the lowrider culture. We would have to say that it definitely influenced our lowrider paintings. But what inspired us to become a duo wasn’t artists duos, it was the Hardy Boys from WWE. As little kids, we actually wanted to become world tag team champions. We always thought it was so cool that they were doing something that they love together. We never became world tag team champions, but we did become a tag team in the art world. 

What piece challenged you most in this body of work, and why?

We feel that every piece that we do challenges us. Honestly we are always scared to start a new piece, because we feel as if we forgot how to paint. So every new piece feels like we are starting to learn how to paint all over again. But through this, we always seem to discover new techniques.

What do you think will be said about the New Contemporary Art Movement in 100 years?

Maybe it would be said that it was one of the largest art movements in art history. That it inspired a new generation of artist. 

For now, the Brand Library and Arts Center are unfortunately not welcoming visitors. This Saturday, November 7 at 1 pm we will go live on our Instagram to tour the show and we will also be sharing a professionally filmed video tour of the exhibitions on our Instagram and Facebook around that same time. A self-guided virtual tour will be shared shortly as well.

Interview with STOM500 for ‘Infrared’

Thinkspace is proud to debut ‘Infrared‘ from STOM500 self-taught virtuoso from a small village in the Swiss municipality of Basel.

STOM500 defines himself with humor as a veritable “Swiss Army Knife.” He uses a variety of mediums from spray, brushes, acrylic and styles on large murals or small canvases. A predilection for animal themes which, under the varnish of pleasure, carry a relevant message, often humanistic or ecological.

In anticipation of ‘Infrared‘, our interview with STOM500 discusses bees, finding out he won #otterthinkspacecontent, and going from Artist to Artistic Director.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work and ‘Infrared’?

For the last couple of years, I have worked with light in my composition. The bees are like a kind of spot and they create some spectacular lights which are often colored. For this mini solo show, I wanted to create some works only with this same colored light. Also, I think the red is an interesting color choice because it creates something energetic and cozy too.

Also for me, it’s another highlight to show and make the focus on my bees. They are always the smallest part of my work but currently the most important because they give all the flow and the atmosphere.

Do you have a pre-studio ritual that helps you tap into a creative flow?

I love to come really early in the morning in my studio to work. My days always start with some minutes to watch some funny videos or just stupid things I can find in books or on the internet. So I love to start with some silly things in my head.

My inspiration comes from the cartoon, the illustration, and a lot of little objects found during my travels. I love to draw in my sketchbook on the train or in the plane.

 I think it’s the moment when I’m the calmest and free in my mind. But I only sketch the general movement, nothing really clear. Currently, my compositions are only finished within the last phase based on my mood in that very moment.

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

At least I love to arrive at this moment with my sketchbook and to mix all my ideas together and to start a new story on my wall or on my canvas. It’s like a compilation of all the good or just simple moments that I’ve put into my sketchbook so it’s like a memory of a lot of different moments and energy.

What was the most challenging piece in this show, and why?

I think the most challenging piece was the first one because it informed the rest of the exhibition. So the first was the one with the orchestra mouse and the bird. I made the sketch during the lockdown, and really wanted to paint it for a canvas. But no idea about the colors, and just this impression there should be a skull in the drum. So after some reflection, I had this memory of such cool metal concert that I went to some months ago and really intense red colors. I wanted to find this kind of atmosphere for this canvas. I tried to work with the same colors for all the canvas in this series. So yes, the first one is always the most challenging piece!

Based on what I could gather from Instagram, it looks like you were a part of the development and coordination of a mural festival Color Urban Art. First, a mural festival isn’t something easy to undertake, and a mural festival during a global pandemic – next level. What was the most rewarding part of the experience? And what is a lesson you learned in the process?

Yes, during some weeks in the year I switched out my hat of Artist to Artistic Director of a festival. It’s a mural festival and an indoor festival where 17 artists paint their wall to make an exhibition XXL. This year was a little bit more special with the consideration of COVID in the preparation of the festival. It was really hard to do all the necessary prep-work beforehand because a lot of people didn’t know if it was possible to come or not.

But, finally, I was really sure that the festival could be realized! I think it’s important for the artists to meet us, and this year a lot of things were canceled. So happy to have created an artist residency and of course it’s important to find the solution to make some cultural energy in the city.

It’s so important for artist to work and travel and meet other cultures and other people. Also I think it’s important for me to share my passion with others. We learn a lot of things in these kinds of meeting.

Your work heavily features various animals; do the animals hold symbolic meaning that informs their selection, or are they more conduits for the composition and final expression?

I try to make a symbol with animals, but it’s my personal symbol because they often represent someone. An animal that I love to draw is the cat but unfortunately, I’m allergic to this animal so it’s a strange opposition. Of course the bees are the most symbolic animal in my work. They represent, first, my great father who was a beekeeper and of course the ecologic symbol of this animal. Without bees, there is no life according to Einstein’s theory. That’s certainly why they are featured so frequently within my works.

When I think about the composition of my work I try to work with the difference/opposition of them. For me, it’s a kind of ode to “living together” but without the representation of humans.

What elements in other artists’ work draw you in and excites you?

I’m really a fan of olds painters like Vermeer and at the same time some cartoon or Kawaii drawings. I currently mix these two universes together to create something simple but with techniques of painting.

What was the timeline like from finding out about the #otterthinkspacecontent to submitting your entry?

Haha ! I remember that I had just finished a canvas I’d started during the lockdown. When I finish a painting I don’t keep it for a long time in the space that I work, so I’ll prepare the next canvas but not neccessarily get started on it immediately. After 2 minutes on Instagram and seeing the post of Otter Thinkspace contest I went to work on that canvas. I’ve never won a contest, so when I made the decision to take part, it was in the mindset of taking on a challenge during the strange time with Covid, but never with the expecation or intention to win!  And also the contest was cool, with a cat, and its Thinkspace… it was easy to find the motivation!

Do you remember what you were doing before you found out you had won?

Well yes with the jetlag I was sleeping. The first time I win something and it’s announced, which is so cool, I’m in bed, it’s 3 am… Haha! It was very weird! But I told myself it had to happen like that or it wasn’t funny… I didn’t even wake up my wife who was sleeping! Haha! But it was great news!

If your body of work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and name of your pint?

Oh! Hum… eggs / brown sugar / vanilla sugar / mascarpone / spoon cookies / black coffee /cocoa. All the ingredients to do a perfect “tiramistom” ice cream.

I just try to paint some positive things that make you laugh, smile. My wife explained to me the recipe for tiramisu, which is a dessert to lift people’s spirits, hence the translation that pulls up. So it’s a good dessert to represent my work and wink at her!