An interview with Sarah Joncas

Sarah Joncas at work on her mural for 'Siren' - opening this Fri, Sept. 3rd at Thinkspace

An interview with Sarah Joncas

For anyone who follows Sarah Joncas‘ work, it should come as no surprise that music has and is a large influence on her painting process. Just as mediums or materials are essential to creating, Joncas considers music a necessary ingredient to developing and fulfilling her ideas. It was no doubt that sooner or later music would become the central theme to a body of her work. From instrument to dance, the artist has brought music to the forefront of her solo female narratives and embraced this all-important part of our culture. Similar to the pop element in her work (visually impacted by sources such as comic books, anime, film and cartoons), Joncas’ musical inspirations are mostly streaming from rock and alternative roots. Suitably given the title ‘Siren‘, this show is about the seduction and romance of music. It gets us moving, gets us singing, tugs at the heartstrings and becomes undeniably infused with our character and how we identify with the world. To further this theme, all the works included in ‘Siren’ have been named after songs/lyrics/bands that suit them or provide an opening to interpretation. Some inspired by, some titled afterwards with consideration. Though physically silent, it has always been the artist’s hope to create work that can speak and touch someone in a similar way as a piece of music does.

Sarah Joncas 'Lullaby' - 20x24" - oil on canvas

Please talk a lil’ bit about the work that makes up your new series for ‘Siren‘. Was there one particular moment that helped to shape this body of work?
Well, I’ve wanted to make a music themed body of work for awhile now, which may not be so surprising. The title felt suitable as this show is about the seduction and romance of music, as well as linking to my usual subject matter of dark, solitary women. I wasn’t entirely certain that this would be my direction in the beginning, but after starting on a couple pieces – a dancer and a quiet geisha holding a guitar – everything else just flowed out naturally and without hesitation.

'Wish You Were Here' in Sarah's studio in Canada

Why did you choose to become an artist?
It was a fairly natural course for me. I hate to be the cliché and say I knew from the beginning, but I kind of did. I loved drawing even at 2-3 years old, told my mom at 5 that’s what I wanted to do. It’s just what makes me happy!

Sarah's paintings for 'Siren' just back from our framers

From your time at art school, name one thing you learned while there that has stuck with you to this day?
Don’t let anyone stop you from making the art you want to make! It’s good to take suggestions and criticism, it might even benefit your work, but you’ll be better off doing what makes you happy since that’s where the passion for creating is. I’d be so miserable if I listened to a prof who told me figure painting is dead… Besides, he was wrong.

A look at 'Moody Blues' on the easel in Sarah's studio

The works in your new series are all named after popular songs from the rock and alternative realms. Would you one day like to work with a band on creating the layout/concept for their album art? If so, which one band would you pick if you had your choice?
I guess I would be pretty amazed with such an offer, at least if it were a band I enjoyed. I’d feel so unworthy though, haha. There are so many musicians I love, but I keep going over what bands my work might actually suit rather than just anyone. Maybe a band with a strong female lead like Portishead, Tori Amos, Cat Power, Bat for Lashes, Garbage etc…

Sarah Joncas 'Siren Song' - 14x18" - oil on canvas

Being from Canada, what do you like most about California when you come to visit? What strikes you as the biggest difference?
Well, I haven’t traveled much of Canada yet, but compared to what I’ve seen – the landscape! And all those crazy trees. Somehow I doubt someone would visit Ontario and gawk at the pines, but every time I saw a cool looking tree in LA I had to take a photo and touch the bark… Is that weird? And you guys have the ocean and all those valleys… My answer might be different if I got the chance to travel to BC or the Maritimes, but I haven’t.

Sarah Joncas' sketch for her mural for 'Siren' along with photos of her past mural installations at Thinkspace

What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your show with us?
I have a piece in the Last Rites Gallery (New York, NY) October group show, a piece for your 5 year anniversary show in November, and a solo I’m already starting work on for April with the Last Rites Gallery… Expect the work to get dark for that one.

Sarah Joncas 'My Little China Girl' - 16x20" - oil on canvas

Sarah Joncas ‘Siren’

Opening Reception: THIS FRI, Sept. 3rd 7-11PM

Check out Sarah’s progress on her mural for ‘Siren’ here:

6009 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Dabs Myla partake in ‘The Decade With No Name’ up in Oakland…

Dabs Myla at work on their live painting for 'The Decade With No Name'

Australian duo Dabs Myla took a break from preparing for ‘Tokyo Deluxe‘ and went up to the East Bay last week to take part in the massive “Decade With No Name” show that was put together with the help of our good friend Ken Harman (writer for Hi-Fructose and Arrested Motion).

The crowd at the opening for 'The Decade With No Name' with Monica Canilao's installation in the background

The show serves to highlight the multitude of talent found in Oakland and the greater East Bay area and features a stand out found object installation from Monica Canilao (pictured above) that alone is worth the visit. The show features a vast array of talent and also serves to further highlight the work of Thinkspace family members Brett Amory and Aaron Nagel, both of whom have some very nice examples of their work on view.

Aaron Nagel in front of his work featured in 'The Decade With No Name'

“The Decade With No Name” will continue to show at its pop-up location, 54 Washington St. in Oakland, CA every Saturday (11AM-2PM) and Sunday (11AM-5PM) through September 12th. To view the works in the show as well as the complete lineup of artists taking part please visit

An interview with collector Morgan Spurlock

Spurlock alongside a portion of his Ron English collection

An interview with collector Morgan Spurlock

Morgan Spurlock, 39, the man who pushed himself to the brink for the filming of ‘Super Size Me’ by eating nothing else than McDonald’s for a month straight, went to the middle East to film ‘Where In The World Is Osama bin Laden?’ and put himself through a myriad of difficult situations for the FX television series ’30 Days’, finds himself with the same addiction many of us have, the need to fill every inch of his walls with the best from the new contemporary art movement. He recently wrapped up a special he did for Fox for the 20th Anniversary of The Simpsons which took him around the globe, thankfully he was able to find some time during all that to answer a few questions for me about his love for this art movement. When he’s not putting his life at risk and globetrotting about for film projects, he spends his time hunting down that next great piece for his ever-growing collection of new contemporary art. Read on to learn a bit more about how his love for art started and what fuels him to keep collecting.

The work of WK Interact

How long have you had an interest in art?
I think I’ve had an interest in art ever since I was a kid. I used to love to go to museums with my parents. Now they weren’t art aficionados or anything, but they did have a great love and appreciation for the arts: music, dance, painting, you name it. And I think they passed that love down to me.

The work of Souther Salazar

Does anyone else in your family collect or create art?
I was the youngest of three ballet dancing brothers (which, believe me, was not the coolest thing for a kid to be doing where I grew up in West Virginia). Both my brothers went on to become professional dancers and tour with companies before settling down with their families while I went in a different direction.

Office view including works from Baseman, Nouar, Musgrove, and others

Besides art, is there anything else that the collector bug in you searches out regularly?
I’m a film buff, and I love old movie posters, and while my habit has quite reached the magnitude of my art addiction, it’s still pretty bad. I just bought an amazing otiginal Italian color photolithographic halftone poster for Citizen Kane (AKA in Italy as “Quarto Potere.”) It’s incredible … and massive. It’s a two sheet that combines to form the full image and once its framed it will around 7’ x 5’. It would never fit in my house but will proudly be displayed in our new office.

With artists like Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Shepard Fairey and The Clayton Brothers all having major retrospective museum shows in the past year or two, the future is definitely wide open for this lil’ bubble of the art world. Where do you see this genre of art (new contemporary, urban contemporary, pop surrealism, outsider, lowbrow, etc) going over the next 5-10 years?
I think you’re going to see even more of these artists getting major shows as well as the respect of the art world. Everything has shifted, and with the rise of the street artist will come even more huge break out art stars like David Choe, Ron English, WK Interact, Lori Earley, Shag, Tim Biskup, D-Zine, Swoon, Kathy Schorr, Tim Biskup, Niagara, Van Arno, Scott Musgrove, Ray Caesar, Dalek, Sas and Colin Christian, Caia Koopman, Camilla d’Errico, Esther Pearl Watson and Andy Kehoe.

The work of Josh Agle (aka Shag)

First piece purchased and when/why?
I bought a piece by Francesco Lo Castro in 2005 at a group show in NY at the Lit Gallery. I went to meet Ron English there and was blown away by all the pieces. The painting I bought was a small piece called “Surprise?!” I loved it (and it was in my budget! Something every collector should try to stay within!)

Sculpture from Ron English (with large Dave Cooper in background)

Do you have any sculpture in your collection?
No, but I have a bunch of vinyl by Ron English. I kick myself everyday that I didn’t buy the Colin Christian sculpture at that Lit show where I bought my first piece. It was way out of my range, 12k I think they wanted. Today, you can’t even smell a piece by him for that.

The work of the one and only Niagra

Favorite piece you currently own?
When I took Super Size Me to Sundance, Ron English painted a new version of MC Super Sized for our poster. It ended up being the model for all the vinyls he currently has on the market. I have the original painting hanging behind my desk and it makes me smile every time I look at that fat clown.

The work of Ray Caesar

What was your biggest score of 2009 collecting wise? Best score to date?
My best score of the year is a WK Interact piece that I got on consignment from Jonathan Levine. It’s from when he first started blending painting with prints on canvas (this one is actually mounted on wood) and is a photo print of his old girlfriend writhing in a ecstasy. It’s pretty sexy and may not be the best piece for a work environment, but until I move into a giant Andy Warhol-esque loft, that’s where its gotta live.

And my best score to date? Is probably my second favorite piece in my whole collection. I have an incredible Ray Caesar piece called “Side Saddle” that I got from his show last year at Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC. I often find myself pausing when I walk past just to drink it in. It’s so twisted and weird and beautiful. One day I’ll be lucky enough to meet him so I can ask him about it. I think that guy is a genius.

The work of Invader

Who is at the top of your want list?
So many people. On the “I have a dream” front, I really want an original Shepherd Fairey as well as a Camille Rose Garcia. It would be amazing to get an original Banksy or Todd Schorr or Blek le Rat or Robert Williams. And who wouldn’t love to have a Mark Ryden.

If you could add any piece of artwork to your collection, from any time period, which work would that be?
Ever since I was a kid, Salvador Dali has been an inspiration to me. We had a book about him in my house and I remember sitting on the floor and thumbing through it, staring in awe at his paintings. The imagery was overwhelming to me. It was the closest thing to magic I’d ever seen. To this day he fascinates and moves me, so if I could have anything, a painting by him would be like having Houdini standing in my kitchen every day of my life.

My wife and I would love to donate our collection to some sort of establishment, be it a museum or otherwise, so that the vision remains intact. We’re really creating a snapshot in time. With this in mind, do you see yourself ever stopping buying art and supporting artists? Even if your walls fill up? You are so young, that it’s bound to happen soon, but this is an addiction as we all know. So just curious of other’s long term plans.
My walls are already filling up. My apartment, office and escape cabin in upstate New York all have the stamp and vision of so many artists on them that I can’t imagine them ever not being around. One day the walls will all be full but I can’t imagine that stopping me. There’s always someone new. Some new way of looking at the world that lights up something inside of me in ways I can’t describe and I just tell myself, “I’ll find a place for it.” There’s always mom’s house in West Virginia.

As for what will happen to my collection when I long gone, I haven’t given it a ton of thought. Right now, if I dance with worms tomorrow, it will go into a trust for my son. But who knows if he will even like the work, he’s only 2 and a half and even though he’s is surrounded by it everyday of his life, he may hate it when he gets older. (And I despise parents who try to force their passions on their kids.) I hope some of it rubs off on him, but if it doesn’t, I can always adopt.

Spurlock alongside WK Interact's Ludlow Street Door

Please name an artist that might be off many collector’s radar, but that you enjoy and would like to offer some props to.
I think Matthew Feyld is amazing. I have three of his paintings and think he’s just starting to hit his stride. I also have become a fan of girl who just graduated from the MFA program at Hunter College named Alison Blickle. Keep your eyes peeled because that girl is going places.

Thanks for taking the time Morgan! Be sure to watch for other collector interviews coming up soon.

An interview with Tran Nguyen

An interview with Tran Nguyen

Tran’s statement on her latest series of works for ‘Nurturing The Uneased Soul’:
Human distress and weariness of the soul are prevalent illnesses we’ve all encountered in our existence. It is ubiquitous to say that life is hard and it’s even harder to relieve ourselves of this chronic disquiet. It is my hope that the milieus portrayed in Nurturing the Uneased Soul pay homage to those who are facing everyday-life difficulties – you, your family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, or even strangers.

The visual metaphors that are depicted in my paintings capture our emotional turmoil. They embody someone that we can contemplate with, something that reorganizes our cluttered mind. It’s somewhere that nurses the unattended thoughts we’ve tucked away, deep inside our psyche. My imageries serve as a reservoir for the mind to collect itself, replenish itself, and resolve itself from its emotive tension. My hopes are that once the viewer has plunged into my oeuvre, they are able to emerge from the pilgrimage with a new, untarnished mindset. With whatever existent hardship you may be enduring, I deeply hope it can help nurture your exasperated soul.

For more, check out the following interview I just conducted with Tran last week…

Please talk a lil’ bit about the general concept behind your new series of works for “Nurturing The Uneased Soul”.
The new series of work furthers my exploration into therapeutic imagery. Each painting depicts a particular milieu of apprehension that conveys many of the prevalent distresses we frequently come across in life. Uneasiness such as ridding ourselves of wayward thinking or living a burdensome life can be abrasive to our soul, but these heavyhearted situations are what makes life even more precious. The adversity we deal with day to day are conducive to meaningful living. Thus, the intent of Nurturing the Uneased Soul is to act as a buffer or, as some have described it, “a squishy mattress” in overcoming these hardships.

'And Our World Came Tumbling After'

Do you use much photo reference or pretty much just rely upon your imagination?
Half and half — it’s used when needed. When I want a “real” feel to my figures, I’ll rely on photo references to capture those humanly imperfections or natural postures. I do try to limit myself from relying on them too much or else my surreal illustrations would end up overly “realistic.” So when I want to diverge from this tendency, I’ll let my imagination/artistic intuition resolve the rest of the painting.

Your work is filled with visual metaphors, please elaborate a bit if you can. Any significance to the recurring diamond pattern present in much of your work?
You’ve probably noticed that trees, birds, and other ornamental forms frequently reoccur in many of my paintings. I use the motifs to help embed the content’s general tone. Shapes such as the iridescent gold diamonds are not only used for aesthetic purposes but also to convey the duality of the complex emotions — the strenuous as well as triumphal aspect of confronting a tribulation. The haphazard of patterns also help create an ambiguous void for the figures to be cast into which furthers the surreal essence of my paintings.

'And She Said To Him'

What was the driving force in your life that led you to this particular direction in your narrative content?
Thus far, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had an easy life but I can’t say the same for others. I’ve witnessed many people that’s had their share of hardship, particularly my mom. I can’t help but feel compassionate to those whose life deviates from what they had hope for. I’ve always been interested in the welfare of others but didn’t necessarily know how to apply it to my career. Then, I came across Bruce Moon’s Art and Soul: Reflections of an Artistic Psychology, and his writings guided and synthesized my endeavors in a more concrete way.

What/who do you consider your biggest overall influence?
The people (and their situations) I cross paths with act as my muse. Their tense emotions and tribulations inspire me to compassionately illustrate these ineffable human conditions.

'Parting From Your Wayward Heart'

What’s your favorite thing about living in Georgia? What do you miss most about home?
Besides the fact that my family and friends are here, Georgia has a moderately paced lifestyle. Where I’m from, there’s a lot of the countryside and a little of the city side, which has been pleasant to be raised in. I live about five minutes from a vast corn field and the feeling I get from driving by it is overwhelmingly profound and unexplainable. Though it’s inevitable that I’ll venture to other places for work and personal reasons, in the end, I know I’ll come back home. It’s true what they say — “home is where the heart is.”

If you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
I’d open a public art studio that offers a variety of free workshops for people who like to draw, paint, print-make, sculpt, etc. In another section of the studio would be an open exhibit filled with a collection of art created by therapy patients — a kind of art that requires us to close our eyes and open our heart and soul.

What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your solo show with us?
I have some group shows that I’ll be participating in and an awesome collab show next year with a fellow artist. For now, I’m just taking it easy.

'The Color Of A Colorless Soul'

Tran Nguyen ‘Nurturing the Uneased Soul’ (in our project room)

Exhibition run dates: March 12th – April 2nd, 2010

Check out the works from ‘Nurturing The Uneased Soul’ here:

* This will be the last show at our Silver Lake location. We will relocate to Culver City this April.

4210 Santa Monica Blvd. in Silver Lake area of Los Angeles (near the Sunset Junction)