Virtual Tour of THE NEW VANGUARD III at The Lancaster Museum of Art and History

The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, in collaboration with Thinkspace Projects, is pleased to present The New Vanguard III, a dynamic group exhibition of works by international artists working in the New Contemporary art movement.

Visit https://players.cupix.com/p/MEHjje2B for a self-guided tour experience through group exhibition Small Victories and solo exhibitions from Kevin Peterson, Kayla Mahaffey, Alex Garant, and Kathy Ager.

Virtual tour created by Birdman

The New Vanguard III: Interview with Kayla Mahaffey for ‘Adrift’

Thinkspace is proud to present new work by Kayla Mahaffey for her latest exhibition ‘Adrift’ as a part of ‘The New Vanguard III’ showing at The Lancaster Museum of Art.

Mahaffey’s work gives voice to the unheard stories of contemporary youth and, as explained by the artist, “serves as a guide to bring hope back into our daily lives by cherishing each moment not in the mindset of an adult, but with the fresh eyes and imagination of a child.”

In anticipation of ‘Adrift’, our interview with Kayla Mahaffey discusses the mysteries of the deep blue, the American dream, and the power of a clear and collected mind.

SH: How long have you been showing your work in galleries and various exhibitions? Do you remember the first time you showed your work to the public? What was the exhibition?

KM: I’ve been showing my work in galleries since 2016. My first time showing my work was in a group show. My style was totally different and the show’s theme was illustrating films in like a poster form. It was called, “XPO Illustrated Show” and it was a huge step to the beginning of a life as an artist.

SH: When painting, what are you listening to in the background?

KM: When painting, I usually have a documentary or podcast going on in the background. I love learning new things and I like to hear people’s views on various topics. Musically, I like listening to anything energetic and upbeat. Anything that keeps my mind running and keeps me thinking positively. Genres like pop, rock, jazz, and rap are usually my go-to’s and encourage me to move, get up, and paint.

SH: What was the inspiration behind the body of work that you will be showing for New Vanguard III?

KM: The visual inspiration behind, “Adrift”, came mainly from the ocean and sea-life and how vast it is and how it’s depths are mysterious and unknown. For the subject matter, I took inspiration from societal hindrances and how the American dream being achieved through struggle and generational efforts can bring about a story of inspiration and growth or sometimes bring pain and suffering.

SH: When viewing other artists’ work, what elements get you excited or inspire you?

KM: I really get inspired by other artists’ techniques. I love looking at their pieces and studying how they made that painting come to life. I like seeing the brush strokes, color schemes, and process. It makes me get a better understanding of their artistry and helps me learn in the process.

SH: Does having an exhibition at a museum feel different than showing work at a gallery?

KM: It definitely feels more monumental. Not only by the scale of things but by the title and involvement. The atmosphere brings about a notion of advancement not only in my career but in my capabilities. It hits you differently because when we were younger we all went to museums to gaze upon greatness and look at paintings that we thought were unimaginable and grand in some sense. Never would we think that one day we would even be showing at a museum of any kind. It’s a wonderful and beautiful feeling.

SH: Every person experiences that moment, when they are in the middle or even at the start of something, where it feels overwhelming or isn’t going as planned – how do you personally push through those difficult moments?

KM: When things aren’t going as planned, I step back from the problem, take a deep breath, and once relaxed, I tackle the problem head-on with a cool, collected and clear mind. Difficulties come and go in life, but they never cease to exist. It’s best that we find the most effective way to deal with these issues so we can get pass them…each time bouncing back stronger and with more ease than the last time.

SH: If you could show your work beside any artist, in the entire history of art, who would you want to share wall space with?

KM: I would love to show my work besides Jean-Michael Basquiat. Basquiat is a favorite of mine and I feel like our work evokes energy, color, and culture. While our styles are completely different, they include a chaos of color that contains structure, which grounds our pieces. The essence is somewhat similar and shows tons of narrative. If we were showing together in an exhibition, it would be a feast for the eyes, a shock to the senses, and everyone would leave feeling entertained.

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

KM: The most challenging piece had to be, “Don’t Rock the Boat,”. I had a hard time trying to change my color palette a bit and trying to make a much more complex composition. Not only was the composition difficult to organize and keep balanced, but the story challenged me. I had to delve into the journey that many of us make through life and how it can be difficult staying on track and staying balanced, while trying to keep the peace. I tried my hardest to make that statement come through the painting and I think in the end it was a success and worth every headache.

SH: Do you have any pre-studio rituals that get the creative juices flowing?

KM: Before painting, my ritual isn’t anything special. I wake up get some food for nourishment and some water to stay hydrated. I might read a book or a graphic novel for entertainment or might exercise for a bit. The main thing is to keep a clear mindset, stay healthy so you’re recharged, and keep yourself entertained because with this comes inspiration and a good mentality before you Stuart. You don’t want to hit a wall mentally when you’re about to get into the groove of painting.

The New Vanguard III: Interview with Alex Garant for ‘Deconstructing Identities’

Thinkspace is proud to present new work by Toronto-based artist Alex Garant for her latest exhibition ‘Deconstructing Identities’ as a part of ‘The New Vanguard III’ showing at The Lancaster Museum of Art.

Garant is known for her hyper-realistic rendering of op art portraits where her subjects’ faces and eyes seem to skip their registers through image redoubling and superimposition. Not unlike the fugitive flicker of a screen or the spectral layering of multiple film exposures.

In anticipation of her first museum exhibition, our interview with Alex Garant discusses what this show means to her, how she pushes through moments of overwhelm, and her creative rituals.

SH: How long have you been showing your work in galleries and various exhibitions? Do you remember the first time you showed your work to the public? What was the exhibition?

AG: When I was 7 years old, my parents enrolled me in an oil painting class at the local community center, and at the end of the program, we got to show our work at an art show for the neighborhood. I was so so proud and even sold my painting to strangers, which to me was such a strange concept. Then in my late teens,  I had a few amateur showings with Art School/ College.

After that I was working a lot, marketing jobs, travel jobs, all kind of stuff and I lost my creative focus. In 2012 I suffered from a heart attack, it really changed everything and got me to focus on my true passion again.

My first exhibit in a professional gallery happened in 2013 at a local gallery in Toronto.

SH: When painting, what are you listening to in the background?

AG: Honestly, once I get deep into the creation zone, I mostly block out all external noises or distractions. I get so focused that everything else is white noise. That said, I often play some mid-century retro jams and blues to get me in a happy place.

SH: What was the inspiration behind the body of work that you will be showing for New Vanguard III?

AG: “ Deconstructing Identities”  was created while self-isolating and navigating the ups and downs of the pandemic. This surreal setting gave birth to pieces inspired by self reflection and specifically the role of self-inflicted appearances. People’s constructed nature fighting with their instinctive core and trying to visually translate a complete persona. This collection  also introduces more contextual elements to my work. Featured are little pieces of nostalgia riding the line between kitsch and whimsy contrasting with the expression of the characters sometimes melancholic or naive.

SH: When viewing other artists’ work, what elements get you really excited or inspire you?

AG: I always get excited to see works my own imagination could never come up with. Sometimes, it amazes me to see the simplest color combination and I start thinking: wow, how can they make those 3 colors work so well together. I am truly an art fan and I am always overwhelmed by technique and imagination. I’m fascinated by any creative minds different than my own.

SH: Does having an exhibition at a museum feel different than showing work at a gallery?

AG: First, I feel very honored and humbled to be part of this amazing Art statement that is The New Vanguard III. When it comes to process, I do think a museum exhibit was a bit more pressure, I am absolutely one of those artists who try to push themselves a lot and is never satisfied with anything coming out of the studio. Every piece is always a learning experience, therefore each painting is a puzzle piece of my creative journey. So I would say, there is a different feel to it, but it’s mostly self-inflicted… Oh, and my mother is extra proud.

SH: Every person experiences that moment, when they are in the middle or even at the start of something, where it feels overwhelming or isn’t going as planned – how do you personally push through those difficult moments? 

AG: For me usually, during the creation of a painting I go through several phases: confidence, excitement, struggle, hate, hate, hate, overwhelming desperation, satisfaction, 2 minutes of pride and then happiness fading into an almost disappointment, until I start a new piece and the cycle starts again. It’s a roller coaster, but at the end of the day, once you start seeing art as your daily work, you understand that this exact process is part of the job description. You will create 100 “okay” pieces for 1 piece you might end up being fully satisfied with. Eventually, you accept this reality and also understand it is what the entire experience is. The ups and downs are part of the Art. It becomes an integral fragment of how you move your brushes, which colors you chose, how much detail you add.  And if a final piece is so wrong to my eye, I usually put it aside and start another one. The key is to keep creating.

SH: If you could show your work beside any artist, in the entire history of art, who would you want to share wall space with?

AG: That is a hard question, mainly because I would have to arrogance to think I deserve to be shown next to the artists I admire the most. But one of my biggest inspirations is the Pope Series by Francis Bacon which I saw for the first time when I was a child, and those images have been inspiring to me ever since.

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

AG: U wish was the most challenging because it was my first full body piece and I truly put all my energy into rendering every section to the absolute best of my abilities. And I am now very excited to work on bigger full-body pieces in the future.

SH: Do you have any pre-studio rituals that get the creative juices flowing?

AG: I will answer candidly: it is silly but this is how I get started, I gesso my canvas, and while it dries in the sun, I drink a Redbull, set up my palette ( always the same way) & pre-mix a few skin tones ( always the same method). I feel like a clear set-up routine really gets me started properly until the chaos of creation overwhelms me.

SH: We declare The New Vanguard III a milestone in your artistic journey, what are three other milestones that mark your path and life as an artist?

AG: I feel like every painting could be a milestone, every art show, every time someone sends me a DM to support me, every time I sell a print, all those moments are so so so important to me. I cherish and truly, deeply appreciate every single step of this amazing journey I am on.

From the outside, objective observers would most likely consider my biggest markers to be: Graduating from Art School over 20 years ago, my heart attack & realizing I NEEDED to be an artist, my first solo exhibit & my first museum exhibit.


THE NEW VANGUARD III
Curated by Thinkspace Projects

September 12 through December 27, 2020

Lancaster Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, California 93534
www.LancasterMOAH.org

Featuring Solo Exhibitions From:
KEVIN PETERSON “Embers”
KAYLA MAHAFFEY “Adrift”
ALEX GARANT “Deconstructing Identities”
KATHY AGER “Fool’s Gold”

New Exhibitions from Alvaro Naddeo, Josh Keyes, Nicola Caredda, and Kobusher Coming Soon

Thinkspace Projects presents:

JOSH KEYES
Inside Out

ALVARO NADDEO
IndigNation

KOBUSHER
Come Out and Play

NICOLA CAREDDA
God Save My Sweet Pusher

All four exhibitions on view September 19 through October 10, 2020

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JOSH KEYES
Inside Out

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Portland-based artist Josh Keyes in Inside Out. Keyes creates lush, hyperrealistic paintings of our civilization’s dystopian aftermath; a post-human planet left ecologically ravaged and dissipated, sits aflame, overgrown or beneath water, while a new natural order attempts to reclaim its disastrous inheritance. In recent years, Keyes has abandoned the minimalism of his precise, dioramic disaster taxonomies in favor of a more immersive and expanded pictorial frame. These works depict entire environments rather than only its cross-sections in a not-so-distant future state of ecological ruin. Keyes has mastered the satirical posturing of hyperbole as fact with a world so convincingly rendered, and so disastrously surreal, that fantasy becomes alarmingly plausible.

Keyes’ highly detailed narrative paintings have evolved from their earlier iteration as closed systems, or quasi-scientific specimens drawn from some post-apocalyptic natural history museum to less confined and formulaic expressions of an imploding natural order. Displaced wild animals and the remnants of human architectures and monuments are all that remain, the only living witnesses to whatever final or cumulative set of events have finally tipped the scales beyond salvage.

Animals have always appeared as the focal points of Keyes’ metaphoric, and psychologically penetrating works. He depicts them with the anatomical precision of a biologist and the poetic freedom of a storyteller. As protagonists, creatures universalize the narratives, making them indiscriminately relatable and empathically accessible. Charged with the psychic and imagistic resonance of a shared, collective subconscious, Animalia provides the artist with a symbolically valent source of iconography. This combination of the personally inflected and the culturally drawn supplies the artist with an inexhaustible source material.

Working primarily in acrylic on panel, Keyes has perfected his hyperrealistic painting technique, depicting the environmental crisis with startling representational clarity as a trope for the larger human one. It becomes clear that the imagining of this apocalyptic chaos harbors a social anxiety that extends far beyond the concerns of the ecological. In a time of great political angst and uncertainty, the artist’s works are all the more poignant as harbingers of a, now more than ever, alarmingly plausible doomsday. Keyes, the dystopian naturalist, continues to provoke our imaginations with the poetry of a cataclysmically surreal future tense.

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ALVARO NADDEO
IndigNation

Thinkspace is pleased to present IndigNation, featuring new works by Brazilian born and Los Angeles-based artist Alvaro Naddeo. Interested in the study of castaway objects and the subtle graphic nuances of urban detritus gleaned from the city sphere, the artist combines its textures and edges in compositional amalgams. His interest in the life of the unassuming object extends to billboards and signage, cast away containers and boxes, and domestic and industrial spaces, conjoined and superimposed in unexpected mashups, or cultural relics that speak of use and disposal in the contemporary city. Working primarily in watercolor on paper, Naddeo achieves an impressive level of hyperrealistic rendering, bestowing unexpected poetry to the lowly remnants of the city’s waste and urban recesses. Naddeo’s works offer a commentary on the excessive momentums of contemporary consumerism, while his imagery explores the decay and deterioration of the city-worn.

Naddeo is originally from São Paulo, Brazil and has also lived in Lima, Peru and New York City and currently. These urban environments have helped to shape the artist’s memory and permeate most of his work. The artist is partly self-taught and partly homeschooled. His father is an illustrator, and as a child Alvaro would spend many hours drawing and watching him work. His father was a constant source of inspiration and encouragement, but having an artist as your father also proved frustrating at times. At 17, Alvaro compared his work to his and thought that his own drawings and paintings were not good enough. so he quit. Naddeo went on to pursue a career in advertising as an Art Director, something that still allowed him to exercise his interest in art, but without requiring mastery with the pencil or brush. 20 years later, while living in New York City and being exposed to its many contrasts, Naddeo’s desire to pick up the brushes intensified. He is now a full-time artist, exhibiting his works around the world.

“The subject matter of my work is waste, overconsumption and social inequality. Trash and objects found in the street are valuable, and not only for aesthetic reasons. The brands, logos and packaging depicted in my work are objects with an inherent duality, both desirable and despicable, a clear byproduct of having worked in advertising for more than 20 years.”
– Alvaro Naddeo

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KOBUSHER
Come Out and Play

Thinkspace is pleased to present the debut North American solo exhibition from pop artist Kobusher, hailing from the Philippines. Being a child of the 80’s, the artist was raised on pop culture and, in turn, his visual narrative has been honed with the help of Sesame Street, Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones, Run Dmc, and MTV.

Kobusher attended the University of the Philippines where he received his Fine Arts degree (majoring in painting). Sadly, like many a young art school graduate, he went into advertising and marketing to make ends meet, while never loosing site of his first love, painting.

In 2015 he literally walked out from his work and decided it was time to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time artist. He felt that he had done everything he could as an artist during his stint as a Creative Director at one of Philippines’ top ad agencies. One by one he was able to produce a series of paintings for his debut solo show. Secret Fresh Gallery in the Philippines gave him his first break, and in January of 2016 they hosted his first solo exhibition.

Since then, Kobusher has been busy building an ever-growing legion of fans the world over. From sculptural editions to screen prints, the artist continues to explore new avenues of expression on a regular basis. For his North American debut, the artist has delved heavily into the memories of his youth and the new body of work is a celebration of pop culture in all its many forms.

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NICOLA CAREDDA
God Save My Sweet Pusher

Thinkspace is pleased to present the debut North American solo exhibition from Italian artist Nicola Caredda. The artist was born in Cagliar, Italy in 1981. Caredda studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sassari.

Caredda’s dreamlike acrylic works on canvas blend eroded landscapes and structures with playful elements of pop culture and mystical iconography. Each painting’s vague narrative is ripped from the artist’s subconscious. The artist’s aim is to transcend reality using his own dreamy, visionary language.

By creating densely layered paintings that blend elements from distant vocabularies with the metaphysical, the artist aims to exorcise his own fears and provide an escape from reality for all

Studio visit with Sergio Garcia for ‘Infinite Circles’

Sergio Garcia – Infinite Circles | August 22, 2020 – September 12, 2020

The inspiration behind the exhibition: This group of work is a bunch of skateboard wheels, infinite circles the title is a play on initials “IC”(infinite crew), a graffiti crew I’m a part of. One of my first solo shows was titled Infinite Chapters, I’ve always liked the play on the initials “IC” and how it pertains to skateboard wheels, I feel that there are an infinite selection and combinations for skateboarders to choose from.

View the pieces from ‘Infinite Circles’ here.