Thinkspace Projects is thrilled to present Langston Allston’s solo show, ‘Blue City.’ Allston is committed to creating work that tells stories from his community honestly and compassionately, and this exhibition does just that, offering viewers a not often seen view of New Orleans.
Allston was not born in the city, making his perspective that of an outsider. As such, he is intentional about the way he represents New Orleans, exploring the city through the eyes of someone who was fortunate enough to be welcomed by it. ‘Blue City’ is an ode to New Orleans, an ode to long shadows and shady stoops, an ode to towering thunderclouds and houses held together with tarps and roofing nails and prayers.
Allston’s view is rooted in love, even through the hardship the city endures. As he explains it, “New Orleans is a city under siege. From the water, and the storms, from capitalism and the ruthless march of gentrification, from poverty and the violence it demands.” He takes this strife and juxtaposes it with allure and elegance, continuing on to acknowledge “New Orleans is the most beautiful city in the world. A city that remembers its past. New Orleans is the future.”
With striking colors, Allston conveys real stories and experiences from his unique view. With close attention to the particular light of the city, he paints an account of fragility.
‘Blue City’ opens Saturday, March 5 with a reception from 6PM to 10PM and will remain on view until March 26 at Thinkspace Projects.
About Langston Allston Langston Allston is a painter and muralist based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He splits his time between New Orleans and Chicago, Illinois and finds inspiration for his work in the everyday moments that make each city unique and beautiful. His work has been featured at the Contemporary Art Center, in New Orleans, the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, in Brooklyn, and is in the permanent collection of the City of New Orleans. Allston has also created public art throughout Chicago for community organizations like the Blocc, and the Mural Movement, and for major brands like the Chicago Bulls.
Thinkspace Projects is thrilled to present Victoria Cassinova’s first major solo show, ‘Without Ornament.’ 28-year-old Cassinova is an LA-based artist and longtime fan of Thinkspace, making this a perfect and cohesive debut.
In ten new works, which range in medium and size, including paint and charcoal, Cassinova creates a harmonious experience. This collection, aptly titled “Without Ornament,” presents a juxtaposition of highly detailed and beautifully engaging bodies, many of which are nude, with monstrous faces. In creating this contrast, Cassinova challenges the gaze of her viewers, ultimately engaging the audience.
As Cassinova herself describes them, “the faces are a personified metaphor for my own human condition. I will personify my own inner demons, not necessarily negative, but I put my mask on and take ownership of my own monsters.” In doing so, Cassinova deepens the narrative of each piece, truly creating a dialogue. “This body of work is essentially my visual diary. It is an exploration of the absence and presence of ornamental feminism within my own life experience, and the world around me.”
Just as there are multiple meanings and contrast within each piece, the title itself is a double entendre. Without Ornament refers to both the stripped down visuals and minimalistic approach, as well as broaching the subject of women as ornaments. Throughout history women have been positioned as ornamental figures, whether it be a bride on her wedding day or young girls on social media in the throes of internet success. With this show, Cassinova examines these positions, going so far as to reposition them and display the inner demons visually as a means to broach the subject of body image and perception.
Careful not to generalize when it comes to delicate subjects, Cassinova is clear that this is her personal interpretation. One that she hopes others will resonate with, but not one she wants to force upon them. “I’m speaking for myself within all of this. I cannot speak for all women.” She goes on to explain the personal benefits of creating this work. “My work is more so a cathartic process. It’s often a conversation between me and me. I feel like I’m in my autobiographical phase as an artist. It’s my healing phase.”
‘Without Ornament’ opens Saturday, March 5 with a reception from 6PM to 10PM and will remain on view until March 26 at Thinkspace Projects.
About Victoria Cassinova Victoria Cassinova (b. 1993, Baton Rouge, LA) is a Los Angeles-based visual artist whose work ranges from murals and graphic art to illustration, drawing, and painting. Solo and group exhibitions of her work have been presented at venues such as Thinkspace Projects, Los Angeles (2022, 2021); Vertical Gallery, Chicago (2021); Band of Vices, Los Angeles (2021, 2020, 2019); Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu (2021); and Spoke Art, San Francisco (2020), among others. Cassinova’s work has also served as an integral contribution to many social justice collaborations, including Blackout for Human Rights annual MLK NOW event, We Rise Exhibition, Sons & Bros., Truth Initiative and more. Branded works include Urban Outfitters, Free People, Anthropologie, Condè Nast with Proactiv & Teen Vogue, Netflix, TIME Magazine, Disney, CNN and more.
Aragon draws upon her own experiences and surrounding community to create breath-taking oil paintings that do not sugar coat the human experience. Aragon’s goal is to present an awareness and give a perspective of individuals whose story has yet to be fully told, reaching a broader audience than they might on their own. The artist hopes her works sheds light on how similar we are as inhabitants of this earth, and how we can benefit from just a little bit more understanding.
In our interview with Andrea Aragon, she shares wisdom for her past self, a peek at her artistic practice, and when she knew she wanted to be an artist.
Can you share with us a little bit about your upbringing and where you are currently creating?
I was born in Anaheim California and moved to Montebello when I was really young, but now I am currently living in Huntington Park where I create from home.
What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes have you been exploring in your work?
Currently, my work taps into the idea of having magical moments with the ones I love. Or having a beautiful moment with a stranger. Where time isn’t as important and one exists in the moment. I’ve been exploring the ideas of human interaction with the everyday and how our influences tap into our subconscious for our everyday decisions.
Could you share what your day-to-day looks like when working in your studio?
What I usually do is eat in the morning and sometimes I spend a little time with my partner and our new kitten. I sometimes just mentally prepare myself for what I need to execute for my projects and or if I need any supplies for future ones. Then I tend to put on some music/documentary/ podcast to get me in the flow of concentration. Most days I like to at least get a minimum of 6 hours in for creating.
What’s in your “artistic toolbox”? Are you particular about brands that you use?
I tend to try to stick to oil paints and when I’m usually at the store I try to check the quality of the pigments. I’ve noticed certain brands have better quality pigments than others or one color from two different brands may have the hue a bit different. When it comes to brushes I don’t usually have a preference but with time sometimes I can now be picky.
How do you like to unwind outside of the studio?
I like to hang out with like minded artistic individuals. I also tend to take my camera wherever I go so when I’m hanging out and if I ever get inspiration I can take photos for ideas.
Do you have a process for sourcing and/or keeping track of your inspiration?
I usually tend to keep it upstairs in my brain. It’s only on certain occasions I write it down on my phone or have a sketchbook around. Once I want to solidify the idea a bit more I tend to create mock-ups on photoshop on my computer.
What was on your playlist while creating this new body of work?
I tend to listen to hip hop, rap, neo soul, indie rap, oldies, some music from other Countries etc.
Most artists express themselves creatively as a child, but there is a moment when a shift occurs from just being creatively inclined to being more artistically minded – do you know when that moment was for you?
One I can remember was when I was in 8th grade going into high school. I requested to take art classes because I already knew that’s what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to acquire the class but that’s a whole different story. Long story short, that didn’t stop me from pursuing the want to create so I would draw on my own. I never thought of doing something else at that point in my life.
Have you ever worked outside creating public murals? If not, would you be interested in pursuing one day?
Yes, I would love to create murals but when the opportunity presents itself.
What words of wisdom would you share with your past self when you were just starting to create art?
I would say keep practicing and if things don’t come out the way you intended that’s okay because you can always try again. Your mindset is never permanent. Be cautious and only accept what your body can take at once. Don’t take on too much. Listen to your body.
Is there anything in your artistic journey that you wish you may have done differently?
Nothing at the moment. I know that my journey isn’t over yet and it’s hard to pinpoint one thing.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge of 2020 for you?
Understanding my wants and needs and what I find most important to me as a person and giving myself permission to vocalize those wants and needs are.
What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)
My biggest accomplishment was leaving my regular full-time job to pursue an art career. I grew up with not a lot of money which created some frugalness in my adult life. I was scared to be in that state again, but I bit the bullet and had confidence in myself.
What big projects do you have coming up in 2022 and 2023 that you’d like to share more about?
Currently, I have been working as a painter’s assistant and since I’ve been in this type of environment with other creatives it’s inspiring more ideas for future shows, but so far I’m just going with the flow and seeing where life takes me.
Andrea Aragon Artist Statement on “Somos Magicas”
My current body of work is inspired by my relationships between my friends or family. It’s about finding the beauty between those interactions and highlighting the mannerisms of those moments by illustrating them as careless children who have no concept of time or nor do they even care. My goal is to reach my audience by having them either reminisce about their own moments or can find a relation to the idea within my work.