Interview with Anthony Clarkson for his current exhibition ‘Enigmatic Dreams’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace is pleased to present Anthony Clarkson‘s seventh solo exhibition ‘Enigmatic Dreams’ with our gallery. A painter, designer, and illustrator, Clarkson’s oil paintings are ghostly and surreal – dreamlike meanderings through eerily cast dimensions. Stylistically dark, they feel like haunted eruptions of the subconscious. Combining character-based narratives with the unexpected juxtaposition of suggestive symbols and absurd elements, they create jarring nightmarish figments and provocative associations. At times playful and others nihilistic, his works are graphically and illustratively inspired to elicit a gut reaction.

Our interview with Anthony Clarkson discusses his playlists, his dreams and all the coffee he drinks in order to make this exhibition happen!

You’ve been showing with Thinkspace since its inception. Your artistic career growing alongside the project’s evolution. What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

Having a show at the Brand Library is great. It’s such a unique place to show with a great atmosphere. It’s also nice to be showcased alongside rooms featuring other artists I admire so much.

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

In the past I’ve almost always had very ‘themed’ shows that revolved around some sort of narrative. This time I tried to just paint images that came to me without overanalyzing them or trying to make them fit a theme. That’s why I titled the show Enigmatic Dreams. Enigmatic means difficult to interpret or understand, and that’s how I felt initially about most of the pieces. As I worked on them they would gain meaning for me, but at their inception they were just free-form consciousness.

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

These Oceans Within’ was probably the most challenging. Mostly because I’ve not painted a lot water like that before, and also painting it from what feels like two different perspectives between the top and bottom halves was interesting. Anytime you do something you’re not use to or go out of your comfort zone it causes your skills to grow, even if it’s incrementally and not a major leap forward.

Enigmatic Dreams has imagery that gives a sense of surrender and control, holding on and letting go. How do you navigate these human truths in your own life? Do you have any practices that help you cope with the chaos that is being alive?

Deciding what we hold onto or let go of can be hard. It’s where we decide to put our energy day to day that can really define the kind of person we move through life as. When I’m making art or get consumed listening to an album is when my mind is most clear and life makes the most sense.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

Really it was just seeing how much people seemed to enjoy the art and vibe going on.

Did this latest body of work have an associated playlist or source of musical inspiration per piece?

Not really. I listened to so much stuff I can’t say there was any particular band or album that was the ‘soundtrack’ to this group of work. In the last few weeks of work I was listing to the new Katatonia album ‘Sky Void of Stars’ and Host’s debut album ‘IX’ a lot. Other than that I was listening to a lot of mellow movie soundtracks like American Beauty, Spotlight, and Lost In Translation.

Your work has a dreamlike quality; are you a vivid dreamer? If so, does that imagery or narrative ever inspire or enter into the work you’re developing?

I’d say most of my pieces start off based on dreams I have. That can usually be as simple as a feeling, colors, or a phrase that remain as the dream itself fades. It’s hard for me to just come up with an idea on the spot, which can be really frustrating at times. I need to let my mind not focus on coming up with an idea and when I’m typically in a half wake / dream state ideas just come to me.

Coffee is an essential part of the creative practice. What is your coffee order? Do you have a favorite/preferred brand of coffee?

I love coffee, but I’m also not picky at all about it. I’m the kind of person that can drink day old truck stop coffee and be totally fine with it.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

I’d have to say “An American Werewolf In London” by Matthew Grabelsky was one that I really loved. I’m a sucker for anything with a wolf in it.

If someone wanted to understand the emotional landscape of your story and creative process, do you have a film recommendation that would be able to echo familiar themes?

In a lot of ways I’d have to say the movie ‘Adaptation’. Even though it’s about an author instead of a painter, the way the main character thinks about the creative process and his own place within it rings very true to me. His striving to be original and really say something but feeling that he may not be achieving anything of true uniqueness is an internal struggle I can definitely identify with.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Interview with Ken Flewellyn for his current solo exhibition ‘Remix’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace is pleased to present Ken Flewellyn ‘Remix’ with a new reality from the lens of his history and the culture that has shaped him. Introspection and self-examination is not always easy, and it may take some time for him to open up to people but hopes to continue to share pieces, like a Remix’ tape of familiar songs, with a new twist. As an extra bonus, his longtime friend, mentor, and Thinkspace Projects co-founder L.C. collaborated his collages onto Ken’s paintings with him to combine and capture the true essence of a mixtape… bringing a certain meaningful vibe when you need it most. He hopes this Remix’ sends you on a sonic journey through art.

Our interview with Ken Flewellyn discusses his most challenging piece, collaborating with L. Croskey, and shares a Remix-only playlist.

How long have you been showing with Thinkspace? What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

I’ve been showing at Thinkspace for the past 9 years. Remix is my 3rd solo. This is also my first museum solo and so excited to have it at the Brand. For those that haven’t been, the Brand is a beautiful historic building in Glendale featuring a museum and massive art and music library. One the grounds is a Japanese garden, hiking trails, and lush park. It’s pretty stunning.

Showing at the Brand felt like a return to origin stories. Before I showed at Thinkspace, I was in group shows at a number of galleries in Los Angeles. Among those galleries were Cella Gallery and 11:11 ACC. At the helm of both spots was Shannon Currie Holmes, who is now Exhibitions Supervisor at the Brand.
I showed in some of my first 30 day shows in Shannon’s spaces and was stoked to show with her again.

When I was invited to show, I didn’t know the lineup or what all was planned for the rest of the museum. The show ended up becoming an Art Family Affair. My show is up alongside one of my besties, Matthew Grabelsky, who also showed with me at Cella and 11:11. In the other rooms are Anthony Clarkson, Cody Jimenez, and Anthony Hurd, and Raiz curated by Tlaloc Studios, all of which long time Thinkspace Fam. The show felt that much bigger seeing the rest of them shine too.

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

Covid really had a hand to play here. I found it hard to get inspired during and sometime after the pandemic. An important part of my process is working from models and of course COVID, made that difficult. Without new models to work with I decided to go back to basics. This sent me back to old sketchbooks where I found some solid ideas and compositions that I dismissed. Back then I struggled to paint most subject matter but had ideas. So I still jotted all that stuff down, no matter how bad the drawing looked. Going back to those books now, I have years of skill and a different eye. I went through these old ideas and remixed them, again and again until I put together some pieces I’m really happy with.

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

Cityscapes… Why do I keep painting cityscapes? ‘Know the Ledge‘ took a ton of work. I basically worked on that piece for most of 2022. I started early in the year and just chipped away at it. When I got tired of painting buildings I’d set it aside and work on another piece until I was feeling it again. Don’t get me wrong, I love painting cityscapes but it’s time-consuming. Every day I’d take a pic of my progress and anxiously await the last building. Wow, that feeling when you finish the background? And know the rest is a breeze? It’s like the walk downhill after a hike.

I try to do this every show. I put together at least one composition that’s going to test my patience, one I have to work on in increments. Maybe I do it to grow. Or maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. Either way, I love the effect when it’s done. I love what it adds to a narrative. Well worth the time.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

I’m always happiest seeing my friends and family come out to support. I had a ton of friends come out, some of them I haven’t seen in nearly a decade. I had some great convos with DJ’s and other hip-hop heads. A lot of artists were in attendance too, so I got to talk shop for a while on process. I barely left my room it was so busy. Before I knew it the night was over.

Can you share your process for collaborating with L. Croskey?

L and I have collaborated on other projects for the past decade. I started in this industry working with him on Cannibal Flower and later for Thinkspace but never on art. Once the lineup for the solos was announced we both knew we had to collab to add to the family vibe of Nexus. We were in the back of Thinkspace, kickin it, talking about mixtapes we made back in the day and it just seemed like a natural progression.

We worked out the vibes of the tapes first. Then L got going on design of the collaged elements and layout. He’d take pics and show me so we could plot the rest. Once he had his part on the board he passed it back to me. I then designed and painted the tapes to match and complement colors in the collage.

Did this latest body of work have an associated playlist or source of musical inspiration per piece?

All of my paintings in this show are named after hip hop/R&B songs.
You Know My Steez by Gang Starr
Juice (Know the Ledge) by Eric B. and Rakim
Scenario by A Tribe Called Quest
The Choice is Yours by Black Sheep
Love Like This by Faith Evans

As I was working on the show, I of course had remixes on the brain. That of course led to a playlist, Remixes only. Lets Go!
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0euJboMgdLpLAWDw0fiXHr?si=aab9c059465b4dd5

Your work explores bringing a sense of harmony to subculture and more traditional cultural elements, especially within hip-hop and Japanese motifs. Do you see yourself folding in other cultural influences in the future? If so, what do you think you’d want to explore?

I think a lot about the traditional aspects of my work. When I began this series it was important to me to make sure the Japanese elements remained traditional, to pay reverence to the design aesthetic that inspired me. Juxtaposing that with hip hop culture you get this sharp contrast. Two diametrically opposed cultural identities, talking to each other. Going forward I’d like to add some nuance to that conversation. I want to add more cultural elements. I’d like to take those traditional motifs and build on them, let them be inspiration for a blend of iconography. I’d like the music to be more dynamic introducing other subcultures so I can really make the conversation complex and engaging.

Did you ever create mixtapes or write down lyrics by waiting for a song to come on the radio? If so, what tracks were you trying to catch?

Oh my god, I did all of that. I used to set up two boomboxes next to each other, waiting for 2pac to come on. I had my timing down too so the transitions were smoooooth. It’s a weird thing being a millennial. I both have this nostalgia of making mixtapes and the relief of a playlist that doesn’t include me eating chips next to the microphone.

A world-renowned chef wants to make a dish inspired by your artwork, what would it be, and the dish’s distinct ingredients?

Mmm, some kind of elevated soul food sushi. Like a southern fried octopus nigiri served on a bed of fresh collard greens, garnished with small flowers and a drizzle of sauce in the shape of a Wutang “W.” On the side, the cocktail 2017 interview, The Vieux-Tang Clan. Boom!

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

Hands down, Grabelsky’s Crow-Magnon. I LOVED the crow growing up. When I went to his studio to see that piece before the show, the first thing I said was “Dude STOP IT!”

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Interview with Anthony Hurd for his current solo exhibition ‘Verified’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace is pleased to present Anthony Hurd ‘Verified’ where “in a wonderful world of random blue check marks, engagement farming, social media clout chasing and general acting a fool, we find ourselves in the midst of the golden age of the death of social media. It’s failing us all… No matter the damage, I still come crawling back to my abuser for comfort, to suckle on its black barred, censored tit and let it caress my burning brain with one hand while it picks my pockets with its other 99 hands for that sweet, sweet, dopamine rush, worth it… And I along with billions of others continue to scream into the void of endless data gathering in hopes of a better tomorrow.”

Our interview with Anthony Hurd shares his frustrations that inspired his current solo show, what he was up to during the pandemic and his film recommendations.

How long have you been showing with Thinkspace? What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

Errr, wow, I’ve been showing with Thinkspace for 10 years now, crazy. The Brand Library show is awesome. Aside from it being my first museum solo show, it’s also a history space with lots of good stories. I lived in LA for ten years, living in Silverlake, but at the time I didn’t make art, so to be back in LA, making art full time, in my old hood, seeing so many old friends and new ones it was amazing.

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

Mostly I was exploring my frustrations. It’s been such a strange time for so many years now between the political madness, the global pandemic and the ever changing economy of the world everything just feels constantly uneasy, no stability, no reality to hold onto and social media seems to be at the center of the chaos most the time. It’s opened the door for so many crazies to take center stage, and yet it’s diminished the reach of most of us artists. We’re not the prime content these days, sucks to even have to consider ourselves “content” but that’s what we’re faced with. So the absurd faces of social media started to come to the forefront for me. The bots, the algorithms, the rich white men pulling the strings and making lives more difficult. This crazy moving target that no one seems to understand fully. Some get lucky, some do not, but none of us really have a good grasp on what’s going on any more.

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

I’d say ‘Zucker-Lon‘ (The String Pullers) was the most challenging. It was the first piece for the show, and it set the tone for everything else. I worked on it off and on for many months before even touching the additional works, so I just kept pushing it and allowing it to evolving until it started to speak to me in a way I could see translating to the rest of the works. Like all works it teaches me patience, but reinforces my constant need for exploration. The experimentation and exploration have become my major driving force in the work these days and its taken me a long time to really understand that it’s where my happiness in creating stems.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

Being that I don’t living in LA anymore, my favorite moments were both seeing so many old friends I miss dearly, and meetings so many other artists who I’ve been in touch with via social media for over a decade and never met in person. It was a massive event and truly made it feel like the most epic homecoming.

Your exhibition is titled Verified, and in content leading up to the show, you’ve lamented about the nature of the current social landscape. However, you’re pretty good at the content game. How much time are you spending on creating content as part of your studio practice?

I don’t spend as much time creating content as it seems. I just understanding the editing process well enough now to stitch it together thankfully. After all these years I’ve never had a single viral video that’s gone anywhere significant, but I’ve learned to just enjoy myself and try new things. Mostly I spent 10 minutes a few times a week recording content, so not to time consuming really.

Skate culture is one of your biggest creative influences and you use skate videos to help hype you up for painting. Can you share a few of your favorite skaters or videos with us?

Ugh, I don’t even know where to start with that. It’s not longer about specific skate videos, I just follow so many skaters and skate accounts that my feed is full of awesomeness. The level of progression in skateboarding these days in absolutely insane, and the rise of both queer and female skaters doing crazy shit just warms my heart. So I just open literally any social app these days and I’m flooded with the newest videos.

During the pandemic, you slowed down to growing food and plants, enjoying the demise of the pre-pandemic pace. Have you been able to maintain that slow pace or peace on your own terms? What’s in your garden?

Well, since the pandemic, we were finally able to purchase a small home of our own, so the older garden is long gone from the rental house and we haven’t officially made a garden yet in the new house but it’s coming soon hopefully. We do have a pomegranate and apple tree now and grew strawberries, blackberries and raspberries last year which was nice.

Unfortunately, the slower pace of the pandemic is long gone and didn’t stick. Seems life pace has picked back up and then some. I make moments every day where I can rest, lay in the hammock, or just relax and take in the views but mostly it seems endlessly busy. Recently my 14 year old step daughter moved in with us full time. We’ve been wanting her to live with us full time for many years so that’s been awesome, but having a full time teen isn’t a relaxing experience generally. Haha. So we do as we must, and make space for ourselves when we can. Studio time is when I get the most time to myself but that can feel hectic these days too as some works tend to take on a sense of urgency on their own.

What is your favorite unique find from the devil’s website (i.e. Amazon)?

Can’t say I have any great finds on the devil’s website. It’s almost purely orders of shit I’m too lazy to go out and fine IRL these days, or just shipping supplies with the occasional flannel pj’s. Ha

If someone wanted to understand the emotional landscape of your story and creative process, do you have a film recommendation that would be able to echo familiar themes?

No one single film unfortunately, but over the span of my life, I’d say What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, echo Dead Poet Society the emotional landscape of my youth, but as much as I love movies and connect with them I don’t have any more contemporary films that speak to my own story and creative process. I love the continually visible queer culture happening these days but it doesn’t generally speak to my personal experiences as came out at the tale end of the AIDS epidemic, and a generation prior to any contemporary acceptability that many young folks may experience. Skateboarding and music are both huge parts of my story and inspiration but everything is built with a tinge of fear because there integration of queerness wasn’t pervasive in my youth and I juggled multiple different lives, always fearful of how they would clash if they were ever to cross paths. Maybe some day someone can capture these themes in a singular story but I don’t think we’re there just yet.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

In my own personal work? None, I don’t like hanging my own work in my house. Haha. I have one piece hanging currently but I try and surround myself with works of others. I’m too hard on myself to stare at my own work daily like that. In the rest of the exhibitions? That’s hard. I really loved that piece “Carry Me With You” by Karla Ekatherine Canseco. Strange and emotional, delicate and colorful, I’d have been very happy to have added that to my collection for sure.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Interview with Matthew Grabelsky for his current solo exhibition ‘Riders’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace presents Matthew Grabelsky’Riders where his new body of work continues his exploration of people with animal heads riding the New York City Subway, and in one case the London Tube. Each painting contains elements from pop culture (a magazine, a poster, a tattoo, a character in the background) which relate to the specific animal, creating a series of humorous tableaux. With a realistically rendered and highly detailed oil painting technique, his goal is to create the effect of looking at a scene on the subway as if it were a diorama at a natural history museum. The images present richly detailed moments frozen in time allowing the viewer to closely inspect every element and make connections between them to read an overall story. In this world, people are transformed into part-animal to create scenes that are strange, funny, and endearing.

Technically inspired by 19th Century academic and naturalist painters, Grabelsky creates these unlikely, surreal scenes with a staggering degree of realistic detail. The contrast created between the visual verisimilitude of the works, and the surreal improbability of their content catches the viewer in a prolonged moment of convincingly suspended disbelief.

Our interview with Matthew Grabelsky reveals how he linked up with Thinkspace, the reason he had to recreate one of his paintings, and which animal he would choose to do a self-portrait.

How long have you been showing with Thinkspace? What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

My first show with Thinkspace was back in 2012. I’d walked into the gallery without knowing anything about it and loved what they had up. LC was there and I started talking to him. He asked to see what I did and I showed him a few photos of my paintings. He loved them and showed them to Andrew. Andrew invited me to put a piece in a group show they had opening a few weeks later and I’ve been showing with Thinkspace ever since.

Seeing my paintings up at the Brand has been a huge thrill. I’ve been going to look at art in museums my whole life and seeing a room at a museum full of my paintings feels like validation. Around the end of college, I decided I wanted to be a painter. I would look at detailed realistic oil paintings and have this overwhelming feeling that I had to make something like that. Learning to do it took years of study and working on my technique and subject matter. When I stepped into the room at the Brand with my work for the first time I felt I’d accomplished what I set out to do all those years ago.

A handful of the pieces have film references accompanying their subway rider. Do these films have a greater meaning or reflect an influence on you as an artist/person? Or were they fun explorations in anthropomorphic associations?

I picked the films because they had fun associations with the animals in the paintings. In “Crow-Magnon” the figure has a crow’s head and is dressed all in black. Adding Brandon Lee as Eric Draven from “The Crow,” standing on the platform, struck me as fun goth touch. In “Giddy Up” the guy is dressed as a cowboy and has a horse’s head. I added the poster from “City Slickers” as well as Billy Crystal reflected in the window in his character from the film as funny connections to my city cowboy. In “Gotham Local” I wanted to make a Batman-themed piece because he’s always been my favorite superhero. Tim Burton’s first batman with Micheal Keaton was the seminal batman from my childhood so I used references from that film, including the batman logo on the t-shirt and Jack Nicholson as the Joker standing outside the window. In “Polly Wanna Cracker” a girl with a parrot head eats Ritz Crackers. I thought it would be funny to have a pirate standing on the platform. I chose a guy dressed as Keith Richards’ character from Pirates of the Caribbean because it felt culturally relevant. Finally in “An American Werewolf in London” a guy with a wolf’s head rides the London tube. This painting started as a joke when a friend said he thought it would be funny if I made a painting based on that film. I loved the idea so I filled the piece with references to the movie including dressing him like the titular character and even putting a still from the movie on the newspaper that he’s reading.

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

Every time I make a painting I run into new challenges I have to figure out. Sometimes it has to do with the composition and sometimes it’s a technical aspect when I start working on the canvas. That’s part of what keeps painting interesting for me. This time around the biggest challenge had to do with painting denim. It’s a tricky texture because denim is made up of blue intermixed with specks of raw white cotton and faded to varying degrees in different areas. If not done right it ends up looking like plain blue fabric.

I spent a whole day painting the jeans in the werewolf piece and thought it looked pretty good when I went to sleep. I woke up in the morning and with a fresh eye, it just didn’t look right. I let it dry for a few days then painted that whole area back to white so I could start from the beginning. I experimented for a few weeks with different methods of layering the oil paint and finally found a technique that worked. I repainted the jeans and they looked great. There were several other paintings in the show with blue denim so I used the same method and each time it worked like a charm.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

The opening night blew me away. There must have been a couple of thousand people passing through that evening. I spent countless hours alone in my studio working on the paintings with the hope that they would connect with people and engage them. There were so many times that night that I would see groups of people looking at my paintings, talking about them, and laughing at the humor in them. Each time I saw that it made me smile and told me that all the work was worth it.

The “Hello Kitten” piece was a recreation of a similar piece that was lost, what made you decide to revisit this work? Where do you think (or imagine) that piece is now?

Sadly the first version disappeared during shipping and was never found. It was a very meaningful piece for me and it strongly connected with lots of people. I’m hoping that it either got sent to the wrong place or someone stole it so it’s still around somewhere.

It was the thought that it may have ended up in the trash that make me want to recreate it. I hated the idea that I worked so hard on the original and now no one may ever get to see it again. I had all my original studies so I decided to make a second version. I intended to stick quite close to the original but as I started the new version I found several things that I thought would improve it without losing what made the first one a success. I made it larger so the figures would be life-size. That gave the sense that the mother and daughter were in the same room with you. I added a red bow to the little girl’s hair to match the cartoon character. In the first version, she was just wearing socks so I added a pair of shoes. I adjusted the perspective slightly so that the girl’s head was fully surrounded by the blue of the subway seat which made her head pop out a bit more to focus your attention there. Finally, for a fun little inside joke, I removed the glasses from the guy reflected in the window. A lot of people have asked me who he is and he’s my friend who’s the father of the little girl. Since I made the first version he got Lasik surgery and doesn’t wear glasses anymore.

*On, 4/8/2023, Grabelsky announced the piece “Hello Kitten” has been found. Please visit Grabelsky’s Instagram for the story of the found painting. Interview originally published 3/14/2023.

(Study version)

If you were to do a self-portrait, what animal and iconography would be included in that piece?

I’ve been thinking about painting a self-portrait of myself as a raccoon. A big raccoon used to sleep in the bush right outside my studio window. I loved watching it and got kind of obsessed with raccoons. They’re super clever and can do amazing things with their hands. As someone who works with his hands all day, I can relate.

How has understanding the chemical properties of oil paint influenced the development of your technique?

I strongly believe that the medium you create art with has a huge impact on the end product. This ranges from the aesthetic qualities of a particular medium to the way that working with one might give you different creative ideas than you would get from another. There are many ways to make a realistic image from painting which reaches back to the beginning of humanity itself to more recently photography, digital rendering, and now even AI image generators.

I love oil paint for two reasons. Aesthetically oil painting has a unique textural look unlike anything else. Oil paint is extremely versatile. It dries slowly by oxidation with the air so it stays workable for a long time. That lets me apply oil paint to my canvas and blend into it to get very subtle effects. By adding different oils and solvents to the paint I’m able to adjust the consistency which lets me get a range in surface quality. The paint stands out a bit more in some places and is thinner and more transparent in others.

Secondly, building up an image with oil paint takes many layers and lots of time. The result is that I’m working with my hands directly on a canvas for many many hours and inevitably during that time I get ideas that I add to the painting that I didn’t have when I came up with the initial composition. These are sometimes big changes and sometimes small but they always make the image much richer than what I started out intending to paint.

The New York subway still remains your main backdrop/ third character in the compositions. In this body of work, you included the London Tube, but have you ever considered painting the LA Metro? If so or if not, please elaborate.

I’ve lived in LA for over ten years now but I’m still a New Yorker at heart. This series started on the New York City Subway and that has been the setting for the majority of my paintings. I love the subway because it’s an iconic New York location instantly recognizable to anyone who’s been there. It is also a central mixing place for people in the city. When I had the idea to do a werewolf in London, the London Tube seemed like an obvious spot to bring one of my characters. It plays a similar role in London as the subway does in New York. A scene from the movie that inspired the piece even takes place in one of the Tube tunnels. As far as Los Angeles, while there is a metro and I’ve ridden it a bit, it doesn’t feel like a particularly central part of the city. At its core, LA is still a car city. When I think of LA I think more of the landscape with its palm trees, beaches, and mountains. To that end, the one painting I’ve done set in LA so far takes place on the beach right in front of the Santa Monica Pier. If I do more paintings set in LA that is probably the direction I will take.

Studying in Italy led you to pivot your career path from astrophysics to art. What is a significant moment from that time there that has stuck with you and informed the person you are today, beyond just being a full-time artist?

My experience in Italy was amazing and changed the course of my life. I was fascinated by astrophysics and enjoyed studying it in college. However, when I was dropped into an immersive painting experience in Italy it gave me a different level of satisfaction. I was living in Florence which is a living museum. Just walking down the street I would pass incredible frescos, sculptures, and architecture. Italy has a sensuousness about it, more than any other place I’ve been. It is full of beauty and made me want to create beauty. Italians also have a way of focusing on enjoying life. Italy convinced me to be an artist professionally and also taught me to enjoy life along the way.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

There’s something I love in all of them but I’d pick the one I did of the crow. My mom was the model so it’s a particularly personal one for me. I got the idea for it when I was on a trip with my mom to Sicily. We were crossing the street and a car was coming which made her nervous and she made a sound like the caw of a crow. I instantly knew I wanted to paint her as a crow. The painting is full of references to my mom. “CAW!” is painted across the back of the seat on one side in my mom’s handwriting. On the other side, her name is painted to look like it’s scratched into the plastic, again in her handwriting. On another part of the seat, I put a sticker that says “I Love My Mom.” On the platform outside the window, you can see Eric Draven from “The Crow” which I saw in the theater with my mom when I was in high school.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.

Interview with Cody Jimenez for his current exhibition ‘Efferverence’ on view til Friday March 17, 2023 at The Brand Library & Arts Center

Thinkspace presents Cody Jimenez’s ‘Efferverence, where he explores a world where emotions are embodied in physical forms. The emotions are represented through vibrant colors and shapes that affect their environment and characters around them. By using physical representations of those emotions, he investigates the dualities of beauty and danger that mirror mysterious forces he experiences in his life.

Cody Jimenez is a Mexican-American artist whose work focuses on the natural world through a lens of Imaginative Realism. He received his BFA in painting from NMSU in 2014 and MFA in painting from LCAD in 2017. His work has been exhibited throughout the country, including Los Angeles, CA, Denver, CO, Baton Rouge, LA, and Santa Fe, NM.

Our interview with Cody Jimenez shares how he started working with Thinkspace, his biggest challenge for his solo exhibition, and about the “mysterious forces” he’s experienced in his life.

Can you share a little about your background? How long have you been showing with Thinkspace?

I grew up in Southern New Mexico and now live in Southern California. I moved to CA to get my master’s degree in 2015 and I have been here since. I have been showing with Thinkspace for 2-3 years now. My first show with them was through a contest they were hosting through Instagram. They asked their audience to draw their cat and they happened to like mine enough to include me in a show later that year.

What does having an exhibition up at the Brand Library and Arts Center mean to you?

The opportunity to have an exhibition at the Brand was really an honor. I did not think I would have a chance like this to show a body of work in an amazing venue. Once everything was hung up, and especially with all the artists in this show, it just felt surreal that I was a part of this show.

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

I have been exploring these themes of emotions coming to life since about 2015. This exploration of emotions came about when I thought more about how people often have an energy about, and if someone is really angry, sad, or happy, people can often sense this. I have not had the opportunity to really showcase a whole body of work together. I wanted to focus on building my world with narrative and start to hint at stories and relationships in these paintings.

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

I think the painting of my daughter, “12 Years”, was the most challenging. My initial sketch was different, she was running and it was a intended to be an active composition. When getting photos of her for reference, my idea wasn’t translating. After the 4-5 attempts of taking photos, I was looking through them and I came across one of her walking slowly while I was checking the lighting and this photo had a subtlety I really liked. I ended up using that one as a reference for the painting, it felt more like her and I just rolled with that idea. This taught me a lesson in just being open to different ideas and not to be so fixated on what I think something should be.

The opening at The Brand Library and Art Center was quite the scene; what was one of your favorite moments from the evening?

Aside from talking to so many new people, one of my favorite moments was seeing people I didn’t know taking pictures of my artwork and bringing people into my area. It was one of those things I just did not expect to happen.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow? What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

When I’m able to have a full studio day, I like to take care of household chores in the morning, clean dishes, make coffee, etc., and then start drawing/painting. I am a creature of habit, and in general, that is a daily thing for me. This just helps me not have other responsibilities looming over my head. It is a boring ritual shrugging emoji.
An ideal studio day is when I can paint for a couple of hours, snack, more painting, walk the dog, paint, practice something on guitar, eat dinner, and paint up until bedtime. Thats a rare day, but when it happens its a dream.

The red panda and ravens are recurring spirits in your work. What draws you to these creatures specifically?

I have been completely enamored with red pandas for many years now. I even have a red panda tattoo on my right shoulder. Something about those animals is just captivating to me. Most seem to have a vast array of obvious personalities. They’re an endangered species, and surprisingly not many people know they’re actual name or what they are. Usually I hear, “Oh what a nice looking fox/cat” and I can understand why they think that, but it’s nice to tell them all about red pandas if that happens.

With ravens, other birds, I just love the variety of them. Also, they’re just dinosaurs, especially great blue herons. Those are some vicious birds, have you seen their feet and claws?? But I think a lot of these birds have this gracefulness and aggressiveness to them that can be fun to portray, it can really help a story in a painting.

You’ve shared in other interviews how your daughter’s curiosity when observing the world around her has influenced how you reframe your approach to looking at the world, and she is the subject of your piece “12 Years.” What are a few of the other lessons she’s taught you, and how have they influenced how you move through the world and your artistic evolution?

The strangest thing about having a kid is that they’re growing and changing all the time. It has been hard to realize that at times. It was not instantaneous, but this has taught me to be open to new things in the world and not expect the same results from something. The world is constantly changing, and if I were to just be old man about it and say “back in my day” (which is not even that long ago), I would just be a fool. I have to adapt and keep learning. That spills over into my artistic evolution as well, adapt and keep learning, or just be an old fool.

Can you elaborate on the “mysterious forces” you experience in your life? Are you familiar with the various clair-senses?

To me “mysterious forces” encompasses a lot of different things. I think the best example is what happened to me before my daughter was born. The summer of 2010, I had been out with my friends camping on July 3rd and drove back home the next morning. I was running on very little sleep, fell asleep at the wheel at 75mph, went off one side of the highway, overcorrected and flipped off the other side of the highway. My car flipped a few times and I was completely unharmed. Not a scratch on me. Later that year, my daughter was born. It could all be coincidental, a great safety rating on the car I was driving, or something more. I tend to fall in line with something more, that is the “mysterious force”. I actually wasn’t aware of the clair-senses, it seems worth understanding a bit more.

The environments you create put emotions into a physical form, and as an Aquarius, one of the signs that are known for emotional detachment. Do you feel that by painting emotion you’ve been able to understand your own landscape better? Or is astrology bunk and you’ve always been comfortable with all the feels?

Not that I don’t believe in astrology, but I never realized that was an attribute of an Aquarius. I do feel that being able to focus on some events in my life, I can allow myself to really process what the subject or story means to me. I am such a slow processor of information and my own emotions.

There are more than several amazing pieces in the exhibition, and this might be a difficult question, but are you up for the challenge – what piece would you want to add to your art collection, and why?

Oh thats an easy one for me, Gustavo Rimada’s painting “La Hada”. I have loved his work for so long. This painting has a great composition and delicate rendering. There is the Guillermo Del Toro references, and there’s just a lot to admire in this painting.

On view only until this Friday March 17th at The Brand Library and Arts Center in Glendale, California.

The Brand Library and Arts Center
1601 W. Mountain Street
Glendale, California 91201

Viewing Days / Hours:
Tues. – Thurs.: 11am – 8pm
Fri. & Sat.: 10am – 5pm
Closed Sun. & Mon.
Free Admission & Free Parking

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos by @BirdManPhotos.