Interview with Ezra Brown for ‘Trying To Keep It Together’ | Exhibition on view Saturday April 1 – April 22, 2023

Thinkspace Projects is honored to present Ezra BrownTrying To Keep It Together,’ our debut solo exhibition with Ezra Brown. In this exhibit, Ezra encapsulates his many experiences, emotions, and feelings using his character ‘Happy the Clown’ as a reflection of himself to portray his message. His character, ‘Happy’, is often portrayed as the opposite of his name in Ezra’s work, as his image is instead used as a way to cope with events in the world around us today. Ezra encourages the viewer to use his work as a device to tap into their own feelings, and connect on an emotional level.

“My creative process is really simple, I feel something sad and I paint and vice versa. Creative ideas usually come from personal emotions. So in reality I’m sharing my feelings with the viewer through my paintings. It’s sort of a visual diary of my personal thoughts.’ – Ezra Brown

Our interview with Ezra Brown shares his most challenging piece, which crime shows he loves to listen to to tap into his creative flow, and which artists had a really deep impact on his art career.

What themes were you exploring in this body of work? Did you have a piece that was particularly challenging?

For this body of work I really wanted to tell a story of a failed relationship and how one deals with the emotional rollercoaster.

Yes this was the first time I actually had someone fabricate something for me. The piece is called ‘I’m sorry’ and it depicts my character having his spirit leave his body. This piece was originally going to be a huge wood cutout but then my friend Carmen Acosta had mentioned to me why not try making the spirit portion a see-through piece that is separate from my characters body? That way it would give it a little more depth and really convey my message. So we bounced around with how it would look and finally I sent out the digital rendering to get fabricated. I honestly was nervous because as an artist you have a certain vision and when you work outside of your circle it’s scary, you never know if that person or company is going to encapsulate that same feeling you have as an artist. I just want to give a huge shout out to Pretty In Plastic they really did an amazing job of capturing the look and feel of what I was going for.

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

My days are really unpredictable, my studio is located in my house and honestly sometimes it’s hard to stay focused. I have a 17 year old daughter that I take to school in the morning and then I have to pick her up in the afternoon. So trying to cram in as much time to work on my projects is really challenging not to mention the fact that going back to bed or just lounging on the couch and watching tv has not crossed my mind once or twice. Keeping a schedule helps me really stay on task and my wife also making sure I stick to that schedule is a plus she truly is my boss and runs a really tight ship.

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

Funny enough I love listening to old crime shows from the 1930’s like ‘Yours Truly Johnny Dollar’ or ‘Rocky Jordan.’ Honestly I myself don’t know how that all started but I just love the way those actors voices sound and the faint crackling of the radio just soothes me. If I’m not listening to those shows then I’m listening to jazz music it really amazes me how beautiful that music is. I’m mean it tells a story but in sound like take for instance Bill Evans playing those somber notes on Blue Green or Doris Day hitting the perfect pitch on ‘Again’ it really makes me feel a type of way that I can honestly say without a doubt my work comes to life.

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

Coming up with the idea for an art piece is what I love. Most of my artwork deals with a lot of emotional struggles and really capturing that feeling is so important to me. Once that’s all said and done then comes the hard part putting that idea onto paper or canvas and bringing it to life. Raw emotions are tough because people know what some sad looks like but making that saddens turn into a melancholic whirlwind is another thing. I really want to dig into peoples own feelings and that takes a whole lot of energy. When you see my work I want you saying to yourself man I can really relate to this.

Who are some of your creative influences? Why do they inspire you?

My father was my first creative influence, as a child I would sit and watch him paint these beautiful landscapes. I would just marvel at how effortlessly he would create these pieces. As I got older and started exploring my own artistic style I began to look at the works of Windsor Mcay, Ub Iwerks, Max Fleischer, Al Columbia, and of course Walt Disney. All of these artists have had a really deep impact on my career as a creative individual. The craftsman is very evident in their work. Quite honestly they pioneered the way for a lot of the cartoons we see and love today. So I always have strived to have that same level of passion and dedication in my pieces as well.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

Learning how to speak different languages. I speak Spanish and English but I just feel if I could learn every language I could connect to people on a much more personal level. Especially working with galleries overseas this would be a big help when it comes to setting up shows or even doing projects. For me taking the time to understand someone’s native tongue just shows that person that you truly respect them and want to make them feel comfortable with you.

What do you hope viewers take away or experience while viewing your work?

Honestly I hope they walk away knowing that the most amazing thing about us as people are our own personal experiences. Whether it be a break up or feeling angry about life or simply just trying to make it through the day without having a nervous breakdown. I want those feelings and experiences to connect us and make us understand we are not alone, we are all going through it together even though sometimes it feels no one is there for us but I see you and I get you.

How do you like to enjoy your time outside of the studio? Do you celebrate the completion of a body of work?

Spending time with my family is important to me being an artist most of your time is spent alone creating. So whenever I get a chance to step away from my work I like spending it with them.

I try to take a vacation if possible just to relax and clear my mind. It’s always important to me hitting that reset button once I’ve completed a big body of work. Plus it helps me transition into the next thing I have on my list.

Exhibition on view April 1 – April 22, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

Interview with Marissa Reyes for ‘Fighting Fickle Feelings For You’ | Exhibition on view March 4, 2023 – March 25, 2023

Thinkspace is pleased to present Marissa ReyesFighting Fickle Feelings For You’ where she explores sexism, the self and the delicate emotions that encompass romantic relationships. She uses the symbol of the banana to objectify men, they are a mere thing that is the source of the issues within her work. She uses self-portraiture to convey the intimate emotions and conversations that we have with ourselves about the choices we make within a relationship… where she allows the viewer insight into these very intimate moments of pain, hurt, love, doubt, and fear. Her inner thoughts can sometimes be like the wild west, lawless and violent. These very serious topics are encased in that same humor she felt as a 10 year old that she still doesn’t quite understand.

Our interview with Marissa Reyes shares her first memory of being sexualized by the opposite sex, what type of super human skill she would choose to have and who would be on her ultimate dinner party guest list.

Can you share a little about your background and how you first heard of Thinkspace?

I was born in Hollywood, CA, and was raised in West Covina, CA, I grew up with a dad who was in the Marines for most of my life so I bounced around a bit, living in Cuba, Oceanside, CA, San Diego, CA, Hemet, CA but mostly spending my time in LA County/San Gabriel Valley where the bulk of my family all live. I went to school at a Junior college, Citrus College In Glendora, CA, this is where I saw a possibility that I could pursue a career in the arts. I then pursued my bachelor’s in Studio Arts at The University of La Verne which then led to me pursuing my master’s degree In Studio Arts at Claremont Graduate University. My first group show out of Grad School was at Franchise Gallery. It was after this group show that I met Andrew and was given my first opportunity to show with Thinkspace. I’d heard of Thinkspace Gallery through reading Juxtapoz over the years and it’s insane to me that I just had my first solo with them, never thought I would be in this position but that just means I have to stop doubting myself.

Your work is both playful and confrontational, can you share a bit about your journey toward developing your style? What inspired you to revisit the shared childhood experience, especially of young girls, where eating a banana is no longer harmless?

Yeah, so I didn’t develop this style until my time at Claremont Graduate University. Throughout my undergraduate experience from Junior college to the University of La Verne where I received my BA in Studio Arts, I was super obsessed with figure drawing and Art History. I took as many classes as I could in those subjects. I fell in love with Rembrandt van Rijn’s self-portraits and how he used them to document his age and life. I took my skills in figure drawing and my love for Golden Age Dutch self-portraiture and in graduate school I was able to explore these ideas in depth. I found that using myself as the subject in a painting was a way, I could tell an ultimate truth, and share my experiences as a woman.

I retraced the first time I became aware of being sexualized by the opposite sex and felt it exposed a lot about myself and how I was shaped as a woman. I quickly realized by speaking to the women around me that this is a shared memory. I was driven by retribution, wanting to make things right. When I decided to take away the identity of the men and boys who had stolen my innocence and security, I made things right. I have created a safe space within my paintings for women who have been wronged and a learning space for the men who have committed the wrongdoing.

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

The challenging pieces in this exhibition are the paintings where the figure lives inside a detailed background and space. ‘Personal Punishment‘ is a good example of this, the figures are set in a saloon. I love to let my figures be the focal point with not much distraction, so pushing myself to explore settings and backgrounds was incredibly fun, but challenging

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

I sketch a lot, I like to make small watercolors, sketches, or color pencil drawings of paintings I want to create. This helps me visualize what will go on the next canvas.

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

A day in the studio for me usually starts with my sketchbook, I love to sketch current ideas. I feel like I have to get them out of my head and onto paper before I move on to painting for the day. I know this is going to sound super unproductive, but I have a tv in my studio and I’ll usually turn it on and play a comfort show or movie like, Harry Potter films, The Office, Game of Thrones to name a few and I’ll have it on in the background as I work. It helps me focus. Sometimes if I’m really feeling it, I’ll throw on some music. Currently listening to Tyler the Creator and Bjork. I will usually paint for hours late into the night. I stop painting when I feel it’s right and can’t go any further with the painting. I have no real time limit to spend in the studio; my only rule is that I must be there every day. I do tend to spend a lot of time in my studio. I love it.

Who is an artist or distinct piece of art that has significantly impacted how you thought about art or your own work?

Sarah Lucas’ work has had an enormous impact on my work. Seeing her sculptures for the first time changed the way I see the female figure and how I paint the female figure and why. Her work is bold and brave, she uses the female form to make important work about sexuality and societal repressiveness of women.

When do you feel most empowered and fierce like some of the banana-wielding women in your pieces?

I feel most empowered when I put on a badass outfit, some leather or latex some lashes and lipstick, and go out into the world. It’s unfortunate because I feel society has made women feel as though make-up is “bad” and we as women should not use it as something to feel more confident about because its “fake,” but I say that’s a bunch of bullshit men are saying because they have been taught through the media that women should be “naturally” beautiful. Well to that I say F that and I love me some heavy lashes, long eyeliner, and a red lip. It makes me feel powerful and sexy, and there is a lot of power in feeling sexy!

“Fighting Fickle Feelings For You” is your first solo exhibition, what advice would you give other artists who are working towards their first solo?

My advice would be to work, work and work some more!!! Procrastination is your worst enemy so put in that work.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

I would want to be a polyglot and just know an obscene number of languages.

Who would be on the guest list if you could throw a dinner party for five people, dead or alive? What would be on the menu? What would be the icebreaker question?

I’d invite Sarah Lucas, Baldur Helgason, Peter Saul, Bjork, and Artemisia Gentileschi. The Icebreaker wouldn’t be a question, but more of an assignment. I would give everyone a pencil and a sheet of paper and ask them to draw a self-portrait.

Exhibition on view through March 25, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

For more about the exhibition and opening night click HERE!

Photos courtesy of @BirdManPhotos.

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.