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 Anthony Hurd for ‘Current Mood’

Thinkspace is pleased to present ‘Current Mood,’ from Kansas City, MO born and now Albuquerque-based artist Anthony Hurd.

The new series of works for “Current Mood” is inspired by a recurring childhood memory where he would wake up and see what looked to be an indigenous mask sticking out from under his bed, watching him sleep, and when he would awake he’d see the mask vanish before his eyes or disappear under his bed. Through a brave exploration of his soul and forcing himself to face his hidden fears, Hurd set out to create a version of these masks / protectors from his childhood.

In anticipation of ‘Current Mood,’ our interview with Anthony Hurd covers the lessons he’s learned over the years, skateboarding, and not going back to “normal.”

SH: For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

AH:  Born and raised in Kansas City Missouri, basically spent my childhood dreaming about California and planning my escape. Ha. I came out of the closet at 19 in KC, was a weird time. Went from skateboarding every day with my friends, playing in hardcore straight edge bands and hanging with my straight roommates, to quickly working in a gay restaurant, being in a relationship with someone twice my age, and threw myself into this completely unknown world trying to figure out where the fuck I fit in.

A couple years of making horrible mistakes, drinking way to much, and sleeping with as many people as possible I moved to LA at 21. More men, more opportunities, more work. Ha.

Fell into a career in advertising pretty quickly, and a new relationship. Made tons of very cool friends I could finally relate to on so many levels. Life was a weird mess of striving to live but pretty much failing at a real life. I was stressed the fuck out all the time. I burned some bridges and needed to do something different. So my partner and I started moving around. Palm Springs, Sedona AZ, Austin TX and now Albuquerque New Mexico.

I found art again. I lost my little sister to cystic fibrosis, my relationship ended horribly after 18 years. I lost my identity, I fucked it all up, found myself again over and over. Made a lot of good friends along the way. Just a few years back in stopped doing freelance work in advertising and went full time artist. Which is crazy hard, but super rewarding.

 I guess my background is messing shit up over and over until I learn some semblance of lesson. I cry a lot, that’s kinda new, started after my break up, it’s been good therapy. I do a lot of introspective work, I have joined a few cultural ideas along the way from the outside, but I move on quickly.

Now I’m in a new relationship, got an awesome step daughter, absolutely love New Mexico, and I feel like I kinda sorta have my shit together until it all falls apart again.

SH:  What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work for “Current Mood”?

AH:  Ever since November of 2016 I’d started doing these portrayed studies and sketches off and on. I went into a major depression after the election like half this country did. I watched the entire lgbtqai+ community cringe in fear. My BIPOC friends were too. It’s just been this building of tension, frustration and anger ever since.

I started this show pre-covid 19 crash. Based on the chaos of the world around me. The apathy, the anger, the unapologetic narcissism, the pain and struggle, the peaks of joy and boundless love, the layers upon layers humanity building. I wanted to capture moods and moments, mostly of myself and friends. Then covid hit, the the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement, the shit hit the fan and things just kept evolving. The body of work just kept feeling more and more relevant so I kept going with it and here we are.

SH:  What was the most challenging piece in the exhibition and why?

AH:  I think “The Burden” was the most challenging piece. I had a whole other piece going for it, and it just wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. So I just scrapped it and painted over it after getting like 75% in it. Clean skates are good though. I’m getting more comfortable with disposing of what is no longer working. Painting over things. When I get blocked, I just push through until something clicks.

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

AH:  My favorite part is the exploration. The figuring it out. The experimenting and mistake phase.

My least favorite part? Explaining it really. I work from the gut, from the heart, off the top of my head, sometimes I never know how to explain a piece, other times I know immediately. The abstraction of it all really leaves a space for interpretation. I don’t like being asked to fill that gap in for people. Becomes to

SH: Who are some of your creative influences?

AH:  Skateboarding is still my biggest influence. The spontaneous creative process of an amazing technical line kills me. It’s combined with music, art, fashion and individual style. It’s not a direct visual pull as much as a childhood hype. I use to wake up every morning as and watch skate videos to get me hyped to skate. Now I do that to paint. It teaches me to be flexible, and open, and mostly to keep trying over and over until I find that sweet spot and just let it happen.

SH: You’ve lived in a handful of places before landing in Albuquerque, New Mexico – what is a lesson that you learned in each city that may or may not inform your artistic voice?

AH: Kansas City – where I found communities and friends for the first time. Being that weird gay kid (even before coming out) I found rad people who while not gay, were fucking weirdos and that was good enough. Skating boarding gave me the confidence to pursue anything I was interested in.

Los Angeles – ugh. Freedom? It’s where I found myself for the first time. I got to make a new life for myself, could drop all the fear of living as a gay man in a smaller Midwestern town. It was exciting and wonderful until it wasn’t.

Palm Springs – taught me to slow down. To breathe a bit. Also, heartbreak, depression, sadness, grief. It’s where I lived when my sister passed. I was a disaster for a couple years and I wished I learned more lessons from it than I had.

Sedona – An escape, a new start, really connecting with the land. Learning to find a new path, a new way forward.

Austin – total loss of my identity. Where my relationship ended in the first year. I was alone in a new city where I hardly knew a soul, everything I thought of myself was wrapped up into another person, and they were gone. It never felt like home no matter how hard I tried. I missed mountains like crazy. It’s where I started painting landscapes. After 15 years of mountain views outside my window in various cities, the flat landscape of southern and central Texas brought back bad memories of my childhood in Missouri. I had to relearn a lot of things there and ultimately I probably had my biggest growth there.

SH: There is an undulating quality to your work from the landscapes to the abstract portraits, it feels very organic and unplanned. Is that the case? Or do you have a defined idea of what you want to execute in your mind before putting paint to surface?

AH:  Every once in a while I’ll have a general composition or idea in mind, but mostly it’s unplanned. It’s like a puzzle on many levels. I lay down colors and shapes and figure out how it all fits. But unlike a puzzle, I can shape and push a painting in a direction I choose whether a landscape or portrait, the process is still the same.

 I’m generally more stifled creatively when I go into it with an idea because it creates boundaries that otherwise wouldn’t exist in my process.

SH:  What does the nose know that gives is definition and structure, as opposed to the freer flowing entity it resides within?

AH: Amidst all the abstraction the more surreal or literal Objects help tie it all down , and ground it in reality.

SH:  We are in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s an unprecedented time, and it’s a weird time – What is your approach to life during this time? What is your favorite local spot to pick up some take out?

AH: Weird times for sure. Crazy really. This last month has been anger fueled, humbling, life lessons, cored corrections and lots of activism on any level I can. Prior to that, when it was “just a global pandemic” haha, I was kind of loving it. I do not miss the pace of life pre-pandemic. Life slowed down. I started working on the yard, growing food and plants, spending more time with my family, getting in great routines with my work. It was an eye opener in many ways. I don’t want to go back to “normal” on any level really. I have been thriving on this change, despite the additional stress, I’ve been more grounded than ever.

As for local spots? We only do take out a couple of times a week, we use to eat out almost every day for lunch. Saving a shit ton of money these days for sure. Ha. But we try and mostly support our favorite local restaurants: a Middle Eastern place Alquds, our favorite little Vietnamese place Viet Pho, and Vegan Thai are our go-to’s.

SH:  If your work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and the name of the pint?

AH: Shit, I don’t know. If it’s based on my taste? I make my own ice cream regularly. Vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate chips and dark chocolate peanut butter cups, plus any kind of berry, and I’m GOOD. Name? Um, “Queer in this together” haha. Ugh, don’t look at me.

Online Schedule of Virtual Events:

Saturday, July 25 at 12:00 noon pacific time we will post the professionally shot video tour of our new exhibitions to our Instagram TV

Saturday, July 25 from 1-2 PM pacific time we will go live on our Instagram to tour our new exhibitions

Sunday, July 26 at 2 pm pacific time we will post a full set of installation photos from both exhibitions to our Facebook and blog

Monday, July 27 at 4 pm pacific time we will share a link to the self-guided virtual tour of our new exhibitions on all of our social networks