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