Interview with Brian ‘Dovie’ Golden for ‘Hard Candy’ | Exhibition May 6 – May 27, 2023 

Thinkspace is pleased to present Brian ‘Dovie’ GoldenHard Candy‘ -a study in contradictions that underscores the struggle of preservation. With a hard exterior and a soft heart, Brian “Dovie” Golden relates to the sweet treat, calling attention to the internal strife caused by human duality. Often taught to “toughen up” and “be a man,” the show is a reflection of the artist’s personal experiences as a Black man navigating emotions, family, faith and life. His childhood love of drawing shines through in pop culture elements and vibrant colors. Nodding to both pop art and photorealism, Golden presents something fresh to the new contemporary art scene.

Our interview with Brian shares some of his must-have playlist tracks, how he orders his ramen, and his way of dealing with grief.

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

Reflection – particularly through the eyes of my 11-year-old self – took center stage in this body of work. As I pored over old family polaroids in tattered photo albums – some leather-bound, others plastic or vinyl – I was transported. These beautiful artifacts of cherished stories represented more than just glimpses into years far gone; they were invitations to reconnect, root, and reflect. No particular piece in Hard Candy felt especially challenging, rather the entire body of work tested my vulnerability, strengthened my mental fortitude and sharpened my execution skills.

You shared that bourbon, a good cup of coffee, and a playlist all help to get you into a creative flow. What is your favorite bourbon and coffee brand? What is a must-have playlist track?

A good cup of coffee was a welcome companion throughout the making of this show, and I have a particular fondness for the locally roasted Intelligentsia and Dark Matter coffee brands here in Chicago. As someone who works in advertising, I often find myself creating in the wee hours of the night when everyone else is asleep. To prepare for this show, I pulled more all-nighters than I have in a very long time. While I don’t have a specific song, I curated a playlist of songs from my childhood that perfectly captured the nostalgic mood I was seeking to evoke in this body of work. Nas – it aint hard to tell, Anita Baker – same ole love, Nirvana – heart shaped box, to list a few.

Over the last three years, your work has moved away from including realism portraiture and has focused more on the f(r)iend and fiend characters. Can you share what informed the evolution in your style and if you think you’d return to portraiture elements?

I always strive to strike a balance between figuring out the primary and secondary characters within my pieces. Typically, the primary person is the one affected by the friend or fiend, with the friend or fiend serving as a secondary component. I sought to transform the concept of “f(r)iend and fiend characters” into something more personal, acknowledging that both sides of these characters are innate within us. Shifting away from realism portraiture has enabled me to concentrate on the mood and posture of the subject, thereby allowing for a more holistic story of their interaction with the environment.

How do you celebrate yourself? What experiences ignite joy in your life?

I am still on a journey of self-discovery and learning to celebrate myself. Rainstorms bring me immense joy and a sense of calm. I find them therapeutic and mesmerizing, often losing myself in the sight of each raindrop hitting the pavement. It’s remarkable how each drop, like a snowflake, completes its task of giving life to the vegetation below. The significance of rain is powerful, and it never fails to uplift my spirits. Furthermore, I am learning to prioritize spending time with the people who matter to me. Life is short, and it’s crucial for me to cherish and value the moments spent with my loved ones.

Grief is not a stranger to you, and unfortunately have had to learn to live with its immeasurable weight far sooner than some and more than others will ever experience. How would you describe grief? What advice was the hardest to receive but the most important for learning to navigate it?

I have learned that grief is not just one thing. It can be and serve as a powerful catalyst that motivates you to persevere; alternatively, it can dismantle the very foundation of your beliefs. In the aftermath of tragedy, grief draws out feelings of helplessness. The maxim, “God’s plans are not mine,” proved particularly difficult for me to accept. However, as I reflect upon this bittersweetness of this wisdom and actively choose to embrace life, I’m gradually piecing together the puzzle and gaining a clearer understanding.

Faith plays a significant role in your life, and prayer is a part of your creative process. Have you always been a person of faith?

Yes, but admittedly, I have my own share of shortcomings. However, my mother has been an unwavering source of strength and inspiration, a true warrior in my life. She prays for her family every single day, and I firmly believe that it’s those prayers that have repeatedly saved my life. My faith in God and His guiding hand over my life is something I cherish deeply, and even in moments of desperation and sorrow, I find solace in the knowledge that He is always there.

What’s your favorite kind of Ramen?

Tonkotsu, hands down! Usually with extra noodles and chili oil.

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

Contemplating this question often causes me anxiety, as our thoughts and perceptions evolve over time. It’s difficult to predict how my work will be interpreted 10 or 20 years from now, and this uncertainty can keep me up at night. However, I believe that everyone views the world in their own unique way, and I welcome diverse interpretations of my work. My ultimate goal is to inspire people to reflect on important themes in their current lives, as this moment is temporary and fleeting.

Would you rather be locked inside a library or an art supply store for three days? Both vicinities have plenty of food, water, and a comfy air mattress with cozy blankets for the stay.

Wow so comfy! If I were locked inside an art store, I doubt I would sleep at all, given the endless possibilities and materials available to create whatever my heart desires. Nonetheless, as tempting as it sounds, I believe I would prefer the library. Three days immersed in a space of boundless knowledge and inspiration seems like the ideal setting to generate a plethora of fresh ideas.

Exhibition on view May 6 – May 27, 2023 at:
Thinkspace Projects
4207 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90016

Interview with Brian ‘Dovie’ Golden for ‘Parking Lot Carnival’

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Brian ‘Dovie’ Golden’s latest body of work for “Parking Lot Carnival.”

Parking Lot Carnival” explores the nostalgic connections of our past through the contemporary imagery of Dovie Golden. Using his “fiends” as a signature to connote an emotional presence in the subjects, we see them take shape in familiar human forms. In the context of Parking Lot Carnivals, the works explore pivotal moments of youth that brought joy and optimism in a depressing time.

In our interview with Brian ‘Dovie’ Golden, he shares how he pushed himself this exhibition, the lessons he’s learned from his children, and the power of vulnerability.  

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

Every summer a carnival would come to Chicago near my home on the Southside and I would count down the days until I could attend. The rides, games, lights, popcorn, cotton candy, shrieks of joy from carnival goers, balloon animals were part of a limited-time party rooted in freedom and chance. I wanted to pay homage to that touchstone memory and capture the feeling I got when I attended each year. While “Parking lot carnival” is inspired by a physical place, it is more about the unique and emotional insight stirred up by places we deem special. I invite the viewer to recall their own “parking lot carnival” moments and things that gave them joy, even when the world around them did not bring them joy.

Since your last exhibition, ‘Warning Signs’, how have you challenged yourself as an artist? Is there a specific piece in this body of work that really pushed you?

When I create a body of work, I try to keep in mind that I want the work and its interpretation to change as much as we do as people. Our perspective shifts as we evolve, so I try to keep that in mind. Since my last show, I have challenged myself to integrate a fuller scope of story in my pieces. In “Warning Signs” I demonstrated how the subject can get lost or found by external factors. In “Small Wins” I wanted to portray a theme around individual accomplishments. As part of this body of work, I explored placing the subjects in familiar yet unfamiliar settings so as to focus as much on the background as the subject. I challenged myself to strike a clearer balance between foreground and background as both shape perspective. The piece that I feel shows this equilibrium is “Lift off”. 

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

My practice of doing rough sketches of ideas is constantly on the go. This series is from a collection of sketches I did a few years ago that I was finally able to connect and create a body of work around. I always carry a sketchbook with me. The only ritual I would say I have is that I pray before painting every piece. Well…that and a great playlist and a good cup of coffee…or bourbon. So maybe I do have more than one ritual.

What is your favorite carnival game?

I always enjoyed balloon darts, mainly because my success rate was high (lol).

What are a few lessons and/or teachings your children have given to you that has influenced your creative/artistic voice?

My sons regularly remind me that I have so much to learn and their love for me endures. We make space for love. These words get me every time. They teach me that patience, love, and understanding will solve any quarrel or misunderstanding, and to remember we’re all human. They can be seen throughout my work, whether I use their likeness or not. Because of them, I’m a better person.

If you were to write an ad campaign for Chicago on why it’s the best city for creative inspiration, what would be your pitch, and what symbols would you use to represent Chicago? What qualities and values must visitors have in order to visit?

Since we’re located a little east of center in the US, I would have to base the campaign idea around Chicago being the heart of the nation. That heartbeat is the source of so much creativity across our country and abroad. From Archibald Motley to Kerry James Marshall, this city has influenced and inspired every form of art and I’m grateful to have been born here. If I had to choose a symbol, I’d choose the #3 CTA bus since it runs through the corridors that most inspired me: Southside and Downtown.

How do you unwind when outside of the studio?

In order to recharge, I try to drain my mind of all creative thoughts and set my mind at rest. It’s not easy but I’m practicing.

If you could collaborate with any artists in any medium (i.e. movies, music, painting), who would you collaborate with, and what would you be making?

I have a ton of people I’d love to collaborate with. But top of mind, I’d love to collaborate with Ava Duvernay and Big K.R.I.T in some way. I admire people who create from their heart and soul, and to me it’s evident in what they do creatively.

What is your proudest accomplishment of 2021? Life thus far? (can be art-related or not)

The past few years have required introspection—whether we wanted it or not. We have had to take stock of what’s important, how are we affecting others, what boundaries are we setting for ourselves (good and bad). My journey thus far has been riddled with challenges, but I choose to remind myself of the wins and the opportunities I had to learn something new about myself. I learned the importance of celebrating yourself—particularly as a Black Man. I am most proud of how vulnerable and powerful I have become. I love that my work has opened more discussion around mental health and blackness. I am beyond grateful that despite dealing with bouts of depression and being taken to a very dark place by it, I’m glad to still be here.

What big projects do you have coming up in 2022 and 2023 that you’d like to share more about?

Following this show, I will participate in a few group shows this summer. After that, I plan to keep working. I have a bunch of sketches I want to complete, and I’m eager to see where that takes me.