Opening Reception of Sarah Joncas & Kelly Vivanco’s “Betwixt and Between” and Scott Listfield’s “1984” Recap

Thank you to all those who made it out to the opening reception of Sarah Joncas and Kelly Vivanco’s latest body of work Betwixt and Between and Scott Listfied’s solo exhibition 1984 in the project room. The gallery was filled throughout the evening with fans, friends, and family all excited for Thinkspace Projects first show of 2018. There are still a few pieces available from each artist, but not many, so check them out soon!

The exhibitions are on view now through January 27th.


Interview with Kelly Vivanco for “Betwixt and Between”

Thinkspace Projects is pleased to present Betwixt and Between featuring new works new works by Canadian artist Sarah Joncas and Southern Californian artist Kelly Vivanco. Both artists are known for their narrative-based works that embrace the imaginative potential of the subconscious and creatively play with elements of the surreal drawings on feelings of nostalgia whether it be hopeful or melancholy.  In anticipation of the exhibition opening, Saturday, January 6th, our interview with Kelly Vivanco shares her insight about growing as an artist, favorite fable, and plans for 2018.

Opening reception, Saturday, January 6th from 6 pm to 9 pm. 

SH: How long have you been working on this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?
KV: It’s hard to tell if themes come before a show or emerge during sketching and painting the pieces. Months before, I look through my collection of old photographs, random art-crafts-animal-birds-picture books and an ever-growing mass of odd bits I’ve dredged from the internet. It sits up in my noggin’ and slowly tangles, making connections and snarls like a hoarder’s dreamcatcher until I start to paint. Atmosphere, feeling and theme comes out then. Like I said, I can’t tell if it comes before or during — it’s very chicken and egg.

SH: The key to a fable is that it teaches you a lesson. What is one of your favorite fables, and have you been able to master the lesson it taught you or do you still struggle?
KV: A lot of my favorite fables teach you things like — all stepmothers are evil, grandmothers should shave lest they be confused with wolves, or a prince’s kiss is an approved method of CPR. Others teach a more general — treat people how you’d want to be treated, which is a great message. I don’t try to add any story or message to my paintings, even though my pieces can appear illustrative, it’s up to the viewer to add their own interpretation.

SH: What is your favorite part of the creative process? What is your least favorite part?
KV: The best part — getting totally lost in creating, losing track of time and space and everything. Losing who I am and all my fears and worries. The worst part — letting my fears and worries get to me afterward, second-guessing everything I’ve done, looking at other peoples’ work and success and judging myself in comparison. I guess that’s not strictly part of the creative process, but it is part of the process of putting something out there.

SH: What inspires the environment that you end up building around your composition? Does the subject come first, or the environment that the subject inhabits?
KV: Where the subject is situated is important to the whole painting, whether she is at a Dodger’s game or in a box comforting Schrodinger’s cat or in a lush garden, it changes the view of who she is. But it goes both ways, she is viewed in the context of where she is, but also her environment is viewed in the context of who she is.

SH: The girls in your paintings have a very wide-eyed childlike quality to them, what are the values and ideals they’d carry by the time they grew to be women?
SL: I just hope that they keep their wonder even through everything it takes to grow into a woman these days.

SH: When painting are you listening to music or podcasts? Can you share what you’ve been listening too?
SL: At the beginning, at the critical stage, when I am trying to get totally lost in the pieces, I listen to music, like — Boards of Canada, Yppah, Tycho. I also listen to movie soundtracks, like — Thomas Newman, The Neon Demon by Cliff Martinez or Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones. Or whatever random music pops up on YouTube. When I’m finishing off the paintings, during the less creative stages, I listen to podcasts like The Bugle and TV shows that I can follow along without having to watch the screen. For me, some of these pieces will be inexplicably linked to The Office and Toast of London.

SH: How do you continue to challenge yourself as an artist and remain excited about the work you produce, without alienating your collectors and followers?
SL: I think staying the same can alienate collectors and followers as much as changing too much. I’d like to grow as much as I can, evolving in a natural way. It’s easy to paint the same thing again and again and get into that kind of pattern, it’s a lot harder to push yourself beyond that. I guess that’s why they refer to it as “push yourself” and not “laze yourself” or “drool-on-your-snuggies-while-watching-repeats-of-storage-wars yourself”. I despair sometimes when I look at my body of work that I’m repeating myself — same girls and birds and orangutang, like everyone, is doing — but despairing is part of what pushes you to do something newer and better.

SH: Who would you want to collaborate with, dead or alive? The person can be in any area of the arts; film, dance, music, etc.
KV: I always thought it would be cool to collaborate with a costume maker. I would like to see some of the clothing my characters wear come to life.

SH: You sometimes create works with wood carvings or pieces that have a more sculptural element. Do you cut those pieces yourself or do you collaborate with someone to help create that vision?
KV: I collaborate with my husband, Peter, on those pieces. He makes such wonderful panels for me to paint on and frames to finish some work off. He always does something that is complementary to the piece or something that inspires me.

SH: When not in the studio, what would an ideal day look like?
SL: A civilized day of croissants, coffee, reading or walking and exploring someplace new.

SH: What do you think the role of art / the artist is in society?
SL: It goes from the gamut of a pretty thing that matches the couch to a mirror that really makes us look at how society is acting. There are artists like Josh Keyes doing that for the environment, or writers like Margaret Atwood that have been doing it for years — or the show based off her show — The Handmaid’s Tale. I think as people, not just artists we all want to change things for the better. Anything that makes us feel something or use our brains is a good thing.

SH: Kicking off the new year with an exhibition is a great way to start 2018! What are your artistic plans for the rest of the year?
SL: I am curating an eight-by-eight show at Distinction art gallery in February and I have a solo show this November at Rotofugi in Chicago. Other than that I plan to play around with my grown-up version of a box of crayons and a pad of paper as much as I possibly can.


January 6, 2018 – January 27, 2018

Opening reception Saturday, January 6th from 6 to 9 pm. 

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Canadian artist Sarah Joncas and Southern Californian artist Kelly Vivanco in Betwixt and Between. An exhibition about the creative potential of unscripted spaces and the generative possibility of in-betweens, Joncas and Vivanco, forego the limits of the aphoristic for the contiguous freedom of the fable. Both create narrative-based works that embrace the ambiguity and imaginative potential of the subconscious. Creatively playful with elements of the surreal, they capture a feeling of melancholia and aesthetic nostalgia in their styles, Joncas with her cinematic invocation of neo-noir film and Vivanco with imagery influenced by classic fairytales and vintage illustration. Fundamentally, both artists’ work offers an intrinsic pleasure in viewing and the kind of escapism possible only in worlds that lie beyond rationally dictated limits.

Toronto-based Sarah Joncas first exhibited with the gallery in 2009 when only 19 years old. Since then, her accomplished work has developed technically and conceptually, garnering international attention for its moody stylization and emotive impact. Her portrait-based paintings focus primarily on female subjects that function as alter egos or symbolic avatars for social, psychological, and personal themes. The figurative becomes a vehicle for more existential and constructivist emphases, an armature around which to posit narrative suggestions and symbolic inferences. Always striving to create a moment of discomposure or tension in her works, Joncas aestheticizes with melancholy and melodrama, tapping into an emotionally charged visual spectrum.

Joncas began her art career intending to pursue illustration and animation, directions that clearly still inform the visual diction of her current work. Highly refined areas of figurative rendering, like the lush skin tones she achieves with oils, are combined with elements of a more graphic sensibility, executed in acrylics, to establish compelling visual tensions between realistic dimensional space and flattened stylization. An early interest in animé and manga, as well as in those neo-noir cinematic references aforementioned, helped to galvanize Joncas’ interest in character-based works. Often posited in heightened emotional contexts, her protagonists are framed by suspenseful allusions to an overarching story or caught in the midst of ambiguous or invisible unfolding scenes. This penchant for plot, mystery, and symbolism is captured in moments of dynamic stillness in which action is both suggested and seized. The surrounding elements in her works, whether animals, objects or patterns, take on concomitant meanings, further reinforcing the larger thematic intimations of her works.

Based in Escondido, California, Kelly Vivanco’s depicted world is one of fantastical tall tales and mysterious encounters. Not unlike the magical wardrobe of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or Lewis Carroll’s Alice and her rabbit hole or fugitive fleet through the looking glass, Vivanco’s paintings themselves are thresholds. Each is an aperture into an alternate world of enigmatic episodes and apocryphal creatures, at times beatific and at others unsettlingly sinister; these storied landscapes and characters are more brooding and mysterious than flippantly whimsical. Playful and nostalgic, however, her works are far from sentimental or honeyed. Like the best fairy tales and all of their allegorical apologues, a darkness lurks in the beauty of their imaginative distortions and hyperboles.

The subconscious undeniably shapes Vivanco’s images. By exploring her figurative subjects through surreal shifts in scale and shadowy casts of mood and light, her paintings feel like their drawn from the recesses of dream. Psychologically inflected, the depictions of her characters range from the lighthearted to the more somber and foreboding. Vivanco works primarily in acrylic on panel and canvas, and her stylized hand is immediately recognizable, as is her signature palette of muted and darkened vintage-inspired colors. The speculative scenes she stages remain slightly intangible; we are given moments from a more substantial story that is then left to our imaginative work to unfold. The mystery lingers in these captures, as little is explicitly unraveled but rather implied. In addition to her fine art practice, Vivanco has been commissioned to illustrate children’s books, including Snow White and the Red Rose in 2014 and her second, Thumbelina, in 2016.

Both Joncas and Vivanco, though distinctly different in their unique styles, share an interest in the tangential work of the subconscious and all of its surreal textures and, potential, looking to the symbolism of the strange and relinquishing control of these mysterious spaces to the unscripted nature of its “in-betweens.” The ambiguity of their worlds is one in which enigmatic encounters remain partially unseen, and the suspenseful irresolution of the unknown lingers; whether through allegory or avatar, both Joncas and Vivanco look to the openings rather than the seams.


Opening night photos from Kelly Vivanco and Anthony Clarkson at Thinkspace

Kelly Vivanco

Thank you to everyone that came out to help celebrate Kelly and Anthony’s big openings this past Saturday evening. There was a special magic in the air for sure. We’ll be keeping both exhibits up a lil’ longer than planned, so please know you have through March 4th to catch both shows if you weren’t able to make it through this past weekend.

Opening night pics are now posted:

Anthony Clarkson

A handful of choice pieces from both exhibits are still available:

Kelly Vivanco ‘Springs To Mind’ + Anthony Clarkson ‘A Time To Forget’

Both exhibits on view through March 4th

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd. / Culver City, CA 90232 /

Tonight, Feb. 5th at Thinkspace – Kelly Vivanco and Anthony Clarkson

A sneak peek at Kelly Vivanco's 'Springs To Mind' exhibit in our main gallery

TONIGHT at Thinkspace in Culver City we’ll be opening the new exhibits from Kelly Vivanco and Anthony Clarkson. Come this March we’ll have been in the Culver City arts district for one year already and these two shows are a great way to help celebrate. We’ve been working with both Kelly and Anthony for years now and it’s just awesome to see how strong their new bodies of work are and how well their new pieces have been received thus far.

Anthony Clarkson's 'A Time To Forget' - title wall view

Kelly Vivanco ‘Springs To Mind’ + Anthony Clarkson ‘A Time To Forget’

Reception with the artists: TONIGHT – Sat, Feb. 5th from 7-10PM

Thinkspace / 6009 Washington Blvd / Culver City, CA /