THE NEW VANGUARD III at Lancaster Museum of Art and History

“Don’t Rock The Boat” / acrylic on aluminum panel / 48×48 inches / 2020

THE NEW VANGUARD III
Curated by Thinkspace Projects

September 12 through December 27, 2020

Lancaster Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster Blvd.
Lancaster, California 93534
www.LancasterMOAH.org

Featuring Solo Exhibitions From:
Kevin Peterson – ‘Embers’
Kayla Mahaffey – ‘Adrift’
Alex Garant – ‘Deconstructing Identities’
Kathy Ager – ‘Fool’s Gold’

(Lancaster, CA) – The Lancaster Museum of Art and History, in collaboration with Los Angeles’ Thinkspace Projects, is pleased to present The New Vanguard III, a dynamic group exhibition of works by international artists working in the New Contemporary art movement. The highly anticipated follow up to 2018’s successful second iteration of The New Vanguard, on view in tandem with this year’s POW WOW! Antelope Valley will feature special solo projects by artists Kevin Peterson, Kayla Mahaffey, Kathy Ager and Alex Garant.

The New Vanguard III, in keeping with the first two installments, will present a diverse and expansive group of curated new works. In addition to the solo exhibitions on view from Mahaffey, Peterson, Ager and Garant, we will also be presenting our ’Small Victories’ group show focusing on suicide prevention and mental health. We’ve lost one of our greatest allies and friends and one of our rising stars to this ever-growing epidemic in recent years. Sadly this issue is very widespread in the creative community and we want to help raise awareness and funds. If it helps guide just one person out of the darkness, it was more than worth it to mount this collection of works.

This special showcase will include new pieces by ABCNT, Adam Caldwell, Ador, AKACORLEONE, Allison Sommers, Angel Once, Anthony Hurd, Anthony Solano, Atomik, Brad Woodfin, Brian Mashburn, Bryan Valenzuela, Carl Cashman, Charlie Edmiston, Chloe Becky, Clare Toms, David Rice, Derek Gores, Dovie Golden, Dragon76, Drew Young, Edith Lebeau, Eduardo F. Angel, Erik Mark Sandberg, Frank Gonzales, Ghost Beard, Goopmassta, Hilda Palafox, Hola Lou, Huntz Liu, Imon Boy, Jaime Molina, Jeff Ejan, Jimmer Willmott, Kaplan Bunce, Kate Wadsworth, Kelly Vivanco, Ken Flewellyn, Kim Sielbeck, KOZ DOS, Lauren Hana Chai, Lauren YS, Linsey Levendall, Mando Marie, Manuel Zamudio, Mari Inukai, Max Sansing, McKenzie Fisk, Meggs, Molly Gruninger, Mwanel Pierre-Louis, Nicola Caredda, Patch Whisky, Ricky Watts, Roos van der Vliet, Sergio Garcia, Shar Tuiasoa, Stephanie Buer, Tati Holt, Telmo Miel, TMRWLND, Waylon Horner, and Wiley Wallace

Edith Lebeau

A movement unified as much by its diversity as its similitude, ‘New Contemporary’ has come to denote an important heterogeneity of styles, media, contexts, and activations over the course of its establishment since the 90s. Unified in its fledgling beginnings by a founding countercultural impulse searching for its own nomenclature, the New Contemporary movement’s shifting and inclusive designations have offered alternative narratives over the years to those popularized by the dominant art establishment and its conceptual predilections.

Though stylistically disparate, the work belonging to this rapidly expansive movement reveals a desire to reference the popular, social, and subcultural domains of contemporary experience, grounding, rather than rarifying, imagery in the familiar. Looking to the urban landscape and the kaleidoscopic shift of individual identities within it, these artists use the figurative and narrative to anchor their work in the accessible and aesthetically relatable. A fundamentally democratic stance governs the ambitions of this new guard, ever in search of novel ways to expand rather than to contract.

Kayla Mahaffey Adrift

Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Kayla Mahaffey (also known as KaylaMay) is quickly becoming one of the city’s most sought-after artists with her unique blend of flat, cartoon elements with brilliant photo-realism.

Mahaffey’s work gives voice to the unheard stories of contemporary youth and, as explained by the artist, “serves as a guide to bring hope back into our daily lives by cherishing each moment not in the mindset of an adult, but with the fresh eyes and imagination of a child.”

Being born and raised on the South side of Chicago, IL., only ignited Kayla’s love for all things art. The artist elaborates, “seeing the struggle and the support from the community made my work evolve to a concept that is personal to me. I continue to further my technique, and creativity in my field in order to paint a beautiful picture of a new world for those around me. Living in our society can be tough and most of the time we have to make the best of it. A wild imagination can take you so far, but at the end of the day we need to realize and observe the world around us. And the world around us is where I find my inspiration to paint. Colorful paintings that contain hints of whimsy and realism that tell a story of inner thoughts and personal issues that sometimes go unheard.”

Alex Garant Deconstructing Identities

Toronto-based, Canadian, Québéquois artist Alex Garant is a painter known for her hyper-realistically rendered Op art portraits in which the faces and eyes of her subjects seem to skip their registers through image redoubling and superimposition, Garant is in search of the frenetic internal life of the sitter.

Not unlike the fugitive flicker of a screen or the spectral layering of multiple film exposures, her portraits reveal an unsettling multiplicity, shifting beneath the subject’s surface. Garant creates faces that challenge the optics of identity and the reductive way in which it is perceived, with a visual gimmick that quite literally dislodges and displaces its coherence to produce skittering psychological images of fracture and ricochet.

Garant has long been fascinated by the interaction of patterns and symmetry, and the resulting optics of their graphic repetition and layering. Her portraits begin with a series of superimposed drawings based on her sitters, actual individuals, and muses from her life, and pushes the familiar confines of portraiture to a newly strange and re-sensitized place of sensory confusion. Her subjects and their energy seem to erupt from within, testing the tensile seams of the skin, the body, as always, an insufficient vessel for the incongruous experience within.

The artist’s labor-intensive oil paintings are meticulously executed, often incorporating patterning or other graphic elements and motifs to produce reverberating visual effects. Her color palette ranges from the subtlety of realistic flesh tones to hyper-colored gradients, saturated pastels, and translucent gem-like washes of color. Her stylizations of these vertiginous portraits thrive in surreal kitsch to interrupt the apprehension of the subject, activating a process of invested viewing, that is of trying to “see” the person amidst the trappings of hallucinatory visual interference. The compelling and somewhat unsuccessful process of attempting to stabilize the image produces a fundamental feeling of perceptual instability, one that intensifies our stolen communion with an evasive subject.

Kathy Ager Fool’s Gold

Kathy Ager creates detailed, still lifes that feel simultaneously Baroque and acerbically modern. Inspired by the 17th-Century Golden Age of Dutch and Spanish painting, her imagery uses historical visual rhetoric to deliver intensely personal and emotively charged themes. A professional graphic designer-turned painter, this is Ager’s first complete body of work to date and will include ten new paintings.

Ager begins her process with language – an idea or expression often gleaned from music, a book, or some other source that resonates personally. She then endeavors to resolve the concept visually through objects and composition, assembling a patchwork of references – some collective and shared from pop culture, others steeped in the idiosyncrasies of the personal. Both poetic and revelatory, Ager’s works feel charged with the simultaneous misery and beauty of contemporary appropriation – and express the current world through the formal repositories of the past to create anachronistic moments of resonance and delivery. Ever present amidst moments of undeniably expressed disappointment and disillusionment are redemptive linings, beautifully poignant discoveries, and playful, irreverent mirth.

The seductive darkness with which Ager reveals universal human longings is both disarming and consuming. Broken hearts are offered up as organs in a bowl, skeletal memento mori abound, and dating feels about as abject in the modern world as butchery; books are stacked with suggestive spines, and flowers wither while fruit threatens to decay. The abattoir is never far from the transcendent ambitions of classical statuary in Ager’s world, while beauty is embroiled in the vulnerability of intimacy and self-exposure.

Kevin PetersonEmbers

Kevin Peterson, a gifted hyperrealist painter, creates a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity. His arresting images combine portraits of children accompanied by kindly sentient beasts in a state of kindred displacement. Alone, though together, in strangely desolate, richly graffitied urban scenes, these babes and their benevolent conspirators appear interchangeably as beacons of hope and symbols of dispossession.

Peterson’s works harness a dystopian social hyperrealism through painstaking attention to every possible fraction and detail of the mundane in their execution – every contour is excised, every surface meticulously rendered. The weird crystal clarity of the hyperreal in the depiction of these desolate underpasses and structural ruins provides a starkly strange backdrop for elements of fairytale, like the fantastic alliances proposed between children and animals, and the magical narratives these allegiances imply. A psychologically poignant, if not ambiguous, feeling of transformation and hope lingers in these impossibly arresting scenes of solitary kids. The resilience they suggest is haunting, while the unsettling verity with which these vulnerable fictions are cast strike something in our shared fear of literal and figurative exposure.

Always in search of poetic tension and compelling contrasts, Peterson alloys unlikely parts: beginnings and ends collide, the young appear in worn and weathered worlds, innocence is forced into experience, and the wild infringes upon the ‘civilizing’ city limits. In Wild, Peterson explores themes of protection and marginalization, staging wild animals, ironically, in the humanizing and civilizing charge of caregivers. Though a recurring suggestion in previous works, the role of the animal in a nearly shamanistic role as protector and watcher appears more overtly in the new. Small children are attended by wild bears, watchful raccoons, gentle fawns, mythic looking ravens, owls, and jungle cats, among others, as they hold a living and protective vigil against the crumbling architectures around them; their guardianship staged like a protective bulwark.

Peterson’s hyperreal paintings are at times uncomfortably close in the pathos of their offerings; they remind us, too, of something uneasily present in us all, a childhood that haunts the posturing of all of our adulthoods. Ultimately, Peterson’s works offer beautifully jarring reminders of the need for redemptive outcomes in a disappointed time.

www.thinkspaceprojects.com

Opening Reception of Kevin Peterson’s “Wild” and Frank Gonzales’s “Desert Discourse”

Kevin Peterson’s anticipated “Wild” and Frank Gonzales’s “Desert Discourse” opened last Saturday, March 2nd to a great reception. We thank everyone who came out to view these beautiful bodies of work in person. The shows are on view now through March 23, and available works from Desert Discourse and Wild can be viewed on the Thinkspace website.

Interview with Kevin Peterson for “Wild”

We’re excited to be showing new work by Houston-based artist Kevin Peterson in our main room for his solo exhibition Wild opening Saturday, March 2nd.  Peterson’s hyper-realistic compositions create a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity.

In anticipation of Wild our interview with Kevin Peterson discusses the inspiration behind the exhibition, his dream collaboration, and what kind of ice cream his body of work would inspire.

SH: What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? Were you exploring a specific theme or pushing yourself artistically in a certain way?

KP: Just growing up, what its like to be a kid and what its like to think about being a kid. How things change over time and how we change. I like thinking about our world in different stages. Seeing how the things we make crumble and decay. Seeing nature take over when it’s allowed to, but even nature is cyclical. A forest burns down, but it grows back stronger, it’s just a matter of time.
The settings of these always have an end of the world look to them. I don’t really believe in an apocalypse type situation, but it is a different world than what we are living in currently. A new phase I would say.  Things are crumbling, but it’s not a reason for fear. It’s a new beginning, a clean slate. It’s important to remember that change can lead to good. It can make you adjust your trajectory, reevaluate your priorities. I suppose the kids in my paintings are a reflection of a hope that I have that people will learn from past mistakes and face the future with a sense of calm reason. Part of that is re-prioritizing what we value. The work is a vision of a new generation of kids that will not rule the world like tyrants but will respect nature and the world we have.

 SH: Is there a particular piece in this exhibition you feel really challenged you? If so, why and what makes you proud of this piece.  

KP: I swear, every time I paint the portrait part of a painting (especially a kids face) its a technical challenge. It always looks like shit in the beginning and for a long time after. I just keep working it and working it and eventually I get it where I want it. It’s always a battle. I used my son as a model for a couple of these paintings and that added a whole other level of difficulty. It being my kid, I found it extra challenging to capture him perfectly. 


SH: How do you approach starting a new piece? Walk us through the process of a piece from conception to completion.

KP: Sometimes I start with a background image I like and sometimes I start with a picture of a model I want to use, it doesn’t always come about the same way. I work pretty closely with my reference photos, but the final scenes are composites of my images. I have tons of images of urban blight or abandoned places that I’ve taken over the years and I also have tons of pictures of models that I’ve taken down at my studio. I use Photoshop to lay out a composition that I will use to paint from. My pieces are pretty well planned out, but the Photoshop composites are never perfect though, they are a framework. The challenge comes in working out all the details during the actual painting process.  My goal is to create a scene that is both implausible or fantastic, but at the same time totally believable to the viewer.  Just technically speaking, my work takes many, many hours. I paint in pretty thin layers, just building up and refining over time. It takes a lot of passes to get everything how I like it. 

SH: What excites you about your work / creative process?

KP: My paintings are well planned out before I ever start painting. I love every bit of the painting part, but the excitement comes in the planning stage. When I add that element to a certain background or setting that I want to paint, whether it be one of my references of a model or maybe an animal. I can tell the second I put it in there, it fits, its like “bingo!” that’s it.  It sometimes takes hundreds of different attempts to find the right fit, sometimes I never find it, but when I do, its really thrilling and I cant wait to start painting at that point. 


SH: What frustrates you about your work / the creative process?

KP: I put a lot of time into ideas and concepts for paintings that never actually make it to the canvas. I sometimes feel like I’m so close to something good, but I just can’t make it work in the end and I have to abandon it. It’s like having this sort of vague idea in your head and not being able to translate it to reality. That can be frustrating and it can feel like a waste of time, but its all part of the process.

SH: Is there a piece of knowledge or advice around being a working artist that you wish you knew 10 years ago?

KP: Don’t compare yourself to other artists. It’s a hard thing to do. Also, don’t just art all the time, you gotta actually live your life so you will have the stuff to paint about. 

SH: If your body of work inspired an ice cream flavor, what would it be called and what are the ingredients?

KP: You would take a cone with some pure and perfect flavor and dip it in a vat of dirt and grime and shit. Sounds delicious!

SH: If you could collaborate with any other artist (dead or alive) in any art form, such as music, film, dance etc… what would be your dream collab and what would you create?

KP: I don’t really enjoy collaborating. It goes back to hating group work in school. I love film though. I guess I’d pick a director like Scorsese or Terrance Malick or Spike Lee maybe. I wouldn’t do anything though, I’d just want to watch them work. 

SH: What do you think the role of artists is in society? How does other artwork inform how you move through life?

KP: I think different artists can play a lot of different roles in life. All I know is that when I find something that an artist created that expresses a feeling that I could never have put into words but nails exactly how I feel or have felt, that is a really comforting feeling. Knowing you’re not alone. It’s powerful, it’s rare, but its why I love art.

SH: Favorite way to celebrate the completion of a project/body of work?

KP: I worked really hard on this last show, a lot of long days and late nights.  I’m actually taking it a little bit easy since I shipped the pieces off. Decompressing a little. I’m doing yard work. I actually discovered a few years back that I love gardening, even though Im crap at it and most of my plants die. I really love spring,  just looking around town at peoples yards and at the nurseries to see what different plants I can get to replace the ones I killed over the previous year. 

Join us for the opening reception of Wild, Saturday March 2nd from 6 to pm.


Kevin Peterson’s “WILD” showing March 2019.

KEVIN PETERSON
WILD
March 2 – March 23, 2019

(Los Angeles, CA) – Thinkspace is pleased to present new works by Houston-based artist Kevin Peterson in Wild. Peterson, a gifted hyperrealist painter, creates a fictional world in which innocence and collapse are brought into difficult proximity. His arresting images combine portraits of children accompanied by kindly sentient beasts in a state of kindred displacement. Alone, though together, in strangely desolate, richly graffitied urban scenes, these babes and their benevolent conspirators appear interchangeably as beacons of hope and symbols of dispossession.

Peterson’s works harness a dystopian social hyperrealism through painstaking attention to every possible fraction and detail of the mundane in their execution – every contour is excised, every surface meticulously rendered. The weird crystal clarity of the hyperreal in the depiction of these desolate underpasses and structural ruins provides a starkly strange backdrop for elements of fairytale, like the fantastic alliances proposed between children and animals, and the magical narratives these allegiances imply. A psychologically poignant, if not ambiguous, feeling of transformation and hope lingers in these impossibly arresting scenes of solitary kids. The resilience they suggest is haunting, while the unsettling verity with which these vulnerable fictions are cast strike something in our shared fear of literal and figurative exposure.

Here, a panther provides an angelic little girl with an unlikely guardian; a boy sits alone in an abandoned graffiti-tagged building flanked by a pair of ravens and a gentle fox – a corrugated cardboard crown cast down on the floor beside him like some failed promise of clemency and exemption. In spite of seemingly bleak, if not potentially catastrophic, circumstances, the isolated child protagonists in Peterson’s works, bereft amidst modern-day ruins save for the companionship of their wild, bestial cohort, are calm, peaceful, and strangely emancipated. A feeling of persistence and salvage dominate these visual metaphors for human survival; life, in the end, persists in its way and under the most iniquitous and impossible conditions.

Always in search of poetic tension and compelling contrasts, Peterson alloys unlikely parts: beginnings and ends collide, the young appear in worn and weathered worlds, innocence is forced into experience, and the wild infringes upon the ‘civilizing’ city limits. In Wild, Peterson explores themes of protection and marginalization, staging wild animals, ironically, in the humanizing and civilizing charge of caregivers. Though a recurring suggestion in previous works, the role of the animal in a nearly shamanistic role as protector and watcher appears more overtly in the new. Small children are attended by wild bears, watchful raccoons, gentle fawns, mythic looking ravens, owls, and jungle cats, among others, as they hold a living and protective vigil against the crumbling architectures around them; their guardianship staged like a protective bulwark. The compositions feel more symmetrically staged in these new works, while pairs of animals, particularly ravens, appear as dual harbingers of birth and death, bookending the endless transformations of life in between.

Peterson’s hyperreal paintings are at times uncomfortably close in the pathos of their offerings; they remind us, too, of something uneasily present in us all, a childhood that haunts the posturing of all of our adulthoods. Ultimately, Peterson’s works offer beautifully jarring reminders of the need for redemptive outcomes in a disappointed time.

Art for a Cause – Ebay Auction Piece from Kevin Peterson

“Don’t Look”, 12 in. x 9 in. oil on panel.

Artist Kevin Peterson has announced he is auctioning off a brand new original, “Don’t Look” on eBay with 100% of the proceeds being donated. Half of the proceeds will be going to the ACLU and the other half going to Beto O’Rourke, a Congressman from El Paso running to represent every Texan in the U.S. Senate.

We love when artwork can go to a good cause, so kudos to Peterson for making an impact with his talent!

The auction is now live on eBay and will end August 7th.

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