RUN HOME: A BASEBALL SERIES
Interview with Jaimie Gershen
We’re very excited to bring you Jaimie’s new show, “Run Home: A Baseball Series” opening up Oct. 2 at the gallery. Run Home takes that classic red thread found stitched on each and every ball and recontextualizes it into a past-time, visual narrative both strange and minimally beautiful. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll certainly be drawn to the show but if you don’t care about baseball at all… well, you’re bound to love it all the same! Jamie was kind enough to answer a few questions about herself and the new show. Check it out below!
Hi Jamie. First, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s new in your world?
I grew up in the Boulder area and went to college in Denver- I wanted to stick around. I feel lucky to be in a place where so many artists actually want to know each other. I think the competition is friendly and we all want to help each other out.
You’ve used sewing on found materials in the past but tell us about this current body of work. How is it different from previous work and how did it come about?
My background is in printmaking, but I started playing with embroidery for a show I had at Ironwood a few years ago and it immediately felt right. It started with an F. Scott Fitzgerald book, playing around with the words. I found a baseball card in a library book and knew it needed red thread zapping out of the eyes, and so it began. For this series I’m more interested in letting the images speak for themselves and forgoing language entirely.
I am so absolutely in love with the title of your show, “Run Home.” How did that come about and how does it relate to the work?
Baseball is such an iconic sport, as are so many of the symbols in it. I’ve become really attached to the home plate. The fact that it’s called HOME, that you run to get home, that you run home and if you make it you’re SAFE. I think we’re all just trying to get home safe. I hope we all get there someday.
I love that! It’s so simple that it’s easy to overlook how interesting the iconography is when I’m all tied up in the scores of last night’s game. Just the shape of the plate being a little house and everything is beautiful.
You recently went as far as getting that tattooed, right?
I did! I like to be consumed by art. Now I’m always home.
You’ve clearly been pouring a lot of time into this current series. Take us through a normal studio day. What do you need to get in the groove?
I like to have a lot of time to get in the groove. Sometimes it happens very quickly, other times I need hours to look at other things, and to fool around and get out of my head before I’m ready to get into it. I keep things around me that make me feel good while I’m working, and I listen to a lot of music. A large, flat work space to spread out on is probably the most important thing for me so that I can be working on a lot of things at the same time and be able to let them sit in various states of progress. A nice thing about baseball cards and embroidery is that they’re highly transportable materials, so I also am able to work at coffee shops for a change of scenery.
What are some major inspirations for you as an artist?
Other art influences me. Emotion influences me. The vulnerability to express the things that are scary to express is what I hope to provide, for myself and hopefully others as well.
Something I’ve always admired about your work is its simplicity. Is a minimalist approach something you aim for or does it come naturally?
I think the minimalist approach is the only way for me. I have so much going on in my mind that the best way I can express things is cleanly and simply.
Your work also seems to be quite elegantly guided by writing. You have text in a lot your work but even works without text seem to be influenced by a book, or perhaps philosophy. Who are some writers and thinkers that haunt your art process?
I think writers are absolutely magical; they can use words in ways that are so beyond my way of thinking. F. Scott Fitzgerald has always been my #1. The poetry of Frank O’Hara and Richard Brautigan just kills me. Carl Sagan (science!) might be the most poetic writer of all. Miranda July has been a major influence on me, she is the master at packing a punch with just a few words.
What’s next for your art? Any future shows planned that you’d like to mention or any dream shows you’d like to bring about?
I’ve never been interested in collaboration so naturally that’s the next step. I feel really lucky because I was able to convince my favorite Denver artist and friend Doug Spencer to have a show with me at Leon Gallery in May. I’d like to start working with other artists, you included, Travis! I think my dreams are starting to come true…
Well, shoot…If you build it they will come!
Now, since this is a baseball themed show that falls right in the midst of the playoffs, lets finish with some rapid fire, baseball questions. Batter up!
What would be your walk up to the plate music if you were a pro baseball player?
Elvis Presley – Trouble
Favorite ballpark food?
Favorite Baseball Team?
You realize I don’t actually really care about baseball, right?
Favorite Player? (alive or dead)
I like the usual suspects – Joe DiMaggio, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Jackie Robinson. People who were bigger than the game.
Day game or under the lights?
You’re at the game and the away team hits a home run into your glove. Throw it back on the field or keep it?
Keep it. Used baseballs are full of magic.
Favorite baseball movie?
FIELD OF DREAMS! Bull Durham, too. Kevin Costner, all the time..
Favorite sound of the game?
The crack of the bat, of course!
Lastly, let’s get your prediction on this year’s world series so we can have a little magic on record. Which teams battle in the series and who will win?
I’d have to follow baseball to answer that question! No way!
Well if you’re deferring to the curator’s pick, let’s go with the improbable Twins (assuming they snag a wild card spot). Twins/Cardinals series with the Twins winning in seven.
Until then, thanks so much for the time and the amazing new art!
RUN HOME: A BASEBALL SERIES opens Friday, October 2nd with an artist reception from 7-10pm at the IndyInk Gallery (84 S. Broadway) and runs through November 9th.
For more info and images please visit the following spots:
COSM - Aug. 21st
(click to expand)
Artists Evan Lorenzen and Zane Prater make very small works on paper and although their art is modest in size, there is much to discuss and plenty of nuance to both process and product. Evan and Zane have a brand new body of work on display at INDYINK gallery and were kind enough to share a bit about themselves, their process and the current show. Check it out below and then visit the gallery to see their beautiful work in person.
INTERVIEW WITH EVAN LORENZEN AND ZANE PRATER
Hi guys! Before we dig in and zoom way in on your drawings, tell me a bit about yourself. Where have you been, where are you now and what’s new in your world?
E: Hey Travis! I’ve been kickin it around Denver for a few years now after having gone to Marlboro College in Vermont where I studied animation and painting. I work at Indyink (I’ve been working there off and on for around 8 years now) and through working there I have met an incredible group of people involved in the Denver art scene that I absolutely adore and who have helped me phenomenally in getting to where I am now. I’ve been exploring the realm of miniature arts for about a year now; it all started with mini books and has evolved into more singular pieces and bodies of small work. A few months ago, one of the tiny books, “The Mini Book of Major Events”, was featured in an exhibit the Central Cultural Bank of Brazil in Rio which was a huge honor. The show was a vivid collection of international pieces relating to the intersections of art, science, and imagination. Recently, I have been working on figuring out how to make some hand-bound editions of the tiny books because there has been such a positive response to them, so that is where I am currently headed in regards to micro-art.
Z: The name is Zane. I was born in Denver but have been floating around the world these last few years and I am currently residing in Washington State.
What would you count as significant influence in your work? Is it other artists working on a small scale? Quantum Physics? Something much bigger perhaps?
E: Although I am completely blown away by the gamut of exquisitely talented miniature artists working across the globe right now, I feel that most of my influences, at least in relation to subject matter and style, have come from sculptural pieces from around the world. Over the past couple of months, I have gotten extraordinarily and suddenly interested in investigating various world religions and gnostic overlap between and among them. I feel like most of my life I have been pretty closed-minded when it comes to religion because of some of the underlying stigmas associated with major schools of belief; I made assumptions based off of the ripples of fanaticism that I witnessed without actually dissecting the core ideals, mythologies, and metaphors that these distorted ripples emanated from. I wouldn’t say that I am suddenly religious now, but through beginning to delve into these various schools of thought, I have been able to dissolve some of my previous assumptions, which has allowed me to see the value in the metaphorical aspects of religion, especially when it comes to religious art. So to make a long answer short, the symbolism of belief has been a huge influence on the work I am currently producing.
Z: The biggest influence is the natural world and the variety of its manifestations and expressions. Various art movements have also been wildly inspiring such as, art nouveau, botanical illustration, and Japanese woodblock printing. Size wise, I’d say it was influenced by the expectations surrounding fine art.
You guys have both drawn nine very small-scale pieces for your show “COSM.” It’s truly incredible stuff and I wonder first of all, why work so tiny? What is it exactly that interested you in drawing at such a small scale?
E: I have always been a visually very detail-oriented person, so I initially started drawing the tiny books because it was a way for me to play with the language of fine detail without having to spend days working on a single piece. I could be wrong, but I think that most people find miniature things intriguing on some subconscious level. It might be that miniatures reflect an aspect of godliness (or mythical giant-ness) in the individual interacting with an unnecessarily small object, but people definitely take on a different tone of being when they are encountering something miniature. The way that people interact with the tiny pieces, more so than the actual pieces themselves, has been the most exciting aspect to me in regards to the whole micro exploration. I love seeing how people handle them and how awareness shifts so suddenly; people are forced into ignoring their periphery while simultaneously being thrust into awareness of the environment that they create as a body. When you are holding a piece of art smaller than your fingernail, you become aware of aspects of yourself like your breathing, your sweatiness, and the capabilities of your vision. Viewing art no longer exists as a passive activity when the piece you are viewing can literally be accidentally inhaled.
Z: I’ve always been fascinated by smallness, for instance, the intricacies of a single leaf or a knot of wood in relation to the whole. This is an exploration into those miniscule landscapes.
Working at this scale, the question ultimately arises: how small can I go? Is it about that at all? Is it a tiny contest in a “you vs. physical limitation” sense or does that not really what it’s about?
E: For me, working at this scale is about stillness. My goal is not to impress other people, but rather to try and impress myself. I’m glad that other people enjoy the art, but ultimately that is a byproduct spawned out of my own kind of selfishness. It has been an exercise in stillness and quietness with the aim of pushing my own limits, especially since my eyes are young enough to push them to these boundaries. I don’t use any magnifying instruments when working because I want to see not only how small I can go, but also how well I can repeat that scale over and over. I’ve always wanted to be a person who can sit in a room and meditate for hours, but have never had the physical patience to do so effectively. Working small has been a method of mediation for me that allows me to dissolve my outside influences and distractions and really just step back and observe the interaction of my hand and my eyes.
Z: I don’t think of it as a contest against size and limitation. To me it’s more of an attempt to reference and communicate the idea behind the whole tree while limiting yourself to the composition of that single leaf.
Tell us a bit about your nine pieces for the show. What do they look like and what larger ideas are you getting at with these little beauties?
E: For my nine pieces, I aimed to investigate the ways in which various cultures throughout recorded human history have decided to portray gods. The concept of a “god” is a fascinating subject to me because there are innumerable ways to approach and portray the idea and none of them are wrong – each representation of god, or any kind of deity, is as valid as the last. Some people see “god” in a loaf of bread or an exquisitely-made car engine, while others see it in a person, metaphor, or symbol. Religions and cultures fall into collections of people that all happen to agree on the same set of metaphors. The personified metaphors of cultures, especially the visual representations of them struck me as interesting topics of meditation to draw towards.
Z: The pieces I created for this show pay homage to the natural world and to those miracles that are so often overlooked in the crevices of our cities. Nine little windows that look out upon the rose bud near to bursting and the yarrow stalk twirling it’s way towards the heavens.
With such different imagery, how do your pieces in “COSM” connect to Zane’s?
E: I think that our imagery can be utterly different and still represent the same thing. We are both coming from a place of investigating stillness within ourselves with a byproduct of something that can be shown to individuals outside of ourselves. I even feel that our subject matter is investigating the same thing, but just viewed through different lenses. I’m choosing to visually explore some of the ways in which humans try to organize chaos into form, while Zane is investigating ways in which nature translates chaos into form. I think in both of our sets of images, we are subtly both praising and making fun of some of the paradoxes inherent in existence on planet earth.
What about you, Zane? How do you feel your pieces in “COSM” connect to Evan’s?
Z: All of our pieces revolve around the same sense of spirit and grandeur that underlies the human experience. Many people identify this spirit as gods and deities unseen to the human eye while others find more comfort in the physical manifestation of this creative force.
Let’s talk process! I’m very interested because it seems it would end up being a very intimate and challenging thing. How do you approach doing this work and what is it like step by step?
E: I usually start off by washing my hands. The scale is so small that you notice if a fingerprint is covering the whole image. I fold and rip a tiny rectangle of paper and try not to lose it while I stretch out. I lie on my stomach on my floor so I can get the most stable and then I just start drawing with a Copic 0.03mm Multiliner SP pen. The scale is usually too small to sketch them out, so I have to be very attentive when trying to translate the reference image that I am looking at. I start off with a few rough lines and then fill in the rest of the image with stippling.
Z: It’s as simple as an understudy, in pencil, on a tiny piece of paper and then straight to ink. Being so tiny, breath control is crucial, as well as, an awareness of your body and its relation to the materials. I use a dip pen so line width varies greatly with the pressure of the hand and there is always the fear of an ink drop but, overall, it’s just the act of drawing.
Do you listen to music or like to have anything on while working? If so, what’s the music of choice?
E: I don’t listen to any music while working. I try my hardest not to think about much when I’m drawing on this scale, so I aim not to add much external stimuli.
Z: I nearly always work out of cafes so there is always the ambient noise of chatting people, espresso machines, and music in the back of my mind. I like to ‘drop in’ with the ambience rather than with music.
What has surprised you about working this way and have there been adjustments in your approach?
E: The thing that surprised me most when I first started making miniature illustrations was how sore my entire body would feel after finishing drawing one. I had to adjust and become more relaxed in the process in order to keep a majority of my body as still as possible without getting tense about it.
Z: Not much for surprises just a lot of breath control and the occasional excitement of a hyperfine line.
What’s next for you after this show? Anything exciting planned art or otherwise this summer/fall?
E: I’m hoping to figure out some good ways to make portable, tabletop, miniature-art galleries by using old metal lunch boxes. I also plan to produce an edition of one of my tiny books that people keep asking about. After the tiny art, I think I’d like to investigate some other mediums and scales for a little bit.
Z: Headed back to Washington. I have a few projects on the horizon and hopefully participating in a few group shows in Seattle and the Bay. Other than that, who knows!
Excellent! Well, thank you gents very much for taking some time to discuss and thanks for the wonderful work!
“Cosm” will be on display at the gallery (84. S. Broadway) from Aug 21-Sept 28. You can find more images and info at the following places:
FO' RENT, FO' REAL - MAY/JUNE '15 Show
Fo’ Rent, Fo’ Real is on view May 29—July 6
Meet Jared David Paul Anderson (JDP) and Stephen Daniel Karpik (SDK).
Jared (pictured left) is a process based visual artist working with painting, sculpture, performance and video. Stephen (pictured right) is a visual artist who creates mixed media paintings, sculptures, found objects and installations with an emphasis on primal aesthetics.
They recently teamed up to create a body of work that focuses on the frustrations of Denver’s tumultuous housing market. The pieces in their new show, Fo’ Rent, Fo’ Real give their interpretation of the effects of ever-increasing rent on artists, communities and creative culture. It’s one hell of colorful and energetic show and one that folks in Denver will certainly relate to. JDP and SDK were kind enough to answer some questions to give some background on this exciting show. Seeing as how they have such cool, long names that get three-letter abbreviations, I decided to include my middle name just to join the club (it’s James). Sweet, I’m in so let’s do this!
TJH: Hey guys, how are you and what’s new in your world?
SDK: Doing well my man! Just got back from an awesome trip to Austin Psych Fest and have been pumpin’ out lots of fresh art.
JDP: Well Mr. Hetman, I just moved into another house, and have enjoyed making a space to live in and a studio to create in. I feel like this one I can settle in to because I know the owner personally and she is all about the arts. Which brings us to this here exhibition at Indy Ink. I was lucky, and have built up some renter’s karma but many artists have had to move out of the city or out of a studio space. I feel that and want to respond to it.
TJH: What are you guys listening to, reading or watching right now that’s firing you up?
SDK: Oh man, so I’ve been listening to a lot of mixes lately, anything by Karen Gwyer, Laurel Halo or Demdike Stare –basically anything with lots of dub reggae and electronic music. For some reason, I get my energy from chill vibes. I like to trance out.
TJH: Absolutely, gotta get yourself in the zone!
JDP: I’ve always loved the Twilight Zones. BBC put out a contemporary take on the old thrillers called Black Mirror. They deal with near future sexuality and technology take-over. It is absurd but believable. I’ve been listening to open air too; it’s like a good mix tape on the radio. And, I have been into the comedy station 103.1 –a great format for comedy, short bursts, little quickies to keep some humor in traffic.
TJH: That’s too funny, I do the same in the car and always get pumped when Mitch Hedberg comes on. I also saw all of those Black Mirror episodes and agree, very cool stuff. They’re so strange but it’s the kind of real strange that we can all relate to in our own human experience. I can see that stuff seeping into this recent work of yours. This exhibition seems to imply a bit of a future dystopia to me and I think it’s just what comes out of both of your styles.
Stephen, can you describe Jared’s style a little? What do you like about this crazy dude?
SDK: Jared’s style is anti-style. He tends to be somewhat experimental, which I love—he’s not afraid of making a mark. I love working with and around Jared as he tends to constantly inspire, consciously and subconsciously.
TJH: For sure! Jared, can you describe Stephen’s style a little too and what you like about him?
JDP: I am always surprised when working with Stephen. I think it is important to surprise yourself in practice. But there is also an annoyance, when he does something that I think, “that’s not how I would do it.” It’s a little bell that dings in my head reminding me that it is collaboration and that is precisely why you are partaking in this exercise, to observe a completely different way of doing things. I’ve gotten better at letting it all just roll out. For me, the process is the most important not the product. So my disclaimer for this show is, “ahhh guess you had to be there!”
TJH: That’s pretty funny and I would actually argue that you didn’t even have to be there. Sometimes the best, finished work comes when you don’t worry about the thing itself but just focus on the doing. It can carry over.
So, what was it like collaborating on these pieces? For me, I can’t always tell where one artist’s hand leaves and another enters. I love that and it seems to indicate a nice partnership. Do you agree?
JDP: Yes, most of the time it is smooth, but like most things it takes a little time to get in a groove. Our first few approaches/sessions were not very successful. Our first collaboration was a while back and was fun as hell but the work got a little beat-up and overdone. We are still battling with the concept of when to stop.
SDK: I feel like we really collaborated on ideas more so than aesthetics. Rather than showcasing our different styles, we came together to create a similar vibe, perhaps to showcase ideas like community, survival, collective frustration, societal norms/expectations etc.
TJH: Right on, I like how those ideas fit with the act of collaborating. Tell me more specifically then about the formulation of “Fo’ Rent, Fo’ Real.” What was it about the current direction of Denver that got you going on this work? What was the process like along the way?
SDK: When Jared invited me to collaborate, the sky was the limit. We work well with and off each other so the theme surfaced easily. We had both had a crazy past year dealing with housing situations and had each experienced first-hand what a clusterfuck the market is right now for renters in Denver. I think we both realized how difficult it was, especially for artists and how much of a funk it weighs down on your creative process.
JDP: Stephen and I—and many other people in Denver—had been displaced from studios and homes at an alarming rate. It got to be a real personal problem because I had been moved out of three places in one and a half years for reasons of greedy landlords and unreasonably justified raises in rent. I felt compelled as a native and a locally driven artist to speak to the issue. Patty Calhoun at The Westword has been taking it on as well in her articles. People are really frustrated and helpless. There are not nearly enough opportunities for rent control, subsidies or validating raised rents. The process has allowed me to go through a few stages of emotion. First, I was angry, and the anger creeps in and out. Now, I am in sort-of surrender with it all. I do find some benefits to the growth and it is going to happen with or without me.
TJH: The icons that seem to be reoccurring throughout these pieces are the house, the teepee, and “flesh.” How did these things come to dominate the show and what do they mean to you personally?
SDK: I’ve always been drawn to using symbols/icons within my art. For me, they always belong. For Fo’ Rent, Fo’ Real, I think it started with the repetition of houses on a few pieces in the early stages of this show. It’s a mantra. Repeating these icons seems to highlight the obvious while also drowning it out, as the repetition seems to become more of a portrait, losing its original meaning. The teepee icon overlaps the houses in a lot of the work, and to me that’s depicting a couple of past situations in both of our lives where we decided to live off the grid for a while in response to the difficulties of finding a “proper” space to live/create, in Denver.
JDP: ‘Flesh’ is a reminder of who pays the rents, actual people who work hard and hustle. The teepee is a nod to my past, dealing with a similar scenario in LA. I lived in a teepee for a year in East LA to explore alternative living situations. It was an experiment in lifestyle and it worked. The house motif is erased and disappears; it’s an elusive little house. I like how it is like a little comic style drawing.
TJH: I told you guys that this show looks exactly to me the way the record “Read Music, Speak Spanish” by Desaparecidos sounds. It’s a weird notion but what does it sound like to you? If it were a band, album or a particular song, what would it be?
SDK: Demdike Stare. Their own music has this dark, electronic vibe that I feel really fits the show’s aesthetics and ideas. Killer stuff.
TJH: Nice, I’ll have to check that stuff out. How about for you Jared?
JDP: Definitely early punk such as Ramones or Gang of Four. This work is more interested in a message than to showcase talents of a medium. By the way Travis, I loved when you mentioned that correlation. I went home and listened to that album and it was so rad to have music speak directly to the art.
TJH: Excellent! That one really is precisely about the same thing, right down to the houses sprawled across the cover. It’s aggressive stuff.
TJH: With your show, there seems to be a very primal and aggressive tone to the mark making but still some moments of beauty and cohesiveness. How do you find a balance between that very raw, reckless energy and that of a more calculated or intentional approach? Or, is it a concern at all when creating the work?
JDP: It’s that timeless, artistic wrestle of knowing when to stop
SDK: I’m usually very primal when creating art, at least at first. I tend to be a little more calculated later on, when I have identified where I want to be with a certain piece. There’s an album by this artist Alan Lamb called Primal Image which consists of contact microphone recordings of kilometer long spans of telegraph wire somewhere in Australia –he essentially created this very dark but beautiful ‘ambient’ album by sculpting found sounds. I love that notion of taking the ugly and repurposing it into beautiful music or art. That’s a big influence for me and for Fo’ Rent, Fo’ Real. Most of the material used was either found or gifted to us.
TJH: That’s super interesting, I love that beauty in the ugly. I definitely feel like this show has that going for it.
What are your hopes for this work now that it’s been created? Do you wish for the viewer to absorb any particular idea or is it most important just to get people thinking and talking about the current situation?
JDP: I would love for a developer to come and purchase all the work to hang in a lobby of one of those ugly ass wannabe modern rebuilds that have no regard for the architecture vernacular that exists directly around them.
TJH: Ha! That would be fascinating actually. What about you SDK, what’s the hope for this show?
SDK: I don’t want it to be too serious, but I doubt that will be a problem. The work is pretty abstract and open ended. If anything, I hope it will start to initiate conversations within the creative community about the housing situation in Denver, no matter how absurd or far-fetched. Embrace the absurd!
TJH: What happens next for Denver and the art community here? How do you see us dealing with the rising costs of rent and living and what is your hope for Denver?
JDP: We, as artists, need to own space, plain and simple. I believe public property is not for sale and should not be utilized for private gain. As a locally vested artist, I have the right to visual space. Also, I support the weed industry but only so far. To have a vast amount of buildings in the middle of the city solely to grow is a damn shame. This is a waste of valuable urban space. The city is meant for the dynamic and thrill of human interaction.
SDK: I’d love to see more affordable live/work communities for artists. Stand up to property owners and get angry! You’re not alone!
TJH: What’s next for you guys and your art? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
SDK: I’ve got a couple big shows on the horizon in Denver. I really want to explore art sculpture and sound sculpture a bit more.
JDP: A performance with PANDA at the Biennial this summer. This is based on a recent visit to Mexico City.
TJH: Nice, I look forward to it all! Well, thank you guys both so much for your time and efforts, it has been a real pleasure!
If you would like to find out more about these two arts bad-asses in your town, head to these spots:
THE MORPHOLOGY OF US - March '15 Show
Who are you? What’s your name and what’s new in your world?
R: River C Wharton. I am writer who likes to draw. Maybe I am an illustrator who likes to write. I haven’t quite figured that one out yet.
A: I’m Aly Barohn. I’m turning 30 this year. I live in a house with River Wharton where we have two cats, four chickens, and an ever-growing number of Airbnb guests.
Describe your art. What does it look like and what’s it all about?
R: I enjoy the juxtaposition of free association and iconography. My icons are highly symbolic and thought out, but are iconic only to the images inside of my head. The line work is based on where I want my hand to go. Each mistake is an opportunity waiting to happen. Yet, the more I draw from my subconscious, the more I find themes repeat themselves, becoming icons.
I think the other important point of reference for my work is, in its best form, there’s a balance of light and dark. With a childlike humor, I try to express and think through my thoughts on depression, sex, and the absurdity of life.
A: I make fiber art in which I mostly use embroidery techniques and hand-dyed fibers. My art is dimensional and textural. I encourage the viewer to touch the work. Embroidery was first created as a mending technique, so the stitches are meant to last and be strong. I think that is something I really like about embroidery–its durability.
Any big influences in your work you’d point to?
R: Kandinsky, Dali, Haring, Brautigan’s play between light & dark, Religious iconography, Dürer, various tarot decks.
A: I feel a connection to the pastime of embroidery. I like being able to carry on a traditional craft, while presenting it with modern concepts. I’m also highly influenced by vintage textiles of all forms–weavings, rugs, lace, tapestries, and knits. I’m surrounded by vintage everyday, because of my job, so these pieces are bound to creep in and influence my creative mind.
The two of you definitely have very different styles but I think there is some interesting cross over. Can you describe Aly’s work and how it relates to your own?
R: Aly’s fiber art plays between an object and the perception of the object. Her motifs are abstract icons, representing her perception of said object. I think her play between abstract and concrete works in a similar way to mine.
And Aly, describe Rivers work. Do you find it relating to your work at all?
A: I think River’s work is beyond imaginative–it is so uniquely his own and very honest. He has a way of seeing things as they are and perfectly balancing that idea with what they could be. The way his mind looks at life and objects has always impacted me. I think my work is more forthright than his, but still abstract. He may not know this, but he has pushed me to think further outside of the box.
How are your artistic processes different and what did you learn from doing a show together?
R: I take a long time, a very long time, to process and conceptualize. The truth is, I have time to do so; after sketching ideas for a month, I can finish a large piece in a night. Aly’s work takes an enormous set of hours to complete. Her dedication to sitting in one place for ten hours a day, to complete only a small section, is stunning. In that time, I am assuming the meditative process of pulling the needle and thread through fabric, she is processing the rest of her work. Planning further pieces, making mental edits and notes to completed pieces.
R: I learned having one vision between two people is difficult. No matter how clearly you felt you explained a thought, there is loss in translation. This gap requires a leap of faith and it is here that the real work is born. I believe our show worked so well because of our differences, not in spite of them.
A: The artwork I’ve been making throughout the past year is much more time consuming than it used to be. I kind of dove into a new realm of work that looks how I want it to look, but takes much much longer than I’d like it to take. So, my process is much different time-wise from his. But we were communicating throughout the work and getting ideas off of one another. I think it’s both a blessing and a curse to live with the person you’re collaborating on a show with. Nice to have them there throughout every piece you make, and also hard to have a singular vision worked through to the end when we both are talking about what else it could be.
Describe the concept of “The Morphology of Us.” I find it to be a particularly beautiful concept and also a very brave one. What were the struggles of doing portraits of your partner?
Our artist statement says, “The Morphology of Us is a collaborative work looking at how we, as romantic partners, see each other as well as ourselves. Through fiber and ink portraits, we dissect our individuality; we take a closer look into a variety of our physical characteristics. While each piece on its own tells us apart, together the show tells a different story.”
R: You can never really know what is going on inside of another person. I can read Aly’s emotions every
day, but never be certain I know the real person inside. The portraits of her insides were the most difficult.
A: I wanted to, but didn’t allow myself to make any of my pieces about River’s or my mental/spiritual self. I liked the idea of having the art go that way, but felt it would take over and make the physical portraits less than what they’re intended to be. It was a bit of a struggle to maintain focus with those other ideas coming in, but I think it was a much more cohesive collection in the end.
Any pleasant surprises in carrying out these intimate pieces?
R: We drew closer because of the show. We both opened up, explored emotions we hadn’t spoken about before. The sex is better!
A: Ha! I agree it allowed us to grow closer. It was a rocky ride working together. We definitely smoothed some kinks out.
Which piece in the show feels most successful to you and why?
R: Anatomy No. 2. That piece really flowed out of me from some other dimension. Hard to explain, but when I finished I felt like someone else was moving my pen.
A: Self-Portrait No.1, Hands & Hair. Unlike all of the other work, which was sketched out in the very beginning before any construction, this idea came right after I made Self-Portrait No. 3, Forehead. I felt so connected to the fringe work. It was pleasing for me to make, touch, and look at, so I decided to do it on a larger scale. The dye process came out perfectly and it just all felt right.
The centerpiece of the show is a very simple and striking piece. Tell us a bit about that image.
R: Aly challenged me early on in our relationship to draw one word a minute from a list she created with a friend. The word ancestors came up and this was my first thought. She immediately loved it and pasted the drawing in her notebook. A little less than a year later she asked to get it done as a tattoo for her birthday, I asked if I could get it done as well. It has just sort of become a symbol of our creative partnership since then.
What elements or tendencies of each other’s work do you think has or will find its way into your own practice?
R: Spending more time practicing my lines. Perfecting images, really perfecting my entire practice. Meticulousness. Care and attention. All of the things a young artist needs to learn to move to the next level!
A: Thinking more abstractly and making choices I wouldn’t normally make, seeing where they take me.
How about you two ask each other the last questions?
R: Aly, if you could have this experience over again, what would you do differently?
A: Start working on the art about 3 months earlier. Other than that, not a thing.
A: River, do you want to do this again with me in about 30 years to juxtapose that work to this work (and also maybe spice things up)?
R: YES PLEASE!
Thank guys! It was a joy to show your work and find out a little more about you. If you want to discover even more about these wonderful artists, here are some places to go:
PLEASE STOP CALLING MY HOUSE - Feb. '15 Show
No slides are available in this gallery
Interview with Denver artist Molly Bounds
Where are you from and what brought you to Denver?
I’m originally from Texas, but I moved to Colorado when I was about 5, when my mom, my sister and I kinda followed my Dad here. I had very little to do with making that decision, because I was 5. I’ve been here a long time though and no regrets!
What type of work do you generally do and what’s been happening lately?
In my undergrad, I was really drawn to strictly black and white, bold, very graphic imagery. Which is why, as a printmaker, I focused mostly on relief printing with woodblocks, sintra, linoleum, whatever else I could carve into. Right out of school though I started working at a screen printing shop (Diamond Hill), where I was surrounded by beautiful 4-10 color prints, and I couldn’t resist color anymore. It’s been refreshing to think in the form of building layers again, and having to troubleshoot how to use that palette wisely.
Describe an average studio day. Any interesting rituals, struggles, victories?
It takes me a while to get started. I’m extremely ADHD which can be a blessing and a curse in the studio. 8 out of 10 it’s a curse. First and foremost I try to ensure I’ll be in good company while working. More often than not, I’m skyping my friend Sidney Masuga who lives in Toronto, and is usually also working in her studio. We show each other what we’re working on and basically critique one another. We try to steer each other in the right direction, and then it helps me gain speed and hone in on finishing it or fixing it, once I know what the piece needs or that it’s coming across how I want it to. Or sometimes we just talk about the last Broad City episode and send each other dumb links, because some days are less productive than others.
You only get one record to listen to in the studio, what is it and why?
American Weekend by Waxahatchee, or any album by them. I like for the music I’m listening to while working to suit what I’m working on. If it’s emotionally a heavier piece, Waxahatchee or Grass Widow is my go-to. If I’m making something more lighthearted, then I’ll put on something upbeat like Tiger Trap. I tend to like female vocals more often than male vocals, especially when I’m trying to focus.
Who are some big influences, visual art or otherwise for you?
Margaret Kilgallen forever, for her willingness to make mistakes and let them live in her artwork, and the way she put forth her convictions in every aspect of her artistic process. My biggest influences though are comic artists, like Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve #8 changed my life forever) and Julia Gfrorer for her ability to be extremely dark and subtly funny all at once. Lately, I’m drawn to the imagery of Olivier Schrauwen. I’ve found some of my favorite artists through comic anthologies like Happiness Comix and Kus! comix, Heather Benjamin and many, many more.
Reading anything good right now? Do you find it influencing your work?
I’m Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham has been circulating through us one by one, and I don’t think any one of us hasn’t been 100% affected by it. While every essay is relatable to me in different ways, her voice is always present. Her stories are tragically familiar and jarringly honest. So honest, it made me cringe at times. I would like for people to be able to relate to my work, maybe so much it gives them second hand embarrassment for me as they look at it, like I did while reading Lena’s book.
I love the title of this show, “PLEASE STOP CALLING MY HOUSE.” Tell me a bit about how that happened and if it’s shaped the work at all.
During the last semester of our undergrad, Jazzmyn and I took our senior thesis class together, where the point of the class was to collaboratively plan out every detail of our thesis show. “Please Stop Calling My House” was one of the titles Jazzmyn and I pitched for the show, but everyone in our class found so horribly offensive/unprofessional for their thesis show. We consoled each other by promising we’d use it in a collaborative show in the future. When we all met up and talked over details about this show, it was a bit of a struggle to find the right title that says “This is a Valentine’s themed show, but it’s not exactly romantic, but also we’re not bitter that people love each other or whatever.” Please Stop Calling My House is hinting at the idea that we’re talking about relationships, even if they are unhealthy or unconventional, because finding real love and finding yourself is not always easy as some make it out to be.
This is a printmaking show that seems to be about taking a more honest look at the themes of love and relationships around Valentine’s Day. Can you draw any comparisons between those themes and the practice of printmaking itself?
Printmaking can leave me with bruises everywhere, sometimes even some blood, but most often, some temporary symptoms of carpal tunnel. And I always come back. In this way, printmaking is nothing like my relationships. But if printmaking was Tom Hanks in You’ve Got mail, I would absolutely be Meg Ryan. Because it’s kind of a love-hate thing? I think I just wanted to find an analogy where I could be Meg Ryan.
What is the “vicious bitches” art gang? What can an artist learn from collaborating that they can’t learn alone?
It began with Jazzmyn, Taylor, Missy Heagle, Amanda Sowers, and myself finding out we would all be going to the Southern Graphics print conference together. Psyched on realizing it would be just us girls, road trippin’ it to Milwaukee, we decided to rep Metro State as this really hard girl gang of printers (the Metro print department is called Vicious Dog Press), and took it upon ourselves to screen print denim jackets before going there. It honestly started as a joke that I took more seriously the longer it went on, because it became apparent that we were a very legitimate support system for each other, in many ways like a second family. I’m still not over the idea of vicious bitches, but I think I might be the only one.
If I hadn’t met and collaborated with Jazzmyn and Taylor, my schooling experience would have felt close to useless. While I can work alone fairly quickly, I run into a lot more kinks, and second guess myself twice as much on what I’m making if I haven’t had a chance to get feedback or get an in-process critique. I work best with others, and even more so when they know my work well and I trust their judgement. Jazzmyn and I took every print course together from start to finish, and Taylor was only a year behind, so hashing out the details about our work and what it’s about is a ritual that seems a little sacred at this point.
Outside of the vicious bitches crew, who are some Denver artists to watch?
Kayla Haubenschild. One of the most meticulous and controlled painters I’ve seen working in a heavily stylized manner. Her style is unlike anything I’ve seen, and I think it has something that the Denver art scene severely needs. She’s having a show at the Buffalo Exchange Gallery in March, and I am ecstatic about it. Someone who consistently inspires me is Kevin Hennessy, and if anyone in Denver doesn’t already know his art, they should. And then there’s Alex Fiedler who makes heart-wrenching, ridiculously tiny detailed artwork, but most wouldn’t know about it unless they had seen his flyers around town and knew what record sleeves to look in. He’s a little too humble, but his heart is in it 100%, and it’s very refreshing.
If you had unlimited money/resources for art, what type of project would you do?
I would try to buy up some of the last affordable warehouses (do those exist?) in denver to ensure more spaces for artist spaces and DIY spaces. It’s been a little heartbreaking to see Rino become less of an art community and more of a tourist attraction, and rents be raised abnormally while wages stay the same. It’s pretty hard to keep any healthy art community going when their resources are depleted, and it only seems to be getting worse. I’m very fortunate to have gotten a space at the Temple run by Adam Gordon, but it’d be even better if all my art friends could be there with me, or if I could not eat ramen for almost every meal.
Any other art plans for 2015 you’d like to mention?
I’d like to participate in a comic/zine fair this year, or even help orchestrate one in Denver. Our alternative comic game is definitely growing stronger than it was, but it could still be much bigger. And when it starts to absolutely thrive, I want to be able to say I participated in it.
You can see more of Molly’s work on view at Indy Ink Gallery from February 6-28 in the wonderful group show, “PLEASE STOP CALLING MY HOUSE.”