I have found that looking at art and having conversations about art has always been the greatest catalyst to my creative process. I don't always seek these moments out - in fact I have been surprisingly unintentional about it - but these moments have been crucial to my growth as an artist. And in hindsight, they have always taken place in the presence of artists whose work is entirely unlike mine.
- Attending Shepard Fairey's Revolutions show at Bergamot Station.
- A field trip to the modern art wing of LACMA.
- A quarterly 'burger and beer' art critique at Rush Street in Culver City.
- A dinner in Santa Monica. Not with the intention of discussing art. Just dinner with good friends.
In each case I've walked away inspired and motivated to launch myself into a new artistic work. It was Shepard Fairey's work that inspired me to push myself further with the use of textural background elements combined with strong graphic images. It was the work of John Baldessari and Barbara Kruger who inspired a series of text based works with a simple or ironic message. It was at Rush Street that the merits of my first Mobil Pegasus piece (the first piece I would ever sell in a gallery) was discussed at length.
And it was the matter of fact response of a dear friend and great Finnish artist (Dashiana) that inspired the title of my upcoming show.
Let me explain.
I've always been enamored with mid-century design. I love all of it. I love the cars, the chairs, the shape of the ashtrays. I love the cheerful, tinny sound of the voice-over guy on seemingly every commercial. I love doctor's selling cigarettes, the unbearable optimism, and the almost painful directness of the advertising.
I also love the mid-century view of the American West. Horses and cowboys and prospectors. I love the simplicity of the Western narrative that divides people and ideas into black and white, good and bad. I love the idea that good always prevails and that bad guys always get their comeuppance (I also love words like comeuppance, which I think we can all agree is not used nearly enough in this day and age).
It was in this rambling manner that I had tried to explain my ideas to a table of artist friends. I wanted to try to create a body of Western work through the lens of the mid-century. I could speak about it and around it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
Without missing a beat, Dashiana said "that's because the West is your American Folklore."
There it was in two words. This is the story I wanted to tell. This was the through-line of the work I wanted to create. Folklore isn't 'accurate' or even remotely true - what better reflection of American advertising? It's about the narrative we want to present. It's the cleaner, easier, more nostalgic version of the real thing.
My hope is that conversations take place around this work. Conversations that serve as a catalyst for the exchange of ideas. As creative inspiration.
That's my long-winded way of saying: I am very proud to present - American Folklore.