Think Tank Gallery, Los Angeles is an urban art gallery in a city that is realizing its post-street art potential. The gallery focuses on integration and progression with each show, and serves as a place to inspire with each event and exhibition shared within the historic part of Downtown LA it inhabits.
As part of our Kickstarter campaign to get our first show in 2013 open, we are working with dozens of artists that we’ve met over the last two years. Each one is donating 10 original works of art that they are giving away for just $15 a piece at our campaign here. Check it out! Luke sat down with us to share some insights into his colorful artwork:
You first worked with Think Tank Gallery for our most successful show yet, Dude Monsters! How did you plan for that show from across the country and where did the idea come from? I’d never been to LA before “Dude, Monsters!” haha It was probably a little overly ambitious. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. Not to many of my friends were into the same art/music as me. So I always had to get on the internet to find bands/artists that spoke to me. When I started making art, I’d email all the artists I liked, talk to them, and trade art. When I started curating shows, I just asked them to get involved. While the internet has the potential to connect the entire world, it has a way of pushing us apart. I’d done a few shows in Chicago and decided I wanted to do a show in LA and meet up with a bunch of the artists I’d been talking to. It was nice to bring a community that started on the internet into the real world and have a bunch of fun!
Your work has a really illustrative style that makes any topic feel like it lives in this fun, brightly colored, kind of punk world. When did this aesthetic begin to emerge for you? Have you always had it? There are a ton of different things that pushed me in the direction that moving in, but if I had to pick one, it’d be Tony Hawk’s Pro-Skater. I was 7 or 8 years old when I first played it. That’s when I got really into skateboarding and punk. Skateboarding trains kids to be creative. A lot of people will look at a handrail and only see a handrail. Skateboarders look at handrails and see possibilities. They’re taking something that already exists, combining it with their own ideas, and creating something new. That’s what art is all about. The game was a perfect world where everything was yours and you could do whatever you wanted. It’s soundtrack blew my mind. The songs created a hyper-teenage world. A place with no parents, no rules, no limits, just fun. That game created a paradise. I believed in it. Once I got old enough to realize that the world was nothing like that, I got really angry and destructive. I felt cheated. I was getting kicked out of school, destroying other people’s property, and just breaking stuff. Recently, I’ve decided that I’m tired of eating away at a world I don’t fit into. Through curating shows, supporting other artists, creating community, and making art, I’m building the world I want to be a part of.
Many items or subjects show up multiple times in your paintings, like skeletons. Are there any particular images that are your favorite, and why? I was using the skeletons in Hawaiian shirts to talk about people who overwork themselves and say “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” I have a bunch of new subjects I’m working with, but right now, I loves alligators. To me, they’re the last dinosaur. They watched all of their dinosaur friends fade away and didn’t seem to notice. If you see an alligator in a zoo, it doesn’t notice anything outside of itself until it’s feeding time. I see a lot of people living life the same way: just living paycheck to paycheck and waiting on the next meal. That’s why I paint most of them with their eyes closed.
Your solo show just opened to good reviews in Chicago. How was the experience leading up to that? Didn’t you release a music album, zine, and pinball machine alongside the regular work for the show? It was crazy. haha I broke my arm that Summer. So I wasn’t able to make any art. Three days after that, the Peanut Gallery asked me to do the show. I wrote the whole record while my arm was still broken. So when I was finally able to make art again, I used the album as a blueprint for the show. I made all the paintings in North Carolina with a lot of help from friends, family, and my girlfriend. I did the pinball machine when I got to Chicago. I used it as a sort of summary of the whole show. In the past, I would have looked at my art, music, and social practice as being separate, but now, I see it all as one thing.
Who were some of your favorite artists growing up or pieces of entertainment that may have inspired the way your work currently looks? Stuff I liked when I was a kid that I’m still into:
Artists: Jim Phillips, Vernon Courtland Johnson, Marc McKee, Klasky-Csupo, and a ton of other stuff.
TV/Movies: Rocket Power, Grind, Little Monsters, Good Burger, KABLAM.
Music: NOFX, Less Than Jake, Screeching Weasel, The Ramones, Lagwagon, The Offspring, etc.
What do you want to do with your work in the future, and is there anyone with whom you would be stoked to work with? I want to continue doing shows and building communities. I’ll start working on another solo show sometime soon. I want it to be more installation driven. That way I can create an environment.
And most of my friends are my favorite artists right now. So I would love to work with some musicians and skateboarders. Maybe some film-makers or animators?
You can find more of Luke’s work on his Tumblr blog, and buy one of ten original pieces he graciously made for us for $15 here.
INTERVIEW WITH MILES JACKSON AFTER DUDE, MONSTERS!
Miles Jackson was an artist that got a great response during the Dude, Monsters! show last month at Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles. Selling out all of his work, the intricate styling and concentrated subject matter left room for interpretation in a show full of expansive takes on a centralized theme. We interviewed the artist via email from his current locale in New York, and got some insight into the ideals of the up and coming illustrator:
Your work takes a meditative concentration in its linework. How does that relate to the subject matter?
Both my subject matter and line work in my recent pieces have been focused around labor. The uniformed figures in my drawings are often interpreted as peasants, mechanics or builders of some sort. There facelessness takes away any kind of personal identity and they become representations of larger ideas—symbols of craft and construction and a sort of intense beautification, which mirrors the mark making itself. The symbols and lines I use suggest a mood and though my work is narrative I don’t try to convey any structured plot. At the end of the day what I’m most interested in is how the work functions aesthetically. Is it visually stimulating, is it something that I want to look at.
What kind of work were you doing before and how did that transition into the style of work we saw at Dude, Monsters!?
Before dude monsters I was making similar work but my content was much more grotesque. I was drawing piles of dead pigs and crying children and odd scenes like that. When I was making work for the show Luke told me that the show was going to be more about celebration and positive energy, so I kind of flipped it and decide to draw more cooperative “constructive” scenes.
How old are you? And how old do people usually think you are after seeing your work but before meeting? We thought you were much older…
I’m 19. People usually think I’m much older, maybe because the colors and motifs I use feel old, my work is not very loud or teen-like. I take it as a compliment though.
How did you enjoy your experience in LA and at the opening?
Yeah LA was ill. It was my first trip to California and I had a good ass time. It was cool to meet all the other artists and kick it with Bryan Peterson and Luke Pelletier who I work with in Chicago. The show opening had tones of energy and good vibes. I really liked the Think Tank Gallery space too. Im planing on doing more shows out on the West Coast.
What’s next for you after Dude, Monsters! At Think Tank Gallery?
Right now I’m working some in New York. Once I move back to Chicago I’ll begin my next semester at SAIC and I’ll be planning and being apart of the next shows there, and around the country. Check out my tumblr for my most recent projects and hit me up on Facebook if you got questions or want to collaborate on something.
Here are a few photos that Active Ride Shop Posted from the “Dude, Monsters!” opening July 12th at Think Tank Gallery downtown. Not only were there loads of great pieces by tons of artists including Michael Sieben, Sean Morris, Jimbo Phillips, John Malta, Wes Humpston, and Ben Horton but also loads of skating and fun!
Check out some more opening pictures here as well as this video:
Closing party July27th 8pm-2am (RSVP for art performance here)
Dude, Monsters! Think Tank Gallery 939 Maple Ave Second Floor Los Angeles, CA 90015
Show runs: July 12th-27th
Gallery Hours: Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays Noon-4pm Fridays 4pm-8pm with skating hours after 6:30pm
Touted as the world’s first large-scale, skateable sculptural installation, The Kiasma Museum of Modern Art in Finland recently unveiled their new work by artist Rich Holland. The organic shapes with minimal, graceful lines flow upward from the ground in a manner that invites viewers to both admire and interact with the work. The piece is titled Skateable Sculpture, and was conceived of the notion that public space can orcannot - simultaneously - be owned.
An artist much of the same notion, Brandon Muñoz will be unveiling his new surrealist skate ramp at the opening of Dude, Monsters! tomorrow evening during the DTLA Art Walk. Muñoz may be opposed to the notion that large-scale skateable sculptures are a new concept, as the artist has been creating office spaces that are also fully functional skate parks for some time now. Come to the opening tomorrow evening to see his skate sculpture in action!
SHPLINTON FOR DUDE, MONSTERS AT THINK TANK GALLERY
Following our video with Michael Hsiung that got some attention when it hit Tumblr’s radar, we sat down with the always entertaining Shplinton to spit life philosophies while talking about Dude, Monsters! The show happens at Think Tank Gallery during the Los Angeles Art Walk on July 12th. Follow Shplinton’s Tumblr here.
(About) 20 street artists, skaters, punks, and otherwise artsy kids are showing original works based on what they think it means to be a monster.
RSVP and find more info and a list of artists in the press release.
We are very excited to present our third exhibition of 2012 in Dude, Monsters! Every artist is creating amazing works for the show, and we can’t wait to show you what’s in store. With a surrealist skate ramp installation by Brandon Muñoz that he describes as “a skate ramp that Salvador Dalí & MC Esher would’ve rode on in a dream together,” you can expect the show to be one of the most compelling street and skate art shows of the year. Check out the press release and links to artists here.