Sarah Blood is a contemporary installation artist based out of England. To see more of her work visit her site.
Valdes lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. To see more of his work visit his site.
Oakland artist Mark Taylor talks about his drawings in terms of fantasy and secrets, but they’re also remarkably concrete, accessible and funny. Tableaux of rocks, building materials, balloons and balls hover on small black pages, as if a tree fort and a still life had merged in an improbable mash-up.
To view the print collection, go HERE.
MH: In your recent work especially, objects float on the page, neither here nor there. You’ve referred to them at one point as “fantasy sculptures.” Can you talk about why you’re exploring object-hood through drawing and painting?
MT: I’m interested in making actual sculptures but I get hung up on the “problems” associated with that kind of practice; space concerns, waste and environmental concerns, and I suppose just having to actually make 3D objects. I like the idea of using drawing as a way to fantasize about a scene or an object, I think it’s an approach that children take to drawing that I admire. When I’m in the studio I start with this kind of prompt to imagine a sculpture that I think can actually exist. Then it’s a kind of game to make a pairing or juxtaposition of objects. Sometimes though, I end up with objects that cannot exist. I had this drawing of a board that is being held up in the air at an angle on one end by a balloon, and tried to actually make it, but it didn’t work. I ended up talking to a physicist on an airplane about it and he explained that it was physically impossible! I was pretty excited about this because it meant that the drawing was the only way to make this seemingly possible sculpture.
MH: How did your interest in building materials come about? They’re throughout your drawings from the past couple years, along with plants, balloons and rocks, etc.
MT: I work as a carpenter building and remodeling houses so I suppose it’s only natural that I started drawing these materials. I was kind of dancing around this in the last question but it’s another reason that I would prefer to make drawings as opposed to making sculpture; I essentially make huge sculptures all day at work and need drawing as an escape. My wife and I also run a studio space in Oakland, and after the build out I had a lot of building materials piled up in my studio. I spent so much time building that I started to feel like that was my real studio practice and when I got my first chance to make drawings again those materials were all that I could think about.
Even though I had no intention of making any of the sculptures when I started drawing I was thinking about how to not be wasteful in the drawings as if they were physically being made. So I used things that were already waste like broken sheetrock, cut off two by fours, and trash bags. I used plants because it seemed like a plant could never be garbage. Balloons and rocks are just funny.
MH: Your drawings are quite modest in size, and recall sketches and even cartoons. I enjoy how this makes them seem “plausible” in a way that they wouldn’t if they were monumental… they’re everyday in a way that provokes me to look again at other things around me as if they could become possible characters in an unfolding tableaux of objects. What’s behind this scale choice, and your materials, for you?
MT: I had to think about this one for a minute, because there certainly are all sorts of practical reasons to work small but none of those reasons are really. I suppose it goes back to fantasy and a no-pressure kid zone; working the same scale of a doodle or an illustration in a children’s book. I think if they were larger they would look much more like “art” and maybe seem too serious. Years ago a friend asked me to make a drawing for a CD of his. It was going to be a small release so I just decided to make a one-off drawing for each of the fifty CDs. In the process I really fell in love with that small format and liked how the drawings seemed like they could get lost or overlooked in the jewel cases.
MH: I sympathize with the quandary, “Do I build this thing (and use all these materials and spend the money) or not?” What’s it like when you do build something in studio? What does it feel like as sculpture?
MT: It feels different! The drawings always seem so small and personal like little secrets, but the sculpture can’t ever be the same. Like I said earlier, I didn’t intend on making any sculptures when I started; it was actually part of my goal not to make them. But then, as time wore on and I made a bunch of drawings of sculptures I got curious. The sculptures were all so simple to make I just had to try one eventually. I like how comparatively difficult making the drawings are to how easy it is to make the sculptures, it seems like an inverse of the natural situation.
MH: Does humor play into your process consciously or unconsciously? Here and there you make juxtapositions that are restrained but pretty funny; for example a pencil and a rock, an odd couple paired like Jack Spratt and his wife.
MT: I guess it’s both, conscious and not. For years all my drawings were an attempt to be funny and to make myself laugh. I really looked up to artists like David Shrigley, Raymond Pettibon, and Chris Johanson. Anyway at a certain point I decided that I had goofed off enough and wanted to make some other work that wasn’t solely about black humor. That’s why I say it’s both, because I tried to make work that wasn’t about humor and couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I still make a make a drawing of something like Jackie Onasis dancing with a skeleton, laugh at it and then throw it away.
MH: I see what you mean about Shrigley, Johanson etc as influences. Who are some of the other artists you look at? Something about your more recent work recalls me to the interiors in some of David Hockney’s work from the ’70s or ’80s… Maybe it’s the houseplants, or the colors or the flatness.
MT: Well, you nailed it on Hockney, I love his work. I have a huge collection of crumbling issues of Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful from the 60′s and 70′s that have all these interiors like a Hockney painting and that source material is a real influence. Those magazines and the spaces inside led to me getting a bunch of old “How to grow Houseplants” kind of books. I draw a lot inspiration from older printed matter. I was fortunate enough to make it to Documenta last year and saw the incredible installation of the collaborative work of Haris Epaminonda and Daniel Gustav Cramer. They use a lot of imagery from old publications mixed with odd shaped plinths and ceramics in a very austere setting, and anyway it stoked me out and stuck with me.
MH: How has running Real Time and Space been? I’m curious if it’s influence your work, but also just about the experience of starting and running an art space with a group as well.
MT: Running RTS has mostly been a fun challenge. I’m finally at a point where I don’t have to fix something each time I show up, which is good! Absolutely I’ve been influenced by being around so any great artists. I think a few years ago I found myself starting to have a narrower and narrower view of art that I was drawn to, and RTS really was part of helping me wake up and get out of my comfort zone. Many artists working there are younger than I am and I really appreciate their zeal for art making and excitement about experimentation. I’m also happy that we have real dialog at the space, not only with each other, but in a community setting through talks series.
MH: What are you working on right now? Do you have any special projects in the works?
MT: I do have some special projects in the works but none are art. I’ve been a real bike nut for years and I’m in the process of learning to make my own bike frame. It may be the hardest project I’ve ever tried to take on. I’ve been trying to teach myself from books and the Internet and just trying things out. Turns out, it’s super complicated! I have a self-imposed deadline as my wife is having a baby soon, so art making has taken a back seat for the moment.
Since we have got some new BEAUTIFUL products from Acorn + Archer at the shop, I started to look at their website and found this very good photographer. It is a bit different or maybe too crisp fashionable for most of the things we normally post, but I think he has a great sense of both natural and studio lighting. I also like a lot his compositions and themes and props for the different portfolios. Thought I would share something new…
Michael Howard currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee.
Education: Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography, Missouri State, 2002
*Acorn + Archer / LPP Shop = here
Cards, Colpa Press
Necklaces, Cheri Messerli
Necklace, High Low Jewelery
Rings, Giant Lion
Leather Clutches, Anja
Photos: Clara Azulay
Design + Styling: Loren Crosier
Video: Kelly Lynn Jones
Hurley is based out of Brooklyn, NY. To see more of her work visit her site.
Henning Bohl lives and works in Berlin. To view more of his work go here.
Debbie Carlos was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Manila, Philippines. She has since studied psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts and photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Her photos attempt to capture objects at their moments of greatest clarity: In certain light, at a certain time of day, in a certain place. The method is to wander and notice. Moments of quiet strangeness, patterns of light and shadow, minute-by-minute surprises, changes that don’t happen, something askew, something exactly in place, natural and artificial phenomena, are all sources of inspiration, and the subjects for her work.
*To see more of Debbie’s work go here…
**Debbie & LPP here…