Meeting you at the opening of Jonathan LeVine Gallery, now in your neighborhood, was a dream like experience for me. I have been seeing your work both on the streets and inside at gallery shows for years. Where did it all begin for you?
It began in two ways... One, with my parents, they were/are artists. I grew up in a large house in Redhook Brooklyn, both my parents worked from home making all kinds of art. I thought everyone lived like that, as I became older I rebelled, I didn't want to be an artist, I wanted to be something very foreign to my household... an athlete.
Two, the athlete thing went all the way to college in Alabama, playing tennis. But I also always loved music, and played in a band part time. Until I burnt out in tennis, went back to NYC, and decided to form a pop/punk/shoegazer band PAINT. I did the street art, flyers, and artwork to promote the propaganda. Mostly on the streets of lower Manhattan. I also made pop art to adorn the firehouse in jersey city the band inhabited, creating our own little world, kinda like The Village Voice described my band as 'The Beatles meets The Clash in Bladerunner.' When the band broke up... I continued making art. My first solo show was at the 58 Gallery in Jersey City, in 2003.
You have mastered so many mediums. Are there any you prefer more than others? Any medium that intimidates you that you want to experiment with?
I like to do many mediums especially for a solo show. The trick is to make them cohesive, and well composed to each other. I prefer a show to come across varied, I feel it's more interesting to the viewer. And much more fun and inspiring to create. It's kinda like looking at a show like an album, and making 'Sargent Pepper' as opposed to 'Rocket to Russia'.
I enjoy moving around in mediums, my painting are made mostly to recreate as images to wheat paste, my collages, assemblages, and objects, are done because like a Frankenstein monster, I just want to give them life, and have them exist, and hopefully become almost like adored antiques someday. The metal work is the most challenging, from seeing the quality of available materials decline with each passing year, to pulling brass splinters out of my fingers, weeks later. But I can make a painting challenging too. See the blanket on 'Quanah'.
When I make a piece, it's because I want it to exist. I have collected objects, and art work all my life, my father gave me an Egon Shiele drawing when I was young, he was his idol. I also collect vintage racing leathers, and motorcycle helmets, I used to collect action figures, and bicycles. So when I make art, I look at it as a piece to a bigger collection. The DE collection. I also find it more exciting for myself to incorporate objects, paintings, collage all into a show, I imagine it more interesting to the viewer as well. In 2009 I did a show of all oil painting, and by the time I was finished I was so bored with 2 dimensions... never again. I love oil painting, don't get me wrong, but it's so nice to do a painting, an object, then a collage, collages are so exciting when you add a new piece to the collage, the overall appearance changes drastically, and then you have to rebalance, and adjust the color palette, I really like making them. Assemblages are even more adventurous, and tricky. Then you have to keep in mind the paintings, and objects being shown together, and make sure they tie together, and flow, so it doesn't seem hodge podge. At my last solo show I made a modern version of a parlor-phone, simply because I thought it should exist. I work in metal, and all those pieces sell very well, but they are so hard to make. A piece may have 3000 nails in it, and every hole needs to be pre drilled. I think changing mediums keeps me excited about creating new work. And I am always interested in the next rabbit hole to fall into.
Please tell our readers of your collaborations with corporate clients and how you choose who to work with. Not all artists like the idea of working with corporate clients yet collaborating with Chanel, Dior, etc. I assume opens doors into other mediums and avenues of creativity. Your furniture is stunning, too!
Again being a collector I have always been obsessed with certain makers. Hermes was originally a tack company (horse products) and you can still see it in their leather goods. Plus their connection with Jane Birkin and Grace Kelly, two of my favorite actresses. I made some custom bags for them in 2008, and remade their wonderful orange boxes out of cedar, and painted enamel. They were for an Elle Magazine shoot. I took apart a 1920 Louis Vuitton trunk to figure out how to make one from scratch for my 'finis temporis' end of days trunk. Complete with my own pattern in 2010. That pattern would lead to a Pendleton blanket with re: brand and furniture with regeneration furniture. I did a few custom pieces for Chanel, a collaboration with photographer Jamie Nelson for notofu magazine to celebrate Coco Chanel's birthday. I am doing a YSL project right now, but it's still under wraps. I hope to have a car ready to show at a solo show in Manhattan in October 2017.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be with and why?
If I could collaborate with any artist it would probably be Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, Alexander Rodchenko, or Robert Rauschenberg. Too hard to choose... Evil Knievel would be good too.
Where can our readers learn more about both you and your work?