Mural commissions have been a big part of my focus the last two years. The Lincoln Square mural at 5011 N Lincoln is titled “The Announcement,” and references a figure (jazz singer) announcing a new chapter for the neighborhood. Interestingly, it is also a new chapter for me! Coming Soon: new murals summer of 2019 for The Des Plaines Historical Center and Holtkamp Heating and Air in Suwanee Georgia.
I've been using different ways of creating new compositions, from using silhouettes, to exploring repetitive patterns and even surrealist backdrops. These explorations have especially been successful for large graphic based pieces, and have lead the way to my mural compositions.
Whats with the lips? I first came to Chicago in the early 90's from Ohio. There were at one time several of these signs, but I recall seeing this sign along the Dan Ryan Expressway and always loving it. While this sign is gone today, it brings back an earlier time, and I love everything about it from the lips, to the Magikist font. The Magikist company was a carpet cleaning service I believe. It still puts a smile on my face, so you'll likely see it again in my work!
Decatur Arts Center Solo Show, “Signs of Life” March 2019. I was honored to be able to show my recent series of work at the Decatur Arts Center, what a fantastic space!
Using the iconography of the city, snippets of signage that represent the fabric and culture of our local cities. The bars, clubs, restaurants are referenced to talk about our past, and conjure our inner nostalgia.
Chicago Trumpet, copyright 2017. As a guitar player, I have always thought of music and painting as similar yet different. Creatively they can be similar in terms of themes, song writing, repetition for example, but are very different in execution and the way the concepts are put together. I especially like the references to Blues and Jazz venues in these works, referencing places with a distinct history in Chicago music.
Future's Past, 5' x 6'. 2017. This piece was created with Grand Rapids in mind as an entry for Art Prize. The signage represents local fast food, bowling etc. vintage neon from the area around Grand Rapids Mi. I've since gone back and changed the coloration of the sky to a teal blue to better direct focus to the figure. There are patterns that are reminiscent of Ed Paschke, whom I have been inspired by lately. This one showed at the B.O.B. during Grand Rapids Art Prize, 2017.
Green Mill, 2018. 38" x 38". I've always loved the Green Mill sign, and all that it represents as a long running club with live Jazz acts.
If you haven't noticed, I've got a bit of a thing for signage. I've been using the parking signage for years originally as a reference to our car culture and had a whole series of parking garages. More and more I'm just using the signage elements as graphic elements, and one other thing to think about when you as a viewer look at a piece. The figures have a relationship to each other and the signage brings another compositional relationship.
In the works, Oil on wood panels 4' x 12'.
Somewhere in our lives, the passion and energy of youth has passed us by. I’m populating my latest piece, “When we Ruled the World” with youthful characters as a way of looking back, and perhaps gaining my own middle aged mojo back in the process. I have been enamored with the idea of showing various stages of life, with a specific focus of the freedom and rebellious spirit of youth. The kids are all shown in action, playing without a cell phone in sight. The one jumping into the fountain I think of as myself at an early age, confident as hell and ready for anything. The scene utilizes Bethesda fountain in Central Park as a gathering place and allows for a directional narrative culminating in the fountain. The scene’s panoramic quality allows for multiple vantage points. Adding to this narrative character, the winged angel of the fountain looks down on the action in quiet approval.
Over the past 10 years I’ve returned to these natural landscapes. At first glance these might seem different from my other work. What is true, however, is the compositions are edited to interesting 2d compositions, always carefully paired back to highlight the color and allow for the brush work and painting to be a bit more expressive. The graphic quality of these works are what tie them to my other paintings. Strategic color choices is something that is important as well, I usually use 2 to 3 colors primarily in a piece, usually secondary colors on a color wheel. When you really want an area to be a focal point in a composition, you can alway put 2 complementary colors side by side (purple & yellow, green and red, orange and blue.) They tend to separate visually and draw attention- this is kind of the nuclear option, however, and should be used sparingly!
Transportation has been an important focus for my work. I have recently been working on bridge scenes, as a reference to the beautiful man-made structures. Moreso, they also represent a metaphor for getting to the other side. This translation is important as I see my work shifting in this direction. I think these scenes have a fluid relation to my urban landscapes and I am very focused on pushing the color and patterning of the composition. Lastly, several paintings called Park, which was a series of Parking Garage compositions.
See my new t-shirt line for discovergrey.com. Full interview here: https://discovergrey.com/profiles/artist-spotlight/this-colorful-artist-will-inspire-you-to-never-stop-hustling/