Posts tagged Space
Inner Worlds: Interview with Tanner Mothershead
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Tanner Mothershead is a midwestern born artist. He attended undergraduate school at the Northwest Missouri State University before going on to attain his MFA at the University of Iowa with an emphasis in ceramics and minors in painting and sculpture. He has exhibited work at NCECA and published in New American Paintings

A driving force in the creation of his work is a desire to make sense of both people and place. The work stems from a fascination with the human mind's ability to interpret, transform, and create the world around it. Much of the work formed acts as an apparatus for viewing and experiencing a conceptualized inner world in relationship to tangible reality.  His research delves into the functions and meanings of symbolism, spatial relations, and degrees of abstraction. Elements of Jungian psychology, philosophy, and architecture are woven together in these biomorphic surreal narratives.  

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Briefly tell us about your current work.

My current work focuses on the relationship between physical and perceived reality, with an emphasis on the inner worlds people create either for idle pleasure or to escape traumatic experiences. Everyday in the news we hear about mass shootings and are bombarded with senseless acts of violence. I think about events that have happened to the people closest to me as well as a deeply traumatic event in my own life, the dots and lines of happenings and how they connect. The work I make becomes objects of connection. They appear outwardly as fun fantasy worlds with bright color, enticing one to look deeper. Neon doors, steps, and pathways act in contrast to darker, more sinister, elements buried further in.


At first glance your work looks very material based. Can you give us some insight about your use of materials?

I suspend layers of paint and other materials in transparent resin in order to form sculptural paintings. This drive stems from my compulsive desire to give physical form and depth to these imagined spaces; I wish to make more concrete the fact that the mental landscape is just as real as the one we all share. They take the shape of geoded doorways or shards, reminiscent of transitional spaces, as well as how our perceptions of reality build up over time and pressure. Most recently I have begun making them in the form of the midbrain and visual cortexes, the parts of human anatomy linking the eye to the brain. They remain as fragmentary images of places alien to outsiders and have a shallow, ghostly, topographical map stamped on its surface.

Spiritually, I work to embody elements from two notable psychotherapists, who also dabbled in creative practice: Carl Jung, who was a leading pioneer in the understanding of the inner human, and Herman Rorschach, who utilized a delicate balance of pure abstraction to that of recognizable objectivity.


Who in the art community inspires you?

Currently the artists I have found inspiring, and thoroughly enjoyed following their practice, have been Lauren Clay, Michael Reeder, Alex Eckman-Lawn, and Donté K. Hayes.

Erika Pajarillo Creates Vibrant Illustrations of Women in Their Environments

Erika Pajarillo is an illustrator based in Brooklyn, New York. Her illustrations feature lush drawn environments of women and nature, which stems from the world in her sketchbook. Working both digitally and traditionally, Erika’s illustrations extend to typographic design, surface and pattern design, and even embroidery.

Jaime Brett Treadwell at Pentimenti Gallery

The paintings on view in shift alt delete point to a slight detour from previous directions. Experimentation with new ideas, specifically architectural and mechanical drawing methods, combined with my persistent 1980’s childhood influences, including MTV graphics, digital synthesizers, and Miami Vice, has resulted in a deeper complexity of interwoven parts. I chose the exhibition title shift alt delete after recognizing the correlation between keyboard functions and the shifting realities present throughout this body of work. The shift key is designed to shift from one version to another, such as lower case to upper case. Alt, short for alternate, is designed as a modifier key to adjust or alter change. This ability to change or manipulate reality parallels my recent investigations regarding visual deceptions and spatial ambiguity through line, shape, color, and space. Similar to the key functions, elements in my painting often serve multiple roles. For example, a thin line may operate as the edge of a shape and also contribute to a repeating pattern of lines, later to return as a single line that cuts through another form or shape. These moments of co-existence throughout the painting disrupt the viewer’s perception of truth, often bending reality. Similar to pressing the shift, alt or delete key, these paintings can quickly switch identities back and forth, as they suggest alternate realities or a fictional universe.

Pentimenti Gallery 

Nov. 10th – Dec. 20th

Philadelphia, PA 

Jimmy Viera

I am a painter and printmaker currently living and working in Portland, Maine. For years now in my art practice I have been both interested in gesture and object and the relationship they share spatially in my work. Most of my curiosity with gesture and mark making comes from the pleasure of very quickly creating something that resonates with you and wanting to preserve it. This idea of elongating a quick moment in time is carried into the physical process of painting as well. The shape or mark is made, then re-drawn on the masking, and finally the masking is cut. These steps make for a careful examination of why this particular moment is so enticing, this allows for more time with each shape rather than just attempting to create a mark directly on the support. 

The paintings serve as faux spaces in which gestures and shapes sit on the panels the way ephemera, imbued with fond memories, sit in people’s homes. Looking through my sketchbooks for the right gestures, I act as a collector adding items to shelf. Both the collector and I layer items from different times and places. By taking a wobbly line I made today and placing it in a painting with a cylindrical shape I made three months ago, I am able to collage my gestures into a piece with more history than if I had been just painting intuitively. 

Daria Zhest

Daria Zhest is an artist based in Moscow/ NYC, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She has been exhibiting in various exhibitions, and currently is further developing her practice with the use of digital spaces in the city. She creates complex multi-dimensional works that redefine space in the close vicinity physically, as well as metaphorically. The work ranges from digital C-Prints to physical sculptures and interactive installations that are made on the computer using CGI software, programming software and video, an Open-source electronic prototyping platform Arduino, interactive installation, motion graphics, and particle systems that then can be output to the analogue world in different forms. One of the questions that she raises in her works is this: What happens to the state of the original, when we attain the ability to create perfect replications? Is there any purpose in the original? And where the originality is maintained in the world of digital technology that is positioned in the remaining analog world. 

ALGORITHM: A solo exhibition by Scott Listfield

Spoke SF is pleased to present ALGORITHM, a solo exhibition by Massachusetts-based painter Scott Listfield. The new series continues the saga of Listfield’s central protagonist, a lone astronaut navigating the post-apocalyptic landscape of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Listfield’s latest body of oil paintings are set in a world populated by drones, self- driving vehicles, and robots. The work presents a derelict aftermath, inviting the view to consider a cityscape overrun by technology and devoid of human life.

The work is critical of the ways in which we interface with an ever-changing technological landscape. Examining this pivotal moment in time, Listfield ponders, “Just because we can do something, does that mean we should?” What is technology without the human component? And what kind of problems are we solving?”

Please join us for ALGORITHM, opening Saturday, June 2nd, with an opening night reception from 6pm - 9pm where the artist will be present and the first 50 attendees will receive an exclusive, complimentary print. The exhibition will be on view through Saturday, June 23rd. For more information or additional images, please email us at

Studio Sundays: Chloe York

Abstract painter, Chloe York earned her BFA from Memphis College of Art in 2012. She has displayed her work in over 100 group and solo exhibitions throughout the mid-South and her solo exhibit, Decorators was named one of Memphis’s top ten visual art exhibits for 2013. She currently resides in Birmingham with sculptor, Eric Quick and ferocious daughter, Echo in their shared home and studio.

“My work explores identity, outward appearances, and the manner in which we decorate ourselves.”
— Chloe York

Submit to next week's Studio Sundays feature:

Studio Sundays: Heather Kocsis

Captivating architectural scenes from life, acclaimed Canadian Artist Heather Kocsis builds stunning dimensional wall sculptures using layers of wood. Kocsis’s awe-inspiring work exemplifies originality, artistic innovation and excellent craftsmanship, appealing to the art collector, designer, architect and lovers of buildings. Her work adorns public spaces, corporate offices, private dwellings, hospitals and museums. Using photographic references, Heather Kocsis is capable of creating a work from anywhere around the world and ships internationally. 

Outstanding commissions include: ONYX Chelsea, NY, NY, The City Reliquary Museum, Brooklyn, NY, The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, ON, St. Mary’sHospital, Kitchener, ON; The Castle, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Constructed Environments by Jeremy Miranda

We love the way you create dream-like scenes by combining the landscape and interior. When did you initially get inspired to paint these images?

Thank you. That was a series I did back a few years back. At the time, I was interested in memory/time and trying to construct spacial environments that gave the sense of those things folding into themselves. I worked in that vein for a few years, panning for gold, and then honestly one day I walked into the studio and it all just looked like someone else’s work. I'm not sure why, but it just didn't fit anymore, which is great. I like moments like that in the studio, because they signal that you're being honest with yourself and that something exciting and new is about to happen. From there, I switched back to acrylic paint and began to revisit past ideas and ways of working that I actually felt ready for.   

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When did you first decide that you wanted to be an artist?

Growing up, I always was in love with drawing and thought I’d be a children's book illustrator or something like that, but I owe it to a handful of artists from my hometown (Sue McNally, Luke Randall, Tom Deininger) for exposing me to the idea of being an artist with a studio practice. They were awesome teachers and were nice enough to let a high school kid visit their studios, which were these big mill spaces with paintings and sculptures everywhere, and I was just completely hooked from there. Tom took me on as his assistant when I was a junior in high school, while he was in the midst of working on a solo museum show, so that really gave me an intense and intimate view into the daily life of an artist.  

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Tell us about your process. How does each painting come about from reference to execution? 

Pretty much everything is invented. If a painting is too mapped out, I get immediately bored. So, the only references I use are some pretty ugly, grubby sketches I make in the early morning.  I usually have a handful of paintings going so I can balance them against each other, and I’d really describe the process as intuitive, or maybe trial and error is a little more accurate. 


What advice would you give other painters for breaking through barriers and trying something new in their work?

I would refer them to Diebenkorn's "Notes to myself on beginning a painting" (provided below):

Notes to myself on beginning a painting

1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.

2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. DO search.

4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. Don’t “discover” a subject – of any kind.

6. Somehow don’t be bored but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.

7. Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position.

8. Keep thinking about Pollyanna.

9. Tolerate chaos.

10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

What are some of your favorite things to read, watch or listen to that inspire your work?

I guess kind of everything? I haven't finished a book since our son was born, but I was working my way through all of Michael Chabon's books (whom I find very inspiring). But honestly, anything that's well made makes me want to make things in response.   


Tell us about some of your other interests aside from art-making.

It’s not a super interesting list. Hiking, gardening, cooking, those kinds of things. I’ve been playing guitar since I was very young, but it’s all self-taught and not proper in anyway.  Honestly, I'm interested in anything that gets me out of the studio for a bit.  If you asked me to go play golf in the rain, I’d be pretty excited to do that.  

Do you have a daily ritual?

I do. My wife and I split the week up watching our kid, so when it’s my work day I get up at 7:00, make a pot of coffee and talk with my good friend Tom on the phone for half an hour (which we've been doing for about 15 years).  When I get into the studio, I spend the first hour making very loose drawings. The drawings are what I end up making the paintings from, so it’s important that they're made right away when the images are fresh in my mind.  From there, I'm usually juggling a few paintings that are all in various stages of completion. Also, I listen to the same 2 albums on rotation all day. I'm hoping I'm not the only one who does this, because it feels pretty weird. But I can't paint in silence, and podcasts and spotify are too stimulating and tend to pull me out of the work. So I just repeat an album I like until it becomes this rhythmic, meditative, white noise. 

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What would you say your paintings are about and how do you want the viewer to feel when they experience them?

I have a handful of different series going on right now and each one is about something a little different. I have series going of shelters (I guess you could call them cabins really) which are, on one level, about the play of interior vs exterior and space and light, but they're also about how the making of art is its own kind of shelter or insular world one occupies. I have another series of studio interiors with fictional "works in progress" which are my version of a self-portrait. But sometimes I don't know what something is about.  I have a group of these sink paintings, one of which is the largest painting in my studio right now, and I feel compelled to make them, but I really am not sure what they're about. All in all, I’m equally concerned with the content as I am with the physical surface, and I spend a lot of time thinking about paint handling and line quality and texture.  My hope is that the balance of those things creates an immersive experience for someone viewing the work.      

What would you say you are most proud of up to this point?

The fact that I'm still painting. 

Studio Sundays: Sean Martorana
“It’s very important for me to have an inspiring place to work. A perfect studio is one where you feel comfortable making anything you want. From drawing to building or sculpting anything can be accomplished.”
— Sean Martorana

Sean Martorana is a 2001 graduate in graphic design from The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Upon his graduation, Sean was immediately hired at a print shop where he helped customer with small design jobs. While doing so, Sean expanded the services of the print shop to include full-fledged brand development and marketing. Following the next logical step, Sean (with financial and business backing from the shop’s owner) branched off and founded the visual design, marketing and communications firm THE_STUDIO.

After over 6 years of successfully running THE_STUDIO, Sean left to begin building his own artistic and designer brand. Aside from his own line of paintings, designs, prints, and clothing/accessories, Sean has been collaborating with other artists and companies to develop designs in interior decor, clothing, jewelry, watches and other accessories. Sean has been featured in large media outlets for his innovation in art and design, including pieces created by sourcing social media for fan input.

“It’s a full collaboration between the designer and the interactivity of the consumer. The consumer brings that final brush stroke to any design by wearing it, living with it and making it a part of their lives.”

His work has been shown in galleries, featured in national publications and commissioned by passionate individuals. Sean thrives on partnering with like-minded artists and designers. He is engaged by the cross-pollination of print media, fashion, architecture, interiors and homes. Building a company at THE_STUDIO, he is constantly exploring and finding new way to expand his versatility and enhance his work. One cannot help but be moved by his aggressive symbolism and iconic imagery.

Studio photos courtesy of Colleen Stepanian.

Interview: Travis Rice

Tell us a bit about your background as an artist. Your paintings feature highly architectural forms. Do you have any formal training in this area? Tell us a bit about your journey finding your voice as an artist. 

My undergrad degree is in Landscape Architecture from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. So, yes, the experience of studying design has had a definitive impact on my approach as an artist. I have worked as a designer in various architectural offices over the years and have even taught design at Iowa State University in their landscape architecture department. As a designer, I have always interwoven my interest in art into my work, and thus it would only make sense that my experience in the world of architecture would influence what I do as an artist.

Your paintings have such a refined aesthetic, with structures that have incredible crisp, flawless lines that almost appear digitally formed. Do you ever use digital tools when creating your work?

Yes. Most of my work is initially digitally conceived. This process has been adopted from my experience in design, as we often incorporate digital tools to study space. They allow me the flexibility to study many different forms and lighting before committing to canvas or paper. I feel their use, as well as the impact they have on the aesthetic of the work, speaks to our current tech obsessed culture.

Working in drawing, painting, and installation, you use an eclectic range of materials including resin, spray paint, and glitter, along with more traditional mediums like charcoal and oils. How did you come to use such a wide range of materials? Has experimenting with a new material ever led to a breakthrough moment or ended in disastrous results?

I have always been interested in finding ways to create the illusion of space in my work and that has led to an exploration of materials that would help create polar effects or what ab/ex painter Hans Hoffman called push and pull. He discovered that layering opaque paint over a transparent wash, or a matte surface against a glossy one, causes forms to begin to float and suspend within the composition. I am always experimenting with materials and occasionally get some unwanted results, but generally I have a pretty distinct plan for each piece I create. Working in traditional media, like charcoal on paper, is a nice contrast to the more decadent mixed media pieces, and it is that contrast that makes them important to me.

You currently live in Phoenix, Arizona. What is it about the Southwest landscape that connects with you as an artist and influences your work?

Having grown up in the Midwest, I am used to seeing miles of uninterrupted agriculture that feels like woven tapestry, as one plant monoculture marries itself up against another, but in the Southwest the broad washes of brown desert are often interrupted by these incredible rock forms that seem to defy gravity and logic. They are anomalies that contrast the flow of topography in the same way a piece of architecture imposed on the landscape does. Their size and the varied aggregates that wedge together to create their textured surfaces simply cannot be ignored and, in my case, eventually have become inspiration for some of the forms I have conceived. Plus, the overwhelming amount of brown that defines the desert makes the vivid colours of desert plants absolutely glow in contrast, thus affecting and inspiring some of my colour choices. 

The structures in your work often appear to deteriorate, breaking down the geometric motifs into smaller pixel-like particles. Does this reflect your viewpoint on digital culture? How does today’s world of infinitely growing technology affect your artwork?

Having the work break down into pixel-like particles speaks to my process of using digital means and reveals my interest in frozen phenomena or suspended movement. I just find things that are in a frozen state of flux to be interesting and less predictable, and the computer allows me to simulate this. I have struggled with how to talk specifically about the use of the computer in my work, as it serves the purpose of purely being just another tool, and I am not sure what it is actually saying about the work. I think, because of my background in design, I am just more open to finding tools that aid me in creating my work, as the mentality in design is to always be searching for ways to do things more efficiently and in a more cost-effective way. The computer also provides the ability to create forms that could never have been conceived through purely analogue means. It is also important to me that anything I create digitally be translated through analogue means in order to visually witness the human hand. I suppose the work connects to our current culture through the use of digital tools, but my use of these tools does not have any of the social relevance that is so often associated with the tech devices most often used in society today.  

You have recently been creating cardboard sculptures that mirror the structures in your paintings. What inspired you to bring these polygonal forms into a three-dimensional space?

I actually kind of fought the idea of building three dimensional forms, as I feel the 2D work is substantial enough to stand on its own, but my background in design probably sparked my curiosity to explore the third dimension. The first one I built was essentially a product of playing with material, but I liked what I was coming up with and kept exploring. The simple materials are important to me, as I like the idea of elevating basic utilitarian materials to the status of art object. I’m not sure where these pieces will eventually go but am anxious to see them evolve.

If you could ask any painter from history one question, who would it be and what would you ask him/her?

Jeff Koons… Can I borrow some money?

Leslie M.W. Graff

My Domestic Series explores the ongoing evolution of feminism and domestic life, and the complicated space of cultural conceptions regarding women’s power, voice, sexuality, and roles. Employing clean, discrete use of paint, it presents highly complicated subjects, in a simplified way. Drawing on the stylings of pop art and hyper-idealized midcentury lifestyle illustration, it recalls previous decades, evoking contemplation of past vs. present perceptions of women. I incorporate “domestic artifacts”, household objects from various decades, into the settings to blur the historical context of the scene creating tension and ambiguity. My figurative work, forces anonymity of the figure allows space for multiple interpretations and to see the figure as a type. I deliberately crop the figures to focus on the action and metaphor of the piece. Each piece is titled with a phrase alluding to a secondary metaphor within the work. 

Leslie M.W. Graff holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from Brigham Young University. While Leslie explores a variety of series, her acrylic paintings are unified by a shared theme - the complexity of human experience. It focuses on identity, relationships, connection, influence, and specifically the intangibles of thought and emotion. She is fascinated by personal narratives, individual interactions within culture, and the intimacy of the mind. Her work has been exhibited in group and solo shows across the country, including 9 art museums and is held in many private collections. Her work has been featured in books, magazines, and blogs including a profile on, Boston Globe, and Worcester Magazine. Leslie has taught creative arts in California, Utah, Massachusetts, and Virginia and lectures frequently. She lives in Sutton, MA with her family.

Studio Sundays: Jeff Kraus

The work of Michigan based painter, Jeff Kraus, is characterized by loose, aggressive gestures and messy layers of swaths of color and anxious, minimal shapes that often resemble unspecific architectural surfaces and landscapes. Kraus’ paintings are the result of a performative process, a full embrace of chance towards a continually evolving series of experimentations into abstraction and the formalities of painting. Employing objects used to support, protect, contour, and transport artworks, for this new series, Kraus works with plastic paint tarp, manipulating its translucency and malleable properties to build dense illusions of space. The uniform monochrome pallet combined with futuristic silver accents allude to aerial views of cityscapes and eroded concrete spaces void of place and time.

Studio Sundays: Erin Fitzpatrick

Happy Sunday! We have been following Erin's work for some time, but recently ran across an image of her colorful art studio. Enjoy her vibrant, contemporary portraits and the lovely space where they are made.

Erin Fitzpatrick, Baltimore native and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, began her current series of portraits in 2008. This body of work now contains hundreds of paintings and drawings of notable artists, musicians, business people, Fitzpatrick’s peers, and commissioned subjects. Exhibiting extensively in solo and group shows, she has gained collectors throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

When Erin is not in her studio she is probably somewhere being really good at summer, pretending not to be on Instagram too much, listening to rap music, lying by a pool, traveling, watching/listening to/talking about baseball and/or all of the above.