Jason Woodside is In Bloom
Interview by Michaela Mullin
Opening Friday, June 21, at Moberg Gallery, is the exhibit In Bloom, a panoply of work by world-renowned street and mural artists. Artist Jason Woodside has curated a show of art from the streets and brought it in to the gallery walls. Get a glimpse of Woodside’s vibrant large-scale works via his smaller pieces. Also featured in the exhibit are works by Swoon, D*Face, Ruben Sanchez, Adele Renault, Pref ID, ItsALiving, Adam Lucas, Maser, and Buff Monster.
In anticipation of this exhibit, which feels much like an explosive Des Moines event, Michaela Mullin was able to have a quick late-night chat with Woodside, while he was participating in a mural fest on the East Coast:
Mullin: Jason, you’ve worked on such varied commercial projects, from a car wash to a Faberge egg hunt; the forms and surface textures are so different. This is true of your small-scale works, as well. The different media used: spray paint, acrylic, resin, etc—how does your relationship with the media and surfaces shift?
Woodside: Smaller works are blueprints for the larger works, and different mediums are themselves exploring the different textures. When working with brands it’s more of a chemistry thing and their values and mine have to line up, to be on the same page to build something amazing together.
M: You’ve worked all over the world, with projects in Des Moines, up and down both US coasts, and from Paris to Sydney. Does the nomadism or geographic locale influence or get absorbed into your visioning of a mural or installation? If so, in what ways?
W: I live between NY and LA now, and those are hubs—everything in between is about bringing artwork to those that wouldn’t necessarily be introduced to this art otherwise. I don’t plan the artworks before I get to a place; I take in the color and absorb the community I’m working in.
M: Can you talk a bit about how creating two-dimensional works on three-dimensional architectural structures informs the way your contrasting palettes or division of sections and swaths emerges?
W: I strip everything back. I have a fascination with light and color and really exploring the idea of light and color and seeing things from a different perspective, of taking an object that’s not necessarily interesting and turning it into something fun to look at it.
M: The culture from which much street and mural art derives is youthful, radical, iconoclastic, and socially conscious—activistic. What ideas and emotive elements are important to you when you create?
W: With my art, it’s more emotional and less figurative; when someone paints a man or woman, that seems like something that’s less open to interpretation. When it’s color-based, it can be nostalgic and happy, and it’s hard to find something negative in that. So, it’s all about color for me.
M: You use words such as “nostalgic color,” “energy,” and “vibrations” when describing your work. Is anything new inspiring you, or are there other words you would use to describe your process?
W: Since I recently relocated to the West coast, I’ve noticed a lot more pinks and oranges, a lot more fades. In regard to verbiage, I’d say “Passionate.”
M: How has it been for you working in Des Moines? (the mural on the west side of The Silver Fox, on Ingersoll Ave, is one of Woodside’s)
W: Love Des Moines; there are elements that are very progressive and want this sort of energy. It’s a perfect spot for something like this!
M: As a curator, why did you choose the particular group of artists that are included in In Bloom? How do the works of these nine artists, along with your own works, cohere and speak to each other visually?
W: This group—we kind of travel together. We met on mural festivals or travel in general. We all have the same sort of values and we all just clicked. We’re heavy homies! (Laughs).
M: Thank you, Jason. I’m gonna let you get some ZZZs. I’ll see you next week in Des Moines!
Join Woodside and the works of the Heavy Homies for the opening of In Bloom on Friday, June 21, from 5 pm – 9 pm. The exhibit runs through July 27th. Don’t miss it!
And that’s not all! In Bloom will feature the work of many talented artists from around the world…
About the Artists of In Bloom
New York and Los Angeles-based artist Jason Woodside has been making interior and exterior walls all over the world amaze viewers for years. His collaborative projects and commissions include high fashion and street brands, boutiques, galleries and museums, such as Colette in Paris, Adidas, Faberge, and Obey Clothing, as well as the New Museum in NYC, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Jeffrey Deitch. Born in Florida, Woodside attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and is also co-founder of the coffee shop/gallery/book store, Happy Bones. His paintings and murals have been exhibited in NYC, Paris, Los Angeles, Sydney, Berkeley, Miami, and Des Moines, among other urban locations. Starting with a doodle on a desk in school, informed by his background in film, and often using spray paint, Woodside focuses on shape and color, because it “keeps away from linear thought.”
Adele Renault (1988) paints realistic portraits of pigeons and people. Her subject matter may live in the gutter, or in an ivory tower. The size of her work ranges from small canvas to giant mural. Renault grew up in a musical family on a farm in the Belgian Ardennes. At age 14, she traveled abroad alone; lived in Venezuela on an exchange; then spent two years in Brighton, England. She studied and practiced visual arts, from classical oil painting to modern-day spray can graffiti. In 2010, she graduated from the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts in Brussels, with a degree in Graphic Design. In 2009, Renault initiated her collaboration with artist Niels Shoe Meulman. They now travel the world together, exhibiting and creating large-scale murals. The duo also run Unruly Gallery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where they are currently based.
D*Face is a contemporary British street artist, best known for his distinctive graffiti, stickers, and posters, placed in various cities around the world. Featuring recurring imagery of celebrities and punk iconography, D*Face’s oeuvre is characterized by his bright, graphic aesthetic and focus on consumerism and the ways in which it shapes everyday life. His diverse range of influences include skateboarding culture, early New York City subway graffiti, Pop Art, and Shepard Fairey’s Obey campaign. Born Dean Stockton in 1978, in London, England, he worked in advertising and for publications like Thrasher magazine before embarking on his own artistic career. A reported friend of the famed anonymous street artist Bansky, D*Face’s identity remained a mystery until 2008, when he revealed his name to the public. “I don't find that it's necessarily relevant that you know who I am regarding my work,” he once explained. “The work speaks for itself, and if it doesn't speak for itself, then I like people to reinterpret it for their own views.” The artist lives and works in London, England.
Originally from Ireland, the artist Maser now lives in the States. As early as 1995, under this moniker, he began painting graffiti on the streets of Dublin, earning respect throughout Europe for his unique abstract style. After studying Visual Communication at art school in his home city, he went on to establish himself as one of Ireland’s leading visual artists working in the urban environment. His early work, such as ‘They Are Us’ Project (2010) was strongly influenced by typography, letterforms and sign painting. Since 1995, his passion and drive have afforded him the opportunity to paint walls across many countries, including; Ireland, UK, Austria, Germany, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United States. His large-scale mural work and his collaborations with artists such as musician Damien Dempsey; TED prize winner, JR; Connor Harrington; and Fintan Magee, have gained him notoriety not only in the graffiti world, but also have in the contemporary art world.
ItsALiving is not just a name or a statement but is also a life philosophy for Ricardo Gonzalez, a designer and artist from Durango, México, currently living in Brooklyn. His signature script style can be easily recognized from large-scale murals to commercial work for some of the biggest brands, to a simple sticker in the street. The ambiguity in the typographical messages continually creates a dialogue between viewer and artwork. “A word is an image” and an image can be interpreted in so many ways, and the direct approach of typography has been an exploring-path, where the main goal is to question daily living and produce a positive impact. After all, it’s a living. His clients include: Apple, Armani Exchange, Nike, Mercedes Benz, Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, Budweiser, Samsung, AirBnB, Bloomberg Business, Toyota, Vice, Lululemon, MTV, Yahoo!, Nissan, VH1, Coca Cola, Revlon, KRINK, Bing Bang Jewelry, Oprah Magazine, AIGA, Bowers & Wilkins, Harper Collins, New York Botanical Garden, Complex & Stussy.
Pref ID is a British artist, well known for his multi-layered typographic-style graffiti, and his incorporation and exploration of common words and key vernacular phrases. This multi-layering means that an element of deciphering is introduced, and the viewer is asked to disentangle images and meanings from the artwork. Pref has developed his role and reputation as a graffiti artist over 20 years. He initially trained at Chelsea Collage of Art, before going on to work in graphic design. The clear linear elements of his work, and his evolving interest in typography trespass across the borders of fine and graphic art in energetic and intriguing ways. He was recently commissioned by Italian fashion house Fendi to design new logos and branding, as well as lend his skills to a new collection, Roma Amor.
Adam Lucas, aka Hanksy, has added to the cultural zeitgeist of street art since 2011, producing playful, pun-centric work that utilizes humor as a lighthearted tactic of subversion. In 2016, he dropped the Hanksy moniker, and began showing as Lucas. His work layers images, text and bold design with playfully acerbic references culled from contemporary culture. Using a loud and elegant color chord, Lucas simulates the experience of being a city-dweller who’s inundated with visual information and coded advertising subtext. His design is a nod to the synthetic Cubists; however, calibrated to express the distinctive urban street life and American popular culture. The recognition and re- appropriation of culture and its advertising tethers Lucas’ work to Hanksy’s celebrated puns. The aesthetic end results might look different; however, both factions of the artist’s oeuvre reveal work that is at once bright, with rhythmic beats and opportunity for visual play, but is also couched in weightier, trenchant themes.
Known professionally as Swoon, Caledonia Curry is a Brooklyn-based mixed-media artist whose work explores humanity through portraiture, printmaking, and immersive installation. Swoon graduated from Pratt in 2001 and in 2005 was the subject of a pivotal solo exhibition mounted by now-mentor Jeffrey Deitch. Swoon’s work has since adorned the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, LA MOCA, Mass MoCA, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and many more. Her 2014 Brooklyn Museum exhibition, Submerged Motherlands, was the Museum’s first solo show devoted to a living artist with roots in street art. In Fall 2017, Swoon created a large scale, site-specific installation in the Zaha Hadid-designed Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center as part of a two-story solo exhibition. She spends much of her time enveloped in art and social practice by way of community building initiatives in, among others: Haiti, New Orleans, and the Rust Belt town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. In 2015, Swoon founded the 501(c)(3) Heliotrope Foundation to streamline these projects and to expand aid for urgent social crises. In addition to her community building work, Swoon is a dedicated advocate for the proper treatment of mental health and trauma.
Buff Monster is a New York City street artist who uses bright colors, bold lines and funny characters to make the world a better place. He names heavy metal music, ice cream, pop art, Japanese culture and graffiti as major influences. For over 15 years, he’s worked with leading curators to paint murals all over the world and is included in Banksy’s Oscar-nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. His meticulously-executed paintings have been shown in galleries around the world. He’s worked with some of the most-recognizable brands, such as Apple, Black Milk Clothing, Disney, Converse, Hello Kitty, Samsung, Nike, Coca-Cola, G-Shock, Hurley, Kidrobot, Kiehl's, Mishka, Montana-Cans, NBCUniversal, Samsung, Sanrio, Scion, Smart Car, The Standard.. Now under the brand name Stay Melty, he continues to release a variety of limited-edition collectibles, including vinyl and resin toys, prints, shirts, stickers and trading cards.
Born and raised in Madrid, and adopted by Barcelona and Dubai in past years, Ruben Sánchez is a self-taught artist with a strong, colorful graphic style that resonates through all of his projects. Coming from the cultural worlds of graffiti and skateboarding, Sánchez learned graphic design and illustration. In the mid 2000’s, he mixed the techniques and influences from each field, adding new skills on wood, resins, etc, with continued self-education in the arts, where he started translating his own vision onto canvases, murals, reclaimed wood, sculptures or installations. His artwork can be found as part of art festivals, humanitarian projects or international exhibitions (including: Denmark, France, Turkey, Spain, Bulgaria, Canada, the US, Greece, Hungary, and Jordan), but can also be found as ‘uncommissioned’ works in all kind of places.
This event is one of many art experiences happening during Art Week Des Moines.