Hey there blogosphere. I recently sat down with Treasure Frey and Kyle Jorgensen for our Chromatics and Canopies show and talked about their work and ideas. Read on… and stop by to check out their work, up till the 28th of this month!
Let’s start with Kyle Jorgensen:
Tell me about the work you brought down to San Francisco. I know you said you had a lot of down time in the past month to think about it and work on it. Where does your process start when working on it?
I do a lot of layering in my imagery and that comes from my background in printmaking. I definitely paint like a print maker. And for this series of work I wanted to focus on a simple theme of reverence, contemplation, as well as location. I grew up in Idaho and moved to Portland about a year and a half ago. So, I was overwhelmed with how green everything was, the douglas fir trees—it was a huge inspiration. Also my work is an attempt to cope with my ADD. I’m pretty scattered brained most of the time and so in my painting I’m trying to hone in on what it is that I’m painting; it’s kind of the only thing I can focus on in my life.
I noticed that there is a fusion of a space-type element, a nature element, and geometric forms, is that somewhat a reflection of that? Of trying to narrow down where you’re starting from?
Yes, absolutely. There is this organic part of my artwork, and then there’s this geometric/architectural element that comes from my background in architecture. I wanted to be an architect for awhile, but I always loved making art–so in the process of taking both architecture classes and art classes, I ended up falling more in love with the art side than the architecture. I even worked as in intern for an architecture firm but ended up doodling on everything and was always thinking about my art instead of focusing on the project at hand. Also, it’s not as sexy and appealing as Hollywood makes it out to be. It’s relatively boring work. Essentially I realized that I couldn’t fight being what I wanted to be and art is what I always had a passion for.
So were you pretty much self-taught with painting then? Or how did you begin to learn the medium?
Yeah, I focused on printmaking and ceramics in college, and I had to take one painting class to get my BFA, but I started doing paintings on my own, outside of class for my senior show and just fell in love with it. It felt like the most natural thing to me. It’s something I can do in my bedroom. I don’t have a studio so I paint in my bedroom. I don’t need a press or a kiln.
And this is the second time you will be painting a rainbow of sorts on the gallery walls in your show. Tell me about the first time around and what you like about it and how it interacted with your work.
I did a show before where I had a sort of maze on the wall that connected all of the artwork from the beginning of the show to the end. By walking through the gallery, you could see where it began and ended. The idea for this installation stems off of that idea, but both Treasure and I have a lot of colorful work; we both use similar colors and patterns. So, I thought it would be interesting to do this shard of the spectrum that danced around the gallery from one end to the other.
The first show was pretty subtle, with grey geometric lines moving throughout the gallery and it tied everything together. But I got a great response from it; people seemed to enjoy it and I liked the challenge of it. I like the gallery experience to be more than just looking at art, it’s a small beginning of where this idea is going, but I like the idea of being able to experience the environment.
What artists, or blogs even, are you looking at currently?
I’m still really influenced by architecture, and there’s subtle elements of it that translate into my work. There’s a lot of modernist architects whom I really enjoy, there are a lot of amazing architects coming out of Scandinavia, whose names I would just massacre, but I like Zaha Hadid, she’s an amazing a modern architect. Mies Wan der Rohe and even Frank Lloyd Wright.
Has it ever been overwhelming with the change from Idaho to Portland and the amount of artists and influences you’re surrounded by everyday?
It’s definitely another element that has really influenced my work. There’s not really an art scene in Idaho. They have a little art walk in my hometown, but unless you’re into fly fishing themed art work and Bob Ross-esque type paintings, that’s all there really is. Which I don’t really have a problem with, I’ve learned a lot from Bob Ross on Sunday afternoons. I took naps to Bob Ross on the tv when I was a child, with his soothing tones and everything. But, coming from a place with a small small art community, it was a big transition to Portland with the art community there. I was constantly amazed with all of the art and artists on a constant basis–it’s incredible. It’s elevated my desire to make art. It’s amazing to meet people who respect what artists do and to be able to make a living as an artist, because in Idaho, to sell a painting for more than $200, people would never understand that concept. There is just more of an education of what it takes to make artwork and a genuine appreciation for it.
How has working with Treasure been?
Treasure is probably the sweetest and nicest person you’ll ever meet. And I say that in context to knowing my mother and my grandmother, but Treasure is by far one of the nicest people you’ll ever run into. She bought me a bowl of soup last night and she is just a pleasure. Treasure is a pleasure. We’re both Scorpios, one day apart in birthdays. She is very easy to work with and her work is amazing, if I could buy it all, I would. I’m honored to be showing with her.
Tell me about your process currently. I know you created some new works for this show and included more of the minimal nature that you were talking about earlier.
I start with paper and I dye it. So there is a whole process of dying the paper. I use walnut ink. It’s this beautiful ink that is made out of walnut shells.
How did you come across that ink?
I used to work in an art store in the 1990′s in New York and I came across about this ink, they had tons of crazy inks so I played around with this walnut ink. I have this tin bin where I soak my paper in the walnut ink and water and I put the paper in, let it sit for a little while, then I use newsprint as like a blotter to get the excess water out, and let it dry. I like the bumps and the waves that it creates when the paper is water logged. It creates this variation of color and sometimes dots, it sometimes has this aged quality as well to it that I really like.
Could you talk a little bit about the seams in the paper that you’re using?
I cut the paper so that I can have seams to make a patchwork-quilt effect. I really love quilts and how they are put together. Matisse actually did that, and I saw that when I was growing up, he used to run off the page in his work and he would add another piece of paper and attach it on the back and continue what he was doing.
Have you ever made a quilt?
I have! I made a jean quilt one time with different variations of blue and actually all my friends were saying that it looked exactly like my paintings!
How has living in LA changed the direction of your work?
I’ve only lived there for about 2 years, but it hasn’t influenced me as much as San Francisco. I used to live in Alameda, so when I took the bus across the Bay Bridge, and I would always see rainbows. I was really touched by the simple colors and space and it’s that image that has really stayed with me. LA’s landscape is much different. It’s much dryer and there’s no water in the air, but I have seen one rainbow there. It was about a year ago, it was this big circle rainbow. It was spectacular.
Are you involved in any artist
I was, but now I really like to talk about art with my friend Jessica, who I actually met through an art group when I first came to LA, she’s a sculpture and does a lot of installation pieces. Good friends to talk about art with are hard to find, so I’m really happy to have her around.
Tell me about your Etsy presence/ account
I had no idea how successful it would be! I had the shop up there for much longer than I’ve been selling work on there. I kept putting it off and thinking I didn’t have anything to sell. I just tried it one day with my old work, my more figurative works, and slowly entered in my abstract pieces. And now my abstract pieces are actually selling more than my other works. Which, I was surprised by because people tend go for something they can relate to and it’s sort of my fear right now with this work. There’s no human element there, there’s not a lot to relate to for the viewer. Personally I am drawn to the space and the feeling, so I’m torn because I like the two.
How has it been working with Kyle and working towards the opening with him?
He’s wonderful. It’s a very large endeavor, much larger than we both thought. I’ve actually never had a show with painted walls, I’ve always had white walls. So we’ll see how it goes!
What have you been reading recently?
I was reading Breakfast of Champions, and before that I was interested in Carl Sagan. I was on a Vonnegut kick for a while. My favorite of his is Cat’s Cradle. I need to read it again it was so good.
On a different note, tell me about your name, I’m curious…
Well I was nameless for awhile. They called me baby Frey for awhile, my parents are totally artsy fartsy people. They named my sister Sunday. So they couldn’t decide on a name for me for a while, for a little bit they thought of naming me Tuesday. My mom loves Tuesday Wells. So my dad just came up with Treasure. He taught me to paint with oils when I was 5, I don’t think my mom knew about that. But I would go into his studio and he would set me up with oils paints and say, “here’s some still life, try painting this!”. He had skeletons hanging from the ceiling to use as a reference and I would paint from that as well.