‘Forward-thinking’ artists and their processes seen in exhibit

“Up, Up and Away,” spray paint, acrylic and pigment ink on wood panel

“Up, Up and Away,” spray paint, acrylic and pigment ink on wood panel

The ArtExchange visual-arts center in downtown Long Beach, 356 East 3rd St., will host 5×10: Contemporary, a five-person survey of “forward-thinking” artists, featuring Robert Grad, Patrick Ahern, Ching Ching Cheng, Nano Rubio and Andrew K. Thompson.

The art exhibit’s goal is to offer a look into the process and execution of ideas from artists whose interests are distinct and whose ambitions are selfless. The five artists reflect an attitude in their art that is self-driven, evoking natural curiosity and materially guiding viewers through thoughtful poetic rigor, according to curator Jorge Mujica, who says the attitudes showcased in the exhibition display a humble mastery of materials that is visibly understood when the work is shown intermixed, evoking empathy between artwork and artist. Visitors to the exhibit can expect to see traditional tropes in art transformed and reconsidered. Collectively, the show will feature 50 unique items– 10 from each artist.

The show will open with a reception on Saturday, March 14 from 6pm to 11pm. There will also be a film screening and an artist talk in the space on Thursday, March 19 from 6pm to 8pm.

Robert Grad

Robert Grad

Questions for Robert Grad
How would you characterize the 10 pieces you created for 5X10: Contemporary?
Part of the concept of the show is to include a study or something about the process of making the work in addition to the work itself. So six of my pieces are new, fully realized pieces of art, and three illustrate an element of my process. I also included a demo CD cover I made years ago where I layered a transparent print on top of a piece of sandpaper. This was the original spark which ultimately sent me in the direction of visual art after a career in music. I fused together heavily layered works in two-dimensional and three-dimensional space using a variety of materials including photographs, chain link fence, used wooden blocks from childhood, paint and broken toys. These pieces are part of a series I call “Purifried” which characterizes my desire to reignite the excitement, spontaneity and passion I had as a child but with the wisdom of adulthood.

How do these pieces differ from work you’ve previously done?
All of these are more three-dimensional, and I broke out of the rectangular plane as well. Also the layering processes I used are much more complex. For instance, in “Fly,” I created an abstract work, photographed it, then layered that photo with nine others. Each photo contributes to the content, texture, color and emotion. The result is printed on transparent acrylic and floated above a painted chain-link fence. I printed the 10 raw photos used in this piece and put them in a frame next to it so you can see the source materials. The one other element I’d say is different is how much I focused on the process of making these. I really wanted to push myself into new and uncomfortable territory artistically. I feel I was successful in that and happy with the results. These works definitely open a new door for me.

“Unlearn Everything,” wood blocks, plexiglas, steel rod and spray paint

“Unlearn Everything,” wood blocks, plexiglas, steel rod and spray paint

How do the pieces you created for this show fit into your concept of “purifried?”
I cannot find the specific quote, but there is a saying in an Eastern philosophy that all wisdom is found in qualities we possess naturally as children. Purity. Passion. An excitement for life. “Purifried” reflects my view that many of the imperfections, disappointments and difficulties I face in life are part of a purification process. A “trial by fire” where ultimately misplaced priorities and empty desires are burned away, leaving me with many of those essentials I possessed as a child. Each of these works contain an element of the “child me” and “adult me” perspective put together into a cohesive whole with a representative element of movement. This reflects my desire to find balance and ease in moving back and forth between these two perspectives.

To view more of Grad’s work, visit robgrad.com . For more information about The ArtExchange, call (562) 567-7ART (7278), email arthappens@artexchangelb.org, or visit artexchangelb.org .

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