Easton Awesome Miller is an artist, curator, writer, and Renaissance man. He received the presidential scholarship from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, and completed his BFA in 2008 with a double major in Fine Arts and Art History. Shortly after graduating he built and ran Thrones Gallery for the next year. He has been actively showing his work nationally and internationally since 2008. He currently lives in Los Angeles where he enjoys working in his studio, hanging out with his two dogs, and eating pizza.
Los Angeles has always held a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans, but for most it exists in an almost fictional capacity. Hollywood isn’t a real place – it’s a postcard, a huge sign on the side of a mountain bracketed with strategically placed palm tree silhouettes. Certainly not a place to call home, but for artist Justin John Greene that’s exactly what it is. Hollywood is a part of his heritage, and the work reflects that. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Greene’s work is strongly imbued with the history of the most romanticized industry in American culture. In his most recent solo show at Actual Size (an exhibition space he co-runs in the Chinatown gallery district of east L.A.) the influence of the film industry is in full focus. You Oughta Be In Pictures is a comprehensive installation that utilizes painting, sculpture, and video to create a truly immersive experience for the viewer. Installation may seem like a bit of a leap from Greene’s primarily two dimensional practice, but a closer look into the artist’s process bridges the gap seamlessly. His work is a distinctly enjoyable blend of sly historical references, direct compositional tactics, and cleverly applied humor. If you have the opportunity to see the work in person I strongly encourage you to do so.
Chad Kouri always dreamed of being a designer, and he took the first major step towards making that dream a reality with a freelance gig at the age of sixteen. Ten years later, he has become what some refer to as a cultural engineer. A founding member of the Chicago-based art and design incubator, The Post Family, previous Art Director of Proximity Magazine and recognition as one of Chicago’s Newcity Breakout Artists of 2010 are only a few of his numerous accomplishments. Kouri has been involved with more than thirty different projects over the last two years, and shows no signs of slowing down. For many, there is still a huge chasm between the worlds of design and fine arts, but this distinction is of no interest to Chad Kouri. Un-phased, he continues to breakdown the walls attempting to separate the two industries. A recent collaboration with artists Stephen Eichhorn and Cody Hudson at the Patty and Rusty Rueff Gallery marks his first foray into exhibiting at an institutional level, but with an upcoming solo show at the Rochester Museum of Fine Art slated for the winter of 2012 it will obviously not be his last. Kouri describes his practice as having, “equal interests in conceptual art, consumer culture, typography, design, jazz and the gray areas between these fields, my body of work is more a collection of various ongoing projects, thoughts and experiments tied together by a strong sense of composition, concise documentation and an overall vibe of optimism than a seamless display of a style or genre.” I am excited to watch this process evolve, and I wish him good luck for the future – but somehow I don’t think he’ll need it.
Chicago based artist Montgomery Perry Smith finds beauty in the unexpected. His process often includes taking discarded elements of once functional objects (i.e. the base of a papasan chair or a broken lamp) and coupling them with meticulously handcrafted details. The end result of which is a strikingly sophisticated body of work. Smith’s sculptures are as sexual as they are formal, but he is never hitting you over the head with it. Drawn forms are delicately paired with altered materials to create elegant compositions that reveal subtle references to sexuality. Since graduating with a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the spring of 2008, Smith’s artistic career has been steadily gaining momentum. A recent solo show at Sabina Lee Gallery marks Smith’s first foray into the Los Angeles art scene, but if the prediction of Smith’s future success by Chicago publication Newcity as one of nine “Breakout Artists” to watch in 2010 is as prophetic as I think it might be – we will be seeing much more of his work in the years to come.
Artist Matt Nichols takes craftsmanship to a new level by pairing bold symbols with an acute sensibility for surface material. While stunning as photos, the work is best experienced in person. Physically interacting with these sculptures definitely forced me to reevaluate the relationship I had to the familiar iconography he often uses as a point of entry for the viewer. Nichols comes from a serious design back ground, being largely responsible for much of the visual branding associated with the clothing company Neff. While most would remain comfortable in that roll – he needed to push things further by shifting his focus towards a more physical realm. With the closing of an exhibition at Hungryman Gallery just behind him, new work is already on the way. Having recently returned to the Los Angeles area you can expect to see his name popping up in galleries across the SoCal area in the very near future.
I feel like most people dream of falling in love one day, but what if that day turns into a year – and then another? What if the act of falling in love becomes an all-consuming force that necessitates the creation of your own color-coded language? What if your name is Michelle Jane Lee, and this series of ‘what ifs’ has actually been your life for the last three years? The end result of that experience might resemble a thirty-foot love letter and a mountain of other drawings representing your unmentionable thoughts and desires for a woman that would ultimately come to reject you. A hard pill to swallow for most, but Lee seems undeterred in her pursuit of the unattainable. After all, true obsession is captivating – for both artist and audience in this case. Her work is incredibly personal, absolutely honest, and exceptionally beautiful. If you are in or around Los Angeles on April 7th – I recommend that you attend the opening reception of her most recent solo exhibition at Gallery 3209.