This week, POST NEW is visiting artists at their studios around the New York area. Today, we are welcomed into the psychedelic world of Travess Smalley, as he introduces us to his workspace in Jersey City, and to some of the work that he creates there.
POST NEW: Where is your studio based?
Travess Smalley: The top floor of a fabrication warehouse In Jersey City, NJ - right across the Hudson from the Financial District, Manhattan. It is in an empty warehouse area that is eerily polished and clean. Lots of late night BMW cruisers and smoke filled cars.
PN: What do you like about its location?
TS: I have a complete wood shop, lots of wall space, huge window for natural light, nice neighbors and a comercial woodshop downstairs that doesn't mind me mucking through their lumber scraps. I can make messes. The studio isn't far from my place either. The walk is about the length of a phone call to a family member.
PN: Are you influenced by any particular art movements?
TS: Of course, there are so many influences - I could ramble for hours...: Abstract animation from the likes of Stan Vanderbeek, James and John Whitney, and Jordan Belson. Constantin Brancusi's photographs and films of his studio and sculpture. Commercial surf wear (specifically old Ocean Pacific, Body Glove, and Trapper Keeper styles). The graphic design and imagery of rave posters and flyers. Abstract Expressionism. The energy and form of Futurism. Kenneth Anger. Richard Tuttle. Adobe Systems. Online video tutorials. Yuichi Yokoyama's drawings and manga/comic/panels. Enzo Mari. Franz West. Rachel Harrison. Aaron Curry. screensavers. Sterling Ruby. Michael Bell Smith. Travis Hallenbeck. Yohji Yamamoto. The Memphis Group but most specifically Nathalie du Pasquier's textiles and her paintings. John Carpenter's filmography from 'The Fog' to 'In The Mouth of Madness'. Eric Rohmer and Louis Malle. Hans-Joachim Roedelius's prolific and beautiful discography. Brian Eno. El Cometa De Madrid. Stuart Davis. Luigi Ghiri's photography. The Durutti Column. Fact Magazine mixes. The later year works of Pablo Picasso and Matisse. Vincent Facteau's paper mache sculptures. Bruno Munari as a designer, educator, and maker of books. The sci-fi classics - Ursula K. LeGuin, Philip K. Dick, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, Frank Herbert, and William Gibson. And most continuously my lover Kaela.
PN: What's that you're working on?
TS: I am balancing a few different projects right now. - I just finished a series of abstract computer graphics for my digital solo exhibition on www.bubblebyte.org - I have been working on 'Compositions in Clay', a series of prints made by packing clay on top of scanner beds. The large photographic prints are made by applying various clays to digital scanner bed and then scanning at the scanner's highest possible resolution. (Take a look here). I've been making plaster vases in my studio. The vase forms have gotten further and further away from the traditional idea of a vase to the ones I'm making now that are practically not functional at all haha. The form, texture and color of the sculptures have become more important than its functionality. I've been painting fake flowers and photographing them too. I'm working with a professional printer on a series of 8 ft x 10 ft stretched vinyl prints from my series Acid Graphic that explores the imagery, signage, and abstraction of past psychedelic/cyberdelic cultures.
PN: Do you have a favorite medium?
TS: It's a hard question to answer. Honestly, no. My practice is based on a continual experimentation, figuring out which medium best represents the idea or process or form or color or texture or whatever. Lately I have been really in to malleable materials I can shape with my hands like plaster, clay, plastalina, and kids' craft clay. These materials are expressive and cary so many unpredictable potentials when combined with colored dyes and paints. I had this Laser Printer that my friend and artist Milano Chow gave me. But it died :( Been using an inkjet, just isn't the same...
PN: Do you have any exhibitions lined up?
TS: Yeah, the next few months are going to be fantastic. - Up now you can see some of my Compositions in Clay at Foxy Production in Chelsea. July 19th Ethan Fielding Cook organized 'Slowed & Throwed' at Chinatown Arcarde (48 Bowery). It is a show about abstraction that I am contributing a vase and an Acid Graphic to. - There's my y collaboration with JF & Son on their first summer menswear line. 'Everything Was Michael Bolton and Nothing Hurt' at Preteen Gallery in Mexico City opened July 28th. A two person exhibition with the amazing Laura Aldridge at SWG3 in Glasgow this fall. There will be a 2nd edition of my book 'Capture Physical Presence' released for the New York Art Book Fair this fall. And hopefully I will find a places to show my Clay Compositions and a show of Acid Graphic vinyls.
PN: When you're not in your studio, where can we find you?
TS: If I am not at my studio usually I am at home working on the digital side of my art practice. I spend a lot of time in creative software, scanning, printing, recording video, making websites. If I am not at home and I am in the city you would most likely find me upstairs at The Strand Bookstore. And more recently at Mission Chinese in the Lower East Side - every time I go I order something new and it is always fantastic.
PN: Best thing about New York?
TS: The Strand Bookstore. I can spend hours in their art monographs, photography, and design sections. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: New York City's unparalleled wanderkamer of the world's treasure - the new Islamic Art wing is definitely worth the trip for those who haven't visited in the past year. Film Forum, MoMA, Anthology Film Archive, and IFC's repertory film programs let me see films the way they were meant to be seen. But all of these things are just elements/pieces of New York's art scene which is really the best thing about New York for me. I have so many friends that live here who are part of the art world either for business or pleasure. And those who don't live here are usually visiting at least once every other year ;) That being said I've been looking for a little break from New York, I've been considering the west coast...
Intangible Moments of Control at Bubblebyte.org - London July 11 - August 13, 2012
Everything Was Michael Bolton And Nothing Hurt at Preteen Gallery - Mexico City July 28 - August 25, 2012
Photographer - Clément Pascal