Interview with Artist Shawn Beeks

This is our second solo show featuring Shawn Beeks, first was in Philadelphia and now in Narrowsburg. Here Shawn and Jonathan have a chat about his current show "Open House". Click Here to see Shawn's Full Show

Forage Space: Let's start things off with telling the viewer a bit about yourself, Shawn.

Shawn Beeks: I'm a visual artist currently living in Philadelphia since 2006. The majority of my free time is spent researching crime, design and cats. I'm also 6' tall with a strong disliking of cliches.

FS: What, I thought that everyone enjoyed a good cliches, kind of like a good novel.

SB: Perhaps if that novel consisted of everything you'd ever heard others say in uncomfortable situations that meant absolutely nothing.

FS: This current body of work "Open House" is a very monochromatic and yet whimsical in nature with a void of feeling. Can you tell us more about the process and background for this show?

SB: The project started with looking for a different way of illustrating American violence. The buildings painted in this series are all sites of horrific acts that were destroyed shortly after the public was told of what happened inside. I started with photos of the buildings and through a 3 step process worked from an enlarged detailed pencil reproduction to painting just enough of the building's shadows to convey what people have tried to erase.

I have to be careful about how much I share because part of the pieces' allure is not knowing why they are important.

FS: and that brings up a good point about these paintings, most of the views thing that they are prints, photos or drawings. Can you tell us a little about how you achieve this process?

SB: Sure. Once a reference  photo is selected, it is then gridded and enlarged to a pencil drawing on tracing paper. I could then transfer only the information I wanted to a sheet of Bristol. The Shapes and outlines of shadows in this case were painted in using a thinned out India Ink applied with very fine brushes to get an even application of pigment. All you're left with are what looks like erased shadows.

FS: The process sounds pretty intense, but the final product is truly a sight to be seen. You're a very busy person, work full time, run a skateboard company, make cartoons and still find time to do work such as this! I have a hard time walking up to the local coffee shop. Care to explain how you are able to do all of this?

SB: I don't have a girlfriend.

FS: You do have me.

SB: Thanks part time lover. I'm sure there are other reasons like working on these projects keep me out of trouble and I require a lot of structure in my life, but overall it gives me deadlines to fulfill everyday which is really important.

FS: Are you working on any other projects now?

SB: I'm thinking of going back to school to focus on studying the relationship between the narcissism of serial killers and the users of online social platforms. As far as art goes, I'd like to apply this painting technique to other sites where history has been erased. I believe Europe would be a good place to go for that.

FS: I would agree.

Being from Philadelphia is there anything you would like to say about our little town of Narrowsburg?

SB: I thought Narrowsburg was a perfect place to show this body of work. It's a small old town with a past that seems to be disappearing because of new people moving in with their own sense of style and ways of life. It's interesting to talk to people there about their own experience with gentrification.

FS: Very different then the gentrification in Fishtown though. As an art gallery we think about what it is that we do or bring to a community, if anything really. This is kind of an interested location really, in which I believe we get an equal amount of "locals" vs "tourists". At the end of the day, though I feel that fine art in one's life is probably the most important, you can not talk to someone about viewing work let alone owning work if they have no interest. 

Next time you are up this way, is there anything that you would like to see or do?

SB: Very true about people's relationships with fine art. When I return, I'd like to tlak to a few people about their family's history in Narrowsburg and meet the French woman that everyone is in love with.

FS: That's a wrap?

SB: I think so. Thanks for the talk and opportunity to show my work.

FS: Thanks for showing with us again.


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