Artist Tanner Goldbeck on Downtown L.A., Playing With Imperfections, and His Upcoming Show at Castelli Art Space – Saturday, September 15

Posted by

In anticipation of his upcoming show “If You See Something, Say Something” at Castelli Art Space, Cartwheel Art visited artist Tanner Goldbeck at his studio for an exclusive preview and chat.

Goldbeck is a painter, illustrator, Art at the Rendon participating artist, and downtown dweller for thirteen years now. His studio overlooks Fourth Street, its sounds a gentle hum in the background as he speaks about his relationship with his neighborhood, referring to DTLA as “the island of misfit toys.” Goldbeck has been a resident of the building since Lost Souls coffee shop was housed in the basement, which was, at the time, one of the few subterranean hangouts in the neighborhood.

“I came here because I didn’t know anything about LA. All the freeways came here. I had been down to different lofts. I had been to a couple of events. Cannibal Flower used to be all over downtown, and I liked that kind of thing, that was the first experience I had of downtown… We’d come down from Santa Barbara and spend the night in some hotel. It was fun. We’d wander around.”

Artist Tanner Goldbeck in his studio

Tanner Goldbeck shows us his collection of coffeehouse drawings. 

Goldbeck’s work reflects the transient soul of downtown and the constant stream, or as he puts it, “human river of people” he comes across everyday on the streets. Whether sketching his coffeehouse drawing series at Corporation Food Hall, or photographing his Street People collection against downtown’s textured surfaces, the area serves as an ever-changing source of inspiration for him. Living in Downtown L.A. changed the way he painted from “clean and simple—it was figurative work,” to a more layered style.

Studio visit with artist Tanner Goldbeck

“I’m trying to get some of the elements of the street. That’s one of the things I’ve been working with, especially on the bigger pieces. You see older buildings, and they have a lot of texture, especially up here on Second Street. They were originally painted really nice. Eventually someone comes along and starts tagging up the walls. It’s all about as high as somebody can reach. The top stays nice, but, from the middle down, it gets all beat up and people keep tagging over it and then the owners try to paint it. They try to patch it; they do their little Rothko patchwork. The paint never dries the same color. It’s gray but dark grey. A lot of these pieces have that texture feel to them.”

Studio visit with artist Tanner Goldbeck

If You See Something, Say Something,” Goldbeck’s upcoming show at Castelli Art Space, located just east of Culver City, further explores texture and plays with and celebrates imperfection. The show opens this Saturday, September 15, from 1 – 10 pm. Through intentional misprints, Goldbeck says, “I want to show the flaws in paintings. Everyone’s striving to be perfect all the time… It’s focusing on people’s imperfections as what makes them who they are. It builds the character element into what I’m trying to say.”

Artist Tanner Goldbeck

Tanner on his fire escape.

“This town keeps you on your toes,” says Goldbeck. “You can’t mess up in this town… It’s like if you don’t drive on the freeway enough, it gets intimidating, but if you’re out there everyday, it’s normal. You can’t slow down downtown. I’m going to be here as long as possible. I’ll stay here forever.”


If You See Something, Say Something

Preview Night
Friday, September 14 (6 – 10pm)

Opening Reception
Saturday, September 15 (1 – 10pm)


Castelli Art Space
5428 Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Leave a Reply