INTERVIEW: Andrew Schoultz’s Solo Show “Vessels” Opens at DENK Gallery on Saturday, September 21, 2019

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Artist Andrew Schoultz installing his work at DENK Gallery
Artist Andrew Schoultz installing his work at DENK Gallery

If you’ve been to Culver City or Long Beach recently, you may have seen Los Angeles artist Andrew Schoultz’s large-scale work—he’s been painting murals, locally and around the world, for more than 20 years—but he hasn’t had a gallery show in LA for quite a while. That changes on Saturday, September 21, when his solo show of new work, “Vessels,” opens at DENK Gallery in the DTLA Arts District. Schoultz doesn’t want to reveal too much of the show before it opens, but he gave Cartwheel a few hints about what to expect in this interview.

You’ve made a lot of public art. How is that experience different from doing a gallery show?

In a gallery you’re dealing with a very selective audience. Someone who walks into a gallery or a museum is choosing to go look at artwork, whereas with public art stuff, you’re exposing a more vast audience to whatever you’re putting in the public space. So yeah, there’s definitely a different approach, I would say,  I’m more timely in a gallery type of show, and maybe the undertones are a little bit more obvious.

For me, there’s always politics and social politics. A lot of my art tends to deal with things like the environment and different types of politics in terms of globalism and war and stuff like that– and also, just a pure idea of mortality and just the ephemeral nature of being a human living on this earth. But in the public art sector of the work that I do, I feel like it would be pretty irresponsible to project my total extreme ideology, or politics in general, in a super aggressive way. A lot of that stuff will still be in the work in the public space, but I’d say it’s a little less obvious, or maybe a little less aggressively presented. Because, in a lot of ways, you know, maybe someone didn’t ask to see your artwork in the public space. But in a gallery or museum, it’s a viewer who has chosen to go see art.

Artwork by Andrew Schoultz
Artwork by Andrew Schoultz

Can you talk more about the kinds of issues your art addresses?

A lot of what I’m trying to do is just tell a story from the perspective of what is going on today in contemporary society. For me, all the stuff going on with the environment is related to health, and health is related to mortality, and health is related to people getting cancer, and cancer is related to your loved ones dying. And then when you get into this stuff, you immediately get into the healthcare system. There’s all this different stuff that comes into play. I wouldn’t say that any of this would be obvious or transparent in the work I make. It’s more the fuel behind the images. It’s sort of the vibe. What I try to do these days is just sort of capture more of a vibe than trying to create a definitive or narrative picture.

When you are looking at art in a museum, it pretty much tells you what you’re supposed to think by whatever the placard or the text says. That’s something I never really wanted.

A painting or drawing I make takes hundreds of hours. Why am I going to go through the whole painstaking process of making a picture if I’m just gonna go ahead and tell you what it is, or if what it is, is just obvious? At the end of the day, it kind of is what it is, because if a viewer is interested in looking at something and going through it, to me that’s how I view art. So I want to create art that provides an experience in the way that I want to experience art.

Andrew Schoultz in his studio
Andrew Schoultz in his studio

Has social media changed how you make your art?

I really view it as a tool. It’s fun to be able to put things out, to be able to tell people, ‘Oh, this is what I’m up to,’ or this or that. But it’s not so healthy mentally for a lot of people. I’ve seen how that’s affected me, and I’ve seen how that’s affected people around me, so I’m pretty cautious and wary of it

What freaks me out is meeting people that I don’t really know, and they know so much about me. You’re sitting there talking to them, and you’re like, well, this is kind of sociopathic—I don’t know who you are, but you know who my kid is, you know where I was skateboarding yesterday, you know where I ate last week, you know who all my friends are… that part of it can be a little bit freaky. I am not going to complain about it, because I’ve definitely used it for a lot of different things, especially with my career. But I think it’s healthy not to put too much faith in it or depend on it for anything, really.

Artwork by Andrew Schoultz
Artwork by Andrew Schoultz

What do you want people to know about “Vessels,” your show at DENK Gallery?

It is my first major solo show in LA in four years. The last one that I did was in 2015 at Mark Moore Gallery, which is no longer around anymore. This is probably one of my most ambitious realized projects in a gallery. I’ve done a lot of really large-scale shows in museums that were vast, massive spaces with multiple different things. This show is the culmination of about three years’ worth of work. It has a bit of a shift to it in terms of the things that I’m doing. I went on a trip to Barcelona this past February and really got inspired after seeing some things over there like La Sagrada Familia, the big cathedral by Gaudi. Some things like that really inspired me.

I have not put much out there in terms of what’s going on for this show—purposely, because to go back to the social media thing, I don’t want the whole show to be seen before it’s open. A lot of times, what happens now in social media is people are so worried about getting attention or having people come to the show that they blow the thing out on social media before it even opens. At that point, it’s like you’ve seen all of the show, so you have less of an incentive to actually go and see it. My work looks okay on a screen, but it’s ten times better experienced in person. The textures, the colors, all the different layers of things, they don’t really translate onto screens.

Opening Reception:
September 21 (6 – 8 pm)

September 21 – November 2, 2019
(Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am – 6 pm or by appointment)

DENK Gallery
749 East Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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