An Interview with Nathan Spoor

by Ken HarmanPosted on

Nathan Spoor, as you may or may not know, is a vital component to what we do here atHi-Fructose. He’s sort of like the glue that keeps the gears and cogs of this little enginetogether, and I mean that in a good way. In addition to being a damn fine writer and awonderful curator, Nathan will every now and again surprise and remind you that he isfirst and foremost an artist.

For the past year I’ve seen Nathan interview everyone from our own Annie Owens,Alberto Mielgo, Mercedes Helnwein and Lola Dupre, to name a few. With Spoor’s debutNYC solo show opening last Friday night at Bold Hype Gallery, I’ve decided to flip thescript, give him a taste of his own medicine, turn the tables, and sit down with the artistfor a series of questions, many of which he’s asked in his own interviews, but has neveranswered himself. Read our interview with Nathan, and get a look at some opening night photos courtesy of Dan May, here on Hi-Fructose.

First off, thanks for sitting down with us Nathan! I believe we first met in person a coupleyears back at Baby Tattoo; at that time I only knew you as an artist and it wasn’t until Istarted working for Hi-Fructose that I also came to know you as also a writer, as well asa curator. What other skills do you possess? Do you find it hard to juggle all these thingstogether, or do their overlapping similarities make things easier?

You got it my man, thanks so much for taking the time to think up such great questions.I enjoy things that make me think. I think that to mix those things together takes thatkind of individual. The magic is in the making for most of these creative types ofendeavors. It’s something that I feel drawn to and happier when I’m doing them. Thedifficulty of any act for me lies in not doing the things that I’m supposed to be doingwith my life. So I think by continuing to strive to live in the moment where all of thatoverlapping occurs I also seek out a balance from within.

Were you a creative type as a child, or did you find your voice as an artist later on?

I was always very motivated and creatively minded kid. My voice is something that hasbeen in the fine-tuning since those days. It’s part of the manifestation that is the “me”part of me. As a kid I was on a non-stop kick to draw out scenes from the movies goingon in my head. That, and trying to dream in Star Wars adventures. My grandparentseven saved all the Star Wars comics from their newspapers in Houston. Those thingswere amazing and probably what started me thinking there was a really skilled wayof drawing out stories. I think that and the fact that our Dad always told us stories andread to us a lot helped feed that storyline building mentality. I didn’t start painting untilcollege, but was always in some sort of art class in school or drawing something athome afterwards. Book covers, copying skate deck art, then art history classes and onto self study in and out of school. I don’t think I started finding my voice until I startedpainting, had left grad school and started making the first couple bodies of work. Ibelieve I began working on something major when I moved to Los Angeles. I’ve neverreally been certain that I’ve found my voice per se, but that’s probably why I keeppursuing it so diligently. I really want to say things more eloquently, more effectively.

Nathan Spoor and Eric White

Besides making art, what do you get around to during a usual day?

I start up the day with vitamins and a trip to the gym, where I get my mind more fine-tuned for the day. Then I get into some painting, or writing, or both. Sometimes I get tomeet up with someone and talk ideas and have a tea break. Depending on how the outof studio schedule is I can get another workout and go paint some more. It just dependson what’s on deck. I like to keep things healthy and active, so I have better stamina forlonger creative journeys and more clear access to incoming ideas.

Do you listen to music while you create work? If so, what?

I listen to music and podcasts all the time. Right now it’s a steady mix of different things.Music right now generally includes the latest from Bob Schneider. I’ve been getting intoBob’s live shows as well as the studio work. It’s great to hear an artist in the moment,especially when they’re always pushing and getting better. There’re some live shows ofRadiohead’s online that are really amazing too. The Basement one is a favorite that I’llwatch and listen to over and over.In Podcastland it’s a diverse mix. I generally listen to various MMA shows during mymorning sessions at the easel. Then I switch to BBC’s Adam and Joe Show and JoeRogan Experience. Also top of the list is Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, SModcast, TheNerdist, Mysterious Universe and Doug Loves Movies. I love it when Fecal Face putsout new shows, they’re kind of rare but good jams. I could use more dj’d mix jams likethat.

Martin Wittfooth (foreground) and Bold Hype’s Eric Althin (background)

Can you tell us a bit about your new show?

These paintings are a strong progression and evolution of the series I’ve been pursuingfor the last several years. The basic premise is that the young female protagonist oftenseen in the foreground areas is responsible for creating and populating the landscapearound her. In these paintings we see the surroundings becoming more and more builtup, more closely stacked with all sorts of architecture and fun elements. In some areasshe’s stayed longer, resulting in great numbers of thriving civilizations in close proximity– sometimes growing over each other and making underground worlds.There are also characters that have become independent operators within the scenes.The ancient and twisting trees have taken to gathering favored portions of theseneighborhoods and setting out to sea to seek out new lands to populate with these newideas and entities.This show really addresses that sort of new development, both in its tiny details andthe open armed invitation into a land populated with imagination / inspiration basedideologies. It’s my hope that when someone connects with the work that they bring theirown creativity into play, that their meeting provides a playground for the imagination thatthe viewer fills that space between themselves and the work with their own ideas andpossibilities. I think a lot of art strives to build that connective bridge between art andviewer in a way that inspires then long after they walk away from the piece. The workfrom this show really comes from that in-between place where something magical ispossible and that rich bond of personal communion is necessary.

Your work appears, if you will, to be on the un-literal side. What is the attraction or coreelement to this attraction?

I’d have to say that’s true. They embody a lyrically symbiotic world of organic narrativesand actual life references. As I’ve watched the series unfold the last few years I’venoticed a bit of a literal slant to it as well though, as one watches another kind of lifeunfolding at the same rate as their own. In that aspect the symbolic and technicaladvances in its flow are very literally tied to my own choices and experiences.

Martin Wittfooth, Jason Yarmosky, Nathan Spoor

Do you attach definitive meaning to the work, or does it function on its own for a narrativeeffect left to the viewer?

I view the work inquisitively, excited to watch each frame appear and see what all ithas to offer. It’s specific enough to me to see parallels with life, my own and the greatersense. I’ve had the benefit of seeing the whole narrative unfold, so at this point I’veeither seen or attached my own meanings to events and characters that interact withinthese windows to the in-between. There is meaning in their architecture and how theyare rendered. One one hand they function to offer the viewer an entertaining forum tosafely wander around within. And on the other, they also give view to something thatI don’t fully understand. It’s a peek into a part of my own psyche as well as my owninterpretation of information that simply arrives when I need it.

Finally, it’s been a pretty busy year for you, between your many features for the mag, yourrecent “Suggestivism” show at GCAC, and now, your first solo show in New York… What’snext?

Well, the Suggestivism book is about to drop. It’s an exciting view of the exhibit and atime capsule of interviews with all 53 artists in the show, including artist or studio shotsas well as the full exhibit and opening photos. Great stuff and Gingko is producing anamazing volume based on designer Wendy Peng’s work.I’ve been using the time after the show to rearrange and clean the studio and furthersome personal writing and pictorial projects. And along the way I’ve also been preppingand doing the fine line underpainting for some larger pieces, trying to tie down the lastfew works in this series. In my mind there are 100 and I’m at 71, so there’s a few moreto pursue before we pull the curtain.

Dan May and Nathan Spoor

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