L. Croskey, Ron English, Morgan Spurlock, Shawn Hosner and Andrew Hosner (left to right)
A self-described art junkie, Andrew Hosner co-founded Thinkspace Gallery with his wife Shawn and their partner L. Croskey as a natural progression of his passion for the New Contemporary Art Scene in Los Angeles. Since its inception in 2005, Thinkspace has been one of the first galleries to give many of the artists who have graced the pages of Hi-Fructose — like Audrey Kawasaki, Stella Im Hultberg, Natalia Fabia, Kukula, Andrew Hem and more — major exhibitions that helped launch their careers. Andrew Hosner sat down with Hi-Fructose to discuss the origins of Thinkspace, his role as the gallery’s curator and his prodigious, private art collection.
Andrew Hosner, Shawn Hosner and L. Croskey
Were you in the gallery business before Thinkspace? What was going on around the time the gallery was founded?
I’ve actually been in the music business for the better part of 20 years now working on the marketing and sales side of things in the metal world — having worked for Relapse for a good eight years and with Century Media for the past 11 years. Thinkspace actually started in the fall of 2005 as an idea brought to life by a good friend of ours, artist Nathan Spoor. My wife and I were regular patrons of the monthly art event Cannibal Flower and were also very active in the scene as a whole with running the art blog Sour Harvest as well as sending out an email update to a few thousand art lovers each month helping to expose the burgeoning new contemporary movement. At the time, Sour Harvest was the only real source for regular updates on happenings in the LA scene, especially calendar listings, as this was long before the major mags of our movement had launched their new sites and many of the blogs that now dominate the scene were not even launched yet.
LC from Cannibal Flower had just opened the Art Annex Gallery off of Melrose in the summer of 2005 to offer a next step up for the artists he had been helping to expose via Cannibal Flower’s monthly pop up events. We were hanging out one day with LC and some friends and Nathan proposed the idea that the two parties should somehow merge forces and a meeting or two later, Thinkspace was born and we have been steaming ahead ever since breaking new ground and building a reputation for introducing awesome new talent on a consistent basis. The scene has grown so much since then, it’s been an amazing experience to be a part of. Our aim has always been to provide that platform for growth and we love to expose new artists to our patron base. Some of the more well known artists we have helped to launch and/or nurture along the way include Audrey Kawasaki, Lola, Amy Sol, Ekundayo, Jacub Gagnon, Johnny “KMNDZ” Rodriguez, Andy Kehoe, Sylvia Ji, Joshua Petker, Camilla d’Errico, KuKula, Sarah Joncas, Brian M. Viveros, Brandi Milne, Stella Im Hultberg, Camilla d’Errico, KuKula, David MacDowell, Sarah Joncas, Brett Amory, Esao Andrews, Andy Kehoe, Kevin Peterson, Tran Nguyen, Kelly Vivanco, Andrew Hem and Natalia Fabia.
Brian M. Viveros install
How has the gallery evolved since its inception in 2005?
We started out in a tiny spot just off Melrose near SURU (Joe Hahn’s spot) and Brooklyn Projects, so we had a nice tie-in with their customer bases going right away which helped greatly. Our first show there we had Mear One and Buff Monster doing live murals on the side and backs of our building, was pretty out of control. After about a year there we moved east to the Silver Lake area where we rocked things in Logan Hicks’ old studio space for a few years before the itch to move to Culver City took over and we moved into our current location there where we’ve been for the past 4 years now. It’s been an amazing ride and one we feel just seems to really be getting started. We’ve always held true to our vision of exposing great new talent and building with them along the way and we hope to never loose sight of that.
Craig “Skibs” Barker with his work
Has your focus or the kind of art you show evolved over the years?
We will always be torch bearers of the New Contemporary Art Movement and are staunch supporters of the scene as a whole and the community nature of it. Over the years our tastes have grown to include works within hyper-realism and looser, figurative works filled with energy and passion but still stop dead in my tracks for something new and exciting like the work of David Cooley or Alex Yanes — both ones to watch in the years ahead with styles all their own and a clear vision of their work and where they are taking it.
Brett Amory with his work
What are some of the most memorable shows you’ve had in the gallery over the years?
That’s a tough one, but to narrow it down to our top five I would have to include Sylvia Ji and Joshua Petker’s big show together that featured them painting models from the Gods Girls website. Many of the models were on hand for the opening and a little impromptu photo shoot broke out in our front room, much to the delight of many of our patrons. Can’t share many photos from that [laughs].
Natalia Fabia and friends at the opening of her first solo show with Thinkspace
Natalia Fabia’s debut solo show was something else, with all her friends there dressed up and helping out as hostesses and bringing patrons drinks and treats and the installation up front was one of our most ambitious to date at the time. This was also our first show to be featured in the pages of Juxtapoz with a show review. It’s amazing to see how far she’s come since this.
Amy Sol, Stella Im Hultberg, Brandi Milne, Kukula and Audrey Kawasaki at the opening of “Smitten”
“Smitten” was a landmark show for us and the featured artists. We showcased new works and a highly sought after print set from Audrey Kawasaki, Amy Sol, Stella Im Hultberg, Brandi Milne and KuKula. To this day, one of our most talked about shows and really helped to kick off some major momentum for all featured.
Our big 5 Year Anniversary show from back in 2010 was a very special event. We’re now quickly approaching our 10 year anniversary and I still have to stop and pause from time to time and just soak it all in. We’re coming up on our 200th show that we’ve hosted and curated and it’s pretty crazy to look back upon. For our 5 Year show we hit up everyone that helped to get us to that point and happy to say everyone we reached out to was able to take part save for just a couple of artists. Was a magical evening and one none of us will soon forget.
Stella Im Hultberg, Amy Sol, Mari Inukai and Audrey Kawasaki at the opening of “In the Wake of Dreams”
“In The Wake Of Dreams” was a kind of follow up to “Smitten” in some ways and brought together the talents of Audrey Kawasaki, Stella Im Hultberg, Amy Sol and Mari Inukai. The exhibit again featured a highly sought after print set and new works from each of the artists. To date, one of our most highly attended exhibits, they just kept coming and coming until well past posted closing time.
Dabs and Myla
Dabs Myla and Craola install
Dabs Myla’s “The Best Of Times” was our most ambitious solo show to date, those two spent over 80 hours in our gallery putting together one of the most memorable installations and complete gallery takeovers I’ve been lucky enough to witness. They put so much into the show and it really helped to cement their status in the scene in a major way and they’ve been rocking things on a international level ever since from sold out shows in Australia and NYC back to LA again. Up next for the duo, a mini-solo show with us this December in Miami during Art Basel at SCOPE.
SCOPE Basel with Audrey Kawasaki
You frequently do shows at other spaces, like the LAX/PHL and LAX/HKG shows. Do you have any plans for expansion? Do you see Thinkspace as more than just a gallery space?
We love partnering with friends and like minded galleries and exposing the artists we work with to new eyes. It’s beneficial for all involved and a really great way to get out and see the world a bit more. We don’t forsee spreading the Thinkspace brand to other markets in the near future, nor do we have any plans at the moment, but I would never say never.
Andrew Hosner with Esao Andrews, James Jean and David Choe
Meggs with his install
LA is home to some of the most interesting artists working today. Do you feel like the gallery belongs to a larger creative community?
We are definitely a hub for the creative community. We’re one of the only spaces I know that do regular portfolio reviews that are open to anyone that wants to stop by, not to mention our track record for exposing and breaking exciting new talent. We’d be nothing without the amazing artists we work to expose and grow.
An anxious crowd waits outside the gallery
Where do you see Thinkspace going in the next 5 years?
Continually working to find new outlets to help expose our artists while doing more and more international art fairs along the way. We’ll also be publishing more frequent regular editions from the artists we work with in an effort to offer more options for collecting their work and building their patron base. In a nutshell, doing all we can to further spread the work of those we aim to support.
The Hosners at home
Tell me about your personal art collection. Do you have any interesting or special pieces you’d like to share?
We are art junkies, we have the bug bad. Anyone that has been over to our home knows the extent of our addiction. It fills every wall of every room in our entire home and bleeds out into our backyard where we have murals from Bumblebee and Tiki Jay One along with a couple great pieces on LA street signs that found their way back there somehow. Notable mentions that are currently only featured with one work, but we hope to acquire additional works in the future from include the likes of Os Gemeos, Swoon, Banksy, Nick Walker, Ian Francis, Joe Sorren, Phil Frost, Mars-1, Michael Hussar, Dalek, Camille Rose Garcia, Herbert Baglione, Logan Hicks, Mear One, Travis Millard, Candice Tripp, Chris Stain, Faile, Chris Mars, Fafi, Mark Dean Veca, Mr. Jago, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Doze Green, Jonathan Viner, Imminent Disaster, AJ Fosik, Stikman, Jeremy Fish, Amy Sol, Turf One, Shark Toof, Ron English, Augustine Kofie, Kill Pixie, Anthony Ausgang, Dave Kinsey, Miss Van, Camilla d’Errico, Matt Doust, Kris Lewis, Kill Pixie, Jose Parla, Microbo, Know Hope, Neckface, WK Interact, Word To Mother, Mike Stilkey, Robert Williams, Mary Iverson, Thomas Campbell, Jeff Ramirez, Shag, Revok, Roa, Damon Soule, Elbow Toe and the list goes on and will always be growing.
Those we have multiple works from include Josh Keyes, David Choe, Shepard Fairey, Barry McGee, The Date Farmers, Jen Stark, Dabs Myla, Sage Vaughn, Jeff Soto, Martin Wittfooth, Mel Kadel, Sashi Masakatsu, Fuco Ueda, Audrey Kawasaki, Esao Andrews, Phil Hale, Brendan Monroe, Andrew Schoultz, Anthony Lister, Greg Simkins, Sarah Joncas, David Cooley, Jeff Gillete, Scott Radke, Yoskay Yamamoto, Vitche, Ekundayo, Travis Louie, KuKula, Rich Colman, Elizabeth McGrath, Saner, Andy Kehoe, Know Hope, Luke Chueh, Lola, Naoto Hatori, The Clayton Brothers, Brandi Milne, and this list too will always continue to grow. We can’t see ourselves stopping anytime soon.
By and large we generally support the gallery system which we are a part of. We have purchased works over the years from various benefits, auctions, fairs and directly out of artist‟s studios, but most often find ourselves collecting via the gallery system as that is where we feel artists from our movement gain the strongest recognition. You can sell works all day long out of your studio, but no one else gets to see and share in the joy they give, and no one else gets to see your sales which, in turn, allow an artist‟s price point and demand to increase over time. As for commissions, we have done a couple over time, but we prefer something that comes directly from the artist’s imagination and not a work that is part of a prescribed theme or has been based on a set of ideas provided by us.
We gravitate towards emerging artists as it is nice to see our appreciation for the work help to fuel future works and creative expression. Early in their careers, artists need that support and positive reinforcement more so than at any other time in their career and it’s always fulfilling to see an artist continue to spread their wings and gain greater acceptance and watch the demand for their works increase. It’s kind of cool to think we saw in them early on the potential that so many others discover due to greater exposure and notoriety along their career path.
Andrew Hosner, Hi-Fructose co-founder Attaboy and artists Kevin Peterson and Jacub Gagnon
Anything else you’d like to mention?
It’s an honor to be included in this series and we greatly admire your dedication to the movement. It’s so cool to see you guys coming up on your 30th Volume already, seems like yesterday that Atta was selling the early issues along with his Axtrx figure and other goodies at ComiCon. I remember picking up the first couple issues and that lil’ green fella back then (and a little ink drawing on paper that still hangs on our walls from him). Keep up the great work! We really feel the movement is about to take off in a very big way and it’s exciting to know we’ve a major voice like Hi-Fructose there helping to blaze the trail.
If any of you’re readers find themselves in Miami this December during Art Basel week, be sure to look for us at SCOPE on the beach. We’ll be featuring solo showcases from Audrey Kawasaki and Dabs Myla along with a 12×12 inch show from over 30 international artists.