Today we bring you an exclusive preview of the latest collaborative works of Mars-1, Oliver Vernon and Damon Soule, collectively known as Furtherrr, in advance of their upcoming exhibition “Momentum.” This exhibition, opening at Space Gallery in Denver, CO on November 7 (through December 2, 2014), will showcase the latest evolution of the artists’ collaborative and individual works.
“Momentum” includes the largest collaborative piece the artists have created, an impressive 10 foot by 23 foot painting on canvas. The exhibition also features individual works in various media: bronze sculptures from Mars-1, collages by Oliver Vernon and Damon Soule’s intricate forays into the unforgiving world of ink-on-paper mandala drawings. New paintings by Justin Lovato will be exhibited in Space Gallery’s project room. Curator Brian Chambers sat down with us to discuss Furtherrr’s work in the following exclusive interview.
Photos courtesy of Colin Day.
Let’s start out with a simple but challenging question: How would you describe these works or this type or art?
That is always a difficult question for me but the words psychedelic and abstract are always part of this description.
What would you say is the common thread among these unique voices?
One common thread that I notice is that all of these guys are constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries to the next level. While many artists I see will find a formula that works and will be satisfied to stick to that style, these artists are not content to do this. That, in my opinion, is one of their greatest strengths and attributes. The confidence to take chances and to risk failure is a thing of beauty and is certainly a common thread shared amongst them.
If you wouldn’t mind, describe the reaction you had when you first encountered the work of the Furtherrr artists, and how did the name come about?
In 2008, I saw Mars-1’s masterpiece “Mental and Material Realms” in a magazine, advertising an upcoming show. That triggered a response unlike anything I had ever experienced. I felt as though the artist and I had been to similar places and shared experiences although we had never met at this point. I was blown away that he was able to capture some of the wildest visions I have had and paint them on a canvas as technically brilliant as he was able to. Mars introduced me to Oliver and Damon, and together we started doing some collaborative projects. That is where “Furtherrr” came from. We found it next to impossible to mutually agree on a name that was available as a domain on the internet. Plus, we had just published the most recent book “Further.” Thus, Furtherrr was born and has been used in describing the collaborative projects we have done together.
Was there a connection from your childhood or artistic interests that first drew your attention to their work — some innate connection that seemed to draw you in on viewing the art?
I grew up in a household that had a few Salvador Dali prints and I always really connected with these. In high school I was introduced to the work of Alex Grey and really connected with it. I was deep into collecting all of the stuff from the ’60s poster artists like Rick Griffin and Stanley Mouse but wasn’t finding too much contemporary art that really inspired me — until I found these guys! I’ve always been psychedelically inspired and once I discovered these artists I knew I had found the kings of modern day psychedelia.
You’ve produced a few events with Mario, Oliver and Damon in recent years. What has the experience of working with the Furtherrr artists been like so far?
The first time I commissioned a live / collaborative painting was at the Symbiosis Gathering in Yosemite in the fall of 2009. I had no expectations going into this project, and only did it because I wanted to see what would happen and see about how it would be received. The painting that was produced far exceeded all of our expectations and everyone had a blast while doing it. Seeing the effect this had on everyone really changed my life and got me determined to share this experience with as many people as possible. I suppose that it was during this time that I figured out that curating shows and sharing this art was something that I definitely wanted to do. Watching them paint together is one of my favorite things to do and sharing their work with people is very gratifying for me.
Tell us a bit about this current exhibition, “Momentum.” What can viewers expect and what sort of growth have you seen in each artist’s work?
Viewers should expect to have their minds blown! [laughing] Really, this show is going to be very dense. The centerpiece for the show is the 10 by 23 foot collaboration with Mars-1, Damon and Oliver and it is their largest, most challenging collaborative project to date. Mario has really been having fun with bronze this year and will be showing the newest design here for the first time. Along with this new one, there will also be one of every bronze he has ever done so there will be seven or eight different bronze pieces just from Mario. Damon has been really inspired to branch out into the unforgiving world of ink on paper, and has been creating some large-scale pen drawings recently. One of Damon’s strongest suits has to be his skill as a draftsman, and his mandalas are truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Damon has also painted some non-traditionally-shaped wood panels that turned out extremely well. Oliver has been on a tear this year doing collage-based works on wood panels. This will be the first exhibition showing Oliver’s collage-based work and thus far the response to this new direction has been very positive. This year has seen a lot of growth from each of these artists and this show will certainly inform all viewers of where their current inspiration lies.
In the project room we will be featuring new works by Justin Lovato. Justin has produced an amazing new body of work that he has titled “Prima Materia.” Justin is an exciting younger talent that I feel is really coming into his own with this exhibit. He knew that he was going to have to raise his game to a whole new level to be a part of this and I’m very proud to say that he far exceeded my expectations and that his show is very exciting and is a major step forward for him.
This exhibit is more than just paintings, drawings and sculptures being shown on walls. As I understand it, you also have artist-inspired jewelry and some interactive elements?
This exhibit is definitely more than just paintings on walls. There will be sculptures filling the space and I’m very excited to see the response to the amazing hand-engraved jewelry produced by Sean Smokovich. Damon has been working on his ever-evolving renegade sound system — an interactive sound station for all to enjoy.
It seems like these works were created mostly on-site or in Denver for this exhibit, is that correct? What was the creative process like and how did you corral such vast imaginations in one place to focus on this single endeavor?
Actually the bulk of the work was created in Grass Valley (near San Francisco) as Damon, Oliver, Justin, and I all live there. Mario is still in San Francisco, so all of his work was done there. We did come out for a collaborative mural in August, which was a blast, and Damon and Justin did another wall together in June in Denver as well.
How do you view your role as curator? Meaning, what vision do you see before the show takes place and how do you interact with the artists and the exhibition space?
As curator, I see my job as finding the perfect place to host the desired exhibit. For this show and with where these guys are at right now, I felt it was important to find a cutting-edge, big, expansive space to properly exhibit these large-scale paintings. Denver is a really exciting place right now as it’s certainly one of the most progressive cities in the world. The art scene in Denver is very vibrant and exciting and there seems to be a lot of folks that are catching the art bug and are excited to collect art. Thus, the support from the people and the overall attitude in Denver made it the perfect place to target. Combine that and the amazing space created by Michael Burnett and the guys at the new Space Gallery and it seemed like a perfect fit.
Each artist in the “Momentum” exhibit has a very unique voice on their own, but also functions in a seamless and even supportive manner with the others in collaborative works. How did this take shape and to what do you owe this unique cooperative mindset?
Individually, everyone has known each other for a long time. Mars, Damon and Oliver have been friends for well over a decade and have been influencing each other since meeting. Collaboratively, a lot has happened in the last five years and I think everyone had a lot of fun doing this. Every collaboration seems to turn out more successfully than the last, and I am constantly trying to change things up enough to keep them on their toes and to keep it exciting. I think these guys have developed a sincere trust and respect for each other through years of friendship and collaboration and that this trust makes it easy when working together.
I’ve certainly seen a lot of growth, both personally and technically in everyone since we started working together in 2009 and the rate at which these guys can finish a masterpiece type of painting has increased dramatically. As curator, and oftentimes the patron of collaborative projects, I always really encourage them to take chances and to try new things on collaborative pieces. I really cherish my role of providing an opportunity with guaranteed pay to push them into pursuing ideas that are outside of their norm. Thus, with practice comes perfection and I feel that “momentum” really captures the true spirit of what can happen when you can learn to work together as a team.
Would you say that these exhibitions with Mario, Damon and Oliver carry an air of cosmic connectivity as well as a uniquely positive mentality imbued to the artist and the works? To what might one attribute that special element of bliss or sensitivity?
That is a great question and one that I find myself thinking about often actually. I’m not sure exactly why this is or where it comes from but I do certainly notice this. I think a lot of it simply has to do with the nature of the work. It is always very bright and colorful and quite hard to describe but it is always interesting and makes you think and wonder. I also really feel that this particular type of art inspires viewers to be aggressive and daring in their approach to whatever it is that they are doing in their life. Personally, I feel these works inspire and encourage a non-traditional, forward and progressive way of thinking and living.
What would you want viewers to know about this exhibition before they encounter it, or what should they expect?
I think viewers should expect a peak type of experience with this show. I’m very proud and happy to say that I feel we have really nailed it this time. With “Momentum,” everything feels in tune and on time. I feel like the timing is perfect and Space Gallery really feels like the ideal place to do an exhibit of this type. The centerpiece of the show is the biggest collaborative project to date and is the most impressive in my opinion. My feeling is that viewers will leave the exhibit very inspired and ready to go big with whatever it is that he or she is doing in their own life.