We have just been installing a new exhibition of paintings in the New Orleans space that we are so very excited about. They are by Timothy Cavnar, a new to New Orleans artist. Anthony and I went for a studio visit a few months ago and were instantly blown away by the beauty of these works. Mostly they are large canvases, beautiful florals cascading across them in large sweeping swaths, yet somehow the hand is so delicate they nearly straddle the line between fine art and poetry. It is not only the floral color palette that makes them so appealing, but the incredible use of the white space of the canvas, the sense of gravity (or sometimes the staunch rejection of gravity) in each piece, and moreover, the gravity of the subject matter. With the cycle of life an inevitability, each piece seems a tribute to a winged or hoofed life gone, a portrait of a being going into a new state, and an acknowledgement that time goes on, all in one. Suffice to say I would love to have either one of Tim’s smaller watercolors or large canvases in my own home (perhaps one day!), but until then, I’m going to count myself lucky to work among them while they’re hanging in our space.
Of course, being such a fan, I’d ask Tim the series of questions we’ve been featuring. A chance to get a look at the thought and process behind much-loved work is always a treat:
What’s inspiring your work these days?
Right now I’m about to start a new series of work which is inspired by the city of New Orleans. I’ve lived in a lot of cities, but find this one visually and conceptually exciting in a way I haven’t experienced before. There are so many strange landscapes here, from overgrown lots next to candy colored houses to highway overpasses twisting through the city and skimming over swamps. An epic battle against nature is on display everywhere, and in many places here nature is clearly winning. It’s those forgotten scenes we see everyday that I’m interested in exploring.
Have you seen your work in new contexts, used or seen in ways you hadn’t imagined for it?
Since this work is so simple and straight forward, taking it out of context is difficult. In retrospect though, I should have anticipated all the Bambi jokes. I had never even considered that issue when I started painting dead deer.
Does your material usually come before form or form before material? How about function before form or form before function?
Form is certainly the biggest concern in these pieces. They are all attempts at creating a singular image that can be viewed independent of its process. While materials and function all relate to creating a piece, its final appearance is always my foremost concern.
What is your greatest challenge as an artist? Most joyful challenge?
Though making work is stressful, it’s by far the most enjoyable part of being an artist. For me the greatest challenge is all the things an artist has to do outside of creating art. Galleries, buyers, marketing, grants and applications, the actual work of having a career, those are the things that keep me up at night.
If you could collaborate with any artist living or dead, who would it be?
What is the quality you are most attracted to in art or design?
I’m a sucker for beauty in art. It’s not necessarily always my favorite quality, but it’s certainly one I consistently find appealing.
What is your most prized possession?
Tough question. I’ve moved around a lot, so at some point almost every object that had any value (sentimental or financial) was either put on the curb or stored in someone’s basement and forgotten. The one item I value most is probably my computer, not so much the physical machine, but the data that’s stored on it. The record of everything I’ve done is probably more important that anything I own.
To wrap this up, want to wax poetic for a bit about whatever strikes you? I know you’re working on a pretty cool project right now…
Yes, the most exciting thing that’s happening right now is creating my studio space. I was lucky enough to fall in with two other guys who are building out a large warehouse in New Orleans. When we first took over the space it was completely bare, but things are slowly starting to take shape. I’m certainly not in charge of the operation, but in the end we’ll have a multi-purpose shop offering everything from custom furniture to design services to band recording. My studio is already housed inside the shop.
The whole plan is the kind of large scale project that everyone I’ve known has always wanted to be involved in, but never had the time or money. New Orleans really makes it possible by being far more affordable than larger cities like New York or San Francisco. The hustle just to afford the cost of living isn’t as much of a concern here, allowing resources to be allocated in far better ways. Though the scene is certainly smaller here, it’s also more accessible and fun than anywhere else.
Thanks to Tim for this peek at his creative process. His studio space really is the stuff that people dream of – so much space and potential for new things to develop.
Please join us for Timothy’s opening reception of his solo show “Permanence” on Friday from 7-10. If you can’t make it, visit any time during our open hours, or come to one of our other events.
Until next time,