While the city is in full swing with the 2016 Richmond Mural Project, five well-known local muralists gathered at the Glave Kocen Gallery this
While the city is in full swing with the 2016 Richmond Mural Project, five well-known local muralists gathered at the Glave Kocen Gallery this past Saturday for a panel discussion about their new exhibit, “Cahute” and the state of the Richmond mural scene.
The panel seats were occupied by Mickael Broth, recently known for his Circle Jerks inspired ‘Feel the Bern’ mural, Hamilton Glass, who moved to Richmond from Philadelphia and is recognized by his vivid colors and sharp lines, Matt Lively, who can be found painting his bumblebees-bikes all over the city, Andre Shank, a self-taught artist who works under the name Bomb Proof, and RVA-staple Ed Trask, whose work you’ve probably experienced while sipping on a Hardywood Park brew or shopping at Ellwood Thompson’s.
The discussion started with a conversation about the exhibit that united them in the first place, “Cahute,” which is hosted at the Glave Kocen Gallery now until the end of August. Gallery owner BJ Kocen gave the opening remarks and introduced the new exhibit. He said the artists were given a small space with full creative freedom while also working closely with the other artists.
“‘Cahute’ comes from a French word meaning ‘hut’. The English language eventually derived the word to mean come together in a secret or conspiring way,” he said.
Abstract work by Shank
“This is how I feel about our work, I feel like when you’re an artist or you’re creating artwork, or whatever your creative endeavor is, it is inherently subversive,” said Kocen. “Because you’re celebrating the individual idea, you’re celebrating individual creativity. Which is subversive to societies, social or political groups, who would rather you conform to their ideas.”
Trask remarked that working on this exhibit was a unique way to learn from other artists in his field as well as collaborate with them, in cahoots as it were.
Works by Ham Glass
Each artist gave a remark on how they started as an artist. Lively and Trask reminisced on the days where they were sketching pictures of skateboard logos and record covers. Lively specifically remembered how, when he was a child, record stores were the closest you could get to an art gallery with vinyl sleeves acting like paintings to be admired and learned from.
Most of the panelists remembered encouragement from teachers when they were in primary school. Whether it was the positive words that inspired them to take a career or the negative criticisms that made them want to prove their instructors wrong.
“In elementary school I was told by a teacher that an alien duck that I was drawing lacked imagination,” said Broth who remembers his early educational years as less supportive, but that lack of support pushed him to do better.
The panel offered some tips to the less experienced members of the audience about how to become a muralist as well.
Some of Broth’s framed work on display
“If you find someone who is painting a mural, go ask to help them, for free, just to learn. Learn for them like why they do stuff and ask questions while you’re doing it,” Lively said. “Then go do something really horrible on a wall.”
Trask encouraged young artists to simply go out and find a wall to paint something on it. He said that there are plenty of walls out there and young artists need to approach business owners and pitch mural ideas whenever they can.
The panel praised the city of Richmond for its efforts towards individual creative expression. Trask said that within the past five years Richmond has been going through it’s own creative Renaissance, where the community and corporations have encouraged all forms of art, from small artisans to culinary masterpieces.
“We’ve had such an indentation of murals in the past five years of Richmond that I’m excited to see what the next step is going to be in fifteen years from now,” said Trask. “I think that next generation of artist that takes over after this indentation has got something ahead of them.”
The gallery exhibit itself featured several pieces by each artist with new and old works on display.
Lively’s familiar Bee-cycles were turned on their head as he premiered a new piece featuring tiny ceramic beavers nestled inside fur-lined honey combs. Next to the beavers were two-dimensional versions of the same-thing.
Bee-beavers/beaver-bees by Matt Lively
“I’m tired of doing bees,” he said, getting a laugh from the audience, though he admitted the now-iconic mecca-insects were something he happened upon and was ready to move away from.
“Beavers have popped in to paintings before simply because they’re funny looking… I need to communicate to the world the disappearing beaver colonies.”
Familiar works by Glass were on display, as were Shank’s more abstract works. Trask’s fine works were represented with a massive mural depicting numerous local icons that are sure to please those familiar with RVA.
Works by Ed Trask
Honestly, the only thing more inciteful than the talk was the art, and your chance to catch it ends 8/27. There’s also a number of events featuring some facetime with each muralist, check out the full schedule here/below:
AUG – 6 11:30 AM
Mickael Broth presents Street Art: Legal vs Illegal
AUG – 13 12 PM
Community Collaboration w/ Matt Lively