Photos by Asia Morris.
In celebration of all things POW! WOW! Long Beach, from the outdoor muralists—who began transforming blank walls throughout the city earlier this week—to the artists currently installing their work inside the Long Beach Museum of Art's (LBMA) upcoming exhibit Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape, the Post reached out to several of these world-class creatives who have been working to change and inspire the landscape of Long Beach’s art scene as a whole, indoors and out.
Today we feature Brendan Monroe, a Southern California-raised contemporary artist who now resides in Oakland. His work is incredibly visceral and his anonymous characters often seem to hold an introverted silence riddled with a deeper meaning the viewer must find for himself.
Monroe completed his installation at the LBMA, as of last week. Visitors can see the artist’s self-described “little walk-in closet” at the museum beginning this Friday, a room of wavering lines that seem to wrap themselves around you, to make up a dreamlike, illusory enclosure surely each visitor will experience differently.
What type(s) of paint and/or materials will you be using for this mural installation?
I’m using acrylic paints and latex indoor house paints.
Are there any skills you learned from your most recent mural installations, such as Pow! Wow! Hawaii, that you plan on executing for this one?
There are skills I learn from every mural I do. That’s part of the reason they’re so much fun for me. I have really only gotten into murals in the past two years, so they’re always a learning experience. I’m just bringing the brushes and paints I like to use.
What will you do differently or the same as far as technique is concerned?
Most is very similar to other works. Here it’s just a choice of how to make the drawing and with what color. For example, I’ll mostly be painting with black paint on a white surface, rather than white paint on a black surface or full color painting. It’s a lot like drawing with ink this way.
What are your thoughts/feelings on painting a temporary mural indoors?
I like it. I’m happy to paint temporary or permanent. Either will have a record and be seen by a certain amount of people. I think that part of the mural making experience is that it could be often temporary.
Have you ever visited Long Beach before this and did the city and what you know about it inspire your mural design at all?
Yes. I have a friend [who] lives here. I would say, not so much. Only because my work is not usually inspired by a human made landscape. I’m often inspired by nature and science and the human observation of it.
Do you prefer painting murals to say, your sculptural, graphic or zine work?
I like to do a lot of things and bounce back and forth between them. I think I often like the thing that is teaching me the most. For example, I recently started some larger scale ceramic sculptures.
Depending on your answer, why or why not? Or what do you love and/or dislike about painting on such a large scale?
I love the challenge of it and I love the deadline. Usually with a large scale wall there is a fast deadline of about a week and there’s a lot to be painted. I can sometimes spend much more time on smaller work that does not have this kind of deadline. There’s usually a little room for making mistakes. I think the longest I have spent on a mural is six days. There’s always something that has to be figured out while working to solve this problem of creating something large and effective in a short time. It can be very satisfying to creatively output at this scale and speed.
I read in your ANOBIUM interview that it's important for you to tell subtle stories with your art, instead of strongly communicating one idea, per say. What sort of story or nuances will this mural consist of?
It’s about slow motion and comfort, in a way. It’s a hugging image that is like a blanket or container, but it’s also slightly difficult to be in. I really want to capture what it’s like to be wrapped in an image that is frozen in a slow type of motion.
Are you currently working on anything outside of the LBMA show?
I’m working on a sculpture exhibition as well.
What sort of feelings, life experiences, stories are influencing your work currently?
I have a running theme of exploration and journey. Sometimes this comes out as figures going about their way in a landscape. I have also been very interested in motion in the past couple years. Even the idea of motion within a still object. For example the air that is circulating around a person or across a series of rolling hills.
Are there any artists that have influenced or inspired your work recently?
Henrique Oliveira has been doing some amazing work in the past few years. He uses a minimal material to make huge bulbous and body-like installations.
Are there any artists you're particularly looking forward to meeting or seeing again during this installation process/exhibit?
I’ve already met some, like Aaron Horkey and Greg Simkins. I like meeting people who I never expected.
What are you specifically looking forward to about being a part of Vitality and Verve?
I’m really happy to be included in this community of muralists. I come a little from the outside because my mural work has really picked up in the last couple years. It’s very nice to be invited in and be a part of a group who is creating a culture all on their own.