Studio Visit: Drew Conrad
When I stopped by artist Drew Conrad‘s studio in Brooklyn, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Previous to meeting him at a shindig at MoMA, I expected him to be…I don’t know, maybe gruff? Jaded? An anti-urbanist anti-New Yorker? Yea, that’s it. I’d seen his grandiose exhibitions in the past- and loved them. His installations are a peek into my dystopian day dreams; thick dust-covered sculptural works of decayed Americana, soiled strings of pennant flags, bent weather vanes, rotted architectural figures, faded framed photographs ripped from walls and the occasional taxidermy stag head, all unified in the continuous color palette of soot. The scenes are elaborate but bleak, showing evidence-and departure- of a life, a family, or livelihood. Broken signs stay illuminated-with only one or two old fashioned light bulbs, as if forgotten in the haste to escape (or do the illuminated bulbs mean hope?). When experiencing his installations, the narratives never stop swirling in my head, perhaps one of my favorite attributes that an artwork can have; something that ignites my own creativity, whether it be my brain writing stories on the inside of my eyelids or analyzing the actual works before me. My brain dances between tales of the Old West, the present of urban sprawl and abandonment of the small town, and future post-apocalyptic scenes of despair- bobbing between all three and back again.
At any rate, the picture of my perfect dystopian future science fiction novel of the 1940s was illustrated before me, and I was eager to pre-judge the man behind the vision. But rather than the negator I expected to create these scenes of desolation, I ended up with the guy who left two lights twinkling in an otherwise hapless state. (and boy was I glad my art nerd self caught on to that spec of hope when viewing his work before the studio visit…phew).
My images pale in comparison to the weight his pieces have on the viewer (which is also why I included a few from his website). In an ideal world, his works are experienced with space for contemplation, and give me both feelings of forewarning and of hope. I can only hope to see his works in a large space in New York soon.