Art Check: Chad Muska
This weekend professional skateboarder Chad Muska was featured in a group art show titled "3 Cowboys, 2 Drugs and A Skater" at New Image Gallery in West Hollywood, Calif.
As a skateboarder Muska has been known solely by his last name for nearly two decades. He's also recognized as a DJ and musician, having released an album, "Muskabeatz," in 2003. Notorious for his graffiti, Muska is constantly creating and trying new media. He's been obsessively creating artwork since tearing his ACL, using art as an outlet while on the mend.
By chance, Marsea Goldberg, owner of New Image Gallery and curator of the show, ended up at Muska's studio space. He described his involvement in the collective exhibit: "Marsea and I crossed paths and she saw my work at the studio and said, out of nowhere, 'Do you want to be involved in this group show?' So here we are."
Muska's deconstructed, stark work utilizes elements traditionally found in building skateparks -- like cement, PVC piping and wood -- than in work hung on gallery walls.
Two of Muska's large pieces, which were positioned on walls directly across from each other, had an added element of earth. One piece had a mound of dirt in front of it and another had an un-potted flowering plant, its roots and loose dirt juxtaposed against the gallery's cement floor.
Muska, reticent to give too much definition to his abstract work, explained, "A lot of my stuff is not necessarily a plan or a thought or a message. It's open to interpretation. What do you see out of it? What do you want to get out of it? But for me, everything comes from the earth and from the dirt, and we all, even if it becomes synthetic, it all eventually ends up back in it, so it's sort of like the cycle of life."
Each artist featured in the exhibit had a distinct visual and intellectual point of view. Artist Christopher Cascio's collages of speakers and audio equipment were so meticulous and symmetrical that they seemed computer generated rather than hand-cut and -pasted.
Conceptual artist Mark Cross, of the Drugs Crew, pushed poetic irony in large, thought-provoking woven tapestries of his photographs of homeless people sleeping on the streets of New York City.
Fellow member of the Drugs Crew, San Francisco- based graffiti artist Panda Sex, formulates artwork that is as irreverent as his moniker, paying homage to visual cues from '80s video games and cultural markers.
Bryson Brooks and Holly Hein are a dynamic husband-and-wife whirlwind of enthusiasm and talent. Hailing from Texas, the pair's depictions of cowboys, easy riders and horseshoes in bold colors and 24-karat gold leaf are masterfully done on both a small and larger scale.
New Image Art Gallery and its founder, Goldberg, are constantly pushing boundaries and looking to highlight the fierce undercurrents in contemporary art, having been instrumental in launching the careers of Ed Templeton, Neckface and Cleon Peterson. Goldberg has started the new year with another stellar crop of artists.
This weekend's opening brought together five distinct, unique voices whose commonality was in their leaning toward outsider art and revolutionary ideas. For gallery hours and more information on the exhibit, which runs until Feb. 9, go to newimageartgallery.com. To keep up with Muska and his latest exploits, head over to themuska.com.