Nathan Durfee, April 2015
April 3 5-8 pm
Nathan says, “This show is primarily driven by my curiosity of how my style will blend other contemporaries. I intentionally picked artists with...
For artists who pour their time, hearts and souls into their work, handing it off to another artist to add their touch can be a daunting endeavor. When you admire the artists whose work you’re adding to, there’s a new layer of pressure to create a product all parties are happy with. Nathan Durfee was up for the challenge, and worked with 11 artists to create the more than 25 works in his Blending Tides collaborations show at Robert Lange Studios in Charleston, South Carolina. “It takes a lot of empathy to not only respect your art for what it is, but also know everyone else who is handing you their art loves it just as much, or not more,” Durfee, 31, says. “People do become protective and apprehensive, but like any relationship, as long as you keep communication open, that’s the biggest thing.”
Durfee has worked on collaborations in the past, crafting more than 100 with Robert Lange Studios coowner Megan Aline, as well as having had a 20-piece show with her husband and co-owner Robert Lange in 2009. For this exhibition, he approached artists he felt a mutual trust with, and he began working on the show this past October. Approaches varied from artists beginning a piece and handing it off to Durfee to finish, to a back-and-forth discussion involving sketches throughout the collaboration process. In one of his pieces with Aline, First Time Homebuyers, Aline’s dark and ominous atmosphere was brightened by the addition of two little cardinals searching for a love nest. The painting The Look on Elizabeth features a digital photo of a model friend of Gregg Lambton-Carr’s printed on canvas. Durfee added patchwork details and black eyes to her face, creating a sensitive and haunting image, and reaching emotions he says he rarely reaches in his own work. Lambton-Carr was thrilled with the results. “When I took the photo, I wanted to create a striking portrait that would draw people in, especially through the eye contact,” Lambton-Carr says. “I wanted it to be earthly and vibrant. Nathan took that look and built upon it. He created a Durfee.”
In some works, such as A Trial Launch with Hirona Matsuda, Durfee created the background for her to add to on top, and in their Curiosity Got the Best of Hector, his painting tops her shadow box featuring found objects. While works such as these blend seamlessly together, other pieces, such as Hanging onto His Thoughts with Patch Whiskey, contain more distinctive styles. Oliver Goes for a Test Flight, Durfee’s collaboration with Kevin Taylor, features a Durfee patchwork-covered creature set
against Taylor’s serene, lonely landscape that includes a realistic “almost-bat” hovering above. Taylor says while he usually paints from reference photos, working with Durfee gave him the freedom to “paint from his head.” “Collaborations are fun because you get to see your work take a direction you would have never thought of, and that’s exactly what Nathan did,” Taylor says. “I think subconsciously, I was making a dark, moody painting, because I knew Nathan would balance it out with a more narrative lightheartedness. I think it came out just right.” Lange, who will again have pieces with Durfee in the show, says the exhibition is a reflection of the supportive Charleston arts community, since most of the artists featured are from the area. “It takes a lot for an artist to let go of something they’ve spent a lot of time on and let another artist put their hand on it,” Lange says. “I think the fact all these artists have given their sense of confidence to Nathan is a testament to who he is. He is a painter’s painter.”
Quotes from the Artist about the show:
The Show's conception:
Some of my favorite music has been mash-ups. From Danger Mouse's 'Grey Album' to Macence Cyrin's solo piano cover of Pixie's 'Where is My Mind', I've loved combining disparate musical genres to create an all-new song. I'd like to think of this as the visual equivalent: combining two contrasting art styles together to create new concepts. In the past I've have collaborated with Robert Lange and Megan Aline but I was curious if a show could created around that concept and have it be with a larger roster of artists.
Through working on this show I've learned we are not only an art community in the figurative but also the literal sense: we lend a hand to our fellow creatives. The entire process of recruiting, consulting and creating with my fellow artists has been a joyous one. We all have the same goal: to create great art.
About the Show Title:
'Blending Tides' is a take on the old phrase 'A rising tide lifts all boats'. As artists we are constantly searching to the means and methods to elevate our craft and creativity. Combining our variety of talents is an attempt to do just that, but unlike that old saying, we all make up the tide as well as the boats.
About the Piece:
'Patch Lends his Crew': Patch Whiskey is one of the more eccentric artists that I've chosen to work with and he's the only one who has a solid footing in the street/graffiti scene. His work not only has a bright creative narrative on its own but also takes into consideration the environment he's working in, whether it be a facade of a building or a street sign. To take advantage of this, I began the painting like treating it as a standalone piece. Once my concept was completed, a boy with a wide eyed and open mouth stare, Patch was about to go in and tag it as he pleased. His characters, he calls them 'Beagles', invade my piece with splashes of bright color, creating a sense of playful competition. They're about to get to work on my facade.
April 3 - 24 2015
Opening Reception: April 3, 5:00-8:00 PM (free to the public)
“Blending Tides” at Robert Lange Studios will be opening April 3. The exhibition’s title hints at its concept: a show made up of twenty works of art, each piece a collaborative work of two artists including Nathan Durfee.
Nathan says, “This show is primarily driven by my curiosity of how my style with blend other contemporaries. I intentionally picked artists with a variety of styles and backgrounds, so not only will this showcase our talents but also our adaptability. The end result, much like blending musical genres, will be a unique blend that plays to our individual strengths.”
The artist collaboration list includes paintings by Kevin Taylor, Ahren Hertel, Patch Whiskey, Karen Ann Myers, Hirona Matsuda, Eric Johnson, Megan Lange, Robert Lange, Gregg Carr, and Brett Schieflee. Nathan asked each artist to create a painting in his or her genera, which he would then embellish with his own unique painting style.
“This show is a new experiment. I’ve collaborated with artist in the past but with this series each artist’s painting presented a new challenge,” says Durfee. “It is difficult to let go of control and not worry about the end product but in the end we all trust each other as artists.”
The show includes six smaller collaborations with artist Megan Aline.“Nathan and I have collaborated in the past, so I knew what I was in for. My paintings tend to be quiet landscapes void of narrative, so its wonderful when Nathan adds a story to them,” said Aline.
Also, creating a duet piece with Durfee is owner and artist Robert Lange. “Charleston is a great city for artistic collaboration,” expresses Lange. “There is such camaraderie between artists here in Charleston. We really have an egoless art community.”