The Studio of Andy Byers, Venice Beach, CA
If I close my eyes and imagine the studio of my dreams, these photos sum up what it is I see. I first saw the work of Andy Byers when I watched the Sundance channel series Green Porno, wherein Isabella Rossellini dresses up in a variety of paper insect costumes and demonstrates how different types of insects mate. However, I didn't know who created those paper costumes until Adam Smith (Invisible Hand gallery owner) was telling me about the last artist he showed, Andy Byers. When I saw pictures of the show, I put two and two together and realized that Andy was also the same artist who had left such a strong impression on me years earlier with the Green Porno costumes. Adam told me that Andy was a really nice guy and suggest that I contact him. I did, and when I started planning my cross country trip, I knew I had to add a studio visit with Andy Byers into the mix.
There were huge rolls of bright colored paper begging to be cut up, a salty ocean breeze coming through the windows, an adorable boston terrier at my feet, and a hilariously zen yard complete with magical stones. As cool as Venice Beach is, I don't think I would ever leave my house/studio if I had a set up like that. It is a nice life you're living Andy, keep it up!
The Studio of Kristen Morgin, Los Angeles, CA
Traveling up the coast through L.A. I stop to visit with mentor and friend Kristen Morgin. I meet her at her studio, a gigantic warehouse she shares with another artist. Her art and strange collections fill the space. Her toys, instruments, old magazines and comics first seem ordinary. A closer look reveals that many are meticulous, delicate, identical replicas of these ordinary objects, completely hand sculpted from unfired clay. I did not have my camera on me at the time but above is a gift Kristen gave me when she taught at the University of Georgia (she is incredibly generous). It is a flawless clay replica of a cardboard scrap with doodles and a Donald Duck sticker (I had admitted my secret lingering childhood obsession with unicorns during a class once, hence the pink unicorn). In another part of her studio sits her larger than life Cadillac, again, made from unfired clay! During my quick visit we talked about some of the craziest trips she used to take students on when she taught at CSU Long Beach, all of which made me miss my time with her at UGA. Hope to see you again soon, Kristen!