AP: Shane McAdams

Artist Profile: Shane McAdams

Shane McAdams is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, New York. From his works and writings he is quite clearly a well educated and curious man. After finding his work on another blog, I knew that I had to see more. Half an hour later I had nosed my way through almost all of his online works. I had been meaning to start a profile series of artists/illustrators/writers etc for a while since finding out so many interesting things through the ‘An Independent Review’ series but had never gotten round to ‘finding’ the artists I wanted. It turns out I really didn’t need to search any longer.
McAdams has a couple of different ways of getting his message across, something I feel is common in the most inspirational of artists as how can one person really be confined to one form of output. Looking at his work, there is a clear coalition between nature and the man-made, something which he addresses in our interview below. The images and works speak for themselves, I do find it quite hard explaining the compositions when speaking to my friends. There is something so unique about them, nothing I have ever seen done really compares. They are a real pleasure to look at as well, which is something rare I’ve found in looking at a lot of current artists. But as I said they really do speak for themselves and as a result, here’s a few H&B favourites…



1. For people that don’t know Shane McAdams, tell us a little about yourself.

First, I’m a VERY extraordinary person. There is certainly no one else like me in the world. Kidding. Hmmm, I consider myself kind of a vacuum cleaner pushing around the world sucking up whatever gets in my way, occasionally emptying out the bag and sifting through it for things to put into writing and visual art in the form of material-based landscape paintings. I have a hard time accepting the title of “artist,” because I think the term has been obscured by its relationship with the institutional art world. But to the degree that an artist is someone who tries to see and process the universe and output it in his own terms, I’m a full-timer. Then again, by those standards, I know a banker and a database engineer who I’d consider artists as well, and they don’t get paid to do it.

2. What is your media? And how did you become familiar with it?

I have a kind of schizophrenic practice — I work both with abstraction and traditional representational painting. Once upon a time I made completely abstract work, experimenting with non-traditional and mundane materials like ball point pens, correction fluid, crayons and Elmer’s glue. My interest initially was to make banal materials do extraordinary things. Moreover, I was trying to tease out structure and order with these materials. The goal as I saw it was to make forms whose complexity belied the simplicity of their making. So basically I dripped, poured, blew, froze, burned, etc. my media hoping to get it to make marks that were organic and in most cases more intricate or organized than could be made by my own hands. In this regard, I saw the work as ‘natural’ and thus very related to landscape. Less a picture than an analog of the land. One day after a studio visit in which someone complimented my work for being “Eastern,” which I still am not quite sure I understand, I decided I wanted to make a finer point about the nature in my work. Rather than dialing up the organic quality of the abstraction, I decided to bracket the work with what I considered the 180 degree opposite notion of landscape, which was a ‘picture.’ I shorthand this idea as the “petri-dish/postcard” duality.

3. From where do you draw your influences? Are there any other artists that are really inspiring you at the moment?

Because I work both with material abstraction and traditional oil painting, I tend to be equally inspired by science-y, material experimentation and virtuoso painters from the pantheon. For instance, I am inspired by Roland Flexner’s ‘Bubble’ drawings, Leslie Wayne’s paintings, Emil Lukas, Bernard Frize’s and Keith Tyson’s abstract work. But I also spend time looking at John Sargent, Winslow Homer and Hudson River School painters like Jasper Cropsey and John Kensett.

4. Take us through an average day for you.

There is no average day for me. First, I commute between New York and Wisconsin, so depending on what state I’m in, and whether or not I am teaching, my days follow very different templates. A normal studio day begins with barrels of coffee and procrastination emails. When my brain is at full boil I start working. Art being a right-brained activity needs to be induced almost like sleep. Once I’m in, I’m in for a while. I’ll paint for twelve or fourteen hours if uninterrupted…though that’s a rare luxury. There’s usually some kind of worldly fire to put out somewhere. So I take my 14-hour, right-brained trances where I can get them. You wouldn’t know it by the ramblings here, but I’m also a writer, so I tend to spend nights at home with my wife writing and doing things we can do together. Throwing around hot epoxy resin happens to be difficult in our living room, so I try to reserve the neater portions of my workload for home.

5. Do you have anything coming soon that our readers should look out for?

I do, but unfortunately many of these exhibitions are still being worked out, so I am not at liberty to offer dates. I will be having a solo show with Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, Oregon sometime in early 2013. I have recently collaborated with fashion designer Matthew Williamson for his spring/summer 2013 fashion line. Please check my website for updated information about that and other exhibitions.

We’d like to wish Shane all the best in the future, I personally hope to see a lot more from him and so does everyone at H&B. Get onto his website and support his work.