1xRun Thru Interview
3-D Cuneiform by Spencer Keeton Cunningham
1xRun: Anything immediate you would like us to highlight?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: Dennis Kernohan.
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this piece…
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: Everything is moving so fast nowadays. We’ve kind of lost the ability to see the magic in a 2-dimensional surface. That is, if it doesn’t have a iphone screen and the option to slide your thumb up and down it. These blinking miniature computers people walk around in their pockets, it all leads to fast attention spans. I guess this piece has a little to do with that as well, but I wanted to slow down a bit and go back to the good old fashioned 2-dimensional printed surface that is made to deceive the viewer to look 3-D. I thought maybe even now, in today’s modern world, this concept could be entertaining, even if it’s just for a moment. Art is at times viewed soley as a form of entertainment so I wanted to entertain the audience I guess. This piece is meant to lure the viewer to sit and look at it for more then just a few seconds. If I can get someone to walk away laughing my goal has been achieved.
1xRun: Was this piece part of a recent theme, series or show that you had?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I guess you could say it is part of a recent theme and falls into a certain body of work. It’s important to keep things recent and up to date, I guess. I think I usually keep changing the look of what it is that I create all the time just to confuse people. Art becomes formulaic at times. There always has to be room to change and develop work into something completely different and unexpected. Yes, this piece was part of a show. It was one of a series of pieces at a museum exhibition in California at Humboldt State University during the month of November.
1xRUN: When was this piece created and with what materials?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: This piece was created in November of 2013 using a pen, paper, and a hand.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: My work depends on what materials I have at the time. But in general I’m not in control of when or where these images surface from my hand. I work on these “cuneiform” or “hieroglyph” pieces solo or with a fellow painting collaborator and friend of mine, Erlin Geffrard. This one happens to be solo. I wanted to do a 3-D print because, to me, it’s more interesting then a 2-d one. I’ve made so many 2-dimensional silkscreen prints on paper, wood panel and canvas myself in the past I felt it was time for something new.
1xRun: How long did the piece take?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I’m unsure. I’m bad with time.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: Hmmmm. It’s uniqueness is unique. I guess that’s up to the viewer to decide. If my ramblings in this interview amount to anything then maybe they make the piece more “unique?” or maybe less unique. Unique is a subjective word. It’s kind of like the word “guaranteed.” It doesn’t hold much weight or mean anything in certain realms of art and language. Ok. I’ll quit being so cynical and say it’s unique because it is a silkscreen print (not a digital print) and it has the illusion of 3-dimentions. It does come with 3-d glasses. That should make it quite “unique”.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I don’t endorse buying things. I think people should abandon the monetary system all together.
1xRun: Describe this piece in one gut reaction word.
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: hmmmm…
1xRun: This will be your first year joining the Pow Wow Hawaii family, who are some of the artists you’re really excited to see painting out there?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I was out there last year, 2013, as well. But after the festivities. I painted a wall with a large shark creature on it. It had to do with issues regarding shark finning and the consumption of shark fin soup. But as far as friends out in Hawaii this year I’m looking forward to seeing Dave (Meggs) and a bit sad that Tyrone (Rone) will not be in attendance. I had a fun time with them out in Hong Kong.
I honestly haven’t had time to fully look at the list of artists yet. Skinner too. He is a good artist and really kind fellow. I like that guy. As well as my friends Tre, Akira who live on the island and run the shark conservation organization known as Pangea Seed along with Aaron Glasson.
One last note about the name “Pow! Wow!”, while we are on topic. I am happy that the name has been modified with exclamation points, In regards to respecting North American Native communities everywhere. I want to note that although this is an amazing gathering of artists this is not a “Powwow” in a traditional sense and It needs to be said. Native people are still here and powwows are a part of the culture today. A powwow is a gathering of first nations and native people for a completely different purpose. The exclamation points were placed there to emphasize a more of a batman/comic book type of exclamation in a sense. I appreciate that it was done.
1xRun: Anybody you’d personally like to collaborate with if the opportunity presented itself?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I can’t think of anyone.
1xRun: Have you been to Hawaii before or will this be your first time out there? What are you looking forward to?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: Yes I have been to Hawaii. I have some family there. I am looking forward to everything the islands have to offer. Getting away from the gritty streets of the Tenderloin to a tropical paradise sounds good to me.
1xRun: Do you have any plans for your wall out there or are you just going to improvise it when you get there?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I have to see the wall first before I decide what it will become. Jasper Wong has advised on a few walls. There are some walls that the building owners are sensitive to content. I think I will try to steer clear of them because they most likely won’t like what I paint.
1xRun: You’ve been staying crazy busy per usual, bring us up to speed on some of the walls you’ve been doing lately?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: Hmmm. I’m about to paint a wall tomorrow. That is the plan at least if the rain doesn’t spoil the fun. It’s a wall on Jones and Ellis street in the tenderloin of San Francisco. I am painting it through the Luggage Store Gallery.
I painted a wall in LA with Meggs and Ben Clarke somewhat recently that turned out to be a really fun time. I also went on a painting tour with a friend of mine up the west coast.
I like painting outside the most in abandoned small towns where you have to hike a ways to find a spot. Maybe someone won’t see what you painted for the next 10 years or so even. Deep into a forest and you scrape 4 inches of moss off the object to paint it.
I like to make each wall specific to the location its painted in. Whether it’s a city or a forest. In a city the public interaction is important. In the wild you’re surrounded by animals so its more of a Darwinian experience.
I personally don’t consider myself a street artist although I do paint things in the public occasionally. I am labeled a street artist occasionally on the internet. But I don’t consider myself one. Im more of a gallery painter. I like to take your gallery and treat it like a large wall or canvas. I did a show like that in Canada recently.
1xRun: How did 2013 wrap up for you?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: 2013 was a rollercoaster. I did a few exhibits. Most notable being a Museum Exhibit with Erlin Geffrard in Guangzhou, China. China was incredible. The artists and people out there work 100 times harder then anyone else in the world, in my opinion. Hong Kong was a highlight for me as well. Being able to paint a wall there was an honor.
Also right at the end of the year, in December, the Art Basel was great. Painting walls thanks to Hyland Mather and Amdanda Marie. Thank you 2! They are incredible people. And doing a final show at the J. Riggs Gallery in Miami was a highlight.
Lastly right before the new year I did a show in Vancouver, British Columbia I really enjoyed where nothing was for sale. I just painted the gallery. It’s much more fun when you’re not selling art. Not that selling art is evil it’s just not as fun.
Also I had a great time on “an adventure painting tour” up the northwest coast of America and into Canada. Painting walls in abandoned places. We called the project “abandon the northwest” there is a feature length film of the trip to be released shortly.
1xRun: Aside from Pow Wow 2014, what are your plans for the new year?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I think 2014 will be a fun year. I have an exhibit in August-September in Amsterdam. Some shark related art affairs with my friends that host shows to benefit shark conservation. An exhibit in New York and a solo show at a gallery called book and job here in San Francisco.
1xRun: Anything you’d like to add that we didn’t touch on?
Spencer Keeton Cunningham: I think I’ve rambled enough. I will miss Dennis Kernohan. That’s all.