Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Interview with Ashley Voss, Coreroc
Q. I notice that your artwork is informed by street art, do you have a past in street art?
A. Yes I have been doing street art and graffiti for many many years. I believe that I started back in like 1992 or so writing the name corupt. It was a spin off from one of my faqvority ra groups back then the Dogg Pound Gangsters. The group consisted of Daz and Kurupt who also played cameo roles in some of Snoop dogg and Dr. Dre’s early albums. I changed the spelling a little and went from there. I soon learned that 6 letters was a bit much for a street art moniker. So I shortened it up a bit and began to work with 4 letter words and have since like 1994.
Q.. Do you have a favorite style of street art?
A. When it comes to the style that I have grabbed onto from the street art world it would be more of an East Coast Old School graffiti style. The likes of Ces, Cope, and T-Kid from NYC really grabbed my attention. Along with writers like Espo and Kaws from Philly I also found some influence from. When it comes to my graffiti like and dislike what draws me the most to an artist’s style is the attention to the letter form. I can’t stand when an artist just tries to make graffiti look colorful and detailed when in the end the letters look like crap and cannot be read. Very much like the world of DJ’s in hip hop and the theory of a Beat Junkie. I would consider myself a letter junkie.
I will also go on to say that I was heavily influenced by the graffiti of the mid 90’s in the San Francisco and Oakland California area. My sister moved out there in like 1993 and it was the first large city I ran around in during my integration to street art and art in general. I was attracted to the aesthetic of the west coast some, but the methods and locations that the artists used was eye opening to a young inspired artist like myself. My first trip to Cali I met Neon and Jase who at the time were some of the west coast kings and I shot picture of them painting a huge wall in what is now the famous Oakland yard. This exact wall was later featured in the book Graffito along with many of the other walls in the bay area that inspired me in the mid 90’s.
Q. Is there an "Ohio"style?
A. In the world of graffiti I would say that there is a style to Columbus but across Ohio it differs. In Columbus I would say that 2 direct influences created 2 eras of style in Columbus. In the early 90’s a writer named Orse moved here from LA and brought a very clean style of hand signature or Tag as well as a very clean 3d style. Many of the old school writers in Columbus took lead from Orse and developed a very clean letter style. I would contribute the works of artists like Dell, Res, Metro, Esa, Flip, and myself to the LA style brought here by Orse. In the late 90’s to early 2000’s some of the new school generation took some lead from Chicago and artists like Heist (R.I.P.) and Grey. All in all the styles that were adapted in Columbus stayed here and have become identified as our style. In 2003 I hosted the first and only to date meeting of the international graffiti battle called “Write 4 Gold”. In that competition Columbus artists ranked very high against the best of the best and in the hand style competition Columbus style dominated the event.
Q. Do you find your work diverging away from a street style at times, or is it always present as a fundamental aspect of your work?
A. You know I think my work will always reflect a street style at least to those familiar with east coast and old school graffiti. However I find myself working on abstract paintings that fall away from some of the aesthetics common to the street. However on some level I think my work will always have an edge that is undeniably street. Even when working abstracts or vinyl toys I tend to use spray paint close to 90% of the time.
Q. In your work I see elements of nature, urban landscape, and mark-making, could you tell us a little about these elements?
A. In respect to the nature side of my work I have always balanced my city boy lifestyle with nature. As a very young man I grew up on boats around Florida and Lake Erie. One of the first things I began to draw and paint was landscapes and ocean scenes. I also growing up had a pet cockatiel that was as close if not closer than your typical family dog. I grew to love this bird and I think that may be where the influence of birds began to appear in my work. The urban landscape is what I call home and where my comfort lies. It’s a sad but true story that concrete and cockroaches make me feel at home. Just yesterday I said a certain artist didn’t have enough pigeon shit on his shoes for me to accept as an urban artist. It takes a special kind of person to climb water towers and walk through pitch black abandoned warehouses. I take an even different person to find the beauty of these harsh environments. I think that’s why my work is a sexy balance between the two very different environments. Graffiti being my staple it’s hard for me not to have lettering involved in the work I produce. For about a year I steered clear of graffiti, but I am very much back to the basics in 2009 and try to incorporate it as much as possible. As evident in my new series of work called “Ghetto Birdz”.
Q. When I stopped in your studio, I noticed lots of records, I must ask, what do you listen to while you are working?
A. Well that’s a damn good question! The records come from my 12 year tenure as a hip hop DJ and turntablist. Being a DJ was like another venue to make beauty with words and language. There was one day that I bought used records from a place called Goldmine Records in Columbus and fell into a desperate money situation a week later. I tried to return the records for cash and was told be the owner and guy who sold them to me for about $40 that thety had no value and he wouldn’t buy them. I was so pissed that I decided they would have value as artwork if I painted them. This set off a whole new medium and has become a very common surface to paint in the lowbrow community.
As for what I listen to when I work well that varies in most likely way to extreme of a manner as I have been told per my Ipod playlist. If I put my tunes on random shuffle then you will hear everything from gangster rap to Jazz or Geto Boys to Dizzy Gillespie. The playlist could go from “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” to “Come on feel the Noise” by Quiet Riot. When I lock into a creative mood and I have a need to stay focused I tend to stick to early 90’s hip hop like AZ, Tribe Called Quest, De LA, Soul, and the Beatnuts. At time I take indication from the lyrics of the songs an incorporate them into the visuals that I paint. Music becomes a very crucial part of my creative process. In some of my more recent works I have been embedding cassette tapes into the texture of my backgrounds.
Q. Also what's coming up for you in the future?
*Currently showing work at the Spring Salon Show at Terra Gallery in the Short North Arts District. http://www.terra-gallery.com/
*April 10th, 2009 I will be a part of a group art show at Blue 77 Gallery In San Fransisco titled Humans Beware. This is a Custom toy show that also features Cowtown Lowbrow Collective member Clinton Reno. The list of artists and international press on this show has reached amazing proportions at this point and the show is yet to even open. See more info here: http://www.blue77gallery.com/
*May 16th, 2009 will present the Agora 2009 show at Junctionview studios. Come see my studio(112) transform into a formal gallery space with two separate bodies of work on display. The fist will be the De-K (decay) series that will reflect urban and rural decay embodied in a mixed media presentation and installation in my small gallery space. My main gallery space will present a series titled Off the Wall. These works will reflect progressive graffiti both in raw form on the walls and coordinating art pieces with a very vivid and bold color scheme. I will also be performing a very tribal live performance art piece in coordination with Kristina Issabell and High Jinks. this will involve themed costume design, live mural painting, fire spinning, and interactive music performance. This will by far be a performance not to miss this year. More details to come and check my blog for updates.
*May 9th, 2009 I will be involved in a group show at Lift Gallery in Detroit titled "Multiple Personalities". This is also an open platform Custom Toy show that will feature works from an array of International talent in one of the worlds premiere lowbrow galleries. I also have a fixed installation at the gallery that has grown into their logo and branding identity. You can see my installation in the past events section of the Lift website at: http://www.liftfootwear.com/madl_photos.htm
*June 5th, 2009 I will be a part of a group show at 1am Gallery In San Fransisco that is titled "Into the Darkness". This will be an open platform custom DIY toy show that I will be submitting work form the De-K series for. Make sure that you attend the Agora for hometown dibs on my work before it leaves for the Bay Area.
*June 2009 I will be presenting a solo show at Lift Gallery in Detroit. Dates are being determined and the tentative title for the show will be Ghetto Birdz and will reflect a new body of paintings and custom vinyl toys. The name ghetto birds stems from the release of my clothing line late 2009 or early 2010. Look for more information on my Blog
* July 2009 I will have a solo show at KickStart in the Short North Arts District. The body of work will reflect the cultural passion for two wheeled transportation including but not limited to Vespa’s, BMX, and motorcycles.
*Summer 2009 I will be presenting a full retail installation project along with a Public Mural at Black Sheep Board and Skate in the South Campus area of Ohio State University. Look for an explosion of color and detail on your ride up and down High Street @ the old Industry Standard site. Also in coordination with Mike Reed on design/programming look for the release of my portfolio website at www.coreroc.net along with a full marketing and branding overhaul.
*September 2009 I will be presenting small works and new clothing designs at the Independents Day festival in Downtown Columbus. Look for another presentation of Montana Gold x Coreroc X Dick Blick with a live painting expo and retail booth. I will also be doing a live mural painting most likely with Cyrus Fire and others at Urban Scrawl with a date TBD. Urban Scrawl will be held at Dodge Skatepark along with vendors, live music, and a skateboard competition. You can find me there working colaboritive murals with Cyrus Fire.
*October 2009 I Will be curating a show at Lift Gallery in Detroit for the Cowtown Lowbrom Collective that will be titled "MIGR8". It will be the first presentation of work by the collective outside of of Columbus. We will present a new series of works to a new demographic and help to put Bustown on the Lowbrow map. Look for more details and teasers in the future.
*December 2009 will mark the 3rd iteration of the C Note Art Show that is my pet project and introduction into art show curation on a massive level. WIth over $40,000 in sales generated from the previous 2 events in under a year the C Note is not only a huge success, but is fastly becoming a not to miss event in the city. The show and all of the money generated go directly back into the pockets of the artists and directly help with the creative drive in the city. This event has seen over 400 artists and close to 1300 different paintings.
* Late 2009 is the tentative date for the inaugural release of my new Clothing line and designs called Ghetto Bird. The line will reflect my love for the harmony between nature and the urban landscape. You will see in the first designs bolkd colors and imagery just like you will find in my art work. Look for a series of painting to parallel the unavailing.
*Skate park Project: I am in the process of developing a proposal for the City of Columbus to build and maintain a top of the line outdoor skate park within the 270 loop. This development will include the use of land that will work as a public park, public legal graffiti mural wall, and a concrete outdoor extreme sports complex. The theory will be to offer the younger demographic an area of the city to develop both artistically and physically through the use of this complex. the hope is that it will create a haven for summer outdoor events such as mural competitions, skateboard and BMX competitions as well as concerts and festivals. Although I look at this proposal as something I expect to take several years the bulk of the work and design concepts will be driven in 2009.