Today we’d like to introduce you to Chad Rea.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Inglewood, California and raised in El Paso by a single mother. As a latchkey kid, I was left to my own devices or with my grandmother who was quite crafty. She would take me to Micheals, and we’d fill up the cart with everything from markers and paints to clay and stained glass. I owe much of my creativity to her. About the time I entered junior high, I became less interested in making art and more interested in playing sports and joining a band, but I also discovered a love of creative writing. This led me to become an advertising copywriter and Creative Director where I collaborated with visuals artists to bring my ideas to life. Somewhere along the way, about 20 years ago, I painted two large abstract paintings that traveled with me in a tube as I moved through 11 cities around the world. When I bought a home in Austin, I finally had the wall space to hang one of them. The other was garbage. I posted a photo of the one I liked on Instagram and an artist friend of mine commented, “You should paint more.” The next day, I loaded up on paint and canvas. 172 days later, I had painted over a hundred paintings based on news headlines which led to my first solo exhibition titled “Upon Hearing the #News.” That was just two years ago. Since then, I’ve participated in a number of group and solo shows, including my most important exhibition to date, “#TheGunShow,” a commentary about gun culture in America.
Please tell us about your art.
Informed by the media, consumerism, corporate culture, spirituality, self-help, and political and ethical issues, my art is designed to create positive change through discussion and ultimately action. Using a variety of materials and mediums, I often approach the many sides of an issue with a singular focus on the importance of having the conversation, even if it’s with oneself.
I’m a big fan of irony, juxtaposition, duality, language, and, believe it or not, humor. The elements that draw you to an object might set up an expectation that is quickly pulled out from under you once you get closer or discover the title.
What do you think about the conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
I don’t know a time when it’s ever been easy for artists. As money moves into artist neighborhoods, rents go up, and artists get pushed out. Galleries, studios, and artists are forced to relocate. They rebuild, make that neighborhood desirable, and the cycle starts all over again. You can ask your city governments to help slow this down with funding for the arts. The rest of us can support artists by simply buying more art – preferably from the artist themselves.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I currently have a few paintings exhibiting through March at Soma Vida Gallery in Austin as part of the Brushfire Collection. You can also buy my work directly through my website. Or, I’d love to see you at Big Medium’s West Austin Studio Tour May 11-12 and May 18-19. www.west.bigmedium.org
- Website: www.chadrea.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chadrea
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/chadreaart
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/chadrea
- Other: https://ello.co/chadrea
Photos by Scott Van Osdol www.vanosdol.com