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Interview: Christian Spruell's Disaster Balance

Interview: Christian Spruell's Disaster Balance

Lives and works in Glendora, California

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

Two words: AIR CONDITIONING.- The south gets crazy hot humid in the summer. As a kid I took a summer drawing class. The drawing instructor had that A/C blowing full blast. I loved it! I think my brain connected that comfort to my sketch pad.

STAN SMITH SERVING AT BUCHAREST 65" x 52" oil on acrylic on canvas

What is your background? and how did it inform the focus of your creative exploration or the medium you're currently working with?

As a kid in the 70s and early 80s I embraced two polar oppsite worlds. Where I was from you had the "kickers" which were country / rodeo types and you had the "heshers" which were the heavymetal MTV headbanger types. I loved both worlds-while those two worlds collided - I merged them both into my style. I didn't have a horse but I rode BMX and instead of chewing chaw I chewed hubba bubba from a can so that I could get the round imprint in my jeans pocket just like the snuff cans did. There is a correlation with with a fusion of aesthetics and a disregard for stereotypes that are reflected in my current methods of applying diverse materials and subjects matter.

Messy studio with 'For Lease Navidad'

What ideas interested you in the beginning of your practice, which ideas have you continued to explore, and where have they led you?

In the beginning of my practice I was involved in Bay area jam bands as a sax player. Most of the time my reeds were cracked and produced unpredictable sqeaks and occasional voids in sound. It was so common that i learned to keep the musical phrasing as intended while allowing these musical blips to happen in place of notes. So the melody would have a unique accent to a familiar standard. In painting I look at my drips and accidents in a similar way. I strive to depict a picture that is relatable , beautiful, full of flaws and plenty of attitude.

Preliminary drawing of 'Disaster Balance'

Who were and are the biggest sources of your inspiration?

There are so many contributors to the universal cosmic conversation. Thank God for all the Punks and Provocateurs of the world. Painters, Architects, Poets, all the Haute Couture Pioneers, Musicians and of course the Optmistic Rebel Rousers trotting about. Sure I have favorites but my list is long.

Where do you find inspiration?

Today I find inspiration in dilapidated buildings and Dylan's lyrical antics.  Today it's Joseph Beuys blood drawings - Tomorrow is a new day.

DISASTER BALANCE 66"x 44" acrylic on canvas

Is there are a single work, project, or series that is pivotal in your current trajectory?

1992 A mound of metal wire at Show n Tell Gallery San Francisco
 Installing at S/A Exhibitions Gallery


How did it begin? and how did it evolve?

In San Francisco in the early 90s there was a hole in the wall gallery owned by JeanLouis. He had a wild demeanor and was somewhat of an outcast to the more polished galleries at the time. He was a kind of dapper Parisian punk fellow with an American accent. I took some drawings to him in hopes of a show. In the middle of his gallery was a pile of chicken wire. He was slowly walking around this pile of steal debris pointing out the shadows on the floor and how those shadows moved based on the position of the viewer. The shadows took on on a different color as i started to see the importance of looking. That encounter shifted the trajectory of my craft forever. He never opened my portfolio but i kept that awakening with me to this day.

FOR LEASE NAVIDAD 72" x 120" acrylic on canvas

What were important lessons in the process that you’ve carried forward with you?

To creep the door open slowly. Don't let something become precious. Don't force it and be flexible. And to always remember that paint dries.

What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on portraits and figurative subject matter.

FRENCHY IN THE KITCHEN 60" x72" oil on canvas

STRAWBERRY FIELD BACKSTAGE 16" x 20" oil on canvas

If you could go back in time to the very beginning of your art practice and give your younger self a single piece of advice what would it be?

I would tell my younger self to live the clean life and start the days fresh and alert. Be kind to yourself and the people around you. Don't take anything for granted and enjoy the ride.

About the Artist

Based in Glendora, California

I was born at the Nix. The only triangular shaped hospital with a lounge bar in the lobby. It's a posh hotel now. I considered staying a night sometime but i don't get to Texas much these days. Besides , I already had the night of my life there .:)

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