Thomas Buildmore, Indy Hall

Thomas Buildmore at Indy Hall22 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Thomas Buildmore, Falling Awake at Indy Hall

Indy Hall has been part of the Philadelphia design scene since 2006 offering shared work space for designers and entrepreneurs. The space used to be right around the block from Independence Hall, thus the name, but it also hints at the independent spirit of the workers. The space was a place for people to not just work but meet kindred spirits, others with skills you don’t have, sharing and bouncing of ideas. The space out-grew the old location on Chestnut Street and now they have a huge space in the Old City Arts District with a very cool art gallery in the store front with forward thinking, avant garde art.

“We are a community of people who could work from anywhere but choose to work together, more productively, here at Indy Hall. Indy Hall’s community is the intersection of designers, developers, writers, artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, educators, small business owners, telecommuters, marketers, videographers, game developers, and more.” – Indy Hall website

Thomas Buildmore, Indy Hall

Thomas Buildmore at Indy Hall

Walking into Indy Hall I met so many of my friends, Sean Martorana of +HE s+udi0, Sonia Petruse, Director of Social Media and Public Relations at Paperclips215, Reed Gustow from PANMA and Indy Hall founder Alex Hillman, the vibe is so friendly and creative. it’s no wonder they needed more room. The current one-person show is a collection of floral still life paintings by artist Thomas BuildmoreI know what you’re thinking. Floral still lives? Really? But even though the paintings definitely have a traditional vibe there is way more behind the art than meets the eye. I had the chance to talk with the artist at the First Friday art opening.

Thomas Buildmore, Indy Hall

Thomas Buildmore at Indy Hall

I asked Thomas Buildmore how art his art is different than Neo-Pop since there are elements of graffiti in the paintings?

“It’s a much more emotional body of work for me. It’s much more based in the action of the painting and a little bit less concept. Most of my art is conceptually based to a certain degree, along with this. But these, when I paint them, they’re about the feeling of making the paintings.”

I feel that they are very accessible because they have the cultural meme of decorative art.

“Absolutely. I wanted to…as I said before, there’s always a concept behind my art…and part of the concept of these is showing my viewers, my audience, what is accessible to them. Seducing them with that sort of design and bringing them into this very abstract, moody moment. The title of the show is Falling Awake, and it’s kind of this idea of waking up to what’s happening right now. You look at the paintings and they maybe remind you of something you’ve seen before but when you get close they become something completely different. For me, at least.”

Thomas Buildmore, Indy Hall

Thomas Buildmore at Indy Hall

The paintings have kind of a street quality to them, too, with the expressionism and drippy paint.

“Yeah, for a really long time I’ve been interested in graffiti in the street. I saw some of those artists as real scholars in painting. Painting, especially, and installation is a big influence, I think. Essentially I wanted to talk about that. I wanted to talk about the rich history of graffiti and spray paint as, now, as a cultural norm. And reference it to art history along with that.”

So you are using spray paint? I see brushwork, too.

“They’re all spray paint. I try to emulate that. Spray paint has become, leaps and bounds, as one of those materials you can get now that are really high quality. These are actually high quality acrylics. I use a lot of different brands but I use a lot of Montana brands lately, I use a lot of Belton and still, to achieve what these do, i use a lot of traditional spray paints like Krylon and Rust-Oleum, Painters Touch. I actually have a collection of older spray paints that I’ve collected over the years. And some of them I mix the colors. You can actually mix spray paint inside the cans, so, there’s a little bit of an alchemy about it.”

Thomas Buildmore, Indy Hall

Thomas Buildmore at Indy Hall

“I’ve tried to apply what I’ve learned while I was learning how to paint to what I’m doing now. I’m just using a sort of newer medium. Like when I was learning how to use watercolors, I learned things that I apply to this. And when I was trying how to use oil paints I applied some of those things to this. I’ve just done it with a little bit of a different medium. I think of spray paint, this work actually shows it better than some of my other work, there’s a way to paint wet on wet with spray paint. Which is what oil painters do and watercolors as well. Spray paint is sort of that but in fast forward. You can paint wet on wet with spray paint but only within fifteen to twenty seconds.

This body of work is really important to me, this is to show that I’m not just a cynical, copy the internet, artist. This is my painterly side. My mother is a painter, a great painter, she was a big influence in my life. She did a lot of watercolor, so watercolor was deeply ingrained in me with the density of the paint and the viscosity. Another thing I think about is that I’m trying to paint Nature with a very unnatural media, a toxic media, and I hope that this comes through. That they’re not only pretty but they’re toxic.” – Thomas Buildmore 

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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