Terrence Payne opens solo show at Umber Studios this Saturday

It's been a minute since Minneapolis has been treated to a showing of new work by artist and Rosalux Gallery director Terrence Payne. And to local art aficionados, the saying "absence makes the heart
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photo by Teri Anvid
grow fonder" has never rung more true. This Saturday at south Minneapolis gallery, Umber Studios, Payne will debut a fresh fleet of artistic wonders to the public. His signature style of demurely skewed oil pastel illustrations flocked with enticing patterns remains in play, though the subject matter tends to take a more nostalgic spin. In the new series, tripped out 1950s boyhood kitsch merges with the artist's lush design aesthetic, and portraits dappled with sad, doe-eyed characters hint at odd tales waiting to be told.

The exhibit, entitled Pick Me Up, will feature large scale works by Payne as well as smaller, silk-screened pieces. The reception runs from 8-11pm and is free and open to the public. T-Payne dished to the Dressing Room this week about the new show and the future of the temporarily closed Rosalux Gallery...


THE DRESSING ROOM: Your new solo show, Pick Me Up, opening this Saturday at Umber Studios appears to take on a twisted yet playful element. What inspired the direction of this new series?

TERRENCE PAYNE: The work for Pick Me Up is a combination of the large oil pastel drawings along with smaller silk screen prints I created over the past several months generally inspired by the sorts of roles people choose to play in their lives.  The idea came from a conversation I had with a friend about the types of things we thought we would be as adults when we were children and how off the mark the results tend to be.  It has a lot to do with the changing expectations and desires we pick up and put down as we grow older and how these ideas define how we think of ourselves as individuals.

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How would you explain your work to an art newbie?

When I started out  as an artist my idea was to create portraits of people using narrative elements from their personal history as well as objects that I associated with their personality, building a description of what I thought to be their unique character rather than a straight up physical representation of what they looked like.  Over time I found that I was repeating some of the objects in different pieces and started to build up a sort of visual vocabulary that I would then use to describe the subject of each piece.  Over the last several years I became more interested in general associations with groups of people having shared experiences or common patterns in their lives. I started to use archetypes to describe these rather than individuals, which allowed me to start including figures in my work. It didn't really matter if they looked like anyone in particular, and eventually they started to look pretty much the same from piece to piece assigning them the same importance as any other object in the work.  At the same time I was also exploring ways in which I could communicate my point of view more clearly and made en effort to start sparing down the number of visual elements  which led to the use of the patterns in the backgrounds of the pieces along with written text.  I found that by doing this I was able to get the main points across more clearly while still having fun with it along the way.

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Your art has a graphic, pattern-rich element, which actually inspired a cool collaboration with artist Amy Rice and Sotheby's Realty back in 2009 that involved textiles and home furnishings. Have you worked with textiles and such since? Is it something you'd ever pursue more officially? We really want a T-Payne chair!

I have worked with textiles since but nothing on as large a scale as the Nest project that Amy and I put together last year.  The original concept that we had with the Nest show was sort of an expansion on an idea that we used at Rosalux a few years back in which we paired our artists with furniture from local designers as well as Room and Board and Finn Style called Live With It. We set up vignettes of different living spaces throughout the gallery featuring the work of our artists  to show our audience that contemporary art wasn't just to be viewed at galleries and museums, but could also work as a part of their lives in their own environments.  What Amy an I endeavored to accomplish with Nest was to take this a step further by furnishing an entire house with elements that we designed ourselves and immersing the viewer into an environment that was relative to the artwork, thereby making the viewer a part of the work . That show was a lot of fun and turned out really well but I felt I needed some time to play around with the concept more before doing something like that again in a gallery setting and am always trying to think of ways to reach out to viewers in terms that are familiar to them.  In the meantime, I have been continuing to use some of the patterns from my artwork in some textile designs and selling them to others to use for their own projects.  You can take a look at Spoonflower which is the company that I have some of my textiles produced at. I am also working on some designs for an upcoming show this fall which may be used as wallpaper as part of the show.

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photo from "Nest" exhibition, 2009 / Courtesy of Terrencepayne.com

You are the director of Rosalux Gallery, which closed its downtown location a few months back. We've heard rumors about a new location opening in Northeast...Can you dish?

I can dish a bit, we are tentatively planning on reopening in northeast this coming july in the store front currently occupied by the Frank Stone Gallery.  Frank is keeping smaller part of the space for his own uses and we will be occupying the larger part with a smaller roster of 16 artists and putting on solo exhibitions rather than the paired artist shows we had been doing at the space in Open Book.  We will also be partnering with Chowgirls Killer Catering who will be using the gallery for event rentals and the occasional menu tasting.  We are pretty excited about the new digs and look forward to getting back into the northeast art scene.

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What's on the horizon for you as an artist in 2010?

This year is going to continue to be a very busy one.  I am currently working on a show that will open this coming October at the MIA in the MAEP galleries along with Jen Davis, Erika Olson, and Joe Siness that will run through January of next year, which should be very exciting show. I'm also working on the preparations for the reopening of Rosalux in the near future.  I will also be participating in a group show in Austin, Texas at grayDuck Gallery with members of the Pilot arts group this coming October.  I am designing yoga mats with nine other local artists for an upcoming fundraiser at SOOVAC this coming june as well as whatever else happens to pop up in the coming year.

The opening reception for Pick Me Up: New Work by Terrence Payne happens on Saturday, May 22nd at Umber Studios (3109 E. 42nd Street, Minneapolis). The exhibit runs through June 13th. For more info visit www.umberstudios.com.


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