No relation to California. It’s more of a paint swatch… a space in the mind. The shores where queer bodies gather in harmony.
The name actually comes from the creative mind of the gallery owner, Johnny Sagan. I met Johnny via Instagram, as it goes and as most of my connections begin. Johnny found me and reached out last fall. We talked about the gallery and him wanting to use it to show the work of queer artists and here we are at the second show of URSA NYC. I first saw the space in February, and was in love with the idea of filling this cavernous basement studio with my many small paintings. Johnny also gave me the freedom to create my vision of a show.
As I sit here looking at this almost-completed installation of my work, I can feel myself overcome by emotions. Nearly four hundred paintings line the walls, columns, and floors of the gallery. That’s ten years of my life, all of the events and emotions transcribed in oil on small silver squares.
It has been a blessing to bring so much of my art to one concentrated space to be seen by many, and also by me, for the first time in this proximity. So many memories held within, in subjects, in the brushstrokes. My painting has been my journal, my catharsis.
SILVER, LAKE reflects a journey, many journeys in many ways. A non-linear story whose narrative can be read differently by each viewer.
If I were to describe a visual journey along the wall, starting from under the title is the real heart of the show for me; the pieces here reflect the show in its entirety and also these subjects are very dear to my heart. The wall next to it is a focus on the many bodies, the many selfies. The focus is flesh. It goes from boys loitering, showing off, to more of a group and community vibe, bodies at the beach, figures embracing or in acts of love. This portion of the show is reflective of summer 2020. There are portraits of activists, there are moments of joy at the beach; and the pieces sort of crescendo into deep intimacy and sexual moments. This portion is filled with nature as well, the full abundance of life.
I have always been a boy of summer, so these pieces reflect some of my greatest joy. The journey then turns to the beach again, but this time it is colder, and contemplative. My art and the ocean have both been my catharsis and outlet, so I wanted to show the happy and sad emotions as presented through my work. I spent a lot of 2020 walking on the beach alone thinking. I am an introspective extrovert in many ways and this last slice of the show takes on a darker note, but there cannot be light without dark. The twisted faces, the hands to the face, it’s very melancholy. And then the final wall of paintings with a large panel of me, in underwear, looking back at the whole show with dogs leaping out of the darkness over my shoulder.
The past year has been a certain journey, a walk through the concrete jungle, along Jamaica Bay, through many parks and neighborhoods, and almost always in search of forest or silver shore.
I have been making these works for a long time. I first came to creating small works on Mylar when I lived in Cleveland and shared a studio with a friend above the bakery we worked at. She had sheets of Mylar that were backed with adhesive, and I just began painting photos saved from Tumblr on my phone and sticking them to the wall as I finished.
My main intent in my work is to represent the beauty of the larger queer community and my chosen family, to show the beauty in all types of bodies, and to record our lives in these times. I hope you enjoy seeing them, and maybe yourself, here on the shores of SILVER, LAKE.
(I can’t thank STUDIO KUBO, Cal, enough for all his hard work on this catalog, this show—a lot would not have been possible. I also of course owe a million thanks to Snowy Wilderness aka Johnny Sagan, the bear behind URSA NYC. Without his kindness and generosity and unique vision this show also would not have been possible. I am forever grateful to him and the whole URSA family.)
— Adam Chuck, May 2021