Unknowing and Curiosity- Steve Sangapore

You might remember Steve Sangapore from the New Haven Open Studios. He was kind enough to share some more of his paintings here on ALSO THAT. His work is striking and surreal and usually painted on unconventional canvases and panels. It branches out across walls or bulges in three dimensions, toeing the line between painting and sculpture. The level of detail in his work is astounding and can only be fully appreciated in person. 

Visit his website here.

Follow him on Instagram here.

It is the duty of the 21st century artist not to represent the world as mankind already sees it, but rather how we feel and think about it. Instead of directly representing life, it is the painter’s obligation to represent what a setting or object subjectively feels like in that moment. In the digital age of science, technology and reason, I can think of no grander creative subject than exploring the nature of reality and conscious experience. I dub my work as Sci-Surrealism; a contemporary take on the surrealist approach while fusing themes in science and philosophy. The mysterious and inherent duality between consciousness and matter is the direct subject of my latest work. Using metaphor to convey relationships between identifiable objects and forms, I illustrate a sense of universal oneness: connectivity between matter and the conscious experience in contexts of micro and macroscopic spaces. Using a hard-edged and illustrative style, these dense themes demand a disciplined technique and great attention to detail. Each painting connects the tangible impermanence of matter with transcendental, spiritual unity through shape, depth, texture and arrangement. As a result, the works will rouse the audience to unearth and illuminate mankind’s indelible state of unknowing and curiosity for what we experience as life and reality.


Helen Brechlin: Alternative Narrative

The End

Recently, ALSO THAT regular Helen Brechlin made her grand return to the United States from a six week stint in Beijing, China serving as the Artist in Residence at the Inside-Out Art Museum. She was kind enough to answer some questions about her experience and share the work that she created there.

Follow Helen on Instagram here. 

Visit her website here.

Visit the museum's website here.

MT: How did you land this Artist in Residence Role in Beijing?

HB: At the end of my senior year at MassArt the chair of the Painting Department Chair had set up an amazing opportunity for the graduating seniors. All could apply by the a certain date and be considered to receive a one month residency at the Inside-Out Art Museum in Beijing, China! I quickly wrote my statement and sent along my additional images and resume. After some time I received the incredible news that I was the chosen student and I could choose a month between October and April to go on this fantastic journey.

 MT: Was the change in your surroundings reflected in your work?

HB: Absolutely! Residencies are great because they give an artist time to focus on their work without many worries beyond, “What am I going to paint today?” Part of this residency was having the city impact my work. There would be no point to being in such a unique city like Beijing if was making the same work I did back in Boston. This change manifested itself in an intense shift in my color palette. I typically used a very muted color palette, but in Beijing the color exploded. The concept of these paintings was centered on the idea of a nature in and surrounding the city reclaiming the land in a post-human world. These “Snap Shots,” as I’ve been calling them, are glimpses into this alternative narrative. Everything is slightly askew, the colors are acidic, nothing feels what we would describe as natural, which I wanted to reflect as the permanent impact of pollution in Beijing.

MT: Were there any challenges in bridging the communication barrier?

A New Beginning

HB: The short answer is yes. I was only able to pick-up on two words, hello, nĭ hăo, and thank you, xiè xiè. This made traveling beyond the confines of the museum a little difficult, but not impossible. Everyone at the museum was extremely welcoming, warm, and beyond helpful. Many of them spoke English, so I only had to worry when I went into the city. I had a very handy guide book written by the Lonely Planet (which I highly recommend!!) so I mostly stuck to restaurants and sites that were described in the book, and used the map that came with it. that map became a new fixture in my pocket. Beijing is a very safe city. I became versed in the universal sign language of the world. I could pull out my map point to landmark on it and even though we couldn’t understand each other the person I was asking for would gesture towards the general way I should be going. The biggest challenge was ordering food at restaurants not in the book. One specific time I went into a restaurant that had a large picture menu. It was the first time I had gone out completely alone in a place without an English menu and they were not used to seeing tourists. I pointed to something on the menu frazzled by the waiter standing over me waiting for me to order. When my food arrived it was a bowl
full of spicy peppers and scallions to increase the flavor with very little meat along with the
customary hot water to drink, and no rice. After a painful ten minutes, a very kind waitress came over with rice. She seemed to know that I didn’t know what I had ordered.

MT: Did you notice any cultural differences in how your work was regarded?

HB: I think the main difference was that everyone was positive? It’s hard to say. I couldn’t talk to everyone about my work, and I found most people to be polite. So, if they had something negative to say, or even constructive criticism, it was kept to themselves. This is also being compared to my previous experience inside a college studio class, where the point is to receive feedback to push further, while in Beijing I was mostly on my own.

MT: What was the biggest take-away from the entire experience? Would you do it all again somewhere else? If so, where and why?

HB: Besides thoroughly enjoying Beijing and the amazing cuisine and sites, my biggest take away was my individual growth throughout the experience. Knowing when to ask for help, and knowing that you can survive on your own in a city that you don’t speak the language or know much about in general was invaluable. I feel stronger than I was before the residency. I would absolutely go on another residency like this one. Traveling is a huge interest for me and ideally I would like to go everywhere, so this is a hard choice! My top two would be either France, a home of great painters, beautiful views and of course amazing art historical sites; or Japan, a bustling country that also has historically great painters, views and sites, plus I’ve always wanted to see the Golden Temple!

MT: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?

HB: Try it all! I think I held back a little while I was in Beijing, and I wish I could change that. When I did step out of my comfort zone (which was a huge portion of the trip) it was extremely rewarding. I think this applies to even your hometown area. Try something and don’t let hesitation and fear get the best of you, it’s something we all fight with, so don’t think you’re alone.
Also, do a drawing a day.

Agents of Chaos - Mick Theebs

Mick made a small series featuring cats. These will be on display and available for purchase on August 28th at the Paradise Art Festival. 

Cats are agents of chaos. They have a mind of their own and subject others to their will. They are impulsive, fickle, and flighty. They are a perfect representation of the temperament of inspiration. 

Natural Alignments- Max Padilla

I met Max at MassArt and was immediately struck by the quality of his work, especially his paintings. I had to share his unique perspective on my website. Enjoy! 

In my work I find myself thinking about observable alignments: the unpredictable nature of converging objects and situations. I investigate this notion through 2D and 3D geometric abstractions. My practice explores different methods of intersecting plains and lines through instinctual divisions of proportions. This allows me to naturally find moments where facets align coincidentally due to a past decision.  
Natural alignments are an inexplicable and unpredictable phenomenon that occurs through everyone’s day-to-day life. All of our decisions, no matter how trivial, create a wake that will coincide further in either our own lives or someone else’s. I find that some of the more curious experiences of life are the coincidental moments we cannot explain or fathom the extent of synchronicity that led up to that moment.   All of our “luck” is an amalgamation of various actions and reactions that cosmically collide with our own. My work metaphorically mimics this existentialism through scrutinizing the infinite consequences of alignment.   

Lot's Wife

It's human nature to look back. We are a nostalgic species and there is much to learn from retrospection.

The story of Lot's Wife from the book of Genesis has puzzled and intrigued all manner of artists as it seems to serve as a warning against our impulse to look backwards.

Lot was a citizen of the original sin-city: Sodom. Being a good Christian, he took two strangers into his home and protected them from an angry mob of rapists. The strangers reveal themselves to be angels and tell Lot that he needs to GTFO of Sodom before pissed-off Old Testament God torches everything. They hustle Lot and his family out of the city just as the fireworks are starting up and the angels tell them not to look back. Lot's Wife, (sometimes called Edith) looks back and is immediately turned into a pillar of salt. 

There are extensive artistic works examining  this story- painters painting her shocked face as she gazes on the ruins of her home, poets writing words from her perspective as to why she turned to look. Here are three poems that give us some insight on what Edith might've been thinking.


Lot's Wife

by Anna Akhmatova


And the just man trailed God’s shining agent,
over a black mountain, in his giant track,
while a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
“It’s not too late, you can still look back

at the red towers of your native Sodom,
the square where once you sang, the spinning-shed,
at the empty windows set in the tall house
where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed.”

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn


Lot's Wife

by Wislawa Szymborska


They say I looked back out of curiosity.
But I could have had other reasons.
I looked back mourning my silver bowl.
Carelessly, while tying my sandal strap.
So I wouldn't have to keep staring at the righteous nape
of my husband Lot's neck.
From the sudden conviction that if I dropped dead
he wouldn't so much as hesitate.
From the disobedience of the meek.
Checking for pursuers.
Struck by the silence, hoping God had changed his mind.
Our two daughters were already vanishing over the hilltop.
I felt age within me. Distance.
The futility of wandering. Torpor.
I looked back setting my bundle down.
I looked back not knowing where to set my foot.
Serpents appeared on my path,
spiders, field mice, baby vultures.
They were neither good nor evil now--every living thing
was simply creeping or hopping along in the mass panic.
I looked back in desolation.
In shame because we had stolen away.
Wanting to cry out, to go home.
Or only when a sudden gust of wind
unbound my hair and lifted up my robe.
It seemed to me that they were watching from the walls of Sodom
and bursting into thunderous laughter again and again.
I looked back in anger.
To savor their terrible fate.
I looked back for all the reasons given above.
I looked back involuntarily.
It was only a rock that turned underfoot, growling at me.
It was a sudden crack that stopped me in my tracks.
A hamster on its hind paws tottered on the edge.
It was then we both glanced back.
No, no. I ran on,
I crept, I flew upward
until darkness fell from the heavens
and with it scorching gravel and dead birds.
I couldn't breathe and spun around and around.
Anyone who saw me must have thought I was dancing.
It's not inconceivable that my eyes were open.
It's possible I fell facing the city.

Painting by Janet Shafner

Painting by Janet Shafner

What Lot's Wife Would Have Said (If She Wasn't a Pillar of Salt)

by Karen Finneyfrock

Do you remember when we met
in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless,
and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing
you, when we were young, and blushed with youth
like bruised fruit. Did we care then
what our neighbors did
in the dark?

When our first daughter was born
on the River Jordan, when our second
cracked her pink head from my body
like a promise, did we worry
what our friends might be
doing with their tongues?

What new crevices they found
to lick love into or strange flesh
to push pleasure from, when we
called them Sodomites then,
all we meant by it
was neighbor.

When the angels told us to run
from the city, I went with you,
but even the angels knew
that women always look back.
Let me describe for you, Lot,
what your city looked like burning
since you never turned around to see it.

Sulfur ran its sticky fingers over the skin
of our countrymen. It smelled like burning hair
and rancid eggs. I watched as our friends pulled
chunks of brimstone from their faces. Is any form
of loving this indecent?

Cover your eyes tight,
husband, until you see stars, convince
yourself you are looking at Heaven.

Because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbors
are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.

I would say these things to you now, Lot,
but an ocean has dried itself on my tongue.
So instead I will stand here, while my body blows itself
grain by grain back over the Land of Canaan.
I will stand here
and I will watch you


Just another painting.

Pretty simple stuff. Just a guy sittin' at a bar, having a drink. You know.

Here's a few pics of how the painting came to be.

Margo Virzera- A Colorist By Nature

The first time I met Margo, I was quite drunk at my younger sister's 21st birthday party. When she informed me that she was an artist (and a classmate of my sister's) I insisted on seeing her work.

Then, once she finally got around to showing me some of her portfolio, I insisted on her having a guest post here.

I love the way that she makes colors pop on the canvas. This, coupled with the use of animal imagery, gives her work an exotic, almost tropical feel. 


My work is influenced by a combination of human form and the environment. A colorist by nature, I exaggerate tints of colors found within each form. I've always been intrigued by the surreal, and tend to incorporate a dash of surrealism into some pieces. My work has led me to love and be inspired by all that surrounds me. 


I decided to paint a picture of a blue scorpion. 


Getting the shape right. I wanted it to be a minimalist design. I was working off a photograph at first. The legs and the claws were a huge pain in the ass to get right.


Finally I got something I was happy with. 

A cropped version

The final product in acrylic and pen. I went with blue because...well...I wanted to.

A New Era

Welcome to ALSO THAT.


ALSO THAT is a place for art. 

This is where I, Mick Theebs share art of my own creation. 

It is also a place where I share art created by others.

If you have an interest in books, poetry, painting, film, photography, or music this is the place for you.

ALSO THAT is regularly updated on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the occasional guest post on Thursdays or Fridays. 

In order to maximize your experience, you should subscribe and confirm your email in order to get updates sent straight to your inbox. 

Finally, to welcome you properly, here's a poem:

The Greeks never refused a guest

For fear of gods in disguise,

So I welcome you potential deities with open arms.

I don't have much to offer-

No wine or bread or meat.

Only arrangements of color

Framed by pretty lies.

I'm glad to have you;

There's no place I'd rather you be.

I'm touched you came by

To spend some time with me.