“When news of Covid-19 hit, I had no idea what it really meant,” Jeremy Shockley admits regarding his level of engagement with news in the digital age. “Luckily, two weeks before I had loaded up on painting supplies and buzzed my head, so I was in a good starting position.” Today, for Art in Uncertain Times, we’re checking in with the South Carolina-born, Los Angeles-based Shockley, who spent years managing Tom Sachs studio, as in micro, with duties including trim carpentry, brick masonry, timber framing, enameling, and all aspects of project management for artists and galleries. Part octopus and part scissor-hands we’re anxious to get his wide ranging perspective, which naturally starts with a key character. “We hunker down with our dog, Willie, and started adjusting to our present conditions. Willie likes to hide behind that very small lemon tree in the mornings.”
With a BFA in Painting/Photography and BA in Psychology from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Shockley is a person of many talents and a range of interests, so sheltering in place took him back to a time he had forgotten. “Up until now I have been in the studio 8plus hours a day for 6 to 7 days a week, and now this is the first extended time that I haven’t had a job or been in school since 7th grade. Currently my main focus is finishing some large works and completing some paintings for folks that are years overdue.”
Shockley is thankful for some fortuitous circumstances that allow him to continue making the surreal art that alters landscapes and creates a kind of magical theater. “My studio is about 10 minutes away, but I’ve continued to use it as I have a private entrance from the street. I was lucky enough to have some folks reach out immediately about some online shows and charity auctions, so that got me immediately to work. Good to have some assignments when the times create a confusing brain state. Thank you to Good Naked Gallery, Good Mother Gallery, The Street and the Shop, and Venice Family Clinic for that!”
Long days in the studio, coupled with nebulous plans and deadlines, has allowed him to travel back in time, and he finds himself enjoying the pace and freedom. “There are techniques I’ve always wanted to try, so I’ve taken everything, from painting with a 4 ft stick to making goopy abstracts. The Matisse style extender stick has really been great for loosening up my mark-making, changing my physical perspective on the painting, and for just allowing mistakes to happen. I have no idea if any of it is good, but I feel like I’m in college and just playing. It’s a pretty incredible feeling to just make for the sake of learning, instead of for the end product.
“It’s been a great time to continue on with some series that were in progress, but I also have been spending hours and days in books and documentaries, trying to learn. Other than that, I start every day by making breakfast for Nikki, Willie, and me. I take Willie on a long walk. Then I head to my studio. I come home and Nikki or I make a new recipe pretty much every night for dinner. We’ve been eating almost all vegetarian and no take out, so I’ve dropped about 15 pounds. I secretly love gas station food but apparently it’s bad for you. On Friday or Saturday night we dress up and have a date night in the backyard by an old lantern.
“I definitely can’t complain.I am looking forward to the day that everyone is a little safer and sounder and out in the world again.” Willie included.
Text compiled by Sasha Bogojev