Drawing with Steel: Lat Naylor’s Art Strikes Mount Vernon

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"meditation drawing #3" 2013 -- watercolor, oil stick, lumber pencil, varnish, wax, drywall tape and stitching on paper -- 28 x 25 in.
“meditation drawing #3” 2013 — watercolor, oil stick, lumber pencil, varnish, wax, drywall tape, and stitching on paper — 28 x 25 in.

Lat Naylor, Baltimore Fishbowl’s inaugural resident artist, whose inventive painterly constructions pair sculptural abstraction with architectural savvy, is currently showing work at Jordan Faye Contemporary. The exhibition, “Drawing Intervention,” presents more than a dozen well-chosen new Naylor classics — both drawings and sculptures — including many ambitious pieces that mix watercolor, iron, stainless steel, varnish, wax, and hand-stitching to arrive at geometrically grounded images popping with unpredictable color, light, and organic life. We recommend the show because we’re fans of Naylor’s unique eye-pleasing style, to be sure; we also recommend the romantic Mount Vernon space curated by Jordan Faye Block, housed on the first floor of the historic Park Avenue building that fabled hairdresser/bad boy/party person John Salconi lopped the top off…for his own airily aesthetic reasons.

the artist
the artist at his opening

We talked to Naylor about his inspiration, his training, and his current extra-large-scale endeavor.

Who are your influences?

Antoni Tapies, Eva Hesse, Robert Motherwell, Robert Ryman, Lawrence Carroll and Sean Scully.

"crossing to safety" (stainless steel drawing #2) -- watercolor, iron, stainless steel, varnish, wax, and stitching on paper -- 25 x 28 inches
“crossing to safety” (stainless steel drawing #2) 2013 — watercolor, iron, stainless steel, varnish, wax, and stitching on paper — 25 x 28 in.
"stack #1 -- rehab" -- wood...staples -- 2010/2012
“stack #1 — rehab” — wood & staples — 2010/2012

What else inspires you? 

Beginner’s Buddhism and meditation, tasks that require time, slow food (slow anything, really), family, building restoration, pattern making and clothing construction, everyday beauty, unexpected beauty, obtuse color combinations, architecture.

"aeriel" 2013 -- stainless steel, iron, aluminum, and varnish on copper on reclaimed wood -- 36 x 37.5 x 2.5 in.
“aeriel” 2013 — stainless steel, iron, aluminum, and varnish on copper on reclaimed wood — 36 x 37.5 x 2.5 in.
"bin" 2013 -- vinyl paint, stainless steel, iron, aluminum, varnish, and stitching on copper on reclaimed wood -- 62 x 26 x 23 in.
“bin” 2013 — vinyl paint, stainless steel, iron, aluminum, varnish, and stitching on copper on reclaimed wood — 62 x 26 x 23 in. — and below, a paint/collage work on paper

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What sort of training have you undergone?

I’ve never taken a formal art class — at least not since probably 9th grade. I did study architecture and urban planning, as well having formal training in pattern making and clothing design.

We were first introduced to your artwork via the massive rehab you completed on your Bolton Hill mansion at 1515 Park Avenue, gutting the honey-colored wood and using it anew to build stunning spiral staircases and other core foundation elements. That house is a living sculpture that marvelously mirrors so many of your smaller pieces. And now you’re working on another old house as fine art reinvention. Tell us about it.

I’ve started on the years-long renovation of 29 East North Avenue. I will be doing the bulk of work on my own. The building was built in 1904 and housed Baltimore’s most celebrated German family bakery and dessert emporium for the first half century. It was vacant for a great deal of the second half of that century and fell into severe disrepair, eventually being condemned. I may be able to save a section of the original mosaic tile floor on the main floor, but the rest of the space has to be completely gutted. I’m taking it down to its most basic components in the vein of 1515 Park Avenue.

Most of the building will be my live/work studio. The large, very odd (175-feet long and, at points, 12-feet wide) main floor will be “connected” to the street with a glass front and serve an as yet undefined public art space function.

Jordan Faye Contemporary is located at 823 Park Avenue – see website for gallery hours.

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