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Home FEATURES Studio Visits Studio Visit: Sam Flores

Studio Visit: Sam Flores

Written by Andreas Trolf   
Tuesday, 08 May 2007 05:11
We stopped by his studio before his show that opens May 12 at The Lab 101 in Los Angeles.

By Trolf and Trippe

John and I went to visit Sam Flores’s studio the other day. It’s in that weird, indefinite area in San Francisco that maybe isn’t quite the Tenderloin and isn’t quite Nob Hill. I think maybe it’s called the Tender Nob? Is that gross? Maybe it is. Sam’s studio is pretty unsavory, so maybe the gross sounding name of the neighborhood is sort of apt.

He’s got a rad space on the ground floor of the building he lives in, and when we visited Sam was busy preparing for an upcoming show at Lab 101 in LA. The show opens on the 12th and it’s kind of geared towards little kids, which seems oddly fitting since many of Sam’s paintings embrace this aesthetic of child-like fantasy land wonder and are populated by a litany of ectomorphs draped in stuffed animal pelts.

Sam’s been busy painting a series of wooden cutouts of his trademark figures and assembling it all into fantastical bedroom creations for the privileged children of creative types. Oddly enough, all the children in Sam’s work seem to be frowning. Or maybe they’re grimacing. They look sad or confused. Sam was quick to point this out to us and wondered whether it was subconscious. I just assumed it was part of the aesthetic—how Sam’s work is footed halfways in this morass of childhood fantasy and halfways in this sort of perpetual adolescence/cusp of adulthood gray area that so many of us seem to find ourselves stuck in. I mean, how many of us are as old as our parents were when they had kids? How many of us have nowhere near that level of responsibility? That childhood/adulthood dichotomy has got to be confusing (at least it is for me), and so I imagine it would manifest itself in Sam’s paintings, which seem to exist at the intersection of this confusion. Either way, I like the paintings.

The walls are covered with spent paper outlines that mirror the cutouts, and the floor is lined with crate after crate of paint cans and stacks of reference books. It’s a comfortable space, complete with couch and tv and a separate computer/office space in the back. Back to what I wrote earlier, though, the part about Sam’s studio being somewhat unsavory. Well, the thing about that is that there’s this weird crawlspace under the stairs. Sam uses it for storage, but that’s not the unsavory part. The thing about this crawl space is that it’s closed off from the rest of the studio by a thick steel door with padlocks and latches. The floor of the crawlspace has these odd tracks and runners installed. And oh yeah, there’s a window in the steel door made of inch-thick bulletproof glass. Sam had no idea what the previous occupants of his space could possibly have used the room for. John and I immediately agreed that the crawlspace was some sort of torture chamber or dungeon. Fucking bulletproof glass inside? Padlocks? The whole thing had bad vibes written all over it.

Maybe Sam’s paintings are sad because he paints them in a torture chamber. Either way, the studio creeped me out something wicked. No amount of stuffed animal costumes can erase the bad vibes of years worth of torture and virgin sacrifice that’s sure to have taken place there.

Make sure to go check out Sam’s show if you’re down in L.A. Buy some of his paintings so he can afford to move to a non-haunted studio.

For more on Sam, check his blog and his website.

& If near LA on Saturday May 12th, check out Sam's solo show - Kid N' Play @The Lab 101. {moscomment}

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