revolver – Artist Profile: Jay Nelson

Revolver was lucky enough to chat with artist Jay Nelson over his magical   vehicles, art, and the ocean.

Q: Could you give us a quick overview of who you are, what you’re doing, and where you are right now in life, work etc?

I was born in 1980 in Los Angeles. I’ve spent the last 10 years between SF and NYC and Hawaii. My first show was at Needles and Pens. I built a tree house in the space that was inspired by my tree house in Hawaii. My tree house in Hawaii was built from local found materials. When I built the needles and pens tree house I used that same model, salvaging materials from a walking distance radius of the gallery.  I’ve built similar tree houses at the Oakland airport and at the Mollusk Surf Shops. Building these structures started my interest in art as functional space, which led me to customize my Honda civic into a camper, and then a custom motor scooter, an electric camper car and most recently a small live aboard boat.  My sculptures always border on non-function and sometimes fail to actually work.  I think of them as an optimistic attempt to simplify and control my surroundings.

I don’t think people know me so much as a painter, but of all the work I do I feel most connected to painting and always return to it. I think painting is mysterious and exciting. My new paintings are abstract and although they may look different than the sculpture they feel totally connected.  I think of them as windows. A window in a vehicle or home would be positioned by the maker in a way to control the viewer’s gaze on the landscape.

My drawing are pencil on paper. I originally started drawing because I was interested in an art practice that could fit a nomadic lifestyle. One pencil one backpack one pad of paper. At the time it made sense for my lifestyle. I wasn’t interested in working to pay for a studio or a large home. The first drawings were small but eventually became larger as I felt the need to completely enclose myself and the viewer into the space of the drawing.  Read More…