our feathered friends: cooper sanchez

Hey Atlanta, we’re in for a treat this Thursday and Friday. Cooper Sanchez will host his 4th independently produced solo art exhibit at “The Gate Called Beautiful,” which sits on Ponce De Leon across from Decatur’s Dancing Goats.  This week the historic property will come to life with installations, paintings, and drawings from Sanchez. After being trained at the New York School of Visual Arts, he traveled around the country, eventually settling into Clarkston, Georgia where he continues to create and be inspired by everything from his travels to southern folk art to European classicism. But don’t only take it from us that this is a show you won’t want to miss. We sat down with Sanchez to get his take on it (spirit bird included).

Thursday is right around the corner and I know lots of anticipate your show after the splash your installation a few years ago Oakland Cemetery. What’s the inspiration behind your new body of work, Blood Brother? Georgia Red clay or silt, and the making of paint. The materials used are very crude and the themes of the work are a bit brutal, so the title Blood Brother seemed to fit. Also the original concept from a year ago incorporated drawings that my little brother and I were working on together. He is a super cool guy with Downs Syndrome and he can draw really well. This idea was shelved because his work is too good and stands alone. We want to arrange a solo exhibit for him at some point but he did design a great T-shirt for this show.

I’ve read that the new work pulls from events specific to you as well as Georgia lore. What’s an example of this? Native Americans, conquistadores and General Sherman all make an appearance. Images from the past are represented and it hopefully will have a sort of anthropological feeling to all the elements. References related to personal things are mostly just elements that I find aesthetically interesting. My childhood home had a giant upturned bell from the cities first firehouse in the center of the backyard. It was filled with water and fish and served as garden sculpture. I finally drew that old bell.

The exhibit includes installations as well as more traditional paintings and drawings. What music inspires you while you create? I’m still tearing up old CDs right now. Classic rock. Steely Dan and Led Zeppelin. The Jesus Lizard, Dylan and any old crunchy blues. I currently can't get enough of Bad Brains cause the black dots live album is amazing. My Friend Matt Benard has great music and we recently started playing old Meat Puppets albums. So damn good. Lazy lyrical enunciation over manic jangly guitars.

I’m so excited that Blood Brother is being held at “The Gate Called Beautiful” on Ponce. I’ve been curious about that spot since I first laid eyes on it! What inspired you to have the exhibit here? First of all, its one of the greatest spots in Atlanta. "The Gate Called Beautiful" is somewhat out of place and intriguing. The space has an old-world feel and it just churns the imagination. The owner is a good steward named Chad Stogner and he has become a friend. Chad has so many ideas for the space and it's future and he has been informative and gracious about his building all along. There will be a small display at the opening describing some of the interesting history behind "The Gate Called Beautiful."

What are some of your other favorite local spots? Old buildings and ruins really pull me in. Oakland cemetery as well as other hidden cemeteries around town. Railway buildings and warehouses are great too. If you follow Ponce all the way to Stone Mountain you will find a lot of old Georgia buildings and funky stuff through Clarkston as well.

And of course, if you were a bird, which bird would you be? A red tailed hawk, no question. Well, maybe a Blue-footed booby.