A bright splash of life contrasted by the nebulous chaos of shapes, shadows and figures is just one of the infinite number of scenes someone might see when entering Evan Ross’s garage.
Ross, a senior global studies major at SDSU, and his friends meet in a garage located outside of Brookings at his grandmother’s farm.
They don’t work on cars. They don’t build furniture. They paint.
During their time of artistic expression, there is a constant flow of creativity. Eclectic music is a constant force in the background – it never stops. They explore the depths of their imagination painting individually and collectively, visually expressing anything that comes to mind.
As the images grow, each artist’s rendering slowly merges together and is augmented by the other painters. When all of the empty spaces are filled, and sometimes even when they are not, the painters begin to layer their ideas upon each other’s. Each person incorporates his or her perspective into the multitude of ideas and creations already expressed on each wooden board they paint.
“During the summer I wanted to do some painting. So I had my dad help me build this four-by-eight huge easel. I just screwed a piece of wood to it and started painting. I thought it was a great place so I invited some friends to come over and have a graffiti wall,” said Ross. “We just started painting over each other’s stuff. Eventually we were having as many as seven to nine people come out once or twice a week. So we kind of just paint for the heck of it – for fun.”
When Ross began his artistic exploration into street art and graffiti during the summer, he was fascinated by the convergence of artist and environment.
“I really just love the idea of the rebels of art. I liked the idea how they use bricks and all the materials to express something,” he said. “They have this idea, but then if they plant this idea on a wall, the wall becomes part of the idea rather than painting on a canvas where it’s just the artist’s idea. Where if you paint a brick wall or a piece of wood, the world puts a piece into it that you couldn’t have. You don’t have complete control over it.”
After Ross began sharing his passion and excitement with his friends, the types of media they used expanded quickly from spray paint to a mixture including acrylic and oil. Soon, there was a communal supply of paint and brushes for everyone in the group to use. He said they might have invested as much $150 for all of the materials.
The group consists of different artists each week, spending as many as 40 hours over three weeks on the creation of one board.
Sha Wilson, a senior fine arts and Spanish double major, said she started in August after Ross told her about what he was doing. She thought it was an awesome idea and enjoys the experience.
“It turned into something I wanted to keep developing … You’re always thinking – thinking about not thinking even,” she said. “This is the only time I’m able to stop thinking about everything.”
Other members of the group have spent a varying amount of time on the paintings, with lengths ranging from weeks to the first day. Michael Mazourek, a sophomore graphic design major, said Ross had been talking to him about painting with them for a while.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff that Sha and Evan have done. So, I decided to come out and see what they are making,” he said.
Mazourek said even though art can become tedious at times, it’s good to relax and just be creative.
“I wanted to let my creativity take the wheel,” he said.
Although the group is still working on a few boards, Ross said he is always looking for more wooden boards – plywood, particleboard or anything else he can find. He also said they recently finished one board and it turned out well. He said he hopes to make a connection with Cottonwood Coffee on Main Street to display some of their work to the community.
“It’s just purely for fun and expressing something in a new way,” he said. “[It’s] truly for the sake of doing art.”