TREE + LEAF

ADVENTURE MORE

PLAZA DISTRICT

Create Here

GRAFFITI, ART, PLAZA DISTRICT, VideosDusty GilpinComment

Very honored to be invited back to paint with the Plaza Walls family. It's been 2 years since I painted the portrait of Cuz and Domingo. When Kris asked me to paint the Gatewood wall, I was tasked again with coming up with a concept... always the hardest part.

As my paint date approached, I struggled to find a good concept. Then, in a stroke of chumpness as I drove into the Plaza, it kinda hit me. I went home, told Kristen the general concept, and she helped me fine tune it. 'Don't let the lights burn out.'

I've never painted a mural with the intention of later animating it. I've seen others do it, but have never given it a go. The concept is simple, paint and photo in stages. This particular animation only took 3 stages. I'm super thankful for Nathan Poppe for helping me capture the process with his fancy camera skills.

Give the video a watch below! I'm definitely looking forward to doing more of these soon.

Real Recognize Real:

Plaza Walls is a tremendous project headed up by Kris Kanaly. He and his crew are really curating an incredible mural scene in Oklahoma City. They deserve every bit of funding and appreciation they get. Please check them out, he is doing a ton of footwork to get these murals painted and funded. These murals bring patrons to the Plaza.

Dunlap Codding has been a supporter of my art for a long time. They have invited me over two dozen times to work on paint projects in their office. I was very humbled to find out that they sponsored this mural. Big thanks to Doug and Julie.

• Before I started this mural, I was contacted by my friend Josh Kouri. His 14 year old son, Elijah, had expressed interest in illustration and mural work. Without asking for lessons, tips, art, or my time, he asked if he could help. Sometimes I am hesitant to have shadows and interns because it can be mildly burdensome. However, Elijah never hesitated to find tasks to do. When I needed to work, he watched. When he saw that something needed to done, he helped. If I asked him to do a task, he did it or learned how to do it. He helped me trim about 4 hours of work off this mural and we knocked out a majority of it in one work day. Thank you!

The End Is Near (For this Chapter)

PLAZA DISTRICTDusty GilpinComment
 Read it all!

Read it all!

In 2006 I was approached by a few acquaintances to help assemble and operate a screen printing press. I was 20 years old and had zero experience printing but a childhood spent growing up around a commercial art studio. I had no money to invest into the operation and for over two years, we didn't pay ourselves. I dropped out of college and realized that being a full time artist and printer was a lot that I would happily accept.

 

Tree & Leaf has given me an avenue to pour my art into and it has become a springboard for building and cultivating community. Creating a place where people could hang out and be inspired to express themselves became as much of a mission as printing t-shirts. The shop gave me an opportunity to surround myself with some of the most wonderful people I've ever and will ever meet. I can even go as far as attributing my marriage to the shop; I started dating Kristen after doing design and print work for her as Plaza Director.

 

Its hard to believe that I've been doing this for 11 years - over a third of my life. I am incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to do this work for this long. It is with great sincerity that I humbly thank every employee, customer, co-owner, and patron of our store.

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I am very proud of the quality products, shows, and events we have had in our store. We worked very hard to earn every dollar that made its way to our register. We did our best to use our assets in ways that built up those around us. My employees make a very honest wage and I have given my spaces, tools, and equipment to artists, musicians, and neighbors to utilize as they needed. I am very proud of how we have conducted business over the last 11 years.

 

Proceeds from every art project and mural job I did have gone to pay the overhead costs of the store. My personal financial profits from the store are low, however, my love for the community that surrounded the store made that reality justifiable over the years. Unavoidable are the overhead expenses that continue to increase. As unfair as it seems, that's the way it goes.

 

With a heavy heart, I am announcing that the brick and mortar retail location of Tree & Leaf in the Plaza will be closing its doors in February of 2018.

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Over the last few years, retail business has become much more of a struggle. There are numerous reasons for the store closure, however, going down that rabbit hole distracts us from the potential opportunities that await. This closure has occupied my thoughts for a long time and I have lost a lot of sleep over many months. The tides of retail sales are shifting and so is our business model. As I navigate these waters, I've begun looking forward to the potential art projects, events, and products I'll have more time and resources to invest in!

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Tree & Leaf has always had the mission of cultivating community, encouraging creativity, and being active outdoors. Our closure is bittersweet, but it will not be an end to our line of unique t-shirts, our events, and our community activism. I will still have my other studio space in the Plaza Alley for a while. I will continue to print, design, and paint. If you want to come visit, just ring the doorbell! I'll continue to use the same social media accounts, and you can follow along there.

 

In the meantime, I'm going to be joyful for the wonderful opportunity I've been given to serve the Plaza District over the last 5 years. As we close the store, we're going to have some fun with it. We're going to celebrate what we've accomplished and make fun of ourselves at the same time. We're also going to have some fantastic sales!

 

Side note: I cannot express how grateful I am to have a wife that builds, encourages, and corrects me. Kristen has walked alongside me through the difficulties of this last year and I couldn't be more thankful for the guidance and love she offers.

 

With honest sincerity, thank you for being our customer and friend. Remember: Be honest in word, work, and deed!

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Artist Series: NGHBRS

ART, INTERVIEW, Local, PLAZA DISTRICTSteven SilvaComment
  Summer Eyes - Aaron Cahill

Summer Eyes - Aaron Cahill

This month's featured artist is Aaron Cahill. Aaron is a graphic designer, photographer, and DJ with an affinity for math. He has animated projector sequences for musicians, and is the man behind the wavy digital aesthetic of Instagram juggernaut NGHBRS.

Aaron is currently working on an art book based on his recent travels in Tokyo, but he was kind enough to take a moment to share his thoughts on social media, inspiration, and process. We could've gone on and on – we didn't touch on his hypnotic, glitch-driven animations, for instance, which I highly recommend. 

Our interview begins with the story behind the NGHBRS name, itself a fascinating study in searching for creativity in the physical world, and wraps up with a bit about what to expect from his upcoming show. So, without further ado, I give you Aaron Cahill:


TL: Aaron, thanks for doing this! First off, your instagram handle @nghbrs is huge. Can you tell me a little bit about NGHBRS? What is it? Was there an inspiration behind the name?

AC: Thanks, dude. It’s my pleasure. I used to go thrifting, looking for old science annuals/textbooks for $0.25. You know, stuff that’s totally useless, full of antiquated science and outdated technology. I’d use these for collages and illustrations.

Mostly scientists experimenting on lab rats – all in the name of progress. The name was pulled from an old 1950’s social studies book titled, "Your World and Mine: Neighbors In The Air Age." The title was how the world is smaller now with commercial air travel. Now everyone is your neighbor. I thought that Neighbors in the Air Age sounded lofty. Poetic. But mostly I was using it as a sarcastic statement about society. All the messed up events that happen in the world. Things that we do to each other.

Eventually, I shortened it. And I’m trying to be more positive with my art work. Create something that reflects that name. The art that I create now explores how our perception preserves the past. 

TL: How have you grown the brand to this point? And what advice would you give to upstart artists about the jungles of social media?

AC: Honestly, I’m not into Facebook, but I was drawn to the visual nature of Instagram. I think a lot of artists are. The medium made it easier for me to connect with other photographers and designers. It gave me the opportunity to work alongside them as well. That’s where all of my success comes from – collaboration.

Early on it was all edits done on an iPhone. We’re able share our processes – which apps do what and see how far they can push a pixel using a phone. I’ll share their work with my followers and they do the same. It kinda grew from there. 

The biggest piece of advice I have is figure out your voice. With social media people are looking for authenticity. You can see how my style has developed over the years. But it’s still my own.

  Akasaka Lights - Aaron Cahill

Akasaka Lights - Aaron Cahill

TL: Much of your work combines strong design sensibilities – geometries, abstractions, color – with photographic elements. What draws you to this style?

AC: In high school, I was studying to be an engineer. So I took lots of math classes. Algebra, geometry, calculus and logic classes. That’s something that I’ve always had an interest in. And it’s something that has stuck with me. As a graphic designer, I have all of these elements at my disposal to communicate a certain message. As an artist, I naturally want to combine all of these things to pose a question.

TL: How do you typically start a piece? Tell us a little bit about your process.

AC: With design, I’ll concept, sketch and plan things out. However, these works begin as an exercise in composition. I try not think too far ahead. I’d rather they come naturally and try not to force anything. If it’s not working, I’m not afraid to come back to it or scrap the idea completely.

Typically I like to start with a photograph. Find angles within the layout or add geometry that compliments the subject matter. As common elements piece together, I’ll figure out spacing and hierarchy. Every now and then these are quick. They’ll come easily to me. Other times, I’ll build out smaller details, finishing touches that allows for an idea to emerge. Leaving room for mistakes is always part of the process.

TL:  Your work has landed in a really cohesive place. But zooming out a little bit now, do you have any standout memories of early art? When did it begin to appeal to you, and was there a moment when you began to take it more seriously?

AC: I was always drawing as a kid. In high school, a teacher recommended me for an AP art class. That was one of the first moments that I thought that I could do this for a living. Luckily, I come from a family that supported and encouraged me to pursue whatever interests I might have. 

TL: I don't know how we haven't mentioned this yet, but you're also a DJ. You're going to turn it up at your own show. Is there a lot of spillover between your music and your art? What are you listening to these days?

AC: Absolutely. DJing is just another way that I can express my creativity. I dig how electronic music matches the tone of my work. It adds another element in establishing a narrative in the viewers mind. 

At the moment, I’ve buying a lot of Seb Wildblood records. Chill deep house. Also digging Ishmael. It’s little bit jazzier. And if you’re looking for something a little more upbeat and groovy, I would check out Harvey Sutherland – I can’t recommend it enough. I’ll be playing tracks by all three Friday night. 

TL: Certain music scenes (hip-hop/indie-pop/electronica) and art styles in Oklahoma City are becoming increasingly visible – but let's get real, there's still plenty of room for growth there. I always ask artists this – what are some of the advantages of being an Oklahoma City-based artist? What are some of the disadvantages, or some of the things you’d like to see change?

AC: Oklahoma City has a small community of artists. It’s easy to get involved. It’s exciting to know that you can make an impact and help it grow.

TL: Okay, showtime. Your show opens Friday (9/8). What can people expect from this one? What should they look for?

AC: Can’t wait. It’s gonna be fun. I like for my shows to be a complete audio/visual experience. Hopefully it’s something they haven’t seen or heard before. 

TL: And a little free advertising. Anything you're working on right now that you want to share? Where can people find more of your work?

AC: I’m in the process of finishing up a book of my art work from a recent trip to Tokyo. That should be done soon. I’m also revamping my website. That’s looong overdue. In the meantime, you can find more of my work at instagram.com/nghbrs.


  Everything Is in Decay - Aaron Cahill

Everything Is in Decay - Aaron Cahill

  Gateways to the Future - Aaron Cahill

Gateways to the Future - Aaron Cahill

  Cognitive Shift - Aaron Cahill

Cognitive Shift - Aaron Cahill

  Echoes from a Silent Spring - Aaron Cahill

Echoes from a Silent Spring - Aaron Cahill

This Tokyo trip art book sounds awesome. Keep your eyes peeled and prep for more NGHBRS by visiting our store. His show opens during Live On The Plaza (9/8) and will be up for viewing through the end of September.