Before artist Christian Usera can paint, he has to get his mind straight -- usually he goes into a meditative state before he starts. The end result combines a mixture of mediums (watercolor, tempera, spray paints, acrylic, to name a few) into an emotional, dreamy composition. He knows his creative process is unusual, but Usera can't do it any other way. "When I feel a sense of calm and connection to a spiritual world, I am able to begin," he explains.
And he's been meditating a lot lately, in preparation for his first solo Denver art show, at Cash From Clutter, which opens tomorrow, July 6.
Usera's background isn't only in painting -- he graduated from New York University with a degree in creative writing and has written and illustrated his own books. He showed previously in Denver, at Core's group show Spirituality, but this will be his first traditional solo show in town. To celebrate, he's decided to do something a bit unorthodox -- a live spray-painting performance piece outside the gallery, weather permitting.
"The spray-painting has a street-art aspect to it, so I felt like it should be live," he explains. "I think that the street art, underground artists attract me because there seems to be a lot less attitude. I can't make a generalization about the art community as a whole, but the places I've felt more comfortable at lately are boutique shops and less traveled places. That seems to be how I express myself."
The fact that Usera is presenting his solo show at Cash From Clutter, the thrift store/gallery, speaks to his wanting to get off the beaten track.The store re-purposes used items for business and home use; Usera was immediately drawn to the space.
"I went into Cash From Clutter and met the owner, Margaret," he says. "I asked her if I could put up some work on the wall, and I asked her if she supported local artists. She said she would put my work up, but told me that if I did a live show that would be a really nice draw for people. I realized that I didn't have enough art work and that I needed to scramble. It was impromptu, but I like when paintings are really spontaneous. I like to roll with it."
Usera's been finishing up the last details on his show, and says he's ready for the opening tomorrow. "I'm a little nervous," he adds. "I've never really done a live show in a traditional setting, and I have no idea how many people will come or not come, but I'm trying to do the best I can. I'm optimistic about it, but at the same time I have no idea how people will respond to it. It really depends on their taste -- that's a big part of it."
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Usera's live painting demonstration will run from 6 to 9 p.m. July 6 at Cash From Clutter. For more information, visit Usera's web page.