On Fabric, Berkley and Digital Existence


{Some points of reference from the video interview which bear mentioning are: Matt Smith’s informatively strong curatorial effort in 2013 at Heiner Contemporary; Gene McHugh’s Post Internet Blog is a project funded by the Warhol Foundation from 2009;  Artie Vierkant is an artist who lives and works in New York represented both by Untitled, NY and New Galerie, Paris; Mitzi Pederson’s exhibition 3:34 is currently up at Ratio 3, San Francisco and images from the show can be found here.}


Almost Practically There {2013} silkscreen, spray paint, bleach, and glue on cotton on canvas on particleboard. 17.5″ x 17″. Matt Smith Chavez.

I always find it very stimulating to get the chance to sneak a peek into the practice of an artist so different from my myself. Matt Smith Chavez has carved out for himself an unapologetic place in the world of abstraction and is currently carrying his views into graduate school at UC Berkeley. I’ve known Matt for about 5 years now and closely for the last 2 while he shared studio space with my girlfriend Megan Mueller at Arlington Arts Center (right outside D.C). What strikes me most about Matt’s earlier work is something dear to my own practice as well: the ways in which he organized and executed his pieces with such exacting math. His practice spoke more about the making of the work then the manifested forms.


Wake me up, I’m Dreaming {2014} Matt Smith Chavez.

Now, moving across the country at the age of 36 to pursue a graduate degree and leave the comforts of his past hard work, he is shifting gears. The change in where and how the images exist have informed not only the creation of the work (i.e. his decision to dye the fabrics himself) but how the works exists digitally, which is where his content can be particularly salient.


Installation photographs from the UC Berkeley 1st year MFA exhibition {2014}. Matt Smith Chavez.

He is letting the material dictate where he will go next, rather than trying to control it, which can be a leap of faith for us artists. Matt Smith Chavez has begun a journey and while the perils of grad school are sure to manifest, I have only pure faith and excitement when it comes to seeing where the work will lead us next.


Wake me up, I’m Dreaming (Digital) {2014} Matt Smith Chavez.


Samuel Scharf: is an artist living and working in the Goleta, CA area. Major publications of Samuel’s work can be seen in past issues of the Washington Post, Huffington Post, New American Paintings and Sculpture Magazine. Samuel has exhibited work in DC, MD, VA, NY, CA as well as internationally in Berlin, Germany.

Matt Smith Chavez: is currently a first year MFA candidate at UC Berkeley. Working mostly in an abstract formalist manner dealing with the existence of the image in a post Internet world. Follow Matt on twitter @MattSmithChavez, Learn more about his work and keep up with his writings both at and his most recent article for New American Paintings.

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