Tom LaDuke is a normal guy. I used to live in an adjacent loft at the Santa Fe Art Colony, which is on the border of the city of Los Angeles and the city of Vernon (an industrial blip between LA and Huntington Park). He lives there with his equally talented wife, Simone Adels. Both artists are represented by Angles Gallery, which just relocated to Culver City (the hip spot to be if you are a contemporary art gallery). LaDuke just got picked up by CRG in New York. In my opinion, his bi-coastal representation was long overdue. When I say that Tom is a normal guy, I mean outside of the studio. He makes great jokes and is a super nice guy, easy to talk to, not pretentious at all.
Inside of the studio, Tom makes really super intense artwork and knows a lot about Art. He is a super-serious mad-scientist/magician of painting and sculpture. His materials include, but are not limited to – hair, fingernails, eyelashes, arm hairs, and normal art supplies like paint, graphite and polymer clay. The subject matter of LaDuke’s work is smart and sassy – often self-portraits (the artist’s face reflected in the blade of a knife, the artist as Frankenstein, and as a version of the performance artist Chris Burden)
and a lot of everyday objects that you might not regularly notice that are made from everyday materials (an Elder tree branch made of graphite and mechanical pencil lead, a black “plastic bag” made of graphite, glue and a mirror; a dead bird made of clay and fingernails, a single feather made of hair and fingernails, a painting of the cracks in a Flemish painting made with eyebrows, eyelashes and arm hair).
Ok – so maybe using your own hair, eyebrows, eyelashes and arm hair is a little weird, but with contemporaries such as Tim Hawkinson who has made a tiny bird skeleton out of his own fingernails and a feather out of his neck hair, it makes sense and increases the amount of art being made in reference to more art.
When my students complain about having to take art history classes, I attempt to liken it to a long chain of gossip and inside jokes. So much art is made in reference or with the knowledge of other artworks, either from the past or present. It makes it much more fun to look at when you know what else is going on in that world, and the characters who are behind the images that we see. So consider this your glimpse into the world of Tom LaDuke.
If you want to know even more about Tom LaDuke, you are luck – The LA Times just did a piece on him today. Read it here.
The more you know, the better you see.