Collective thoughts

Local artist Weston Thomson focuses on the process of making art

SENSORY OVERLOAD<br>Weston Thomson goes to work at his home studio. Aside from creating art, Thomson also performs with local band Living Alliance of Love and teaches at Chico State.

Weston Thomson goes to work at his home studio. Aside from creating art, Thomson also performs with local band Living Alliance of Love and teaches at Chico State.

Photo By Meredith J. Cooper

Visual artist and musician Weston Thomson is very happy to have just moved back to south Chico from the north side of town, where he lived near the Tinseltown theater complex.

“The houses by Tinseltown are very segregated,” Thomson said. “There’s my house, your house; my lawn, your lawn; my shade, your shade.

“As soon as you get over [Little Chico Creek], it just feels better,” the bright-eyed 26-year-old enthused. “The south side of town is artist-heavy. Most people here [on the south end] are artists. … I feel like I’m diving back into my creative collective over here.”

As a member of Crux Artist Collective, recently relocated from industrial south Chico to a new Park Avenue location, Thomson feels very much at home using the term “collective.” Indeed, Thomson feels very much at home being an active member of a collective, and praised the “perpetual inspiration” provided to members of collectives such as Crux, Chikoko (the local five-woman sewing collective) and 1078 Gallery, as well as the numerous underground collectives that operate out of people’s homes.

“It just shows us that people want to get together. We come together [at Crux] because we all want to make art,” Thomson explained.

He gives as an example performance/multimedia artist Max Infeld, who often creates new art by making use of the talents of others in the collective.

“Some have knowledge of music, art; some have access to sound equipment. … [We] create a context where you have open possibilities to do anything.”

Thomson is particularly excited about the possibilities that performance art offers to integrate art forms created in different ways.

“Take music—music is time-based; the process is live,” Thomson said. “With painting, we’re working behind the scenes. The product is the thing, but a lot of [visual] artists don’t concentrate on process. I want to focus more on process. The average art consumer doesn’t ask for that right now.”

Thomson also wants to help provide artists with a means to make a living from their art so that they don’t have to sacrifice their true expression by having to go into advertising or devise clever ringtones for cell phone companies.

Enter, the fledgling Web site founded by Thomson with the help of local arts champion Debra Lucero. When fully operational, the site will provide local artists with a networking capability that Thomson has not seen thus far in Chico. It will also create a means for visual artists to make money by displaying their work on the site.

“The hope is that we can create a network for all types of creative people. I mean all types,” Thomson said. “Dancers can communicate with mathematicians, engineers with sculptors, all under the context of creativity. The healing arts will be included, and dance. It will hopefully lead to a much more interesting art community in Chico.”

Thomson, who also plays in local band Living Alliance of Love and teaches electronic (digital) art at Chico State, described an assignment that he gives to his students where they have to create a digital image and use it in a performance in class.

“We’re bringing the idea of process back as part of the visual arts,” Thomson stated, referring both to his class and to Crux. “Currently, art is ‘hidden’ in advertising, decorations [for the home], ringtones, T-shirts. … People want to be ‘desterilized.’ It’s all about providing an opportunity for that to happen.”