Youthful departures

Thane Gorek

“Sunday Outing” by Thane Gorek, acrylic and oil on board, 2005.

“Sunday Outing” by Thane Gorek, acrylic and oil on board, 2005.

In an attempt to attract younger art collectors, Solomon Dubnick Gallery presents Beyond the Frame, a group show with “Juxtapoz type work,” according to SDG’s Kristina Wong, who curated the exhibition. Artists include many locals—John Stuart Berger, Cabron, Gale Hart, Kepi, Justin Lovato, Kim Scott, Mick Sheldon, Joshua Silveira, John Tarahteeff—as well as more nationally and internationally known names—David Choe, Shepard Fairey, Don Ed Hardy (yes, that Ed Hardy). While the roster goes on and on—Chris Botta, Robert Bowen, Mark Bryan, Fortune, Bruce Gossett—to have this much of pop surrealism/lowbrow/street contemporary art work in one exhibition is a bit of a departure for this long-standing Sacramento gallery.

Apparently a gallery can change. Case in point: 37-year-old, Fort Collins, Colorado-based artist Thane Gorek’s portfolio was turned down by SDG just four years ago, but he was invited to show his fanciful, vivid, steampunk-inspired paintings for this June exhibition.

What drew you to painting with a steampunk aesthetic?

I’m not sure; it just kind of clicked with me. I just like these Victorian-looking figures in these surreal environments, crazy machinery.

And fleas?

Yeah, I’m not sure what it is about the fleas, but they have this weird, mechanical look to them, which lends themselves to that aesthetic.

You showed at the Tower Gallery when it shared a building with Solomon Dubnick in 2006.

I actually had a lot of work in that show. All kinds of weird stuff. Most of that stuff is sold now. … I think I saw some artwork from Solomon Dubnick online, and I thought it would be a good fit for my work, so I sent in my portfolio. They weren’t interested, but the Tower Gallery people were, so I ended up showing there instead, just kind of fortuitously, I guess. And then I got this random call from Kristina [Wong], asking to show in this show.

What was your impression of Sacramento?

I love it; it’s great. It seemed to have a really good energy. I guess I didn’t see as much of Sacramento as I would have liked to have, but that area of California was just really amazing, a lot of cool culture out there.

What’s the art scene like in Fort Collins?

(Laughs.) It’s pretty much nonexistent in Fort Collins. Denver actually has a pretty great art scene.

You went to art school in New York City but returned to Colorado. You weren’t tempted to stay in New York?

A little bit. I really like it in Colorado, because it’s beautiful and there are mountains and it’s sunny all of the time. New York was great, but I’m not really a big-city kind of guy, I guess.

How’s your work received in your home state?

The thing is, I’m kind of changing the kind of art I’m doing. I’m actually working on a lot of landscapes. It’s like a complete 180 from the work that’s in [Beyond the Frame]. There’s not really a big venue here for the other kind of work that I do, so I’m kind of working on some landscapes; they’re kind of surreal, but still landscapes.

I noticed that on your website. I thought, “Is this the same guy?” But how many Thane Goreks could there possibly be in Colorado?

It’s a lot different. … I’m focusing on the landscapes because it’s sort of my bread and butter right now.

So who’s buying your nonlandscape works?

It’s pretty random. It seems like women more usually are drawn to them for some reason, and usually women with money.

God bless women with money.

(Laughs.) Yeah, it seems most of them sell to females—I’m not sure why. Maybe they just buy more art than men?

If you had to, what would you call your work?

I like to call it magical realism, but I’m not sure how accurate that is. A lot of people throw around the word surrealism, but that’s got a very specific period of history, and I don’t think it’s quite weird enough to be surrealist, I guess.

Are there other artists in your area who are doing similar work?

It’s such a weird art scene out here. [Artists are] either trying to be really contemporary, or it’s at the other end of the spectrum: wildlife. I guess I tend to like weirder artwork. … There are tons of artists in California that I really love, and I don’t really know any artists in Fort Collins, either, which is kind of sad.

You must feel like an island.

Exactly. … Sometimes I think I’d like to live somewhere where there’s a better art scene.

Well, you can come to Sacramento.

(Laughs.) Yeah, maybe I will.