"It's a great thing and a scary thing," Randy Slack says, taking a seat in a vintage chair in his warehouse space at Legend City Studios in downtown Phoenix as The Pixies' "Monkey Gone to Heaven" plays over a speaker.
In paint-splattered shorts, a T-shirt, and battered sneakers, he's prepping for his solo debut in Los Angeles, bouncing between excited and resigned. But at this point? He's tired after two weeks of late-night painting. Hanging on a wall across the room is an 8-by-12-foot family portrait of The Brady Bunch grinning in mismatched red, brown, and blue outfits seated on a blue floral patterned couch. It's not quite finished, and Slack's unsure of just how complete he wants it to be.
It's one of seven large-scale pop art works he'll display in "SlackLand," opening on Saturday, November 14, at Stockstill Art Space, a revamped 1930 warehouse in Los Angeles' West Adams neighborhood.
This is just the second time Slack has stepped out on his own over the course of his creative career. His artistic roots are in the 3CarPileUp Collective, and over the past 16 years he's put on "Chaos Theory," an annual showcase of some of the Valley's most notable artists. He presented a retrospective at Luhrs City Center in December 2014, but apart from that he doesn't show much new work outside of "Chaos Theory."
Now though, everything seems to have clicked.
"I've never had a strong body of work," he says. But each of these pieces, from the Bradys and the Burt Reynolds-Caitlyn Jenner-Britney Spears centerfold to a Bad News Bears scene, "has that Hollywood vibe and culture."
Showing these works in California made sense for a couple reasons. West Coast imagery is an integral part of Slack's sunsoaked and beachy, vintage Volkswagen style. The woman behind Stockstill Art Space is Sarah Stockstill, a longtime friend of Slack's who's originally from Scottsdale. "I've known Randy for about 19 years," Stockstill says in an e-mail to New Times. "Randy's work still has the raw vibrant energy of his earlier works. I think over the last several years he has taken that and rolled into deeply layered and sophistic imagery."
Stockstill says that Slack is a big part of the inspiration for her space, and she cites his supportive nature toward Phoenix artists as a factor in her wanting to show Slack's work as the inaugural art exhibition.
The timing was right, and, Slack says, there's not a space in Phoenix that's the right fit for the show — let alone the large-scale pieces of art. There's an element of validation to it, too. Slack's used to putting up his work in his own space, but showing in someone else's space takes it to another level.
He's hoping for a great turnout, for every piece to find a buyer during the show's two-month run. But he's trying to temper his expectations. "Maybe there isn't a home for my stuff," he says with a laugh.
"It would be cool for something big to happen," he says. "Things don't seem as far off as they used to."
"SlackLand" opens on Saturday, November 14, 2015 with an opening party from 7 to 11 p.m. at Stockstill Art Space, 4539 W. Adams Blvd.
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