Chad Kartenson, who once made headlines in Fargo for his “spit art” exhibition back in 2012, currently has his acrylic paintings on display at the Red Raven. Through practice and experimentation, Kartenson has discovered many an unusual technique that gives his art a unique quality.
When did you first start painting?
Well, I would say I started around the time when I found the specific technique for my spit art, which is where I take some acrylic paint and dilute it down with water, drop it onto a canvas and then manipulate the watered-down paint by blowing air through a cylinder tube I get from pens. My spit-art painting, I would say, has had a huge influence on the pieces I’m painting today. I have always come across a new effect to mess around with after I completed a piece.
What inspires you to paint the images you do?
I would say that spit art and the abstract work I paint today both have inspired me in the same way, by that moment when you’re in front of that dead white canvas with all your brushes, paint, tools and everything you need at your fingertips. And in that specific moment, it’s that curiosity of what you will be bringing to life through the mess of white. You are prepared to wash away with the colors of your imagination. It’s the mystery of what your imagination is about to give birth to that motivates me.
One question I assume quite a few abstract artists get is, “So how do you know when you’re finished?” And as I came across Jackson Pollack’s answer to it, I seriously could not come up with anything better. In fact I believe it has become one of my most treasured quotes yet. So he was asked, “So how do you know when you’re finished painting a piece?” and he replied, “Well, how do you know when you’re finished making love?” It always puts smile on my face. But it makes me feel like a horrible lover too. I’m not finished making love to like seven or eight of my pieces and I’ve already started a new piece.
What do you plan or hope to paint in the future?
What I plan on creating in the future are more sets, like, say, triptychs (three-canvas pieces), but sometime down the road I would like to try working on a five-piece or maybe a seven-piece. And on top of that, work into it some lighting as well. Basically working with techniques and tools I have a real hard time recalling any other artist even working with.
Are any at the Red Raven for sale? How long are they going to be displayed there?
I would like to say that most of the pieces I have at the Red Raven are there to be sold, and they will be on the walls all this January and two weeks into February. And I want to state that my respect and gratitude for the Red Raven is at an all-time high for providing a place to sit and work, for not only me but multiple other artists as well, and then on top of that, the Raven grants them free wall space as well! Which is absolutely amazing and very helpful to artists who just can’t afford the wall space at other galleries.
Have you had your art displayed anywhere else?
My last showing was at the DK Gallery on Robert Street—this was a while back. The owner Denise is a very good framer who allowed multiple local artists to display their art up on her walls for real cheap. But now the DK gallery is no longer.
Are there any other places you hope to have your art displayed?
I do hope to get my artwork over at the Uptown Gallery or the library, maybe Courtney’s Comedy Club or a few coffee shops around town.
All photos by the author.