We’ve been working collaboratively a lot with White Walls SF, because the gallery focuses heavily on street artists, and as you probably already know, we love ourselves some street art. Artist Chad Hasegawa is no exception. I noticed his work about a year ago when I first saw his piece “Mother Market” on 6th & Market, painted on the roll-down of the Luggage Store Gallery. I literally stared at the bear from across the street – with his jaws wide and teeth rearing – and it appeared almost as if passers-by got swallowed from the sidewalk to forever disappear into the abyss of the bear, literally.
I had been looking for similar bears all over the city, and then was serendipitously invited to visit The Tenderlion National Forest, an extension of the Luggage Store Gallery, which Hasegawa currently uses as his studio (and his playground). The artist-in-residency has perfect timing, he’s taken to the canvas in preparation for the grand opening of the new White Walls space this Saturday. Have a read of the Q&A and fall in love with the bears.
LF: You’re well known for your bear murals. Can you talk about the bear as a symbol in your work?
CH: I’m almost famous. Ahaha. Well, murals are something for everyone to see on their way somewhere. So it may effect their day or not. I feel that if your painting something outside, paint it for the people walking by, especially if your calling it a mural. So I paint bears as big as I can afford.
LF: You worked in advertising for a period of your life. Is there an advertising mentality, and has it effected your art in any way?
CH: Yes and no. I work really hard and do what ever it takes to get work done. I did learn not to deal with weird people – not good weirdos, but the bad non-creative weirdos.
LF: Canvas vs. street?
CH: That’s funny ’cause I actually had a fifty dollar bottle of bourbon conversation about this with my buddies Rich – the man behind Conspiracy Theory – and Dustin. I was yelling at them, “If I where rich I would only paint free murals and never think about showing in a gallery.” But a friend told me that I was contradicting myself. He was right, because I do love both equally. Any surface. I love doing it all. Both drive you crazy and make you feel soooo good at that moment.
LF: You’ve cited Darryl Smith, curator of The Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco as a big influencer/mentor. How did you meet?
CH: I met Laurie and Darryl while tagging the gallery stairway my first week here in San Francisco in 2001. The crazy thing is they allowed it. Laurie didn’t yell at me for writing on the walls but to come upstairs and see some art ’cause they got more to offer. I always had love for them. They introduced me to all of this. After ten years of bugging them and asking millions of questions about my favorite artists and how they became artists, I think they decided it was time to make me an artist. Darryl made me promise never to go back into advertising. I can still ask him anything. And he makes sure I do the right things. And now I’m having a solo show for the grand opening of White Walls Gallery. He witnessed the whole process of each painting.
LF: You use house paint in your murals. Why this vs. spray paint?
CH: Cheaper. Bolder. Brush-able. Healthier. Drippier. Mixable. And a little goes along way. But I do love a New York Fatcap.
LF: What would you call your style?
CH: Excessive painting. And patience. I have a lot of thinking time while waiting for paint to dry.
LF: What can we expect from you in 2013?
CH: My solo show at White Walls Gallery. I got a summer residency at the Recology A.I.R. program. A bunch of walls! Another keiki. Bears!
LF: You’re a dad and loving it! How has being a father influenced you in your art?
CH: Love love love it! It definitely made me hit the ground running. I kept going and going. I had a new project every month and each one was a ridiculous journey that I had to accomplish to the fullest. It wasn’t till recently I actually slowed down, Justin Giarla of White Walls gave me the hugest role of canvas and told me, “this should keep you busy for a while.” And it has. It was perfect timing, my one year old daughter and I actually started becoming more active at the playgrounds. I forgot how fun it is to go down slide. This gives me my daily routine of Lola, eat, paint, Kathy, and sleep. Everyday.
LF: What artists inspire you these days?
CH: The beast Philip Guston is who I’m looking at nowadays. My show “ABSTRACTS FROM” introduced me to him. His colors and style, and his story, I find it all very interesting. It will change when I discover the next.
LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?
CH: My Kathy.
LF: How fast do you live?
CH: Ben Davis. Twist. Straight. Honolulu.
Hasegawa will show concurrently with another up-and-coming SF-based artist Charmaine Olivia, and in the project spaces White Walls opens up with renowned London street artists Word to Mother and Sickboy. You can catch the opening event this Saturday at the opening of new space located 886 Geary. Click here for details of the event.