Evan Clayton Horback’s art is a response to what he finds around him, in ways both large and small — from old magazines, stickers and scraps of paper, to life in Olympia, the United States and the world.
Horback’s “Street Love” — which sets an old magazine photo of two children at play against fragments of images the artist collected downtown — appears on the cover of the map for Arts Walk 55, which happens this weekend.
Arts Walk organizer Angel Nava calls it “a love letter to Olympia.”
“It’s about affection,” Horback said in an interview last week. “It’s about closeness. They’re giddy. There are a lot of different social circles in downtown and in Olympia, and everybody knows that feeling. … They’re rejoicing in the midst of all this other stuff.”
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Such juxtapositions are a thread in his work, which combines painting and collage. Opposites attract his attention. The personal, philosophical and political co-exist.
“Some days, the first hour of my studio time is listening to ‘Democracy Now’ and thinking about the state of race relations,” he said. “As an artist, I process of a lot of what I consider to be important ideas of our time.”
He talks a lot about big ideas — about equity and identity and justice — and much of his recent work deals with those ideas, yet he doesn’t set out to make definitive statements. Rather, the themes emerge from everything in which he’s immersed.
“What is the relationship between what we see and what we believe?” he said. “That is a major catalyst for what I’m exploring when I’m in the studio.”
Much of what he’s immersed in these days is Olympia itself. He’s been walking, watching and listening, getting to know the town he came to four years ago with his wife, Sachi Horback, a dean at Pierce College, and his daughters, Varshana, 9, and Amala, 7, both students at Garfield Elementary on Olympia’s west side.
Circumstances since he moved from the East Coast, where he spent much of his life, have given him more time and space to make art, and he said Olympia has changed his work in form as well as content.
“I wasn’t doing much collage before I moved here,” he said. “Olympia is really steeped in a D.I.Y. culture, and the aesthetic of that has influenced the language I use in my work.
“I just collect things that I found and repurpose them.”
“Street Love” is an example of that. The piece was repurposed in another way, too. Horback had created it not for the map cover, but for the city’s traffic-box wrap contest two years ago. (However, it wasn’t one of the pieces chosen by those who voted on Facebook.)
“Truck’n My Blues Away,” the piece Horback created for the cover, was longer and narrower than the square art typically featured. That’s why the artist was asked to submit another piece, Nava said. “Truck’n” will be on view during Arts Walk at Compass Rose along with “Street Love” and other pieces.
When asked to submit another piece, Horback thought of “Street Love,” which he’d made for and about Olympia. It’s a strongly horizontal rectangle, and there was talk of cropping it to the typical square, but he felt strongly about having the entire piece be shown. “I build the pieces to be things and appreciated almost more like sculptures,” he said.
His work has become more three-dimensional of late, thanks to another shift in his surroundings. A year ago, he received an Artists Trust grant, using the money to buy woodworking tools so he could frame his pieces.
“That has influenced my collage work,” he said. “It’s getting more sculptural, and I’m actually building things using woodworking tools. Even though I’m still working in paper, I’m incorporating other materials.”
Evan Clayton Horback
What: Evan Clayton Horback, a mixed-media artist who moved to Olympia four years ago, created “Street Love,” the boldly graphic collage-painting featured on the cover of this weekend’s Arts Walk map. “Street Love” and other recent work will be on view for Arts Walk only.
When: 5-10 p.m. Friday and noon-5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Compass Rose, 416 Capitol Way S.
More information: evanclaytonhorback.com