Arts & Life, Fine & Performing Arts

We All Exist Right Now, an exhibit up for your own interpretation

Featured on the first floor of the Long Beach Museum of Art are the introspective works of artist Alex Gardner in his solo exhibition, We All Exist Right Now.

Long Beach-native, Alex Gardner, has been making art full-time since 2015. Upon realizing the importance of being able to put all his time into something meaningful, the 34-year-old artist quit his day job to pursue his artistic passion.

Gardner describes being a full-time contemporary artist as a freeing experience with a variety of positive and negative consequences.

“With freedom also comes the ability to self-destruct,” Gardner said.

Gardner continued to work consistently at becoming successful within his realm of art to avoid this ability of self-destruction. No matter what he was doing, there was always a part of his mind trying to grab and process ideas to be used for future work.

“To be successful at anything, one must consume things and surround themselves with people that keep your work ethic and confidence as high as possible,” he said. “Everything else is interchangeable.”

Alex Gardner (from left to right), Didn’t Have to Join the Military to Travel The World, 2020, and Cheers To The Firing Squad, 2020.
Alex Gardner (from left to right), Didn’t Have to Join the Military to Travel The World, 2020, and Cheers To The Firing Squad, 2020. Photo credit: Georgie Smith

Gardner’s persistence when it came to creating new pieces is what landed him the opportunity to show off his work at the Long Beach Museum of Art. He was approached with the offer by LBMA curator/director Paul Loya.

For Gardner, the chance to display his art at such a museum was a dream come true.

“The LBMA is a beautiful little museum with a lot of character and history, but it is forgotten about,” he said. “I’m happy to try to help bring some contemporary energy and attention to the museum and make it a regular destination in the L.A. art circuit.”

The exhibition, We All Exist Right Now, features 17 of Gardner’s new works, all depicting scenes of faceless and androgynous figures.

I’m trying to create the absence of identity. They are a default avatar. You customize them,” he said.

By stripping these beings of their facial features and defining characteristics, Gardner creates a sense of anonymity amongst his subjects, leaving all interpretations solely based upon the figures body language.

The artist also uses titles that are reflective of the pieces subject matter, such as Don’t Hate Yourself, Spectator, and Looking for the Bright Side. The subtlety of these titles gives consumers the chance to further interpret and find parts of themselves within his artwork.

The main goal of the exhibit is to elicit empathy and a general feeling of connectivity to humanity. It is meant to represent the idea that as humans, we are all interconnected and are all existing right now, hence the name of his exhibition.

Although his art has an underlying message, Gardner had the goal of making a name for himself through the production of this exhibit.

It’s always a little nerve-racking to present yourself publicly and open yourself up to criticism. But I live for attention,” he said.

As a contemporary artist, Gardner feels that prior to visiting his exhibit, it is important to know that all his efforts are based on optimism.

“All good art is doing is capturing what it feels like to be alive and communicating it in a way that reflects that moment of time,” he said.

Gardners’ pieces mainly consist of acrylic paintings on canvas, but he describes his style as “always adjusting.”

Alex Gardner, Keep a Tight Core, 2021
The main goal of Gardner's exhibit is to elicit empathy and a feeling of connectivity to humanity. Photo credit: Georgie Smith

The Long Beach Museum of Art is open Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and We All Exist Right Now will be open for viewing until May 1.

Visit Gardner’s Instagram for more information.

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