Jan. 16, 2017
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Courtesy of the Artist

One Man's Trash

Matthew Gray gets his art supplies at a truck stop

July 9, 2013, 12:00 am
Described by the artist as “an epic installation of handmade candy and mixed media,” as well as “an optimistic takeover; a hoarder’s delight; a dentist’s nightmare; a manic cycling of confused beauty and disgust where the mundane and magical are configured in a mashed up arrangement of structure and chaos,” (catch your breath here), Matthew Gray’s latest, MULE, is a Technicolor explosion of amalgamations and structure that, to put it in cliché form, is a true feast for the senses.   

“I’m part of the mess-makers,” Gray tells SFR. “But in the end, everything gets cleaned up.”

The messy part comes in with non-traditional materials like soda bottles, old toys and bric-a-brac hardware that form the core of installations like “Blue Alt” (pictured). No need for a tetanus shot: the temporary pieces are not the art itself, but rather photographs of it.

“I have nothing in common with someone like Ansel Adams, but at the same time, we chase the same things—something beautiful, spiritual in ways. I just have to construct these scenes, and Adams found them in existence.”

Tricking the eye into seeing the works as a whole rather than dissecting them bit-by-bit is one of the imagemaker’s motivators.

“Most of my materials are common—candy, spray paint, cardboard,” Gray says. “I can pretty much get everything I need to do my thing at a truck stop.”

He thinks of MULE, housed in his studio, as a “decentralized project” that is constantly evolving. “I do not have a central thesis I work from. I’m constantly winging it. I’m allowed to fail,” he says. “It figures itself out so the only rules are that there are no rules. All decisions are made on the spot—that looks good, let’s do some more; that‘s not so good, let’s make it better.”

The process, he says, is akin to freestyling music, wherein one beat leads to the next.  
Asked what attendees can expect at MULE, Gray says, “Well, I hope that they love me to death. It’s like nuns at a Mötley Crüe concert—you just trust that they are feeling it.”

MULE opening reception

6-9 pm Saturday, July 13.
Free. 821 W San Mateo Road,


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