Susie Ghahremani on Work and Non-Work (the show at GR2 as well as in life)

© Erin Leigh /

Susie Ghahremani is busy preparing a solo exhibition that starts this Saturday at GR2. Everyone already knows what an amazing painter, illustrator, crafter, and person she is, but I went ahead and asked her some questions to get a sneak peek and get everyone amped up about hanging out with a rad artist and my good friend on Sawtelle.

MW: Among your piles of projects from products to commissions to group shows, I’d imagine solo art exhibitions are special. Can you talk about that?
SG: Solo shows are so special; they are also absolutely terrifying. It’s thrilling to bring paintings into one room as a body of work rather than disembodied studies, experiments, and commissions. There is an overarching theme and style and it’s important and rare to have the opportunity to merge it in a realm outside of my brain.

I also love meeting the people who come to my shows, especially a place like GR2 which has been my art home for so long. Most of my work is done in isolation in a small space, and opening it up to public reaction in a large, adaptable space is really nurturing for me. It kind of completes the whole art-making cycle.

MW: What are some subjects or themes that we can expect to see in the show? Any new tangents, interests, or obsessions manifesting?
SG: There’s definitely a more positive, playful theme than ever before, alongside a refinement of my brushwork. Three years ago I found a motion sickness drug that works for me and, ever since, I’ve been obsessed with living my life on the water in a boat. That dream has manifested itself in my new work. As has the hilarity of nearly modern fancy dress (tux, bowtie, ascot, etc.).

MW: What are you wearing to the opening? Since your family will be attending, will you be dressing a little fancier?
SG: What I want to wear after all this work is PJs. What I will probably wear is a dress that I can later fall asleep in after singing karaoke all night. If I look tired, don’t tell me!

MW: I know listen to music the same way you breathe air. What has been your soundtrack as you’ve been working on this particular show?
SG: Wild Gift by X has been on repeat. I think it’s my way of keeping L.A. in mind while working. I’ve also been listening a lot to Dum Dum Girls, Tilbury, The Adverts, The Babies, Tears Run Rings, and Colleen Green. The show title is borrowed from one of my favorite LPs, Work and Non-Work by Broadcast.

MW: It’s practically the end of the year. Can you give me some Top 5s for 2012 so far?
SG: Sure!

1. Cobalt turquoise
2. Naples yellow
3. Sepia
4. Moss green
5. Cadmium red (Okay, this one is essential.)
Honorable mention: Ice blue

1. “The Metro” – Berlin (preferably duet with Michelle Borok) tied with “The Wagon” by Dinosaur Jr. (duet with Michael Esten)
2. “Hangin’ on the Telephone” – Blondie (although we all really know it’s by the Nerves)
3. “Monkey Gone to Heaven” – Pixies (tip of the hat to Baby Ketten in Portland)
4. “In Between Days” – The Cure (tip of the hat to Pants Karaoke in San Diego)
5. “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea” – Elvis Costello (Not available for karaoke anywhere but wouldn’t it be fun?)
Honorable mention: Don’t Stop Believin’, which someone always ends up playing and everyone ends up singing

Also, I’ve been trying to read 50 books and see 50 movies in 2012.

1. David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
2. Kevin Wilson, The Family Fang
3. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
4. Thornton Wilder, Theophilus North
5. Neil Gaiman, American Gods
*I still haven’t finished 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami but I think it’ll be up there, too.

Photo by Michael Esten

Susie will be attending the opening or Work and Non-Work at GR at 2062 Sawtelle Blvd. in West Los Angeles on Saturday, November 17. See you there!