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8 Jul - American Dreamer

New York

We could get lost in Matt McCormick’s dreamy vision of the American West. As an artist, McCormick is known  for his nostalgic, dynamic style that explores a side of his home state of California not often captured in painting. We also love McCormick’s zines — short assemblages of his work tied together by a theme. That’s why we invited him to teach zine making workshops at the Freehand (they have proven extremely popular). Read on to learn more about McCormick’s work, and his upcoming book, to be released exclusively with Freehand this September.


Freehand New York: What is it about country western and the myth of the cowboy that you are drawn to, and how has this evolved to be a continuous theme in your work?

Matt McCormick: As I’ve worked within the motifs of the American West, my interest and direction have continued to evolve. When I started, I was recalling the fantasies from childhood, but as I’ve progressed it has morphed into an ever expanding space dealing with a wide range of ideas from perceived manhood to capturing the natural beauty of the landscape.


FHNY:  What medium did you first start creating work with, and did this evolve over time?

MM: When I first really started focusing on painting, I was working heavily with watercolor. Out of fear, I never made the jump to oil painting until I reached a breaking point and finally asked my father to give me advice. This was a pivotal moment for my work — it took a serious upward swing creatively.


FHNY: What made you make the move from New York to L.A.?

MM: Moving to LA was a pretty crucial move for me to start advancing toward the ultimate goal of being a fully self-supporting artist. I needed the change of scenery to fully realize my potential and also to motivate myself to find new inspiration.


FHNY: What’s your favorite movie, and is it a western?

MM:  The Last Waltz — kind of a western!


FHNY: What do you enjoy about teaching the zine workshops here at Freehand?

MM: The zine workshops are great because it gives me a chance to work in a group setting with other people. I’m often isolated in my studio. Coming out and working alongside a bunch of talented and excited creatives is a freeing experience.


FHNY: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your upcoming book that be released exclusively with Freehand NY in September?

MM: I’m a big promoter of documenting everything — some might describe it as a form of organized hoarding — and making books is my favorite way to do that. I really enjoyed the idea of having a moment at the Freehand with the challenge of creating a physical representation of that moment. The plan is to narrow in on that moment, the feelings, the experience, the mental space, and compile a book that can be a marker for that moment..


FHNY: What’s your favorite thing about staying at Freehand?

MM: I really enjoy the location in Gramercy. It’s a neighborhood I never spent much time in when I lived in NYC, but I have a few fond memories of coming there. So it’s really nice to be able to come back and stay outside of my normal New York comfort zone.


FHNY: What does the cowboy image mean to you?

MM: The cowboy as an artistic representation embodies a very “me against the world” but in a non-confrontational manner. Take life by the horns, love to your full potential, but also take a moment to stop and smell the roses.


FHNY:  Favorite song?

MM: Right now, “The Other One” by the Grateful Dead


FHNY: What are some jobs you have had in New York that are not art related?

MM: I was a bus boy, bar back, and a bartender for 5 years, and before that I worked for Americorps teaching art classes in a public school in Brooklyn.


FHNY: Favorite book?

MM: I’m currently reading Boom and the first David Crosby autobiography


FHNY: Top 5 favorite artists/photographers?

MM: Cy Twombly, Agnes Martin, Robert Bechtel, Cady Noland, Steven Parrino


FHNY: Your dog’s names?

MM: Emmy Lou and Tony