Blake Blanco: We All Dream
Exhibition Extended through October 2, 2022
Blake Blanco (Seattle) presents paintings, monotypes, and sculptures mostly started before, yet impacted by, the COVID-19 pandemic. This series reflects our lives as engaged from mostly indoors and virtually, rather than in person, physically. Blanco views life through a surrealistic lens exploring religion, mythology, and the side effects of a societal landscape dominated by social media. Blanco’s mixed media works reveal impacts to the human psyche, with scenes from the serene to the bizarre. Attached objects (collage, found, and household items) heighten both the familiarity with, and emotions felt, while engaged in Blanco’s world.
Blake Blanco: About the Artist
Blake Blanco (Seattle) was born in California in 1989, then grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Blanco comes from diverse family and cultural backgrounds — he credits his grandfather of Guatemalan and Spanish descent for influencing his use of color, and for his fascination with surrealism.
As a child he enjoyed drawing, but was never intent on becoming a visual artist until his early 20’s. In 2010 he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived for three years. He aspired to become an actor, but felt disconnected and incomplete in LA. In 2013 he moved back to Nashville.
He was intrigued by the work of Salvador Dali, and found that surrealism offered a portal for self-reflection and discovery. He became good at realistic and figurative painting, but wasn’t fulfilled by these skills alone. Blanco’s artistic stretch into fantasy allowed for the complicated and intense self-realizations he was missing. These unfolded as artistic metaphors — mirrors of sorts — of his self-esteem, mental and physical health, our chaotic world, and most recently, the social impacts of COVID.
At some point, he realized he was no longer just a painter. He worked more in mixed media and also began to refer to himself as an artist. Blanco defines his current work as neo-realism. He enjoys creating works from the subconscious mind – trying not to control elements of composition, placement, color, and tonal value. In his best moments, he doesn’t know where it will all end up.
Blanco’s dedication to the visual arts led him to move to Seattle in 2014. He continued to create as much as possible and began showing his work in community venues. When COVID hit in 2020 there was a (however faint) silver lining for Blanco — he earned more money as a to-go food delivery driver, and was able to invest in more art supplies.
Despite no formal art education, he has found firm roots in the regional art world and teaches at Pratt Fine Arts Center, where he has been an instructor in painting and printmaking. He greatly enjoys contributing to Pratt’s mission, fostering inclusive art-making, and promoting the transformative power of art.
This exhibition at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) is his first art museum show, and the first time so many diverse works have been shown in one place. You will find paintings, collage/assemblage works, monotype prints, sculptures, and mirror pieces (be sure to see all three gallery spaces on the first floor containing his work).
The mirror pieces are meant to serve as a reminder — a reminder to question the ways we engage with our cell phones. They are meant to remind us not to become obsessed with our enhanced self-image, especially when it comes to the use of social media, and even more so when it comes to children.
They are a reminder of how spectacularly beautiful life is. And to go outside and live in it — don’t live it in your cell phone. This is an important topic to converse about . . . What is this doing to us? To our family? To our children?
When you gaze into these mirrors you may find your reflection is faint, warped, or glazed. The colored materials and optical filters create a “funhouse mirror effect.” The newly found reflection may help you to see something new in yourself, refocus your perception of the world, or, you may journey into a state of pleasant disarray…