We recently toured the studio of abstract expressionistic painter and installation artist Lisa Solberg, who creates visceral and captivating small, medium, large and extra large artistic expressions, as shown on her website. Implanting herself in LA seven years ago—she opted for west coast vibes, trusting her instincts instead of the pressure of small and pricey studio spaces in NYC—she signed a studio lease before she hopped back on her flight back to her hometown of Chicago to pack things up (Chi-City represent!). Greeting us with short shorts and a Micheal Jordan jersy, a fading Rainbow Brite hairdo and offering up Diet Dr. Pepper (and later, Tequila), our shoulders dropped and instantaneously felt the MidWest swagger among us, especially with MJ in action: a cardboard cutout stemming halfway up the studio in our opposite POV.
Of course, she hit the ground running as any young and hungry artist would. “I had a few solo shows within the first year and a half of being in LA—they weren’t huge gallery exhibitions, but they were great and a part of my process nonetheless.” In fast moving motion to the present, you may remember her solo show, Stalker, that ran in June ’14 at LA’s THIS Gallery made up of four by eight foot silver rectangles covered in etchings, a study of romanticism and the sublime.
But that’s not all this Coco Bunny has on her canvas as of late. After back and forth banter which she dubbed “psycho-babble,” we dove in for her current artsy eats. “I’m working on numerous different projects. I’m doing a re-launch of my 24hrpsychic website, which will coincide with the show.” What she means by that is that she’s creating what she coins as a ‘ghost gallery surrounded around the concept of creating a platform for discussion on self-identity, exploring a range of motions in philosophies and psychology.’ “It’s been really fun. The location is sort of here and there, since it shows up wherever it’s meant to show up; sporadic. The idea is that it has no permanent location, which is why a relaunch of the website would be very suitable for it, creating a user-based site where someone enters a question for the psychic to answer and the psychic answers within 24 hours.” She’s considering doing the physical part of the show in a U-Haul or Penske truck and have it move around for 24-hour time blocks. A nudge on that: the 24hr Psychic is now up and ready for questions, so send them in at www.24hrpsychic.com and you’ll get back an answer within 24 hours. We’ll let you know our answers later.
Then there’s her second phase of Night Rider, her artist in residency program through Summit Series, where she traveled to Utah’s Powder Mountain, took a very old snowcat and essentially pimped it out, inspired by Dekotora—the abbreviation for “decoration truck”, a type of extravagantly decorated truck in Japan. When we Googled that word, this is what came up:
“Japanese truck drivers devote their lives to making their trucks into a work of art. It’s essentially their homes as well, and they devote their whole lives to souping up their trucks, they are beautiful and crazy, and very Japanese. It’s very attractive to me. Given the fact that I was given a machine to work with, I was like, ‘This is the perfect avenue to take.'” She also gave a nod to how extreme this second phase is, and seems humbled about the great people working on it as support. “It will be transported from powder mountain to the West Coast Customs facilities here in LA—and completed—they’re doing the install for me. It then gets transported back to the mountain, where it will continue to be utilized as it always had been: to groom the mountains as well as provide a transport vehicle from the main mountain base to back country skiing, which is what powder mountain is known for.” We now wonder about West Coast Customs, and if this piece will be featured on an episode, to which she replied, “I can’t talk about that just yet.”
And finally, exotic dancers, which is what her biggest project to date—and her career—is mainly made up of. Aptly titled, Mr. Lee’s Shangri La, Solberg is creating her own earthly paradise. “Yeah, I was keeping the best for last. It involves a strip club, with actual performances that will take place every Friday and Saturday night. And I’m installing a full on exotic greenhouse as the interior. The walls will be gold with artworks on the walls, all named after and inspired by the exotic dancers in the show. I’ve been recruiting exotic dancers in LA that will be performing in the show. It’s going to be at MaMa Gallery, with a preview at Art Basel, in a hotel room.” Someone get this girl some Lou Malnati’s so she can keep going. Before we throw her our 21 questions meant to bring out everyday details of the human psyche in the interesting humans we connect with, we ask how long she’s been painting, and with her eyes lighting up confidently, she replies, “For forever.”
2. Favorite artist right now?
3. Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
Michael Jordan, The Dalai Lama, Marina Abramović, Daphne Guinness, an actual friend, and Rudolf Stingel
4. Rock, paper, or scissors?
5. If we gave you $50, what would you buy?
A foot massage.
6. Blue or black ink?
They are inseparable to me.
7. Meals or snacks?
8. What was the first thing you said aloud this morning?
9. Where do you hang out in LA?
I love working in hotel lobbies.
11. Do anything last night?
12. How late did you stay up?
13. Are you listening to music right now?
Yes – Clair De Lune, “Flight Facilities”.
14. Any Tattoos?
I have 3 bold brush strokes tattooed on my ribs.
15. Your dream collaboration/exhibition?
I dream about showing at the MoMA in NYC.
16. Last 3 google searches?
The best psychics in LA, Electroluminescent paint, Dalai Lama (I forgot how to spell it for a second).
17. If life could resemble any film…
19. Horoscopes. Yay or Nay?
I’d like to say “yay” but I actually don’t read them.
20. What are you doing later?
I’m going to hang out in a park. Gotta get outside!
21. Can we come?
Photography by Tyler Allen