We recently took a tour of Gallerie Sparta in West Hollywood, where skater-turned-artist (and sometimes actor!) Danny Minnick has projected his mind through his art in a solo show. Hemming from Seattle and the pro-skate scene, Minnick leveled up the game and became one of the most talented skate tribe members in the industry—and after moving to Los Angeles, a friend taught him to stretch canvases and let him use his paints after a skating accident left him unable to compete for a few years. Well, the paint brush stuck. For the past eight years, the artist has only had eyes for the canvas in his DTLA studio while being a part of several exhibits throughout the city—but none like this show, where he’s embraced larger canvases that need towering high walls to hold them, and on the spot purchases from the likes of Nick Cassavetes, Mena Suvari and Fred Durst to swoop them up on opening night.
Enamored by his works, we stayed a bit longer to pick his brain and called on photographer Chris Carter to capture the artist in a gallery vibe setting, where “I Paint To Connect The Dots Of My Real Thoughts” procures a real-time view of a rising artist:
LA CANVAS: So, what’s up with this gigantic chalkboard looking piece next to your quote?
DANNY MINNICK: I had it in my studio for a very long time, and I was just going to leave it black, kind of like a rough coat. A good friend gave me a bunch of oil pens and I turned over to it and just did it. I finished it. We sold it opening night to Nick Cassavetes. Gina, his daughter, is a good friend and the one who bought me the oil sticks. She took a snapshot of it on Instagram, her father saw it and loved it. Everyone comes up with their own character. I wanted to for a while and when I came up with him, I was so happy.
LAC: How long have you been painting? Tell us your background as an artist.
DM: Through skateboarding, I always used to draw and paint on my boards. The first time I painted an actual painting was in ’96 or ’97, when I first started staying in LA with artist Mike Parillo and then I never painted again until 2006. One of my friends in NYC passed away and I went out there and stayed with an artist friend. There, I painted in his studio. I got hurt skateboarding and couldn’t skate for a few years. I tore all the ligiments in my ankle. Then, I was in one of my best friend’s garages and he taught me how to stretch canvases. After that, I couldn’t stop.
LAC: How long were you skating for?
DM: By the age of 15 I was heavily into skating and traveling the world.
LAC: What do you think of the art boom with skateboarding in art in LA.
DM: Skateboarding is art. That’s the essence of art for me.
LAC: What inspires your work as an artist?
DM: I get inspired by learning and getting turned on to different artists. Just trying to push myself out of being super comfortable. I’ve been commissioned by a cool director a while ago, and that’s inspiring – I asked him about him and his wife and how they met, and he told me ‘8pm in Venice’ so I did a painting inspired by their union. It’s cool to connect with people and paint truthfully based on how it is and who they are.
LAC: Tell us what the title of your show is all about?
DM: That’s just something I always say and I’ve kinda learned that from one of my mentors, an old school acting teacher Jack Waltzer. He’s 92 years old and a great actor and teacher. He taught me about real thoughts, and how a lot of people in the world don’t use them. What makes the work so special on the stage or in painting is that you can use your real thoughts. Sometimes you can’t speak out your real thoughts in this world cause people will think your nuts.
LAC: How did you get to show at Gallerie Sparta?
DM: When Lee asked me to do a solo show here, they wanted me to do one in August. I had done a show with 25 other artists and they saw my work then, and later came to my studio to see more work. Their August show was going to be Andy Warhol, but they had a cancellation cause they couldn’t come to a firm agreement. They needed an artist and they hadn’t seen these, only the one in the window. Basically what you see here is what was in my studio. I had two weeks, and Lee gave me oils to paint with and I just did it instead of cutting me a check to get them on my own. I created 5 more paintings in two weeks. They were still wet when I hung them.
*Take a stroll through Gallerie Sparta and view Danny’s thoughts until September 14th, where a closing reception takes place.