Local exhibit showcases eclectic Southern artists

John Tindle (left) and Michi Meko (right) stand in front of their largest piece in Space:Eight Gallery

By Ryan Buffa | rbuffa@flagler.edu
First Photo by Ryan Buffa
Additional photos by Rob Depiazza

For John Tindle and Michi Meko, their latest exhibit, titled “Paper Chase,” is about “cleaning the taps and letting it come out better,” Tindle said.

“Paper Chase,” presented by Space: 8 Gallery on West King Street, is the collaborative work of TindleMichi, Atlanta artists John Tindle and Michi Meko, who are also known as the “Two fat southern boys who paint.”

TindleMichi is contemporary art, just a little dirtier, a lot more attitude and more relevant to modern Southern society, the artists said.

“We participated in [Contemporary art], but I think that we stuck to our guns with the look of our work and our attitudes,” Meko said.

“We try to make a point to each show…something different, something new. We may fail or nail it but we’re trying to just push a little more than just square-painting it.” Tindle said.

“Paper Chase” is TindleMichi’s dialogue while working together to create art. It is represented on a variation of paintings and paper sculptures.

“[The art work] really just layer up… I mean that’s the whole point. It’s like us talking to each other…that’s what it looks like,” Tindle said.

And the layers are a ying and yang effect: One half Tindle and the other, Meko.

“It’s an oddly even split,” Tindle said.

Each TindleMichi piece is full of wide brush strokes, tiny scratches of detail, skilled spray painting and compelling texts.

The largest piece in the gallery is a tapestry, inspired by a Native American feathered costume the artists saw in New Orleans. It stretches across the largest wall in the gallery and works a contrast between serene variations of blue values versus the intensity of reds and oranges at the tips of the feathers that span across it. The painting involves the intensely refined detail of Tindle and the wide movements Meko creates with spray paint.

“It’s like how many new landscapes do we need? We’ve seen enough of those so why not do something different? We don’t need any more landscapes. I mean you do, but that is just my attitude,” Meko said. “Something else needs to be added to the conversation. Who’s to say that these aren’t the next great thing?”

TindleMichi makes a point to experiment with materials and step away from their own personal styles to create one work of art.

“We are trying to break our formula. On the last show we did, we took a break off. [Meko] did his own thing and I did my own thing and we came back and…. it was even better than before,” Tindle said. “On this one we just tried to explore…”

However, these “Southern boys” have their way of working with different materials and mediums. When it comes to painting, Tindle prefers to create detailed drawings and use oil sticks, spray paint and acrylics, while Meko prefers not to limit himself to materials.

“I’ll use anything,” Meko said. “I’ll make something out of those Rap Snack bags,” he said referring to the specialty chips on the gallery counter, featuring rap artists and flavors such as “Bar-B-Quin’ with my honey.”

As for sculpting, Meko will take a piece of wood he found to carve and Tindle will come in with a razor blade to create geometric detailed art or create another piece to go throughout the sculpture to create something new of it.

“It’s coming back not like two painters. It’s coming back more because we aren’t just trying to paint together,” Tindle said. “It just gives us more tools when we work together.”

TindleMichi began about ten years ago, after meeting while working together at restaurant in Atlanta, GA. Both artists previously tried to collaborate with others, but it never seemed to work due to disagreements about artistic styles and colors palettes such as “bright-red Martha Stewart colors,” Tindle said in distaste.

Meko went to Tindle’s home one day after work and the rest was history. Their similarities in color use and the guts to use witty “in your face” texts and dialects about their lives and where they lived was a match made in an artist’s heaven.

“We would make like five really good pieces and they were probably some of the better ones still, the first batch…It was like ‘Ah! We can do this easy,'” Tindle said. 

As for the new exhibit, they got down and dirty with a hot glue gun, a razor blade, spray paint and of course, paper, to create one of the larger pieces in the exhibit titled, “Neuron,” a paper sculpture of blue and green spray paint on geometric cut-outs.

When it comes to approaching the hurdle of a creative block, the artist’s collaboration helps reduce it.

“It meshed easy, it was like ‘I can’t think of anything, you think of something!’ and we just throw it off each other,” Tindle said. “We have no rules.”

“Paper Chase” does not consist of ordinary paper, but includes torn up pieces of TindleMichi’s creative work over the last 10 years.

“My basement is like a hoarding of paintings… I feed off my own stuff so I never want to get rid of it. We are thinking of making a bonfire of paintings and Youtube-ing it,” Tindle said.

“It’s almost such an obsessive of a thing that you almost get congeal. It’s just like cleaning the taps and letting it come out better,” Tindle said.

Meko began to laugh and said, “See that’s what would be on a painting…like ‘what the hell were you talking about?'”

Witty texts can be found throughout the painting, sometimes small to-do lists scribbled on the corner that was painted over, or political opinions painted in a large, delicate script.

“It gets even political at times but it’s all kind of hidden in these colors that eat your brain,” Tindle sad. “It’s gets to be like kind of timeline of our conversations.”

Whatever they may have to say, it is truly the inside-jokes and conversations of “two fat Southern boys who like to paint.”

“Paper chase” will be displayed in Space:Eight Gallery on 228 West King Street through the next First Friday Art Walk on March 2, 2012. For more information about TindleMichi visit www.thecreativelife.com.

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