Our current exhibit, Nature’s Revenge, features five paintings by artistic duo Chamber Made. Chamber Made is Leon Loucheur and Mike Gallegos, who collaborate remotely. Like the musical tag-team The Postal Service, one of them starts a new piece and mails it to the other. Both artists add layers until the work is deemed complete.
They met 10 years ago in while living in Colorado. Gallegos would travel from Fort Collins to paint walls in Boulder, where Loucheur was living. Says Loucheur on Gallegos: “I always admired his work, but I had taken issue with him because he painted over one of my pieces. Eventually, a mutual friend introduced us. We talked it out and drank a couple tall cans in friendship. Then we went out and painted til dawn. We’ve been painting together ever since.”
They painted together on the streets for many years before the Chamber Made collaboration came to life. “We liked that name, because it reflected the art we made indoors, painting canvases in our chambers.” It was an unlikely collaboration since their styles were so different, and by the time they began working as Chamber Made, Loucheur was already living in San Francisco. Says Loucheur: “I painted a portrait of him and me, leaving room for him to do his thing, and mailed it out to him. When I saw what he had done with it, it blew me away. I had only intended to do that one painting, but after that first one we were both hooked.”
Loucheur is the artist behind much of the representational content, while Gallegos’ contributions are more graffiti-inspired. Sometimes Gallegos will fly to SF to work on bigger pieces. “We generally shoot for two layers each, so ours is a life of post office lines and airport security,” Loucheur explains. “I think working from a distance was a hidden blessing for us. We weren’t around to try and direct each other, so the collaboration evolved as more of an organic freestyle, each of us working independently and surprising each other with our moves. It made it more of a candid visual dialogue, a discussion in paint… As a rule, we work better when we minimize our expectations of what the other will do. We’ll just agree on a topic beforehand and then riff on that subject, responding to each other visually.”
Their response to to the Nature’s Revenge theme is a prophetic one: “We saw Nature’s Revenge as more than a revenge fantasy… We wanted to address it as the inescapable fate that it is, the day when our greed and gluttony catch up with us, and our species is erased from the world forever. Black birds became a central theme in our symbolism, not only as an ominous harbinger of death, but we also wanted to present birds as modern incarnations of dinosaurs, a nod to the pending extinction of our own species,” says Loucheur. “The painting A Suicide is about exactly that, the collective drive to bring about our own destruction. It’s the story of a savage end to a savage species.”
A Suicide is part of Nature’s Revenge at First Amendment Gallery.
Chamber Made online: cmcollab.com