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Local artist Coreroc is on a roll this summer

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Photo by Brandon Presz

Ashley Voss, who also goes by the artist name of Coreroc, is a busy guy these days. He juggles every ounce of his free time between helping out with independent local events such as Agora and Urban Scrawl, setting up and showcasing art at a variety of shows around the county, and somehow still finds the time to create new pieces of artwork in his studio space at Junctionview. We caught up with Ashley for a quick Q&A about what he’s working on this summer.

Q) You’ve got your first out-of-state solo show coming up soon. Can you tell us how that came about?

A) The show is at a gallery called Lift that is actually in Royal Oak, Mi just on the outskirts of Detroit. Over the last year or so I have been a part of several group shows at Lift that have been focused on urban vinyl toys. Lift is a gallery/retail setting very much like Rivet in Columbus set into a similar community of young professionals with an edge. After my second group show there I was asked to do a mural installation for the gallery’s new location grand opening. So I packed up the weekend after the initial C Note and headed up to Detroit and rocked a one-day freehand mural for them. The lettering I painted soon became their new logo and the locals caught wind of my work. Shortly after the opening they asked if I would like to present a solo show, and I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

Q) Most of the news we hear from the city of Detroit these days seems pretty grim. Do they still have a relevant art scene? And does your style of underground art thrive there, where others have all but abandoned certain parts of town?

A) Detroit is a city that even I have mixed emotions about, but seem to get drawn back to based upon interest. I always get a warm welcome and great feedback personally and in relation to my artwork. Lift gallery has established themselves as one of the premier lowbrow/vinyl toy galleries in the US. They book a constant supply of talent and keep fresh shows going along with successful annual shows they have become known for.

Detroit thrives for the underground types of events with the DEMF being the prime example as people from all over the world converge in downtown and just about every club in town to pay homage to the home of electronic music. So in that respect Detroit does seem to thrive on the underground scene over the more traditional events in music and art. It does seem from my marketing work over the last month that getting attention, press, and respect as an artist is a ton harder in the D than it is here in Bustown. I think it has given me a learning experience in other markets, but also gave me a huge boost of confidence that we indeed have an amazing art scene here in Columbus with great support.

Q) Over the past few years you’ve worked with a large variety of artists who have styles completely different than your own, but seem to share the same type of creative drive. Are there any particular people you’ve really enjoyed collaborating with, or others you’d like to work with in the near future?

A) It’s no secret that I love to do collaborative works with pretty much any artist that, as you stated, has the same kind of creative drive. I think that when two artists share ideas on one piece of work that it really helps develop skills and processes. You can learn as much as you teach and the end result is always different from what each artist would have created on their own. Plus, when you put two driven people on one project only good things can happen. Some of my most memorable collaborations have been with Cyrus Fire, Adam Crum and Amy Shepherd. However, I am still juiced up from the performance piece that I did with Kristina Isabelle and company at the Agora fire show.

As far as future collaborations go, I have been talking with Dan Gerdeman about doing some work together. I think that the end result would be something I would even go broke for. I am also talking with local sculptor Dale Johnson about a collaborative project for the new transit station set to be built in Shaker Heights. I would be really thrilled to do a two-piece collab with Laura Alexander that we could break up and both take one home (hint hint). Love her style and would love some minimal color work under her etchings.

Over the next year I truly hope to finish and unveil the Jawbreaker series. This is a collection of works that myself and Cyrus fire have been working on for over 2 years now. These works explore both of our styles in the smoothest blend possible. In all close to 20 paintings are done or in process at this point and the background story behind the body of work will most likely warrant strong verbal presentations in order to fully express the inner visions and hidden communications embedded in the subject matter. We have been in discussion with Kristina Isabelle about a performance art piece that would also coordinate with the story behind the work. Keep your eyes peeled for this duo to drop a color bomb on a gallery near you.

Q) You were the main creator of the C-Note Art Show event that features work from local artists at the affordable price point of $100 per piece. I often hear C-Note cited as one of the prime opportunities for new art collectors to leap into the world of art buying. Of course, the only downside to the event is that it’s only accessible around once per year. Are there any thoughts on expanding it into something occurring on a more regular basis, or do you think offering the lowered price-points more regularly would hurt local artists in the long run?

A) I have a lot of theories and thoughts behind the future of the C-Note show and have considered all of these pros and cons pretty thoroughly. Right now we have held two C-Note events that both took place in 2008. One in March and one in December. I have been fighting myself on figuring out when the right time and frequency for the event is ever since. Even in the wake of the March Blizzard of 2008, that event was far better than the December one. Sure, the economy tanked, and that didn’t help art sales during the holidays. However, my theory is that the event is best held on an annual basis. This is partly due to the high energy demand that the event consumes from me to coordinate, and partly because I did not want to make an event that encourages people to think that original local art is ONLY worth $100.

Finding the happy medium is tough though. I have just rescheduled the next C Note for the last week of September (25-27th) and if the event proves to be successful then I may consider doing another one six months out in March again. Look for some changes in the event, as we’ll be added an extra day and continuing it on Sunday to give folks a chance to fit the event into their busy schedules. And as always I thank Columbus Underground for the discussions that led up to the creation of the event as well as all of the amazing support that I have been offered by the CU family.

Q) Do you have any predictions on what might be the “next big thing” for the local art scene in Columbus?

A) That’s a tough one! I already have my next year as an artist planned out so I feel like I know what is on my own plate. Overall, I don’t see much happening that is “ground breaking” over the next year. I do think that in a year from now we’ll see venues like Milo and Junctionview coming closer to their end. A new home base will be sought by many local artists. There is already a decent demand for studio space that offers exhibition space. Junctionview is a great building for this use, but it will be going away unless operations completely halt on Grandview Yard. I think that some new opportunity will arise for either a new location that will fit the needs of the art community, or a community that will fit the needs of artists.

I also see some great potential for Franklinton and the FAD. It’s a hard sell right now with crime levels and the future construction of the 70/71 split that will affect that area considerably during the construction process. During talks that I have had with civic leaders like Downtown Mike Brown, I’ve been encouraged to hear that the city has creatives in mind for some of the new areas being redeveloped. For example, the King Lincoln District, Milo-Grogan and Weinland Park areas could offer incentives for artists to buy into and gain stability as property owners. I think it’s a great step in the right direction for any area to really step up to bring the creatives in. I hate to sound cliché, but look what we did for the Short North several decades ago.

What I do like about the future of Columbus is the independent spirit and drive that the arts community has showcased. I see groups like Wild Goose Creative expanding and offering more back to the community. Home brewed events like Independents Day, Agora, and Urban Scrawl will begin to cement as great art events and will hopefully out-shadow the old staple events that have become somewhat bland and repetant.

Q) Well, to finish us off, can you give us your list of favorite “must see” art exhibitions through the rest of the summer?

A) Sure, I’ll break them down by month:

June – A must see show: Still Working at Chop Chop featuring the work of Cyrus Fire, Kevin Bickle, and Adam Russell.

July – I am very excited about Biggie Smalls at Junctionview, as a new breed of folks will curate their first show. I will have a solo show at Kickstart and artwork in the abstract landscape show at Terra Gallery for Gallery Hop. I will also have a live painting and group show opening at Izzy’s Raw Art Gallery in Detroit.

August – I have a group show that will take place at Just Blaze in Phoenix, Arizona featuring graffiti influenced vinyl toys. August should also be a good month to catch me doing live painting around the city as outdoor events peak in the late summer months. Urban Scrawl will be a great setting for live painting and hopefully another prime collaboration with Cyrus Fire. I submitted a proposal for live painting for Art al Fresco and hope to be in action for the Gallery Hop. With luck I will also have work on display in the Ohio State Fair exhibit.

September – I plan to bring back C Note on September 25th, with some slight changes of presentation. Look for some enhancements to the event along with all the great work for 100 bucks each. Also look for plenty of new works and live painting at this years Independents Day Festival on the 19th.

October – The Junctionview Open House will be a chance to focus on the work and workspaces of resident artists at JV. It will be like Agora condensed to just the folks that make it all happen.

More information can be found online at Coreroc.net.

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