Ride on, ride on
Artist Sean Tully says goodbye to Ventura with an exhibition at the WAV
By Michel Cicero 07/05/2012
Sean Tully is a study in contrasts. Though he’d likely eschew that label — or any label — those who know him tend to agree. To see him roll by on his bicycle — suntanned, barefoot— one might safely assume he surfs, but not perhaps with the measure of grace and aptitude that’s been chronicled in a handful of surfing magazines over the years. Similarly, his scrappy, athletic good looks and ultra-chill demeanor belie the intensity and focus that helped him earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
Originally from the greater Los Angeles area, Tully’s spent the past 11 years in Ventura, most recently living and creating in his studio at Working Artists Ventura (WAV). But the tide has rolled out on his time here as Tully will be heading for not necessarily greener, just different, pastures next month. He will say goodbye with a show, “Sentimental Nothingness,” at the WAV featuring a whole bunch of his past work and some new pieces.
“I’m just looking for a change of scenery,” says the 29-year-old artist who regards his years in Ventura and at the WAV with affection. “I have nothing but love and praise for Ventura,” he says. “I think it’s the shit, and when I started painting in 2004, and even in school at CalArts from 2008 to 2010, I wouldn’t have wanted to live in L.A. Ventura was where I needed to be and wanted to be, and now the momentum has switched.”
Though he will be seizing an opportunity to live in the Eagle Rock area of L.A. following a surfing trip to Peru in August, his dreams these days take place on the southern coast of France rather than in the southern part of California. “The food is amazing, the geography and the waves are outstanding, the seasons are distinct, the women are beautiful, the wine is old and the cheese is smelly,” he muses.
His fantasy locale is an interesting choice for someone influenced by punk rock, graffiti and ’70s Chicano culture, but then again he’s rather fond of fine wine and foie gras. If his paradoxical nature makes him an interesting and somewhat surprisingly compassionate person, it also deeply informs his art, which often evokes a range of emotions at once. “A lot of times the work is dealing with ubiquitous human emotions,” he says, “so hopefully, somebody can see a bit of themselves. The variation of human emotions is quite a complex group of energies to wrap your head around or try to make poignant work about, but it’s definitely an outlet for me.”
That outlet extends beyond the fine arts on a sort of continuum of creativity which spawned “Innocnts,” the closest thing to a brand in Tully’s repertoire, though he won’t call it that. “That would imply that I’m trying to make money, or that it’s a commercial endeavor, and it’s completely uncommercial and there’s no financial reciprocation at this point. It’s purely a creative project,” he explains. “It started as an art show and then turned into a blog, and the blog turned into clothing and the clothing turned into a Vimeo page and that turned into a pop-up shop, and now it’s this cool entity. I can release a friend’s music, make clothing, have a pop-up shop in Hollywood. I’m still figuring out where it’s going to go, still feeling it all out.”
To witness Sean Tully work is to understand what raw talent is — innate, primal and completely natural. His process is improvisational and spontaneous yet there is precision in everything he does. His art is both a reaction to life and an act of living: get in the water, prepare a meal, cut up a magazine, pet a dog, help a customer (he was recently named Urban Outfitters employee of the month), go for a bike ride, open a tube of paint, take in some live music, write a poem, inhale, exhale. The tattoo inside his lower lip sort of says it all: “RIDE.”
”Sentimental Nothingness” will take place Friday, July 6, 5 p.m. at the WAV Theater Gallery, 175 S. Ventura Ave., Ventura. To learn more about Sean Tully and Innocnts, visit www.seantully.com or innocnts.blogspot.com.