Steven Dayvid McKellar: Nooit ge Dacht
1028 N. Western Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90029
Friday, April 21 at 6:00 PM 9:00 PM
Ends May 25, 2023
El NIDO by VC Projects presents STEVEN DAYVID MCKELLAR: NOOIT GE DACHT An exploration of small paintings, works on paper, objects, and sound - a reimagined perspective on the nature of nostalgia Exhibition dates: April 21-May 25, 2023 El NIDO by VC Projects, 1028 N. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029 | Curated by VC Projects Nooit ge dacht is the name of the street Steven grew up on in Cape Town, it’s also a hamlet in Holland, and a breed of South African horse. The loose translation is “I never imagined.” I like the contrast, between the name nooit ge dacht and the concept of the show cause all I did as a boy was imagine. And yet my life turns to physical mystery, every day, in a way I could NOT have imagined. That’s the great collaboration we’re all here to experience and learn from; our imaginations and the physical manifestations of them and every other chaos in life. And by participating in nostalgia we are flexing that power we bring our imaginations into the present, into every moment. Cause nostalgia lives outside of time and is susceptible to translation. This is fascinating experiment. I thought to myself, what if I could view the present through that same sense of warmth and security, which is what I needed to feel in the mist of insane transition, my parents, my career and me. Steven is the son of Lisa McKellar and grandson of John Andrew Rice, who in 1933 became the founder, and rector of Black Mountain College, liberal arts school located in the Black Mountains of North Carolina. Rice was instrumental in creating an interdisciplinary approach to education by inviting leading visual artists, writers, composers, and dancers to be a part of its community. For example, Joseph and Anni Albers, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Williem and Elaine De Kooning, Buckmaster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, Robert Rauschenberg, and Mary Caroline Richards, the list goes on and on. Rice was quoted: There are subtle ways of communication that have been lost by mankind, as our nerve ends have been cauterized by schooling. These nerves must be re-sensitized. We must learn to move without fear, to be aware of everything around us, to FEEL as well as mentally see our way into the future. Being brought up in an environment where John Andrew Rice is your grandfather, it would be safe to say, nothing in Steven’s life is ordinary. It is clear he has followed in the footsteps of Rice and that the artist is within, and by observing the world and its many facets, contemplating emotions and life’s circumstances is just as important to understanding line color and rhythm. Steven is very comfortable living in his skin and sincerely moves through space acknowledging every aspect. In the words of John Andrew Rice … teach method, not content; to emphasize process, not results; to invite the student to the realization that the way of handling facts and himself amid the facts is more important than the facts themselves. The works in the exhibition were made during the month of October 2022, while Steven was visiting his parents in Cape Town. It had been four years since his last visit. The soundscape which also part of the exhibition is comprised of: bird calls, sprinklers, people talking, tea being stirred, the gospel choir across the valley, wind, the local shopping mall, a replay of a 1998 cricket match on TV, and a variety of other sound that were symbolic of Steven’s upbringing. My folks were preparing to move countries, getting the house ready to sell, the place that they’d live in for 40 years. It was the house I was born and raised in, that my dad designed and built and they were selling it with everything in it, spoons and all. My partner and I had been traveling for a few months after moving out of our apartment in Los Angeles and we had no idea where we were gonna be next. The same goes for my career and general purpose in life, which had gone cold and needed changing. There I was, about to turn 40, nothing solid to sink into but the present.
And surrounded by childhood memory and objects from it. I began a re-evaluation of nostalgia. Dwelling in my past for the sake of ‘good feelings’ wasn’t gonna cut it. I wanted to be it in. And the only way to do that was to use the sensation of nostalgia as a lens through which I could view my present and even my future. When I think back on things, even the hard things in my past, I am often greeted with a timeless warmth. The memories are willing and susceptible to reinterpretation and imagination, safely tucked away in some pocket of the soul. It’s already happened, and I take comfort in that. Maybe nostalgia is a gift from our souls, there to teach us how to view the ‘now’. I desperately wanted to feel the same warmth and awe about my present than I did about my past. And it was through this everyday practice that the pieces emerged. Very quickly actually. In a burst of light and strength and clarity. Self judgement was absent, and I felt limitless. But the irony of freedom and limitless is that it often reveals itself in seemingly small simplicity that we overlook in our frantic attempt to be ‘someone’. So, I spent my time walking through the house slowly, holding things I’d found, sitting in the garden listening to the birds, talking to my folks over tea, delicately sorting through childhood items that had been stored in boxes, attempting to make it all move in an organic way. I’d found some acrylic and oil paints lying in a tin in the shed, and my mother, in all her sorting through the house, had found some paint brushes that belonged to her mother, some drawing papers, and some pastels, that she’d placed on my bed for me to find when I came back from a walk one day. I’d also found some masonite boards in the shed, cut into squares and painted white. One of them had a paw print in the paint from the dogs we had when I was a kid and I realized that my dad must have cut and painted these around 30 years ago. So, with those materials, I set up shop and jumped in, doing works of little things that I’d found lying around the house. It was my way of capturing the moment as best I could, as it is for so many painters. And living with the pieces as I moved through them, having them around the room, seemed to be the key that tied my past in with my present and shone a light into the future. Working on them and hanging out with them helped confirm that I’ve always been the same person, deep in my soul, with the same feeling of life in my gut. And I felt a submission to that fact and for the first time in my life, I was at peace with it. Steven McKellar is a musician, painter, and poet from Cape Town, South Africa. After a 20-year music career, touring globally with his band, Civil Twilight, Steven began releasing his first solo records and returned to his roots in painting. As a child, he was trained in realism by his aunt and renowned South African artist Donna McKellar before finding community and creative outlet through music and poetry. In September 2022, Steven released ‘Nama,’ a textural and rhythmic exploration of his South African roots and identity. ‘Nama’ is a follow-up to two earlier musical releases, ‘Ethio’ and ‘Belleville Demos’— soon to be reissued. After a debut solo show of his early paintings in Nashville, TN, Steven has been refining his process and deepening his relationship with the medium by exploring identity. Nooit Ge Dacht is his latest series of paintings, sketches, and pastels of everyday objects endowed with meaning on his journey of personal growth. This exhibition will be sharing the following events at El NIDO April 21st - Artist opening reception plus a performance by Steven May 5th -New EP listening party at El NIDO Sonic Ritual (@sonic.ritual) - we are excited to invite you all to an evening exhibiting Steven Dayvid McKellar’s (@sdm_vibes_ ) artwork and exceptional performance of songs from his latest album NAMA. May 11th - Curatorial Talk - Steven sits down at El NIDO with VC Projects to hear more about his life in music and his unique artmaking process. May 18th - Steven Dayvid McKellar joins KARNEJ: gestura4 - for the monthly induction of experimental sound, poetry, ai, and movement. May 25th - Closing event - A chill garden party; we will undoubtedly hear some music too.
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