The Battle Has Just Begun
Essay for artist monograph
Ulysses: Departures, Journeys & Returns: The Artwork of Andrew Schoultz
180 pages, hardcover, 7'' x 10''
Paper Museum Press (December 2006)
Click here to purchase monograph
Although I’ve known Andrew Schoultz for only several years from working within the San Francisco arts community, I feel like he’s been an artist whose work I’ve been familiar with my entire life. He’s also someone who I’ve had the opportunity to get to know on a personal level from the many conversations over cigarettes while working on a project together or bumping into each other in the city somewhere. The work is an extremely accurate reflection of who Andrew is as a person – full of strong convictions and deep-rooted beliefs, earnest and full of integrity, bold and sensitive, socially engaged and critical, and embodying an old world work ethic. Through the fortunate opportunity to see hundreds of his works over the years in exhibitions at galleries, on walls throughout San Francisco, and the many pieces he miraculously works on simultaneously in his studio, I’ve been consistently struck by the level of his artistic output, and the degree of thought, insight, and time that goes into each piece. Andrew’s what a common friend of ours, Mark Pearsall, has termed an “art athlete” – someone so focused and constantly striving to improve his artistic vision, both conceptually and technically, and always re-defining the standards of what he can achieve. He is thoroughly dedicated to his work, and the level of integrity in which he lives his life and by extension the way he approaches his artwork is a constant source of inspiration. Andrew’s one of the hardest working artists I have met. He understands that to work hard and realize a vision requires a lot of sweat, and he’s not one to shun calluses and aching arms.
The most impressive aspect of Andrew’s work is the sheer accessible immediacy of it, and the breadth of its impact and appeal. He’s refined his vision over the years by working both in the streets and in the studio, and in places such as Portland, Maine; Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Sun Valley, Idaho; Los Angeles, California; Detroit, Michigan. Whatever the piece may be – a full wall mural, a painting on a wood panel, a lithograph – there’s a universality of this work that transcends age, class, culture, education, avocation. I’ve seen looks of wonderment and fascination from an entire spectrum of people when they encounter his work – lawyers, toddlers, homeless folks, politicians, collectors. Maybe its because of the use of bold colors and our common understanding of a certain comic style that his work references. Or maybe it’s because of the impossibly intricate, detailed line work that infuses his entire body of work and the open-ended narratives that inhabit and define his pieces. But beyond the surface of his unquestionable ability to meticulously handle a paint brush and balancing a growing color palette is a complex visual world that really hits at the heart of what he is doing through his work. Andrew possesses a self-defined language of characters and objects that he utilizes through an infinite number of variations to comment upon the state of our world. Whether it’s his flying birds, massive trees and piles of logs, stoic elephants, ships exploring at sea, erupting mountains and churning waves, brick pyramids and smoking chimneys, or armor clad horses, they all are parts of an ongoing narrative of the effects and affects of power play in society – the haves and have-nots, the struggles and triumphs, construction and destruction, humankind and nature. Andrew is always one to verbally and artistically highlight situations of inequities, of senseless consumption and unnecessary waste, of the growing divide between those who struggle to survive and those who prevail through greed and consumption. His work unfolds the more you dig into the depths of his pieces – and unlike other art that is also rooted in a dialogue with our social-politic, he doesn’t hit you over the head with his perspective on the world. He leaves it up to us, the viewer, to look for the dots to connect, to comprehend the frozen instant of movement, to assign intentionality to running horses, plodding elephants, sailing ships, flying birds and arrows.
And Andrew’s got the vision and chops to pull all of this off. What starts off as a number of large swatches of paint on a wall or a piece of wood panel or paper seems like a random assortment of colors and shapes. But as the hours and days pass, you can see the masterplan that Andrew had envisioned all along. Lines get painted in, and his characters start to re-emerge again in a new visual drama. He lays down thick heavy lines that frame out the armature of his armor clad horses, begins to detail the armor with thousands of fine point cross hatched brush strokes, articulates the mass of a tree with curved lines and shadows – and what begins to emerge is another timeless dialogue, pieces of art that perfectly reside in the now, yet look like fantastical reflections that could have come from religious tomes from centuries ago or apocalyptic dreamworlds from an unforeseeable future.
- Kevin B. Chen