Emerald Padgett: Local
Contemporary artist + los angeles native Emerald Padgett is connecting people through her paintings of classic Hermosa Beach landmarks from generations before her. Her solo show Local is opening at the illustrious Shockboxx gallery tonight (be sure to rsvp to see her favorite piece). We chatted with her about what started the series, the relationship between humans + places, + what’s next for her.
Asymmetric Magazine: Congrats on your solo show Local. What can we expect to see?
Emerald Padgett: It’s all paintings of buildings—local Hermosa Beach and South Bay landmarks.
AM: Do you have a favorite building that you painted?
EP: I think it’s the Tender Box. That’s the painting that started this whole series. It was an old sex shop in Hermosa Beach, and it was right on a main street, so all the moms would stand outside with picket signs. It was kind of like the dirty, ugly spot of the town in a lot of people’s eyes, but I thought it was cool and was intrigued by it.
AM: You’ve painted a lot of old places that you’ve never seen yourself, right?
EP: Yeah. The unique thing about Hermosa Beach is that a lot of people don’t leave. So, there’s generations after generations all growing up here. Most of the time, the actual buildings stay the same, but they become different things. So, I really like exploring that and looking at places that affected my dad and his generation, even if it’s a new place now. Although these places didn’t affect me, I like seeing the interaction other people have with them. I like having a multi-generational inclusion in my art.
AM: Is nostalgia the main theme you were pursuing through these paintings?
EP: That, and I just really like the interaction that people have with the pieces, because it’s a direct interaction. With art, most of the time, people can relate to it emotionally. But this is another layer because it’s evoking specific memories from these exact places, and I love seeing how people react and converse about it.
AM: We love that your paintings are connecting people through their memories and personal stories of these places.
EP: It’s so cool to be able to bring back parts of people’s lives.
AM: We see the direct role LA plays in this series, but how would you say the city shapes your views as an artist?
EP: I definitely like to find the beauty in the gross. That’s what draws me to LA. There’s so much co-existence from neighborhood to neighborhood, and there’s so much beauty and so much ugliness merged together. There are beautiful places and beautiful people, and then there’s so much poverty and violence. I want to try to put more of that juxtaposition in my work.
AM: Aside from this series, what other themes or subject matter do you pursue through your art?
EP: I’m still very young, and I’m new to making art that means something. I’m trying to avoid art vomit. I really love painting buildings, because I’m very interested in architecture and the effects building have on us without us realizing it. I like the idea that someone thought of these things—like there’s an architect who worked on the home you grew up in, and you have all of these memories there. I think there’s something so powerful about the buildings around us and how they shape us. And maybe we don’t realize it until that place is gone and we see a picture, and all these memories start coming back.
I think there’s something so powerful about the buildings around us and how they shape us. And maybe we don’t realize it until that place is gone and we see a picture, and all these memories start coming back.
AM: What music are you currently listening to?
EP: I switch through genres so much, but I love Frank Ocean and Radiohead.
AM: What do you listen to while you paint?
EP: Depending on my mindset, sometimes punk rock and sometimes really mellow indie music.
AM: So, what’s next after this show?
EP: I’d like to dive into a couple of different themes for me like female sexuality, so I think that’s what I’ll be working on next.
// Local is opening at Shockboxx Project in Hermosa Beach Friday, November 30 7:00-9:00pm. More info + rsvp.