Kamp Collective’s Andy Storey and Jeff Stevens get a Basalt homecoming at the Art Base
If You Go …
What: “Conflux,” new artwork by Stanley Bell & KAMP Collective
Where: The Art Base Annex, Basalt
When: Opening reception Friday, Nov. 11, 5-7 p.m.; art talk Thursday Nov. 17, 5:30 p.m.; Exhibition runs through Dec. 3
How much: Free
More info: http://www.artbase.org
Two Basalt-bred artists are enjoying a homecoming show at the Art Base Annex.
Andy Storey and Jeff Stevens graduated from Basalt High School in 1997 and 2000, respectively. They’ve gone on to art careers elsewhere. For the past three years, they’ve been making bold new work collaboratively as Kamp Collective, working out of a Los Angeles studio.
On Friday, the Art Base Annex will open “Conflux,” a joint show of work by Kamp Collective and prominent Carbondale-based artist Stanley Bell, who works in a similar mixed-media, street-art style.
“I think it’s cool and poetic that we’ve both gone from Basalt to New York to L.A. and now we’re starting our first show together back where it started,” Storey said.
Out of Basalt High, Storey left to study art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He stuck around New York for some years, including a stint doing installations for the Ronald Feldman Gallery, before making his way to Los Angeles. Stevens studied graphic design and has worked in entertainment marketing for the past decade — making movie posters and such.
In Los Angeles, they teamed up as Kamp Collective in 2013. It began as an idea for a brand for t-shirts and more commercial work. But, as they started sketching visuals, it was clear they were headed for gallery walls.
“We had been hanging out and looking at each other’s artwork and said, ‘Yo, let’s put this together and do something,’” Storey recalled.
Kamp’s work on display at the Art Base blends a fine art sensibility with a street-art aesthetic and is tinged with a slick professionalism. The kinetic works layer graffiti and stenciled images over elegant black-and-white photography in pieces that blend a kitchen sink’s worth of media including spray paint, oil, acrylic, silk screens, digital and print photography.
Stevens brought his expertise as an art director to the partnership, working with elements like photography, design and fashion. Storey brought a rough street sensibility of graffiti, illustration and stenciling to the table.
Friends since their teen years, teaming up seemed inevitable.
“We talked about it for years, I feel like, before we actually started it,” Stevens said. “It’s kind of been a slow burning process.”
The works showcase prints of photos of models that look like they’re ripped from fashion spreads (in fact, Stevens and Storey stage photo shoots themselves, complete with wardrobe, hair and makeup styling). They’re distorted and torn, often with graffiti and drawings layered on top of the elegant images, along with stencils of images like guns, skulls and jewels. They can be sexy and, yes, campy. They take on the rough look of posters pasted on a city wall, then weathered by the elements, altered by time and pasted over.
The pair has never before exhibited its work here in the Roaring Fork Valley. Both spent some extended time here last winter, though, and got to know Art Base director Genna Moe through mutual friends on the local art scene.
Moe introduced the Kamp Collective guys to Bell and launched a plan to curate a show that would display their work side-by-side.
“Immediately I thought of Stanely because they both have an urban, graffiti art-inspired look,” Moe said. “And that’s not common in this valley.”
Stevens and Storey are looking forward to sharing their work with the hometown crowd. They’re particularly excited about meeting local young people and high schoo students who might be interested in pursuing art but might have trepidation about taking a chance on life in a big city far from the Roaring Fork Valley.
“Growing up in the valley is a bit of a bubble,” said Storey. “Living in New York for awhile was the best decision I ever made. There’s so much art out there. And you don’t realize that it looks a lot better in real life than it does in your history book.”
Though they found inspiration and careers elsewhere, Basalt is still home for Kamp Collective.
“I feel like getting out and coming back is a good thing,” said Stevens. “But you definitely have to get out — at least for us — to get inspired. And you should at least try, if you grew up here, to leave.”
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