We had the good fortune of connecting with Ash Dahlke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ash, so given that most of us are stuck at home due to the crisis, we’ve been asking folks about what they’ve enjoyed doing during quarantine. We’d love to hear what your favorite thing to do has been.
The beautiful thing about creating is the ability to get completely lost in whatever you are doing. While in quarantine, I’ve been working a series of small drawings that help me escape the daily news and allows me to just focus on value, texture, and composition. Alongside drawing, I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of reading that before was not possible with the business of everyday life. Currently, I’m reading Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel and Art on My Mind by Bell Hooks and I highly recommend both. Getting lost in these two types of media helps balance the reality of our current situation while having a few avenues to escape.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I recently had a conversation with a close friend of mine who asked me very directly “Well, if you can’t handle it, can you handle being an artist?” the question wasn’t asked maliciously but was instead stated to wake me up from the pity party I was having for myself about not getting an art opportunity I desperately wanted. The unpleasant side of being an artist is being able to deal with rejection and shaking the negativity and moving forward. The arts have always been competitive, difficult, and even within your own studio, you have the opportunity to continuously fail. Artists are resilient, always have been, and always will be. I like to think of my work as “contemporary still life” painting, drawing, and sculpture. Working between abstraction and representation I create drawings, paintings, sculptures, and collage work that focus on the relationships objects have to each other and the sensory experiences they create. Odd groupings of objects in domestic and commercial settings are humorous to me. In a single moment, heirlooms, detritus, and evidence of fads of material culture are compressed into a shared space. The unusual relationship created in the disparate objects found in thrift stores, our homes, and our workplaces are the catalyst for my work.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Tucson is a wonderfully odd city with many great things to do. We would definitely eat at: Welcome Diner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Guadalajara Grill (The original on Prince), Tallboys, La Cocina, Karuna’s Thai Plate, and Zemam’s. We would visit: MOCA Tucson, the Tucson Museum of Art, Bookmans (Midtown), The Loft Cinema, walk down and visit the shops on 4th Ave, and hike somewhere on the Catalina’s. We would get drinks at: Che’s, Casa Video, Hermano’s, Cobra Arcade, and R Bar and grab coffee in the mornings from Coffee Times and Exo.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow, this is a heavy question. Although individual hard work and dedication will get you ahead, no one ever gets to where they are by themself. I want to give a special shout out to my parents and siblings who helped me learn what dedication and hard work means through their daily endeavors. A shout out to my entire thesis committee at The University of Arizona but especially Angie Zielinski and Cerese Vaden that through their patience helped me at every stage of my MFA career. A shout out to my friends who push me but also keep me grounded, you know who you are. And last, to Barbara Rogers, who has taught me so much about art, life, and teaching during my 3 years assisting her in her studio. There are many people not listed here who have changed my life for the better and I appreciate you more than you know.
Ash Dahlke and Tamrin Ingram