Driven to Abstraction
Self-taught artist finds inspiration in nature
 
BY FELICIA FEASTER
 
Armed with just a high school diploma and a burning desire to make work, self-taught artist Grady Haugerud has nevertheless carved out an impressive reputation in the city. Most recently the winner of the 2004-2005 Forward Arts Foundation's Emerging Artist Award, Haugerud will have a survey of his work exhibited at the Swan Coach House Gallery through Aug. 6.
 
Infused with a distinctly retro sensibility and color scheme, Haugerud's lively, intensely pleasurable abstractions are most reminiscent of the modernism of Joan Miro, Jackson Pollock and Picasso. But with their mutating, anthropomorphic forms, Haugerud's drawings can just as easily evoke both the ancient and the future tense, suggesting cave paintings, graffiti, anime, the mark makings of Cy Twombly and the fleshy arabesques of Inka Essenhigh.
 
Age: 33.
 
Wife: Vera Haugerud; married 1999.
 
Neighborhood: Clarkston.
 
Education: Parkview High School, Lilburn.
 
Your wife is from Siberia and you're from Georgia. What do you have in common?: We are very emotional. ... We cry a lot.
 
What makes you cry the most?: [Begins to tear up]. Sometimes when I'm doing drawings, I cry out of happiness.
 
Last name: [It's] Welsh. Three sections: "How-ga-rude."
 
Day job: Pollen flower shop in Buckhead. A great creative outlet. I work with orchids, keep the plants watered, do compositions.
 
You talk about a love of nature expressed in your work. Where do you commune with nature?: Stone Mountain. A place my dad and I call "The Dragon Tree." It's just this great tree off the beaten path. It's a cedar tree that something traumatic happened to a long time ago and it split and grows all amazingly crazy.
 
Favorite plant: Sedum. Succulents. Orchids.
 
Mood of works: Peaceful, aggressive. There's chaos and there's harmony all at the same time.
 
Painting rituals: I like good, energetic, charged music that's going to get me excited, like I feel like I'm on stage. A lot of times, I'll put these marks down with the beat of the music. Radiohead works best for me.
 
If you weren't a painter: Landscaping or garden design. I love flowers.
 
Bumper sticker: "Eyedrum." And another one a friend of mine, Michi, gave me: "Collect Art Shit." I cut off the "Shit" and left on "Collect Art."
 
Why did you take off "shit"?: Too negative. Art isn't shit.
 
Describe your work: I would say it's very abstract, nature-based mark-making, fine lines and details.
 
Favorite decade: The '40s.
 
Guilty pleasure: Candy bars: Snickers, Twix, Heath, Almond Joy, Kit Kat.
 
Social cause: Tree clear-cutting. Wal-Mart and Lowe's and all those things taking over.
 
Prophetic sign of future art career: One time I found a reflector, I glued it to a piece of cardboard and drew some eyes on it, some antenna, a little landscape behind it, took it to school and the teacher was like, "Wow, you made this? This is great." And they pulled open these dividers between the classrooms and said, "Everybody, this is a special show and tell. This is what Grady made." First grade. Miss Brown.
 
What did you want to be as a kid?: A comedian. A garbage man.
 
Nickname: I get called "G" a lot.
 
 
 
Creative Loafing 06.22.05
 
 

Copyrightę 2004 - 2005, GRADY HAUGERUD, ATLANTA, GEORGIA. All rights reserved.