For a collage artist, Andrew McGranahan has a surprisingly tidy North Park apartment. There are no bits of paper on the floor or glue stains on the desk. The only giveaways that an artist lives here is an extensive collection of vintage National Geographic and OMNI magazines on a shelf and some tidily organized drawers filled with things McGranahan has ripped out of magazines.
"Occasionally I have an idea in mind for a piece, but rarely does it work out to how I initially pictured it in my mind," says McGranahan. "I'll start pulling stuff out, but then I'll see something else in a magazine and something else will spark. It's very freeform. I'll just find pieces here and there."
McGranahan's work has been popping up a lot around town. His whimsical collage pieces that he designs using carefully dissected bits of magazines are most noticeable on concert posters for bands like Wild Wild Wets and Other Bodies. After participating in some group shows in L.A. and the Bay Area, McGranahan is set to debut his first solo show, Prospectors of the Primeval, which opens Thursday, Jan. 14, at Teros Gallery in City Heights from 5 to 9 p.m. The show features 10 works that McGranahan aptly describes as "surrealist scenes" that mix survivalist-type pictures of people in nature with science photos of freakishly large sea creatures.
"Once I started going with the series, I really liked it and it kind of forced me to try to find more stuff," says McGranahan, who admits to being particularly inspired by the collage works of famous German surrealist Max Ernst. "Next thing I knew, I was coming up with a strange sci-fi backstory for it."
That backstory takes place in the year 2788 where survivors of the now extinct planet Earth have resettled on a similar planet, but find conditions to be, well, less than desirable thanks to the abnormally large creatures knocking about. The pictures he chose for the collages are similar in color and tone and when looking at the finished print, it appears as if the collage is, indeed, a picture, albeit a picture of a futuristic Darwinian nightmare taken with a vintage camera.
"A very simple juxtaposition can cause a lot to be going on in the image," says McGranahan. "Obviously you have to work with what you have so it's a learning process as well as a creative process."