March 23 2011 11:51 AM

The guy behind the little red dude on the front page of this week's CityBeat

nateschnell
"Good Lurks" (Ieft) and a self potrait by Nate Schnell

Nate Schnell is new to San Diego. A few years ago, he packed up and moved from Austin, Texas, to a small mountain town in Colorado (full disclosure:  Schnell showed his work at my gallery while I lived in Colorado).

Schnell sold all of his art and screen-printing gear for the big move; by the time he reached San Diego late last year, he'd already pressed the reset button and was just getting into his artwork again. He'd become known for his mixed-media silk-screen pieces while in Austin, but the move forced him to get back to basics.

“So, now I'm back to square one,” Schnell says. “Back to drawing.”

Now that he's been drawing for awhile, though, Schnell says he's ready to move on and start experimenting with different printing techniques again. He's begun investigating the process of creating woodblock prints.

Schnell says he digs the meditative quality of drawing and likes the opportunities for the serendipitous mistakes that come with the free-hand technique, but he says he has printing in his blood—even his drawings, he says, have echoes of the printing process. Take “Good Lurks,” the piece on CityBeat's cover this week: The red splotch of color purposely expands well beyond the boundaries of his lines.

“That comes from printing,” he explains. “I like that off-registration look.”

Several of Schnell's drawings are hanging at The Loft at UCSD through March 27. Most of the pieces in the exhibition show off the young artist's interesting, often minimalist use of color, his affinity toward yellowed, found paper or other repurposed canvasses and his nearly impeccable lines, which sometimes look as if they're one continuous loop.

“Maybe it's from all those years behind the Etch A Sketch,” he laughs, brushing off a compliment on his line work. “That was such a magical toy at a young age.”

Another commonality in Schnell's work is his affinity for incorporating photographs of a city's recognizable sites. In one of his pieces, he has a pink monster towering over one of the Spanish colonial buildings in Balboa Park.

“It's bringing things to life,” Schnell says. “I guess I like to bring things I imagine to life.”

With “Good Lurks,” it was a rainy, cold day in Colorado and Schnell found himself starting to think about the sun that would eventually emerge from behind the clouds. He was sort of surprised by his own optimism.

“I have been a negative asshole for the past year or so,” Schnell said about the piece. “I was eluding to the fact that good lurks. I'm too young to be an old curmudgeon.”

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28