SoCal native and now Red Hook, Brooklyn resident Beau Stanton has been traveling the world sharing his nautical themes on giant walls for the past ten years. A staple in the NYC street art scene, Beau is now heading off to Los Angeles to prepare for his largest solo show yet at Cory Helford Gallery where he will be creating an installation which will feature a plethora of different mediums all based around his trademark nautical style. I spent a morning walking around Red Hook, Brooklyn catching up with Beau and discussing his roots, influences, current & upcoming shows, and most importantly his mustache.
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Alright, so, Mr. Beau Stanton, for people who don’t know you, give them a little background.
Well, let’s see, my studio is in Red Hook Brooklyn, which is where we’re walking around right now. I’ve been living and working here in the neighborhood for close to nine years. Currently, I go back and forth between Los Angeles and New York.
And you’re originally from?
I grew up in Southern California.
Okay. How’d you end up making the move to NYC.
Just figured it was the best place to pursue a career as an artist.
And of all places in Red Hook Brooklyn. I believe you said it was 2008 you moved here.
Why Red Hook?
By chance. I had a friend who had a Two-bedroom apartment and the other room became available around the time I was looking to move out here. So…
And for people who don’t know, Red Hook is not the usual place for people to move to in New York to start out because it’s kind of out of the way. The transportation system’s a little rough over here because there’s no subway. So it must have been interesting for you just learning New York from down here?
Yeah, definitely, it’s a unique neighborhood. And I think it being kind of inaccessible has helped preserve it and helped maintain a historic feel. Lots of cobblestone streets and old warehouses from the Civil War era. It’s got incredible views of the Statue of Liberty. The waterfront’s really nice and accessible.
So, speaking of the waterfront. People that know your work, know that you do have a lot of maritime themes in your work, did you have that motif before you moved to Red Hook or is that a result of Red Hook or both?
I did not, I wasn’t making work like that before I moved here. So, I’d say it was definitely influenced by the environment.
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Very cool! So the work that you’re known for is kind of by chance because you ended up here?
And you still have a studio here in Red Hook, which is pretty cool because there’s a full view of the Statue of Liberty and, you know, ships going by and the whole deal. Tell me a bit about the show you are preparing for in LA.
Yeah. Well…I’m leaving New York this afternoon and I’ll be in LA for the next three months preparing for an exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery. Which is going to be largely installation based, and it’s going to include a lot of different media that I’ve been exploring over the last couple years. So, typically I’m a painter and muralist, however, I’ve started to apply my aesthetic onto other mediums such as stain glass, multimedia, animation, recently stop-motion animation, mosaics, etc. So, the idea behind the show is to sort of reconcile all those things into a single viewer experience because I haven’t really shown all those things together in the same place before.
And the solo show you have going on right now in Bushwick featuring the stop-motion animation stuff?
Yes. So currently I have a show up at Brilliant Champions up in Bushwick. And the exhibition is centered around a short stop-motion animation which was actually created and filmed in the gallery space before the show opened. And alongside the animation, which is displayed on a large screen within a handmade frame there’s also a lot of the props and components that were used to make the animation repurposed into diorama like shadowboxes. So it shows some of the process and steps outside of what I normally do… a little more sculptural than normal.
Were you doing the street art style murals and stuff before you got to New York or is that again the environment kind of dictated the art?
That is correct. I’m a classically trained painter and drawer… drawist? Draftsman. I’ve been seriously oil painting since I was 10-years-old. So when I moved to New York I knew how to draw and paint, but I had not completed any murals. And it wasn’t until I started assisting Ron English that I acquired the skills to pursue murals.
Was Ron based in Beacon then?
He was in Jersey City at that time.
He taught you how to do it or basically just on the job learning?
It was definitely on the job training.
Wynwood walls. Yeah, that’s my most recent mural.
Right, did the size and the way large scale murals work change the way you were making art and bring part of that street essence into your classical training or was it the other way around?
There was definitely a learning curve in terms of adjusting techniques and I think that my techniques have been transformed to go both ways. So, coming into it, working smaller scale with the classical background influenced the bigger things and then once I started painting the murals that started transforming how I approached smaller works as well.
I personally love your stained-glass stuff. I’ve watched you actually in your studio for the last couple years build them and I know they’re painstakingly intricate…
…kind of a pain in the ass. How’d you end up deciding that? And you’ve done tin types as well… and now the stop-motion. Why are you so interested in working in so many very different mediums?
It’s really just to see if I can pull them off.
But I think there’s usually some sort of an for the idea based off of something that I see, maybe it’s at a museum, maybe it’s looking at a historic building, like an old house or something and I really like the way an artist approached something back in the day. But typically I see something or a quality that I admire in something and then I try to figure out how I can replicate that feeling within my own visual language.
So this new show is going to have all the different mediums you have been working in?
It may or may not… but it’s definitely going to aim to reconcile the disparate directions that I’ve been going in over the past few years and make it into a cohesive experience.
What are some of your influences other than Ron English since we discussed him already that have made you the artist you are today?
I wasn’t really into street art or pop surrealism for that matter before I moved to New York. I was mostly interested in the sort of classical painters Golden Age illustrators. Just sort of straight representational work. So the sort of subjective approach that I’ve taken since I’ve been in New York was definitely a direct response to the work I was seeing created in the city at the time as opposed to what I grew up seeing.
Right. Right. So I guess you could say New York has had an substantial influence on your current style. So it may be fun to go back to Southern California for a bit and see if it can change up your outlook again.
Absolutely. The time feels ripe to take in stimuli from a new city.
But on a more serious note everyone wants to know who had the mustache and beard first? You? Logan? Ron? Where did it come from?
Well, I didn’t know those guys yet. I was growing a mustache before I moved out here and then I went beard and then I went back to mustache. So, it goes full circle.
Well, yeah. Or no mustache I guess would be full circle.
I did that once and I’ll never do it again.
No? Well, if it makes you feel better, I can’t grow a mustache. I joke because I know you are good friends with those guys. You’ve been featured actually in one of Logan’s paintings I believe?
Yes, I was portrayed as a sea captain tempted by Sirens.
Other than this coming up, I know you have three months ahead of working non-stop. Anything else going on?
I’ve got a lot of large scale murals planned for the rest of the year. I’m trying not to have to complete any of them until after this show. I may have to do one somewhere in the middle but I’ve got mural coming up from Jersey City in June… Nashville… Tampa…
Why even unpack?
I usually don’t.
Let’s talk just a little bit about your process. When you’re working is there anything you do that’s kind of a ritual, like listening to music of any sort, do you have to wear the same overalls or a lucky sweater?
When I paint murals I typically wear this, this flight suit that I bought at an army surplus store. Which is really like a comfortable onesie. It has lots of pockets. And you know, I mostly just listen to public radio in my studio while working.
Well lastly, is there someone’s work you’ve seen lately that’s really been influencing you or any artist’s work you have picked up?
When I was in Detroit I picked up a couple pieces by local artists Ellen Rutt and Pat Perry, they’re both doing great work. As artists, we’ve got to practice what we preach which includes buying art at whatever level.
All Photo’s & Text Copyright 2017 Matthew A. Eller. Follow me on Instagram @ellerlawfirm