Grant Levy-Lucero (b. 1981) is a California based artist, living and working in Los Angeles. Before stone-ware ceramics, Grant made knitted works. For the past year, he has dedicated his career to the ceramic pots that he is best known for. These pots depict different images of hand- painted signs across Los Angeles. Grant has participated in Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2017 (ALAC), has been in several group shows, and has an upcoming show with Night Gallery Los Angeles this December. His work can be seen in various private collections.
It’s been one year that you have been working with clay?
Yes, a little bit less than a year. Before this, I had been working more in knitting and textiles. The overlap between my ceramics process and the knitting process is something that interests me and informs my practice. I use an extruder to create a single filament that I repeatedly wrap to create a pot; it’s the same if I’m knitting a sweater.
Who are some artists that you’re inspired by?
I’m very inspired by the work that my friends are making and the rigor that goes into their work. Most of the artists that I hang out with are really disciplined in their studio practice; they’re in there grinding it out every single day. It’s funny to have that kind of admiration in your relationship with your peers. Of course, there are also artists that came before that I look up to as well. I would say Alexander Calder and Joseph Beuys really influenced me early on.
What does it mean to you to be an artist working in Los Angeles right now?
Los Angeles right now feels to me like what I imagine New York must have felt like in the 1970s. You can go anywhere, to any show, and you’re going to be in the presence of all these people who are doing so much to really influence culture on an international scale. I’ve been saying for a long time that Los Angeles is going through a renaissance period, but I can’t emphasize that point enough.
So you were saying that your pots began as photographs of handmade signs in LA?
Much of the imagery that I use for the pots come from hand painted signs hidden all over the city. That started about six years ago with this photography project. Initially, photographing signs was just a way to explore the city, map certain areas, and create landmarks.
So all your work in a way is really drawn back to LA?
Absolutely. I find inspiration in the color palette, the imagery, the unique culture, and the canon of LA.
What happens when the pots break?
Normally, I break them when they break in the kiln, but this one I liked. Henry Taylor said it looks like a bunch of people putting their hands up, and a lot of people tell me that they see figures in them. There are connotations to Greek and Roman ceramic forms in my work, so I think the broken handles can make a comedic reference to sculpture such as the Venus de Milo.
Could you tell us about your first show?
My first show was at Henry Taylor’s place. He really gave me a chance. I was more nervous about what kind of food and drink I was going to serve than anything else. It was pretty funny, in retrospect. Luckily, so many people came to the show and I received a lot of good feedback. I felt super lucky.
How did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
When I was young, I was really into graffiti. That exposed me to a lot of artists; I think that was my first foray into a visual mode of expression. After that, I would have to say, Alexander Calder. I saw the video where Calder performs Circus, and I remember having this realization about what art could be and where that put me in relative. The video is something different, but it’s still art; it’s beautiful and laborious.
How often do you find yourself in the studio?
I’m here every day. I come in around eleven in the morning, and I try to be here as much as I can. I try to bring a lot of people here. I try to always have a steady stream of visitors; I like to change up the conversation.
Are there any characteristics of your work that you find are being constantly pointed out?
One thing that people constantly point out are my finger marks, which is something that I also really like in art in general; I like the mark of the artist.