Exclusive Interview: Paul Chatem

Until the Rooster Moans

Paul Chatem is a man who works with his hands. Painting, sawing, cutting, assembling, chopping, sanding, directing, writing and playing are just part of his daily grind. The workday is a beast that Paul knows well; so well that he has devoted an entire show to it.

Until the Whistle Blows, opening July 11th at The Shooting Gallery, explores a post apocalyptic world. One where survivors are still haunted by the workday, slaves to a factory that aimlessly floats the hostile seas.  Each painting in this show is sinister in theme and rich in visual dialogue.

As a prelude to the opening reception, Paul Chatem gave us a personal tour of his new works and the ideology that drives them. -The Shooting Gallery

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“All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.” -Aristotle

Destruction The workday is the main destructive force in this show. Nature is hostile in this world, but the main destroyer is definitely manmade.

Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution is the root of the age we live in. Social contrasts were more extreme so it makes allegorical stories and characters clearer in the context of the kind of work I like to paint.

Modernity People now go through a lot of the same hardships as back then, but modern living has a lot of trappings that make things easier and many times hide the struggles we experience as workers.

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Credit Just as an example: the credit industry has made it possible for someone with humble earnings to live well beyond the means of their paycheck. Most factory workers back then, by contrast, barely kept a roof overhead and food on the table and had no real credit to fall back on when the money ran out.

I wanted to focus on the kind of folk that didn’t have modern convenience as an option.

Characters It’s just an accumulation of my experience working on crews in the entertainment and construction industries. Bosses, bosses of bosses, crew leaders, and grunt workers. It all follows the age-old hierarchy of the workplace.

Desires I intentionally didn’t include an icon representing the desires of these characters. They desire an escape from the world they live in, and there really isn’t one, beyond dying or- more metaphorically I guess- waking up from the dream/nightmare.

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Nightmare The screaming steam whistle represents the moment of waking.

Dreams My dreams tend to be more vivid than my waking life.

Design I usually tell a very specific story with the shows I put together. This one relies less on that, and more on revealing the environment and icons of this particular world.

Mechanics Heart

Whiskey Because it’s good.

Commercial Work I’ve done some illustration work for magazines, logos and CD designs for independent bands, a few murals, and some scenic painting. I worked doing finish-work on fiberglass sculptures for a while. I worked as a cleanup artist in animation. I’ve been a set dresser, set designer, art director, prop maker, and carpenter.

Table Saw Up until February of this year, I spent twelve hours a day in front of a table saw for the show I worked on.

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Stand Up Bass I started playing in 2000 for a punkrock-influenced bluegrass band called The Barren Foothill Breakdown. Now I play with my brother’s band, Avery James and the Hillandales.

Musical Goal No real goals. It’s a good break and balance to painting. I’m mostly just interested in backing up my brother and writing songs when they come to me. Pretty simple stuff.

Storyetelling I tell the same stories musically as I do visually: people searching for something; folk down on their luck; general drunkenness and chaos.

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Habitat I live in a tiny house on a hill that I share with my girl.

Studio The house is both of our studios. It’s pretty full at the moment.

Best of LA Los Angeles doesn’t really have the kind of places I like to hang out in. If I had to pick, I’d say my backyard with my tortoises and something on the hibachi.

Worst of LA Hard to pick.

Relax Whiskey.

Leisure Either I’m cutting wood to make enough dough to take time off to paint, or I’m playing Bass in my brother AJ’s band. I’m always creating in one way or another.

Hardluck Kid

For inquiries about Paul’s work, please contact The Shooting Gallery here.

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