Immersive Studio Visit
Immersive Artist Studio: Clayton and Parker Calvert
Aug 01, 2023
New York artists Clayton and Parker Calvert have been occupying a spacious studio at 3 World Trade Center for more than three years. The abundance of natural light pouring in from the windows, which bring the Calvert brothers a view of One World Trade Center as well as Jersey City, serves as a magnificent source of inspiration for both artists. They firmly believe that this studio is an ideal environment for them to cultivate their creativity.
Every morning, Clayton finds himself immersed in a symphony of oil paints as he works on multiple paintings simultaneously. He becomes so engrossed in the slow-drying medium, plunging into an artistic trance that often lasts until lunch. Meanwhile, Parker, the ever-curious photographer, likes to capture the ethereal beauty of the ever-changing weather and the fog-enshrouded vistas surrounding the studio. Beyond his lens, the space is a haven for ideation and serves as a platform to showcase his work.
Within their joint studio space, Clayton primarily works at his easels and table, where he keeps his paints. In contrast, Parker, with his portable equipment and setups, easily maneuvers around Clayton. They also share the studio with other artists, including Taezoo Park and John Black, creating a dynamic which allows for valuable feedback and exchange of ideas. In addition to their creative pursuits, the Calvert brothers jointly run the NYC Culture Club, an art space that offers curators and artists opportunities to organize exhibitions.
Through a comprehensive interview with eazel, Clayton and Parker openly discuss their artistic process and how their amazing studio in the heart of New York City contributes to their creative breakthroughs.
eazel: What is a typical day like at the studio? Do you have a daily routine?
Clayton: I generally arrive in the morning and take a moment to enjoy the unique view. I then begin my day. I work on multiple paintings at once given the slow-drying nature of oil paint. I usually get so engrossed in my work that I don’t notice the clock ticking. I will paint until around lunchtime, then either go back to the studio or head uptown to work on other ongoing projects.
Parker: I love capturing the views visible from the studio, especially when the weather is foggy or otherwise unique. Most of my work is executed outside, but the studio is a great place to ideate as well as showcase my photography.
eazel: You are right, the view from the window here is magnificent, as is the space. Is there a special spot in the studio where you spend most of your time?
Clayton: My favorite spot is probably the window. While I spend most of my time painting, I also really enjoy taking in the views. They are so dynamic and the shifts in light and weather are mesmerizing. Watching the scenery change with the different seasons is also very interesting.
Parker: I also love the views from the studio. I particularly like looking at One World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. Even as a lifelong New Yorker, I cannot get used to the incredible feeling of being constantly surrounded by these mammoths. I often find myself gazing out the windows, especially at sunset.
eazel: What does this studio mean to you as a visual artist?
Parker: I feel very blessed to be working in a space such as this. The views, the network of artists, the incredible community of art down at the 3 World Trade Center - all of it is so enriching. It is truly an honor to be a part of this extraordinary ecosystem.
Clayton: Having this studio is a dream come true. It is akin to a sacred space. I believe that something magical happens when creating in an environment that feels like this.
eazel: Let's talk about the dynamic of you two as artists. Do you two collaborate often or do you prefer to work independently?
Clayton: We each have independent artistic practices, but we also collaborate on various projects involving drones and video. One example of our collaboration would be Remnants of Rome (Apr 10 - May 5, 2023). Last year, during the Venice Biennale at Palazzo Bembo, we took part in an exhibition that explored prominent aspects of ancient Rome found in architecture, design, and fine art. In this project, we used drones to capture aerial images of Italian cities such as Rome, Florence and Siena, showcasing the enduring influence of ancient Rome on their present layouts. The photographs also vividly portrayed the dense urban development that originated millennia ago. Working with Parker is always a pleasure. Since our different skill sets complement each other, we end up creating pieces that we individually might not even have thought of before.
eazel: From where do your ideas usually start? What have been your recent sources of inspiration?
Clayton: My ideas come from everyday life and nature to my travels and the work of other artists. I am always being inspired by the world around me. Color is such a big part of my work, to the point where I often decide on the color scheme before I know what shape it will take. Recently, I’ve been going back to form filled abstraction. I feel there is a very strong connection between representational and abstract art and I am working to plumb the depths of that relationship.
Parker: Like Clayton, I also find inspiration all around. I love the movement of the city, the sights and sounds of nature, the lines of shadows, and the harmony within the surrounding environment, all adding up to an intricate symphony. I am constantly taking photos and jotting down notes for future projects. Lately, I’ve been focused on documenting artists living in New York City. Seeing the creativity around makes me feel really lucky to be able to record it.
eazel: Clayton, your interest in abstraction makes us curious to know whether your current abstract works mark a departure from your earlier representational pieces.
Clayton: I have always oscillated between the two approaches in my painting. Initially, I was drawn to learning the techniques of representational art, and those early lessons have remained influential in my work. However, I have always felt a strong inclination and comfort in painting abstractly, and I embrace this natural instinct.
I find inspiration in old masterpieces of representational art and truly appreciate the incredible details that often include abstract elements. At the same time, I am equally captivated by fully abstract paintings from the 20th century and within contemporary art, which evoke emotions in the viewer through their non-representational expressions. Despite their apparent opposition, I cannot help but see the link between abstraction and representation. While abstraction can summon strong emotions, representational references are more inclined to invoke specific ideas. Finding a balance between both styles brings me great satisfaction, as I believe challenging oneself as an artist and exploring art beyond my comfort zone are essential for growth.
eazel: It is evident now why those mixed feelings of abstraction and representation seem so prevalent in your paintings currently displayed in the studio. The presence of repetitions and patterns in some of your artworks also brings forth similar sensations, and we are intrigued to learn more about them.
Clayton: I am a big proponent of carefully considered composition. The emergence of repetition and patterns is an inherent part of my natural painting process. I observe that patterns exist not only in nature but also in everyday life, and I find it fitting that they naturally manifest in my artwork. Sometimes, I allow the spontaneity of a brushstroke or mark to guide my creative process. I then purposefully repeat that motion to the fullest extent possible. This approach adds a sense of organic coherence and harmony to my paintings.
eazel: Parker, you mentioned that you were in the midst of documenting artists in New York City? Could you tell us more about that and elaborate on anything else that has been inspiring you lately?
Parker: Surrounded by a vibrant community of artists, I instinctively tend to capture numerous photos of my peers, which inspired me to develop this into a more formal project. Artists, to me, represent enigmas in society, and I deeply enjoy witnessing the abundance of creativity around me.
As an avid naturalist, I'm constantly on the lookout for opportunities to venture into the embrace of nature and showcase the boundless beauty of our world. Recently, I've developed a profound fascination with AI and its potential to catalog the terabytes of images and videos I've amassed over time. I strive to weave together my diverse interests, believing that this approach infuses my creations with genuine meaning and purpose.
eazel: Your deep respect and care for the artistic community is apparent from your involvement in the NYC Culture Club. Running such a space is challenging for many reasons. As a last question, could you share what drove your decision to operate this project?
Parker: We founded NYC Culture Club together in response to the pandemic. We were heartbroken to see many galleries close and artists lose shows as well as opportunities. We hoped to create a hub for curators and artists to present their ideas to the general public and the art world. The goal was for this space to be a place where groundbreaking exhibitions could happen.
Clayton: We are co-directors of the project. Between us, we manage the programming, exhibition logistics, and operational aspects of NYC Culture Club. It is difficult to balance our artistic practices with the management of the exhibition space, but this facility is a part of our social practice. We hope to inspire more projects like this.
Immersive Studio Visit
Clayton and Parker Calvert
(New York City)