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Cameron Thompson, “Perched” September 5 ­- 30
Opening Reception: September 5, 6­ - 10 pm

Painter, muralist, teacher, social activist — Oakland­based artist Cameron Thompson, also known as Aware, has played many different roles throughout his multi­faceted career in the arts over the past two decades. This September, he will present “Perched,” his first solo show at Loakal Art Gallery after being featured in April’s wildly popular live art show, “Carpe Diem.”

Featuring a new series of paintings and textile pieces, Thompson’s new body of work takes its inspiration from the artist’s desire to find balance in both his art and his life. To Thompson, the word “Perched” evokes a stable place from to look out and reflect. “[My work] focuses on being grounded and finding a balance in the hustle and rat race of everyday living… The meditation before taking flight,” he said. His graffiti monicker, Aware, is derived from a similar place of mindfulness.

With birds and animals as his primary subject matter, Thompson brings an abstract style to his figurative paintings. At times, the birds are refracted like the light coming through a glass prism, evoking the fractured imagery of Cubism. Thompson rounds out these forms with smooth, calligraphic line work. Repeating patterns are one of his visual signatures: As he breaks down his animal figures into their fundamental shapes, he turns them into tessellating forms that often come into play in his textile work. In other pieces, Thompson loses the rigidness of geometry, moving from a graphic style to loose, expressive brushstrokes.

Like many of Thompson’s murals, some of the paintings in the show take their inspiration from totem poles. The focus on animal subjects comes as much from Thompson’s Native American heritage as his personal life experiences. He was raised in Southern California by a mother who cared for a wide variety of exotic animals, and many of his early memories feature unusual creatures, from wolves to parrots. Thompson posits these depictions of the animal world within his decidedly urban style. He taps into a fantasy space between the woods and the concrete jungle where both nature and city life can co­exist.