October 30, 2018 Artist to Watch: Chad Schoonmaker
CHAD SCHOONMAKER: Color Enthusiast - S’mores Enthusiast
Chad Schoonmaker is a Baton Rouge native, now living in Denham Springs, who spends his time making work that is meant to breathe life into spaces where people gather, places where conversations happen, and places where memories are made. We imagine Chad’s painting as a means to organize the chaos, and to bring together the disparate elements of color and surface to create a unified harmony. Chad himself views his studio practice more as play and experimentation (and that’s probably for the best). His playfulness shows in the lively movements seen in the application of color to the surface of each work.
We took some time to ask him a few questions about his work, and upcoming solo show. Chad’s work is on view now in the Parish Attorney’s office, thanks to our very own Connections Program here at the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, and he has a solo show at the Parlor in November 2018 .
What brought you to Baton Rouge and when did you arrive?
I was born and raised in Baton Rouge and then we moved to Denham Springs when I started middle school. I currently live in Denham with my wife, Allison and our little boy Samuel.
What are your thoughts on the arts opportunities in Baton Rouge?
Opportunities are booming! Seems like there's opportunities to participate in events, shows, markets every weekend! I think that is exciting. I feel like I learn about new things going on all the time and that's encouraging.
A lot of opportunities come to me. Sometimes local non-profits ask for donations to auction off at events. This year I've donated pieces to Cancer Services of Baton Rouge, CASA and the Louisiana Arts and Science Museum! I'm thankful for the exposure and to play a small role in helping these organizations.
Were you always interested in painting?
I have always been drawn to the arts. I had a couple family members who were artistic and I remember being influenced by them in my childhood. Painting on canvas developed over the last 5-6 years and, lately, I've been pushing my craft into new mediums.
I'm totally a self taught artist. I've actually never had any formal training. In college I studied communications and I currently work full time in Marketing. I hope my degree helps with creating engaging content for social media and figuring out creative ways to connect with potential customers.
Who are you influenced by?
I'm influenced by anyone who's not afraid to put themselves out there. Bravery inspires me. And friends who like to laugh. a lot. Some artists whose work I respond to are Ken Tate in New Orleans, Josie Lewis in Minneapolis and Arthur Brothers in Charolette, NC. I love specific things about each of these talents from their methods and techniques to their philosophies on art and how they share their gift with us.
What do you like about the culture of Baton Rouge?
I like that Baton Rouge feels like a small town but everywhere you go there's new people and new things to experience. I like that people really do come together in times of need. The Flood of 2016 is a great example of that. I like that even though "purple and gold" are popular, people are still open to other colors.
My home and studio flooded in 2016. We lost everything and I wasn't sure when I would have the opportunity to paint again. One day after the flood, someone from Baton Rouge tagged me in a Facebook post from the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York discussing a grant for artists who have been displaced by a natural disaster. Well that was me! I applied for the grant and was awarded the full amount! That's just one example among MANY of how Baton Rouge folks have each other's back.
Do you have any upcoming events?
I do! November 2 at The Parlor I will be hosting a solo show featuring my own work on canvas and wood, resin, sculpture and photography. I'm also going to have a s'mores bar which will most likely be the highlight of the event! Also I will be the featured artist at White Star Market for White Light Night on November 16.
Where can folks go to see your work online, and in person?
Instagram is a big one for me! @chadschoon.art, I'm going to be hanging in a handful of salons in a few weeks. Mod Salon off Jefferson and Garret Neil on Bluebonnet and Perkins.