DECEMBER 2019 — Have you seen? The northeast corner of our historic building just got an upgrade — find a pop-art inspired mural by local artist Sam Nigrosh, who painted his maximalist pattern-work over a snapshot of Cindy Pritzker. The full portrait of Ms. Pritzker (originally painted by Andy Warhol himself) is on display in our rooftop restaurant, Cindy’s.
Get to know the artist behind the work. We sat down with Sam Nigrosh to learn a little more more about his process.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Sam.
I’m originally from Massachusetts and moved to Chicago in 2005 to attend the School of the Art Institute. During and after school, I played music in the DIY scene and got my start illustrating album artwork and fliers and doing comics on the side. My first “break” as it were was when my friends band Oozing Wound signed to Thrill Jockey and suddenly my album artwork was in The New York Times. Of course, we quickly realized quitting our day jobs wasn’t in the cards and returned to toiling in our respective basements.
Let’s talk about your newly-dried mural, depicting your interpretation of Cindy Pritzker’s Warhol portrait; what issues, if any, did you come across (personal or design) when trying to both preserve Warhol’s style but have your own spin on things?
I wanted to keep some aspect of the original and combine it with my pattern work. Thinking about portraits in the simplest way, it’s really the eyes that matter so I just cropped in. I really enjoy the interplay between the fore and background “spaces” in drawings and pattern work that highlights contrasting negative and positive spaces. By combining the expectations of a portrait (which relies on our traditional relationship with perspective) on the same plane as a graphic pattern that greatly exaggerates that perspective, I was hoping to create an image that doesn’t resolve itself under scrutiny. I thought this was the best way to get a lot of life out of looking at the same mural everyday.
What influences (in terms of culture, time period, music, other artists past or contemporary, etc.) inform the work that you do?
I’m interested in what we generally consider “craft” and what falls outside of the “Hero Artist Myth”. If it’s made in a workshop in the last million years I want to see it. If it’s covered in patterns then I’m buying the book in the gift shop.
Tell us about your experience with Chicago Athletic Association. Is this your first time working in or around the building?
I love working with Chicago Athletic Association and think the team is really special and dedicated to their work. I love that Chicago Athletic Association fosters relationships with artists and organizations in Chicago and maintain its support of them. The first thing I did here was the inaugural Chicago Art Book Fair, which is now an annual affair. I also used to cover shifts at the Art Shoppe Pop-Up and helped run sound for the Flip the House event. I totally respect the attention that Chicago Athletic Association has shown to the community in Chicago.
How can our guests follow you and your work?
You can follow my work @trashcitycomix on Instagram and at www.samuelnigrosh.com. I’m going to be releasing a new Trash City comic series starting on the New Year and I’m sorting the details on a number of new murals here and across the country. For the next two weeks, I’m just gonna be figuring out what to get my nephew and niece for Hanukah.