Today, Austyn Weiner’s “HEAD” opens at Soul Car Garage in Silverlake, virtually and by appointment (one at a time, with masks, and proper distance). It’s the inaugural show of the new space—a cleaned out one-car garage at the artist’s home in Los Angeles.
Whitewall recently checked in with Weiner and learned that in addition to making this new series of paintings while converting her garage into a studio/exhibition space, she’s been producing a daily morning show on her Instagram account and getting down her thoughts and ideas in writing and drawings on blank postcards.
Below, Weiner shares how walks, music, and recording herself religiously has been keeping her sane.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing?
AUSTYN WEINER: Ask me three days in a row and I will give you three different answers! It has undoubtedly been a roller coaster. Some days I am thriving in the isolation and feel more authentic than ever. Other days, a rat in a cage, helpless and lonely. Being quarantined on my own has been challenging to say the least, but most days I feel incredibly grateful for this uninterrupted time I have had to think and create uninhibitedly.
WW: What are you listening to, reading, watching?
AW: I have been listening to my usual suspects on repeat: Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, James Brown, and Daft Punk, to name a few. Music for me is a comfort, and the repetitious nature of how I listen to certain artists and songs is very representative of my obsessive qualities in general.
When I like something, I want it all, and all the time. While I am painting, if one chord does it for me, I will often paint for hours and days with the same song on repeat just to stay in that consistent pocket of energy and flow. This week it has been Dead On It by James Brown. Needless to say, I ride the repeat button all day long.
I have turned my projector on once this entire quarantine and that was to binge watch an old season of The Office when anxiety was extra high! Besides that, I have been digging into performance work à la Ray Johnson’s How To Draw A Bunny, early video works of Tracey Emin and Paul McCarthy, and Julian Schnabel’s A Private Portrait.
I am not a big TV watcher to begin with (don’t have cable). I guess I have found myself not wanting to engage in outside narratives right now, but more so to take the time to write my own and be present in this one. I have been writing, drawing, and recording religiously and that has been the cocoon I have been existing in.
WW: How are you staying connected?
AW: On day one of the quarantine, I began recording myself doing what I always do— sitting at my table at 6:00 AM drinking my coffee and talking to myself, only out loud on camera. That has organically turned into my self-appointed and produced morning show called, “Morning Wood with A Weiner.” What is great about having a self-produced morning show airing on your own Instagram is if no one likes it they can’t kick you off the air, you just keep on going!
I did not plan to have a consistent dialogue take place from my Instagram throughout this quarantine, it just happened. It has helped me feel less alone, and more connected to the people watching; I’ve been participating in all sorts of side conversations from it, and actually making a lot of friends from being vulnerable out loud. Who knew?
I have also been taking 6:30 AM walks on the same route every morning since the quarantine began, and that consistency has kept me sane. It has also allowed me to meet some incredibly interesting people along the way. One in particular is a 72-year-old man named Paul who I took notice of at the beginning of the quarantine due to his heart-shaped sunglasses and an undeniable 6:00 AM swag. Turns out, he is pretty much the coolest guy I have ever met, with so many of the same musical interests as me. He was the doorman at The Troubadour in Los Angeles during the high tide of rock ‘n’ roll! Through these small daily interactions my soul stays invigorated.
WW: Are you able to find the time to create?
AW: In the first weeks of quarantine the only thing I was capable of doing was sitting back and processing this all. In that time, I went from the bed to the couch to the table and back again. During those first few weeks I picked up a process I had started long before, which was ditching my journal and letting my thoughts and sketches take place on blank postcards. I have now accumulated about 230 postcards and counting. It has been a way for me to let it all out without giving too much importance or focus to it; a way for me to release and remain somewhat clear headed during all of this.
It wasn’t until the second week of quarantine when I cleaned out my one-car garage that I finally began painting. And that felt both good and unimportant at the same time.
WW: What have you been able to create there, in your garage-turned-studio?
AW: I knew I needed to be painting in order to mentally stay sane at home. The one car garage underneath my apartment was filled with boxes of clothes and unused suitcases, and I instinctually just began cleaning it out. There was something very primal and apocalyptic about those first days—frantically driving back and forth from my studio grabbing materials and panels to paint on, sweeping up the cockroaches and spider webs, and setting up shop. It was as if the world was ending or the walls were closing in on me, and I knew I needed paint to go through it. Seems sort of counter intuitive but it wasn’t. It was exactly what I needed.
In the Soul Car Garage, I have been working on “HEAD”—portraits of myself, my moods, the garage, and the visitors that have come through it. These works are a direct reflection of the introspection, drama, and the Los Angeles shade that seeps into it during this time.
WW: How are you staying inspired and hopeful?
AW: My pendulum swings greatly. Some days I can convince myself that everything is just as it was, and I can go about my walks and my work. Other days I can feel the importance of this moment. As artists, it is somewhat of a perfect storm if we let it be. The world is ill as we know it. The systems are broken but we are not, and I keep telling myself that if I just keep putting that pen to paper, that brush to the canvas, I can work my way through this, and be part of the new world order which has no order. That keeps me inspired.