In local art circles, Marc Huebert's name has become synonymous with a certain style. His paintings pop with graffiti elements and feature quirky, cartoonish characters in colorful, dreamlike settings.
Lauren Ciborowski of the Modbo, the gallery where an exhibition of art by Huebert and Phil Lear will open this weekend, says Huebert's work "bridges the gap between fine art style and street style."
Huebert, who has been a skater for most of his 37 years, concurs: "Those are the things that really formed my style: skateboarding culture, skateboarding art and graffiti culture. I was always as equally impressed with that stuff as with the masters and the Impressionists and the classical painters that I studied. So I tried to sort of — maybe ironically, maybe not that ironically — mash the two together and produce my own style."
And though that style has brought him recognition, the 10 pieces that make up his half of the new Modbo show promise to be something entirely different. In fact, Huebert says he prepared show organizer Brett Andrus in advance.
"I warned him, 'This is all landscapes, dude,'" says Huebert with a laugh.
He continues: "This show is a huge transition for me ... I've just been going out and doing plein air observation and sketching."
It's a change Huebert felt was overdue.
"I don't know if people even know I can draw," he jokes. "I've become so wrapped up in my own style and been doing it for so long that it's just refreshing to step back and get back to the basics."
To keep his new works simple, Huebert says that he's been jumping on his bike each day with pencils and panels of wood in his backpack, and heading from his home in Pleasant Valley to Garden of the Gods, where he captures the views in 30-minute stints. Then he returns to his home studio to refine them, sometimes adding gentle washes of color.
"I ruined a whole bunch of my sketches by putting too much color in them," he says. "It took a lot of process to get to the point where I could get them as muted as I could, which is definitely inspired by Japanese printmaking."
Huebert realizes local hipsters and art buyers may frown on his new inspiration leading him to the Garden of the Gods. But he's undeterred.
"I've always been inspired by that landscape and I've always wanted to tackle it, and it's always felt so cliché," he admits. "But I don't care anymore. It's absolutely gorgeous, and it's in my backyard."
"I like the simplicity, and — oh, dare I say — the honesty of the medium ..." he adds. "And some people who have seen the work have commented that my style still shines through."
Does he consider this new direction a maturing of his work?
"I consider this more of a branching out," he says, laughing again. "I'll be skateboarding forever, for the record."