Visiting Artist: Kathleen Mentzer


Tell us about yourself and your art.

I’m a New York based artist living in Chicago. I moved here in 2012 for an Advertising degree at Columbia College Chicago. There is this entire community of Chicago based artists that has been so welcoming and supportive of arts and particularly my art, I didn’t know this prior living in Chicago. The difference between the mentality of New York City verses Chicago is amazing. I don’t think I would’ve gotten as much support living and starting my career there than in Chicago. My art is more of a reflection of my advertising roots. I like playing with quotes and pictures that are thought provoking and makes the viewer think past the biases and stigmas in media and current culture.
How did you come to show in the Flat Iron?

I came to the Flat Iron with the suggestion from my friend Alex Wills, who started Fibonature. She makes jewelry, shoes, and other accessories with Sarah Sands who runs Sin Clarity in room 215. She invited me to be a part of the first of the month show in November and it immediately inspired me with how communal and diverse the community and arts are in the entire building.

randy (1)

How do you make your paintings?

I’ve always loved minimalist art with clean bold lines, and flat colors but when I first started developing my style, I was trying to create paintings and drawings that were considered “perfect”. I tried making paintings with expensive acrylic and gouache but it didn’t fit my style. I tried mimicking artists like Van Gogh and tried to develop styles that I was really not capable of doing. Figure drawing was always a strong asset of mine because there was always room for improvement and I loved working with contour lines. When I tried translating that onto canvas the results weren’t the way I wanted them so I started creating based on my idea of imperfection by layering and painting and repainting over until the “perfection” became irrelevant.

A lot of these paintings seem to be a critique of current politics or
culture. How did you decide on those themes?

My theme is usually playing with pop culture or politics. I like using quotes because it gives my work another level of subjectivity. If my painting has words on it, it can be interpreted differently than if it just stood on its own. Pop Culture is something that is so embedded in our culture and it’s shocking how many other more serious issues are looked past because of how superficial we as a society are. I like juxtaposing serious figures or ideas with objects or words that create another contrasting idea. Recently I made a pull toy of Donald Trump which is just an example of how I contrast superfluous figures into something primitive or juvenile.


What do you want people to take away from your work?

I want the viewer to take away another meaning of current culture. By playing with contrasting ideas I want to provoke the viewer to ultimately think for themselves or realize that some ideas portrayed in current culture aren’t and shouldn’t be taken so serious. I like provoking thought and emotion as do a lot of other artists but by tacking on words to my work I also create the illusion of a more abrasive interpretation rather than a picture which can say 1000 words. I want the viewer to know, bluntly, how I think and that my subjectivity on current culture isn’t solidified either.

Interview with Ocean Days


Ocean Days is the newest resident band in the Flat Iron Arts Building. They’re playing a free set tonight on the third floor, 7-10pm!

Tell me about your band. Who are you? When did you form? How long have you been together?

We are an indie rock band from Chicago. We have been together since 2013, so around 2 years.

Describe your music in a sentence.

Our music is melodically sophisticated, gentle, and dark.

What kind of bands influence you? What’s your dream gig?

Some bands that influence us are Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, Elliott Smith, The National, etc.. My dream gig would be to play on the rooftop of my building.

What made you want to join the Flat Iron Arts Building community?

My main form of bonding with other humans has been largely art, and that is a what drew me to the building.

You’re playing a free show on First Friday, but where else can we hear Ocean Days?

You can listen to Ocean Days on, and soon we will be releasing some new singles as well as an upcoming EP. We are playing the next day, Saturday Nov. 7th with a slighty larger band at the High Hat Club in Irving Park at 10 pm, as well as Friday Nov 13 at the Second Friday Event at the Black Couch. People can check us out on Facebook as well if they want to keep up with shows.