ZOOMING IN ON KID ZOOM
A Spotlite on KID ZOOM
Essay by Lori Zimmer
Ian “Kid Zoom” Strange’s New York debut has come to a close, on December 30th to be exact. I feel like over the last few months I’ve watched him grow up, from young innocent into a mature artist. Ok, maybe not “mature artist”–but now he has his license to drive.
His show, This City Will Eat Me Alive, was possibly the most ambitious first show I’ve ever seen. It felt complete and thought-through, despite the fact that it was huge, both in size and number of pieces, which sometimes can cause a creative strain. The opening was packed, and visitors steadily stopped by the space in the Meatpacking District for the duration of the show. Many pieces sold, some even at the opening.
This is all almost unheard of for an artist who was virtually unknown in New York a few months ago. Ian’s attributes his successful debutante ball to the guidance of a few good friends: (I’d like to think myself,) Ron English, and Opera Gallery’s George Benias, who has gone above and beyond for Ian. I can’t tell you how many stories I hear from artists about their gallerists taking advantage, or not being supportive enough, or seeing dollar signs instead of what is best for an artist’s career. No, I’m not saying this is across the board, but I’ve heard many horror stories by young artists whose galleries don’t earn their 50 percent.
But Ian is not only an extremely talented and focused artist, but also one of the most humble and grateful people I know, which makes it really easy to help him. George took on the role that a gallery director should, and he helped Ian create the best show possible. He found Ian an amazing raw space on Gansevoort Street, rather than in Opera’s Soho Gallery, as the pop up would set him apart. He also is involved with Ian’s work, guiding him to take note from great painters, and steering his gallery work away from his street art style.
Not that Ian doesn’t know what he is doing. Everything about this show has been perfectly calculated, from his personal Chuck Close-esque portraits of his girlfriend and his best friend, to his hand portraiture and take on a New York City cab, dotted with the attention getting giant Zoom-tagged taxidermy bear which greets visitors. Each piece shows off his skill and talent in every way. I immediately envisioned his museum retrospective, with the beginning of his chronology wowing me and leading me strongly into his mid-career work. Now that he has proven himself, he has already begun his evolution to the next stage of his work, which will be much more personal and introspective.
Ian’s show has also gained much more media attention than most artists starting out, which has a lot to do with the fact that he is simply a nice guy (with a lot of talent, of course). But also his skill has attracted the attention of Chris Brown, whom he has become buddies with, and created the artwork for his latest album’s special edition packaging. His next solo exhibition is planned for late 2011, probably here in New York. As far as I’m concerned, he has already made his mark, and I can’t wait to see what this year brings for my brother from another mother.
Ian Strange, aka Kid Zoom, is an up-and-coming artist based in NYC. His first show, This City Will Eat Me Alive, was an absolute success.
Written by Lori Zimmer
Photography by & Courtesy of Jonathan Grassi
Design by Marie Havens
Kid Zoom, NYC, 2011, Photography by & Courtesy of Jonathan Grassi