They say it takes 20 years to become an overnight success, and Dallas-based visual artist Joey Brock might just prove that saying to be true. Known primarily for his use of color in oversized portraits, some of which are displayed in the windows of his studio in Fair Park, Brock has recently enjoyed a whirlwind of local and national success.
The artist has just returned from Los Angeles, having met with several clients and overseeing the recent completion of a large-scale digital installation project planned for the side of the Pendry Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. The three-image project features a portrait of Dallas musician Jess Garland, among others, and was commissioned after Brock successfully hosted a unique art exhibit in West Elm Dallas to celebrate Pride Month.
After 20 years of creating art and 10 years after opening the Brock Studio Gallery, he has recently focused on his portrait series, photographing everyone from famous Dallas musicians to people waiting in line at the grocery store. . The artist is specifically looking for original subjects that feel good about themselves.
“My work celebrates diversity and self-love,” says Brock. “I want to take people out of everyday life and uplift them. I’m looking for good people to be my subjects.
Brock’s most recent collection can be defined as mixed media, as his portraits are often printed on non-traditional materials, enhanced by a myriad of diverse textiles including yarns, plastics and specialty papers. These elements are then woven or sewn into the works, sometimes creating complex geometric lattices in reference to certain social constructions.
“It’s about developing empathy, because we have so many fractures and scars from our cultural divides,” he says. “The geometric pattern of the artwork references quilting, which is part of American history, and right now the fabric of our country is torn, torn and trying to heal.”
There are also autobiographical references in the artist’s work, as he photographed himself naked for an installation, which required the viewer to peek into small lighted boxes to experience both the work and the feeling of being a voyeur. This was part of a residency Brock completed in New York, with famed painter Michael David.
“It’s about developing empathy, because we have so many fractures and scars from our cultural divisions. The geometric pattern of the artwork references quilting, which is part of American history, and right now the fabric of our country is torn, torn and trying to heal. –Joey Brock
“He taught me to strip things down to their most basic form and with the purpose of why it happens,” Brock says of his time with the artist. “After he showed my boxes, he liked it and asked me the question: ‘Are you going to go home now and paint some stuffed animals, or are you going to continue like this?'”
It was this experience in New York that prompted Brock to fully immerse himself in both his subjects and his craft. Decorative Abstract Expressionism was on the chopping block as everything in his work was questioned and downplayed to a concise meaning. This led Brock into his series of portraits.
“The work has become very autobiographical and deals with the traumas that we have all faced,” he says. “The portrait series features all kinds of people, including straight, gay, transgender, biracial and everything in between. I like people to feel comfortable when they come here, and for me, that’s really a huge responsibility to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Besides exhibits in Los Angeles and New York, Brock has had success at several Dallas art galleries over the years, in spaces such as RO2 Gallery and Craighead Green Gallery. On October 15, Brock will have a solo exhibition titled We are, at the new and ultra-hip Daisha Board Gallery in Trinity Groves. The artist will present 14 new works in mixed media of different sizes.
There is no end goal in Brock’s artistic practice other than to continue to explore, expand and raise the bar and awareness on cultural issues. The artist wants to continue using his art to unite and center people from all walks of life, embracing gender, race, sexuality, and most importantly, a shared humanity.
“Socially, art is really important, and we need to use it as a platform for the things that are happening right now to uplift our lives and raise consciousness,” he says. “Ultimately, it’s art that builds community.”