The collaboration of John Airo and Michelle Graves started with Airo’s invite for Graves to collaborate on one of his “Stump” series in April 2019. Even though their individual styles are fairly different, their approach to making was found to be quite fluid as they worked on the piece at the same time. Never ending conversation about life, death, memories and current events seep into the surreal paintings.
After the initial Stump collaboration and another smaller piece, the two told each other they would continue this process and go bigger. They started a larger 5×5′ piece in late February 2020 but had to stop meeting because of Covid-19. They attempted to paint at the same time virtually and months later they finally picked up right where they left off and added canvas panels to make their first larger 5×15′ piece titled “The Explosion Is Here” that was exhibited as a window display at Agitator Gallery in Chicago, August 2020.
The Explosion Is Here (February – August 2020)
From August 2020 – January 2021, they made 4 more 5×15′ canvas paintings in the same surreal landscape style with much detail to be explored when viewing in person. The detail contains influence from the banal to the significant cultural and political events happening while the paintings were being made,
This Moment Is… (August – September 2020)
Nothing Is More Important Than Humor (September – November 2020)
Truth In Sarcasm (November – December 2020)
Here Comes The Sun (December 2020 – January 2021)
Exhibit at Fulton Street Collective, Chicago
Beginning of Nothing Is More Important Than Humor created while listening to the 2nd Presidential Debate on October 22, 2020.