Really Cool Artist #2: Beth Hoeckel

I gotta say: I’m not a stroll-through-the-Art-Institute-for-hours kind of girl. I like very specific things and I don’t like realism (shocker) and I would rather steal my favorite paintings and bring them home with me then wander past the Degas, if you know what I mean (SORRY DEGAS, YOU CREEPER). The art I like is eerie, art that seems to possess its own surreal, dark will. So I’m obv obsessed with Baltimore-based visual artist Beth Hoeckel’s strange planets, moon-gazing housewives, and beautiful girls with their faces obscured by paint.

There’s something so haunting about her mysterious skies and odd juxtapositions:  she mixes homey objects (afghans, photos of housewives that could be your grandma) with things that are oversized, cosmic, too close, and/or disembodied. She expresses the workings of the imagination in such a literal way–it’s like you’ve gone time-traveling and you’re in a different universe but your mom is still cooking mac-and-cheese in the kitchen.

Were you drawn to art as a young girl? Do you remember some of your earliest creations?

Yes, big time! I still have my sketchbook from preschool: a spiral notebook with a Cabbage Patch kid on the cover. It’s filled with drawings of people swimming and people with moose antlers.

What about the juxtaposition of people gazing into space is so inspiring for you?

When I was younger, if I couldn’t sleep, I would gaze at the moon through my bedroom window. I would sit in the windowsill, moonbathing in its mysterious luminescence.

Is there a reason you avoid faces?  It gives the pieces a very cool, voyeuristic feel.

It’s a personal preference, but I believe it creates an air of mystery. A blatant facial expression has a tendency to make a piece too literal for me.

You spent a decade abroad—how did that influence your art?

Traveling influences our lives in so many ways. I think it’s important to be worldly and informed. Output requires input.

Three things that really inspire you:

This changes frequently! 3 things that really inspired me today were handwriting (penmanship), opaque black, and tumultuous skies.

Word on the street is that you like odd color combinations—what’s a weird one that you’re obsessed with right now?

Right now I’m liking dark rust orange + faded fluorescent pink. Pale mint green + ‘dirty’ mustard yellow. Bright (but light) aqua/turquoise + deep, rich (but not dark) carmine red.

(If you missed it: Really Cool Artist #1: Crowned Bird)

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