SAGE VAUGHN: ICE AGE his first monograph, presents an up to date glimpse into the evolution of this memorable artist. Contrasting themes of riotous life with decay and vibrant color against muted gray provide a tension in his work between the natural world and the artificial. Many of his paintings are a palimpsest, with multi-hued birds and butterflies still or superimposed in motion over washed out scenes of urban reality. The masterful use of drip lines in his paintings gives a feeling of fragility and delicacy to his subjects, but also reminds the viewer of the impermanence of life. Dreams of the past retreat into the vanishing point and leave us with a new reality and relationship with our world.
Vaughn says, “In a lot of ways birds seem like the best metaphor for what I’m talking about with my work…the fact that we chop these trees down and strip all the branches off and put them in concrete and string wires from them so we can talk to each other, and that birds still land on those trees just like they do in the forest—those are the kinds of things that fascinate me.” Spliced throughout “Ice Age” are several representations of Vaughn’s “envelope pieces,” a series of free-and-easy creations including everything from painted sketches to collages. Includes poetry by Anthony Anzalone and James Jolliff.
Born in Oregon but raised in the San Fernando Valley, Vaughn first learned to draw with the help of his father, a commercial artist for Disney. “That’s how my dad and I hung out—we made art,” he says. Despite his penchant for drawing and painting, Vaughn decided to forgo pursuing a career in art in favor of studying to become a doctor. But after three years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he dropped out and returned to Los Angeles to work construction while honing his painting style in a makeshift studio in a friend’s garage.
In 2001, Vaughn teamed up with his grandmother for his debut exhibition at a community center in the Valley. Within the next few years, he was showing in New York and San Francisco. By 2006, his work was featured in exhibitions in both the United States and abroad including group and solo shows at leading-edge galleries like The DACTYL Foundation for the Arts, New York; Galerie Bertrand & Gruner, Geneva; Lazarides, London; Art Agents Gallery, Hamburg, Germany, and at art fairs such as ArtLA in Los Angeles, VOLTA at the Whitney Biennial in New York, and ArtBrussels in Belgium.