Creating vibrant and thoughtfully crafted pieces of geometric art that make the soul perceptible is the name of the game for Denver Abstract/Geometric painter, Stephen Kruse, whose works of art explore the dynamics of human perception and influence the development of inner sight. There is fusion of feeling, intellect, cosmic rays, emotion, and ingenuity upon laying eyes on any of Stephen’s highly detailed and intricate paintings that make the vibrations of the human spirit and the power of mystical experiences apparent. I caught up with the visionary to discuss his roots, APEX Collective, upcoming festival appearances, tattoos, and more.
First and foremost, introduce yourself to our readers. Who is Stephen Kruse?
I am an Abstract-Geometric painter currently living and loving in the psychedelic and visionary art hub of Denver, Colorado.
Tell us about the roots of your craft. Where did it all start for you?
I was actually introduced to painting through the performance (or live) aspect, which I assume is a bit backwards. I grew up in Detroit- Sometime in 2007, I remember going to these incredibly-epic warehouse parties thrown by Cirque Du Womp- a troupe of well connected promoters, groundbreaking musicians, live painters, flow artists, aerialists, and clowns.
I was originally drawn to these shows solely for the music and the energy, but almost immediately, my intent and focus for attending these events was drawn to the live artists that Cirque brought out to perform. There was one artist in particular that blew my mind about a thousand times over- He went by the name Seymor.
I had always enjoyed drawing, but seeing Seymor (Jonathan Sandberg) throw paint, use his hands, and creating so quickly to the music and energy of the space was incredibly inspiring and ultimately led me to picking up a brush for the first time.
When did you first make the transition from sketching to painting? What inspired the shift in artistic approach?
I was invited to come paint live by the Cirque crew at a Detroit-rooftop disco/house party after they had seen some of my sketches.
It was my first time painting. I found an large old wooden board and some black acrylic paint. I set up the board on a chair because I didn’t have an easel. As janky as my setup was, I’ll never forget that night. I immediately found that I enjoyed the connection between visual creation and auditory stimuli.
I also loved that fact that I was working towards something; you could say I was partying with a purpose. Having a home base to play with colors and create in the chaotic scene of a concert was definitely something I favored. Painting live in these environments gave more meaning to the whole event, and when the night was over and everyone headed home, I physically had a piece of the night to take back with me.
I was hooked after that first night. I found I really enjoyed starting paintings in these high energy environments- It was easier to find a flow. It also enabled me to interact in a incredibly unique way with every person I encountered, and I definitely met a lot of people.
I had the realization years later that I was physically putting a light over myself, my vision, my spirit or energy. I was literally a beacon, and therefore I found myself to become a connector. By traveling to festivals and shows all over the country to paint, I was able to create an incredibly large network.
How do you perceive tattoo culture and psychedelic/visionary art align to accelerate the process of awakening?
I consider art to be another form of language- and in many cases, I feel artwork transcends the boundaries or limitations of words. It can let a creator share feelings, moments in time, or capture the etheric; it can let a viewer absorb, reflect, and relate. I believe artwork, or imagery more simply, is essential to those looking to share where they have been on their internal or spiritual journey.
Everyone must walk their own path, but some paths are arteries; highways; mainlines. Then there are some paths a bit less less explored. There are undoubtedly unexplored paths. Mainstream culture paves their path with brightly lit signs, and loud advertisements, so it’s easy to get in line and follow that road. I’ve been on that road before, and it’s easy sailing.
But I see the shift happening in our generation; I see the eyes opening to see not just one path, but all; and in this awakening, I see a lot of people choosing the more truer of paths.
Tell us about your collaboration with APEX Collective.
APEX Collective is the works of Jake Amazon, Zach Jackson, and myself as one collaborative force.
We started painting together in 2014- it all stemmed from the thought that the three of our styles were similar enough to blend well, but different enough to add different flavor from our solo works. Though we did not know each other well, we planned to meet and work together at a three day music festival in southern California. Our first completed painting together was a monumental accomplishment for myself as well as Jake and Zach- it was a 5 foot hexagonal canvas which we titled “Apex.” We worked the piece from a blank canvas to a polished piece over a four day period. When we were able to sit back and really look at what we had created together, there was no doubt in any of our minds that we had done collectively was much larger than what any one of us could have done individually.
In that moment, we all made a decision on the spot to commit our energy towards pushing ourselves through this newly named group “APEX Collective”.
We now live and work together in our studio and home in Denver.
What upcoming projects do fans of your artistry have to look forward to in 2017? Any festival appearances that you can fill us in on?
APEX Collective has an upcoming gallery showing this June at Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, MO.
I will also be painting at a plethora of festivals this summer; Catch me working at Envision in Costa Rica, Gem and Jam AZ, Symbiosis CA, Sonic Bloom CO, Arise CO, Tipper and Friends FL, Desert Hearts CA, and hopefully Electric Forest MI. I’ll also be painting at various shows from time to time in my home city of Denver.
Is there a particular theme or message that runs through your artwork? Or is it a momentous approach?
Balance is the key to everything.
I want to draw the viewer into different realms, and different mind-states. I’m hoping to reach the viewer at the inner core of their mind and soul, whether they want to see or not. I do my best to balance the earthly and etheric, the ancient, and future. I hope to balance the infinite possibilities of a flowing rhythmic dreamscape with the mathematical singularity of geometry. I have many of what I call “running series” of works; Different styles of a continuous exploration through color and shape. Though I may have many different series or styles ongoing, I feel the only thing that truly connects them is that they come from me and my personal exploration through time and space. The fact that people are even remotely interested in my visual interpretations of my own personal journey astounded me until the moment I realized that we are truly all one; that my journey is yours; that my vision is shared by many. I am in a state of constant awe, and all I can say is that I am truly grateful for the opportunity to share my visions.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for admirers of your artwork?
From the bottom of my heart- Thank you.
There was a time, not too long ago, in which I could have never imagined being able to do what I do for a living. I’ve now reached a point in which I can’t imagine doing anything else.
The only option is onward :::)
I love you all <3