Gumshoe - An Interview & "Red, White, & Black" Her First NYC Solo Show Tonight @ 212 Arts LES, NYC February 2, 2016 13:15

So where to start with Gumshoe?  Anyone who has been rolling around SOHO or the LES in New York City over the past four years has inevitably ended up gazing at a mysterious wheat paste, or mural of some Louboutin heels stopped in their tracks by a pesky piece of gum.  Well if you were wondering who is behind this now iconic New York street art trademark, and what it is all about prepare to meet Gumshoe who is opening her first NYC solo gallery show at 212 Arts in the LES tonight.

So tell everyone a little about yourself. Where are you form originally? How did you get into this mess called street art?

Well I am from Baltimore Maryland and I’m a self-taught painter. I started selling painting about 5 years ago… Well as a career anyway. I actually used to paint as a kid. I took art classes every Tuesday after school. You know, art was my thing. My sister used to swim, my brother played soccer, but art was my passion.

Oh, so your sister is a professional swimmer and your brother ‘s a professional soccer player now?

Ha, no… I’m the only one that made it.

You were the queen of successful Tuesday night activities?

Ya, exactly… but no... Truthfully I never thought that art would be my career. It was just something I did. I know that loads of artist say the same thing but for me I just loved it, but when I hit the age of 14 or 15 I just stopped painting. I just started doing other stuff because for that moment it just was not that cool. But in hindsight my art teacher really liked me and it was definitely my favorite class, but I got into my crazy party girl phase…

So let’s talk about those crazy party girl days...

Right… ya… that put a small hold on my art…

No but seriously why did you move to NYC?

Wow... well I actually moved to New York on a whim. I was living in Miami and I started painting again because my Mom sent me all my old painting stuff from my old room. It was this box that sat there for at least a year and then one day I just broke it out and just thought let me see if I can still paint and I was just doing it, and I couldn’t believe that I was painting again, and it seemed like I almost got better although I had not painted in years. I was maybe 22 and I had not painted since I was 15 but it was super interesting because I was just making painting for my family and friends as gifts, and my favorite part was giving them away to my friends as a gift they couldn’t do or buy for themselves, and that was it. At this time I had so many other interests. I was actually personal trainer, I worked in bars, I worked in clubs… but weirdly I got into producing a TV pilot my cousin was working on who lived in NYC, and he needed help producing it. So, the next week I just moved to NYC and I finally saw “art”, this immense and amazing art scene, but it still didn’t hit all just then.


This was when you thought it was time to become a professional artist?

No, it didn’t quiet happen just like that, I did my first gumshoe paintings…. Well, let me back up for a second actually. I had called my Dad and was telling him how I was doing all these amazing things and I am going to make them all tie together and he told me no… you need to pick one thing and go with it.   So one day I’m in my TV agent office (from the TV pilot) and I’m talking with him, and at this time I was smoking weed quiet a bit and I told him I have this amazing idea for a painting. Truthfully I don’t even think he even knew that I painted, and my vision was a girl stuck on a piece of gum who was just stuck there with eight different paths in front of her, and these paths represented all the opportunities in front of me. Just like me stuck not knowing what to do. So it would be just the legs and the shoes stuck. The shoes had to be super recognizable because it’s a struggle all of us at one point or another deal with, so I though what better than the most recognizable shoes ever the Ruby Red Slippers. They represent Dorothy the epitome of the lost girl who is on the yellow brick road a metaphor for estrangement.

That’s how your trademark image originated?

Exactly yes! But right about that time I was at a bar and some dude there saw me drawing and asked “how much for that piece” and I was flattered but told him “it’s not for sale” and he just kept asking and just said “well make up a number” but I didn’t end up selling it to him that night, but it was the spark I needed that made me realize I might be able to sell my paintings.

What was the actual catalyst that got you to selling them?

Well I was dating this guy and we broke up, and it was crazy, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do, and I was living in SOHO at the time and saw all these great artists selling their work on the streets, and the whole time we were dating he was actually pushing me to do the same, but I never wanted to do it because him bugging me to do it made me not want not do it even more!

Well in that case whatever you do don’t buy me dinner…

Ha! Ya! Exactly! So I started talking to this guy I met selling art in SOHO, and he taught me how to take wood and make prints of my paintings on them. So we would go to Home Depot and buy a 4X8 sheet of plywood and print as many pictures as we could fit on them. Then I would frame and sell them on the street. This artist really took me under his wing and taught me how to make the most money from these wood prints. So I did this for a couple summers. I actually had this big white van I drove around just full of art. It was a load of fun, and I actually sold works to some big collectors who actually still buy my art.

So when did you start doing “street art”?

Actually right around this time I started putting up wheat pastes all around SOHO, and LES. This was around the time I first met Adam Dare. He taught me how to really wheat paste. He told me I had to figure out what image I wanted to start pasting, and I immediately went back to my original gumshoe image because it’s such a strong visual stimuli. So I cropped the background out of it and just left the shoes, legs, and gum, and began to paste them all over the city. After I started to paste these up for awhile people on the street just referred to me as Gumshoe.

So you didn’t name yourself?

Well I was calling myself that but it was weird because people who saw the pasters on the street would be like “what is this gumshoe thing?” and it just stuck.

Is this your first solo gallery show?

This is my first solo show in New York. I actually had another one in Seattle last November.

Are there going to be alcoholic juice boxes at the show tomorrow night like at your group pop-up show at the Gansevoort last year?

Ya, I wish. Maybe I should call BuzzBox? But that whole month last year was a lot of fun. Actually Victor the owner of The Gansevoort asked me to put a Mural up in front of the building and we went back and forth for a year trying to get it done. So finally we figured out a time for me to do it, but he told me it most likely would only be up for a week. But I didn’t care because it’s the Meat Packing District, and I would do it even if it were up for three days. So after I got the mural done he was really happy with it and asked me if I wanted to use the space as my studio for a little while. I couldn’t turn down such a great opportunity so I decided to turn it into an art show as well. But most of my work was at my solo show in Seattle so I called Whisbe and Hassan to help me fill the space. They are some of my best friends and I wanted them to part of the event and they were like “for sure when is the show?” and I was like “Tonight!”. But we turned it out and it was suppose to be up for only a week, but it stayed up for just short of a month. It was supper fun show… epic! Particularly the piece I painted out front was my homage to the Meat Pacing District back in the day. You know the hookers and all that fun stuff. It actually read “Meats, Beef, Pork, Poultry, & Pussy”. How did you meet the guys from 212 Arts, and how did this event come to be?

Well the art world is small, and I had been talking to these guys for a long time. They invited me over to the gallery a bunch of times and I finally went down to see the space, and it was super cool, and Marc asked me if I wanted to do a show there? So I said “for sure when were you thinking? I need at least a month to recover from Art Basil and make some new work”, and he was like “how about next week?”. So I decided to just go for it and worked like a maniac day and night to make it happen.

What’s the theme of this show?

Well it’s called “Red, White, & Black” which is obviously a take on Red, White, & Blue. This is some of my darker work. It’s actually has even more dark undertones than you see at first glance. The meaning of my work has evolved from just being stuck at a fork in the road to moving to more themes about perfection, and not being able to avoid disaster, even though it’s just a little piece of gum. It represents the pressures are society and culture puts on women, and we are surrounded by and the effect it has on us. I am trying to make these new works dark, but also whimsical, hopeful, and funny. What I also enjoyed about preparing for this show was that I actually did not have much time to prepare so it pushed me to paint a little differently. We discussed how we wanted the show to look, and discussed the fact that people in New York don’t have large wall spaces typically so I made a bunch of small pieces. This was a challenge for me because I never usually make small pieces because I love working on giant canvasses and walls. This time I wanted to create some art that people could just leave with under their arm and hang at home. This was a huge challenge for me because I’m a perfectionist, and don’t like to have time restraints when I’m working. If it’s not perfect I don’t want my name on it, or anything to do with it. But I’m convinced that working on these smaller works with a time crunch will truly help me work more efficiently on my larger pieces in the future.

What has been inspiring your work lately? It doesn’t have to be artists. It can be musicians, food, whatever.

As we discussed I never went to a traditional art school, so as of late I have been teaching myself the history of the great art masters. In particular Titian and Rubens lately. A lot of my new works in my studio that I have been working on for a while are huge, like 30 feet long and they are filled with different classical looking figures inspired by these master painters. 

Finally, why should people come down to see the show?

To buy my art of course! Just kidding. It’s going to be a blast. I promise it’s going to be loads of fun. For instance we had this amazing girl stop by earlier that always carries a single red bottom high heel in her purse at all times. It’s just perfect, and she will be at the opening and so should you.


212 Arts Presents Gumshoe “Red, White, & Black"”
a solo art show
Opening: Tuesday February 2nd 6 - 9:30pm
Closing: Wednesday February 17th.
240 East 4th St. (Bet. A & B) LES, NYC

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Author: Matthew A. Eller
All Photos & Text Copyright Matthew A. Eller 2016
Twitter: @ellerlawfirm