Nite Owl is a prolific Oakland-based artist who considers owls to be his medium of choice — whether they appear in his large, colorful murals, stickers on news boxes, or paintings on gallery walls. In their many iterations, his owl characters have become the vehicles for Nite Owl to push the boundaries of geometry and color. The versatile painter returns to Loakal for his second solo show with the gallery, “The Pursuit of Slappiness,” opening August 1.
What is slappiness, you might ask? According to Nite Owl, it’s “the attainment of an enlightened state of aesthetic transience achieved through artistic pursuits.” He adds, “My works are highly caffeinated and will slap you upside the head with color!” In the graffiti world, “slaps” are stickers, digitally printed or hand-drawn, and usually emblazoned with an artist’s signature character or design. Stickers are one of Nite Owl’s creative obsessions. The concept of putting his own mark over an existing surface drives much of his process.
Nite Owl loathes blank canvases, preferring to paint over found objects. True to his moniker, he prowls his West Oakland neighborhood by night, lifting discarded furniture and construction debris from curbs before the garbage trucks come rolling through in the morning. “I truly like the fact that my work will help keep another item out of a landfill,” said the artist. He relishes giving old objects new life: The pieces in “The Pursuit of Slappiness” have been painted on old maps, broken skate decks, worn-down wood and street signs using combinations of spray paint, acrylic, watercolors and ink, freehand or with stencils. His latest body of work channels his frenetic energy into a multifaceted exploration of what slappiness truly means.