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Caleb Freese: Open Door Policy

May 25 – June 25, 2022

Opening Reception: Wednesday, May 25, 6-8pm

This spring, Planthouse is pleased to present Caleb Freese: Open Door Policy, an exhibition featuring recent multi-layered works and a new outdoor mural on Planthouse’s terrace.

Artist Statement

Well, I’m just a city boy, my friend, but I know where the winter ends; it walks away as spring begins, dies beneath the rain, and this whole mess starts again. –Walter Martin, Hunters in the Snow

As a printmaker specializing in silkscreen and monotype, I work in layers, building depth through ink buildup over time. I find a parallel between this process and our cities: history and architecture are built on top of previous generations and civilizations. We bury, pave and forget, then excavate or dig to remember. Think of the process of cities: geometric, planned, and organized architectural structures, slowly changed, broken down, fixed, renewed, bulldozed, and ultimately a patchwork or collage in the framework of an urban environment that houses millions of people, doing unpredictable or predictable things, living and existing amongst each other. A sweeping tide of motion, differences, dreams, and objectives all give energy and color to the framework of the city.

Trees fall with spectacular crashes, but planting is silent, and growth is invisible. –Richard Powers, Overstory

Meanwhile, nature plays the same game on a larger, longer scale—moving earth, water, and air to form landscapes through erosion, flooding, etc. These pieces are inspired by both these concepts—the time-bound changes of nature and the color, motion, and layers of city life.

These paintings’ first layer is water-based and free-form, taking days to dry. It’s a process I feel brings an organic quality that’s sporadic, free, and dynamic, contrasting with the rigid architectural drawings layered over them. Their result reminds me of erosion, fluidity of water, and topographic lines. The paintings are a product of time, slow drying, and more often shepherded into their final form in ways more instinctual than just moving a brush over the canvas. I work in transparent layers, pulling them apart so their differences highlight and hide previous layers, much as our cities and nature do.

Caleb Freese is a painter, printmaker, and illustrator focusing on architecture and nature. Born in New Mexico, he moved 30 times before settling in Brooklyn, starting with a residency with the Lower East Side Printshop. Previously Freese worked in the architectural field combining art into functional spaces, winning an AIA Design Award. He creates murals and public works that build on his passion for bringing artwork to a large audience.

An adventurous spirit is behind his creative drive, working with many mediums, on-site murals, multi-layered installations, and traditional printmaking. He’s been an outdoor guide and professional climber for over 20 years, traveling worldwide to descend big water rivers and climb remote places. He continues to pursue adventures as an experienced climber and educator. He’s passionate about gardening, biking, surfing, and dogs, and he’s always got a dog with him. 

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