Nathan Beard’s richly-layered paintings combine playful Abstract Expressionism with fields of color that transition slowly through hue and temperature. He slices blue painter’s tape, strip-by-strip, and methodically applies it to create cyclic patterns that enhance the dimension and movement of roughly-hewn serpentine forms floating in a splatter-and-pour soup. Nathan often chooses colors for their metaphorical possibilities, and the dance between chaos and order helps him meditate upon the weaving of human will with natural forces as a creative activity that sculpts Space-Time to our adaptive needs and desires. Drawn to the visual, ecological and political labyrinth of the Floridian waterscape, Beard’s inspiration for his Pond’s Edge series comes from both unspoiled wilderness and from brief moments of beauty in urban parks and modified natural spaces. He references photos taken on walks with his family and the series helps to hone the drawing and observational skills he needs for his entire body of work.
Nathan creates in St. Petersburg, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and serves as Assistant Curator at Dunedin Fine Art Center. Nathan has exhibited extensively since 2013, including Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Tampa Museum of Art, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan), Highlands Museum of the Arts, Gallery 221, Olivet Nazarene University, Dunedin Fine Art Center, Morean Arts Center, JADA Art Fair (Miami), and Brooker Creek Preserve. His work is in a number of private and corporate collections, including Great Bay Distributors, B2 Communications, MHK, Penny Hoarder, Osprey Properties and Tampa Bay Title. In January, several of Beard’s large, multi-panel paintings were selected to serve in the Arts in Embassies program and will be on view at the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador until 2023.
How long have you been a full-time artist?
I began marketing my work and seriously pursuing a career in the arts in 2013. For the first three years, I balanced studio time with my role as stay-at-home dad to our daughter Vera. When she began school, I was afforded the opportunity to work with a number of art spaces in the Tampa Bay region as an art installer and exhibits organizer. In late 2019, I began to focus all energy outside the studio on serving as Assistant Curator for DFAC, under the tutelage of Curatorial Director Catherine Bergmann.
We asked Nathan a few questions about his art and inspiration:
What is your medium and how did you arrive at it?
My main medium is acrylic paint. I also have a beautiful series of charcoal/graphite/pastel drawings. I have always preferred paint and moved from oil to acrylic upon the birth of our daughter because it's easier to clean up. I love the versatility of acrylic paint. Its fast dry-time helps me work quickly without overthinking things, and its durability allows me to add interesting materials to it to create texture, like spanish moss and soil from my front yard.
What inspires your art?
The little things in life and how they connect to the big things. For example, how our vascular system is similar in form and function to the roots and branches of a tree, which is again similar to a river’s tributaries and delta, and finally similar to the filaments of dark matter connecting clusters of galaxies across billions of light years. Although vastly different in scale, they all perform the same necessary function: the transmission of energy. It is the nature of that energy which I seek to answer for myself.
What is it like to be an artist in St. Petersburg?
I grew up on a farm near Buffalo, NY, studied painting at Colorado State University, and Cate and I moved here from Denver in 2010, mainly for the beach and to go back to school at USF. I wanted to pursue a Masters in Environmental Science so I could get involved in wetlands restoration and management, with a focus on invasive species, specifically feral hogs. But when Vera was born, I had a lot of second thoughts and used her nap times to get back into making art. I didn't know how things were going to work out but trusted my gut and asked Cate for her patience and support while I took the leap. Early on, I went to one of the Art Marketing workshops held at the Greenhouse and met some really great people who would play significant roles in my growth, and who connected me to people or situations that, combined with my own work ethic, accelerated that growth. My personal experience is that St Pete has been a wonderful place for me to hatch and grow as an artist. I have developed some very strong professional relationships and even stronger friendships in the process. In addition to exhibiting my own work, I've had the honor of collaborating with a number exceptional individuals and organizations, and have served as juror for art exhibitions and fairs, which has exposed me to the abundance of talent in our region and beyond.
Why did you join the Warehouse Arts District Association?
I joined WADA as part of the application process for the MTBH artist call. The nature of this project is exemplary in the way MTBH, WADA, and Barkett Realty are collaborating to connect local artists to new residents. I am very excited about all the aspects of this project, especially the prospect of completing a commission for a future resident of AD Lofts.
Finally, is there anything in particular you might like to promote?
I've been working hard in the studio this year to make new work, new connections, and consistent sales. I'd love for everyone to be able to stay connected with me and my work through Instagram @nathanbeardfineart and by signing up for my newsletter on my website, www.nathanbeardfineart.com. I make a couple of new pieces a month, so it won't be long until you see a painting or drawing that is perfect for your home or office. I'd also like to encourage everyone to come to Dunedin Fine Art Center to see our upcoming Fall exhibits that open to public view on September 14, including one I curated on my own called Vespertine, and others I co-curated with Catherine Bergmann, including Between Us that will feature work by some of Tampa Bay's most acknowledged creative partners, like WADA art stars Mark Aeling and Carrie Jadus. We've also just started offering a new program called "Enriched" Curator Tours that are offered every other Friday from 10:30 am - 12 pm beginning September 18. The tours are designed to create a safe way to engage with art and artists directly again. Groups are limited to 8, masks are required, distancing urged, and temps taken at the door. Artists who cannot join in person are invited to join via Zoom so that we may hear them speak about their work and engage them in Q + A. Email me to make your reservation at firstname.lastname@example.org.