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  • Victoria Hood, Founder

IN THE STUDIO WITH DANIELLE KLEBES

A Kool-Aid Colored Journey with a Pit Stop with The Spice Girls

Artist Danielle Klebes

Standard Space is pleased to exhibit the paintings of Danielle Klebes, and her new show, "Hurricane Becomes a Cloudy Day," is a series of vibrant oil paintings in which beauty and uncertainty collide. Klebes uses bright appealing colors to depict potentially uncomely subjects including old, dented, and broken down cars, storm clouds, and solo cups littered on the ground. The scenes hint at a subtle unease, as if they are on the cusp of impending change. The paintings explore themes of loneliness, nostalgia, and a sense of the in-between.


In her recent interview, Klebes takes us on a journey from visiting Boston art museums, to 1990's music sensations, and stray cats resting on rusting cars. She expresses herself with energy and optimism, while highlighting the importance of mentoring and communities. Though her works at times depict the sad shadow of life, like her Koolaid-Aid choice in hues, her future looks very light and bright indeed.


Danielle Klebes, RV Window, oil on canvas, 30 x 40", 2024

Where did you grow up and what is your first impactful memory of art?

I moved almost every year growing up. I mostly lived on the east coast in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida, but also lived in Japan for a year. I definitely have an art-loving family, so I was exposed to a lot of art and music and literature as a kid. For instance, my family went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston a lot. John Singer Sargent was always my favorite when I was a kid, especially his painting The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. I was also always making things – lots of quilting and painting and writing.


Danielle Klebes, Bonfire, oil on panel, 20 x 16", 2024

What was one of your favorite bands and songs growing up? Do you feel their influences in your work today?

As a small child it was 1000% The Spice Girls. I distinctly remember being like 8 and daydreaming about finding some way to get them back together. By late middle school, my favorite band was Modest Mouse, and they’re probably still my favorite band. They played Mass MoCA in the fall with Cat Power and the Pixies and I genuinely got emotional seeing them. I hadn’t seen them in concert since like 2016 I think. 


I think music has a major influence on my work. My paintings start to look like whatever I was listening to in the studio. If it was like a rowdy pop day, they’ll be loose and colorful. If I’ve been listening to Radiohead or something, they’ll be more moody. Or if I was watching a tv show, they’ll be more tightly rendered.


Danielle Klebes, Target Practice, oil on canvas, 59 x 53", 2019

When did you know you wanted to pursue your career in art? What path did you take to become an artist?

Art has always been my favorite subject. In school I absolutely lived in the art classroom - like I would eat lunch in there and everything. I majored in art for undergrad and grad school. For undergrad, I went to University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL. I had two professors in undergrad, Louise Freshman Brown and Jason John, who really guided me and made me feel like pursuing art wasn’t a crazy thing. I went to Lesley University College of Art and Design for grad school, and I mainly worked with Laurel Sparks as my advisor and David Humphrey as my mentor. They were both amazing.


Klebe's 2023 Show at the Wassaic Project

When did you move up to Wassaic, NY? Tell us about your involvement with the Wassaic Project.

I moved to Wassaic a little over 3 years ago. I’m the Programming Coordinator at Wassaic Project, so I help with the Exhibition program and the Residency Program. I’m super excited to be working at Wassaic Project. I first visited in 2019 because I had just done the Vermont Studio Center residency and some friends had been talking about how great Wassaic is. I came to see the Summer show and was blown away. After that, I so badly wanted to be involved with Wassaic in some way, so I applied for everything. I was accepted to the residency and exhibition, but both were delayed for covid. When they posted the Programming Fellow job opening, I applied immediately. I did get to show with them last Summer, and it was an amazing experience. I transformed the top floor of the 7-story gallery space into a queer man cave with almost 150 individual artworks.

Danielle Klebes, A Summer of Wanting Impossible Things, oil on canvas, 50 x 72", 2024

How does it feel to have your first solo show at Standard Space? What is the inspiration behind the works?

It’s very exciting! When I first moved to the area, it became immediately clear that Standard Space was a hub of activity. The openings were the most vibrant and fun and the shows were consistently great. I deeply wanted to have a show, so I am so excited it’s happening!! 


The works depict potentially uncomely subjects including old, dented, and broken down cars, storm clouds, and solo cups littered on the ground. The series started when a friend sent a photo of a car rusting out in a field covered in cats (which I painted - A Summer of Wanting Impossible Things). The car was one I had painted at least 5 times before, but when it was still functioning. Seeing it in its current broken but beautiful state really made me want to explore themes of loneliness, nostalgia, and a sense of the in-between.


Danielle Klebes, Spanish Moss, oil on canvas, 50 x 38", 2024

Tell us about your chosen medium and your use of bright and electric colors?

I use spray paint to cover the surface of the canvas, then I’ll throw some house paint in there to block out shapes, and then I use oil paint for the final layers. The spray paint is really just to get a bright starting point. The house paint adds a nice texture. Oil paint is my favorite medium. I love how long it takes to dry, I love the texture, I love the blending and details I’m able to achieve with it. For color choice, I’m sure my surroundings and what art and movies and things I am consuming for sure impact what I’m into. I spent 6 years in Florida and lived by the beach and thought the surfer aesthetic was very cool, and I think those pinks and teals and blues still creep into most of my paintings. I also spend a lot of time playing in the woods, and I think that really shows.


Danielle Klebes, Nova Star, oil on panel, 16 x 20", 2024

What do you have next on the horizon?

I have two shows coming up that I am very excited about! I am installing at Delaware Valley Arts Alliance tomorrow for my solo show Home Life, which opens this Saturday, June 15th. After that, I have a solo show A Dyke Cabin of One’s Own, which opens in July, and will be an immersive installation at Mother in Law Haus in Germantown, NY, curated by Elijah Wheat Showroom.


Danielle Klebes, Cat 02, oil on cut panel, 20 x 12", 2024

Any last words of advice to aspiring artists?

I think being a fan of artists and their art is so important. I think showing up for openings and cool weird pop-ups is both what makes being in an art community fun and in my opinion is the key to building your art community. I also am very pro-residency. Doing residencies has been the most impactful thing for my career. It’s such a great way to meet dedicated talented artists and it definitely kept me excited about making.




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