Step on up!: An Interview with artist David Hochbaum

Posted February 28, 2007 in

David Hochbaum was here in November to open his show with collaborators called The Goldmine Shithouse. The artwork was dark and edgy but nowhere near as offensive as the title would have you believe. My brief encounter with this dynamic artist left me wanting to know more. He’s back for round two and SLUG sat down with this repeat offender to ask, “Did you miss us”? He made his second trip to Utah this winter.

SLUG: You’re back in Salt Lake. Are you here to take in the sights and see some Sundance movies?
David: No, I’ve really only seen the inside of the Sutherland’s while making all these ladders and I leave the day after the show.

SLUG: What’s up with the ladders, 111 to be exact?
David: I like to group things together and sometimes the themes just stick with me. For a while, I was using bundles of twigs and sticks in every photo shoot I would put together. The ladders came from the Mexican lottery system. The lottery tickets have a floating ladder on them and the image just resonated with my friends and I. Now I see ladders everywhere.

SLUG: Your process is explained on your website as starting out with an idea and then sketching it and planning out a photo shoot (which are all very precise). The chaos of free painting and laying mixed media objects then come into play. Is there a process you identify with more?
David: I was a photographer first, but you have to be so clean and I like to get messy. This process allows me to work within several mediums. I get to use photography to set the stage and painting and collage to tell the story.

SLUG: You were in town for a group show and now you’re back for a solo show. What did you miss about us?
David: Ha! I had never been to Utah before. I still haven’t seen much of the place except for the gallery. James Anthony and I became friends when he lived in New York and he would come into this bar I worked at. I think what he’s doing out here is great and I wanted to support his new gallery. As far as the groups show followed by the solo show, I love working in collaboration and every time I get a show I try to get my friends involved. I’ll say, “If you like my work check out this person’s stuff.” I think it’s more fun when you get your friends involved and you can promote each other's work.

SLUG: The Goldmine show opened with a late-night t-shirt screening party. That was a really cool idea and I see the designs all over the place. Where did you come up with that promotion?
David: As a collaboration, the group likes to get together and throw parties and we decided to have people bring things they wanted screen printed; we’d charge a minimal fee so we could cover the cost of the paint and possibly buy more supplies. They have been really successful and now we even use them to raise funds for airline tickets to get to our out-of-state shows.

SLUG: Out-of-state or out of the country, I read that you recently had a show in Berlin at the Strychnine Gallery.
David: Those people are really great and they have brought me into their artist family. Strychnine has showcased some of my and my friends work. They also have a place in SoHo, NYC. I show there sometimes too.

SLUG: I really enjoyed the first show and I’m excited to see more of your work. Thanks for coming to our lovely State and maybe next time you’ll check out more of what we have to offer.
David: I’d like that.

Check out the 111 ladders show on display until March 10 at the James Anthony Gallery located at 241 East 300 South, or catch up with David on his many adventures by logging on to or join James Anthony’s friends at