As separate artists, Anna Cruz and Adam Lavigne are both savants of color, creating beautiful paintings, drawings, and zines on whatever they’re inspired by that day–whether it be fruit, light, or in the case of a recent zine (released under their co-founded publishing company Lemon Press), a Kanye West interview. As a couple, they are GOALS, bouncing ideas off of each other, building the other one up, and crafting unique work as a summation of their own talents.
I caught up with the two as they were installing their latest duel exhibit, titled “Synesthetes’ Breakfast,” at the freshly opened Gallery Eola in Thornton Park Gallery, open Thursday & Friday 4-7 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Enjoy.
matthew warhol: I wanted to start—before we get into like high level art talk—by asking you something I was curious about. We’ll definitely dive into both of you as individual artists, but I wanted to know… how did the two of you meet?
Adam Lavigne: Uh, drawing class.
Anna Cruz: We met in school, 2011 or 2012. We had drawing class in 2012, and I had a crush on him. We were just acquaintances; we never really hung out or talked to each other much. I went to his roommate’s house one night with Paul Finn and got reallllly high and threw up and had a really bad anxiety attack. Thankfully, he didn’t see any of it.
Adam Lavigne: My roommate told me about that afterwards and I was really jealous that he got to hang out with her.
matthew warhol: Did you like each other’s work to begin with?
Adam Lavigne: Definitely, it was pretty clear—in class—that we were fans of each other. We had critiques and the other always had something to say.
Anna Cruz: And I feel like both of our works—when you go to school you see a lot of people that do student work—where at that point we already had a language that was developing. I think seeing each other’s work, and how different it was, really made us interested in each other.
Adam Lavigne: There was something more cartoony about what we were doing that everyone else shied away from, because of this formalist attitude towards academic drawing. I just remember always being really impressed with Anna’s figures.
Anna Cruz: Same.
matthew warhol: How long into your relationship did you start working together?
Adam Lavigne: That was 2013, so it must have been three years later.
Anna Cruz: We didn’t see each other for a couple of years, but I knew you were still in town. I had a show in 2015 at Canvas Gallery, and he came to see it. He had been lurking my Tumblr. I was like, “I hope he comes.”
matthew warhol: Did you have one of those apps that let you know who visits your page, or was he liking stuff?
Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was liking stuff.
matthew warhol: Oh, so you weren’t even being subtle about it. [laughs]
Adam Lavigne: Yeah, I was reblogging.
Anna Cruz: And then, we had our first show together at A Place that year, but none of those works were made together. Being together a lot last year, it happened organically. I’m working; he’s working in the same space.
matthew warhol: So you started creating stuff together, but individually?
Adam Lavigne: We did after that show. I would come to hang out with Anna and we would work on drawings together. It was really cool because we are both left-handed so I could sit right next to Anna while she was drawing and we wouldn’t bump elbows or anything. That was really exciting. [Anna laughs] We were getting more and more interested in print, making zines and stuff, so naturally, we were like, “We should make something together.”
Anna Cruz: The first actual time that we worked together, collaborating on one piece, was when we were making flyers for the A Place show.
matthew warhol: When you’re working on something together, how is the process different from when you’re by yourself?
Anna Cruz: I think it’s a lot more messy—in a good way. When I’m drawing alone, I have a specific idea of how I want something to look. Once I get there, I stop and I’m happy with it. But with him being there, we draw a bunch of stuff and pass it to each other.
Adam Lavigne: We also work on mylar and vellum, so a lot of times I’ll be able to ink something Anna’s drawn or vice versa. We can change the line work or the drawing that way—we work in layers.
matthew warhol: When do you know it’s done? Are you ever stripping things apart after?
Adam Lavigne: It just kinda piles up. We’ll never scrap something entirely, but there will definitely be a discard pile and one for the keepers.
Follow Anna Cruz: Instagram
Follow Adam Lavigne: Instagram
matthew warhol: Individually, take me through your process of working on a painting. [To Anna] I noticed in your work that there’s a lot of different elements.
Anna Cruz: I know I have a specific idea but it’s more like an intuitive idea—in like, I know how I want the painting to feel. I go on Instagram a lot and ever since they added the tag option, I’ve collected a lot of images of things that made me stop and look. It’s never copying a specific photo. It’s more like collaging with different photos I’ve collected. It’s very intuitive. I never know when I’ll be finished, but I KNOW when I see it. With portraits, it’s when the person feels real. It doesn’t look real, but it feels like a real character that exists.
matthew warhol: What about you, Adam?
Adam Lavigne: I guess I don’t tend to use reference material as much, but I have a lot of sketch books that I keep ideas in, so when I sit down to work on something I’m not pulling my hair out to do something new. Through drawing, you build a language that’s your own. It’s like a vocabulary you can draw in. I think about themes and symbols that I’ve generated over time and pull from those to make new work—maybe change those themes. But, the paintings have been more about the in-the-moment act of painting, responding to color, not really planning as much.
matthew warhol: When you’re separate, do you tell each other your opinions on what the other is doing?
Anna Cruz: Yeah.
matthew warhol: Yeah? How does that work? Because I know that can be a touchy area. Do you wait for the person to ask, “How do you think about this?”
Anna Cruz: It’s a tricky conversation at times. I feel like I’m very bossy—I usually know what I want things to look like, even if it’s not my own work. But it’s really whatever he wants it to look like. I tend to just shoot ideas. Lately, I’ve been doing that, but you always have a limit where like, “I need to think about this and process this without taking in what you’re suggesting.”
Adam Lavigne: It’s always much appreciated because I have a lot of respect for Anna’s opinion and for… the feedback that she gives me. I take it to heart and consider it, greatly. We’ll sometimes get really excited about what the other person is doing and not be able to contain it. Like, “Oh my God, that looks great.” Or, “DAMN.” There’s nothing else you can say. “You’re killing it.”
Anna Cruz: Those are really good moments. And the great thing about having those moments, is I didn’t show my work to anyone while I was working on it, I would never know when to stop. Sometimes, it’s nice to hear that it looks good the way it is.
matthew warhol: Maybe you were thinking about adding something and like, “Oh, this is great,” and you’re like, “I don’t need to change anything.”
Adam Lavigne: That’s happened to me a lot, where I think I want to do something else and Anna will be like, “Don’t touch it!” [laughs] That feels good, to know that someone can see it before anyone else and give you this really powerful feedback.
matthew warhol: How do you each other’s work has progressed since you first saw it?
Adam Lavigne: We’ve really developed as artists through each other. The best shows I’ve ever had have been our duel shows. When we’re at the studio, it’s like this unavoidable influence on the other.
matthew warhol: Well, I think in any relationship, something you love about someone is seeing that person grow. Specifically, as artists, how have you seen that in each other?
Adam Lavigne: When we started working together, it became so much clearer what we wanted that vocabulary to be. And we could inform each other’s vocabulary. I definitely make more paintings now then I did before. I always resented the permanence of a painting, so for a long time I just made drawings. Through my relationship with Anna, I’ve been more excited about making paintings. And we both just started doing murals together.
Anna Cruz: With me, it was the opposite. I was making so many paintings and treated them like these precious objects. When I met him, his style of work was all about quantity. Seeing his sense of freedom encouraged me to work that way as well.
matthew warhol: What do you think the difference is between painting versus making something like a zine?
Adam Lavigne: It’s pretty huge. You’re like using different parts of your brain. Painting can be so nonverbal.
Anna Cruz: Painting is very direct. If you don’t react the first time you see a painting, it probably doesn’t even matter. When you’re reading a book, you might look over it today, but tomorrow it’ll mean something different. A painting is more visceral.
matthew warhol: Where with a zine, it’s more solid. There’s words.
Adam Lavigne: There’s definitely something tactile about holding books and reading zines. That’s drawn me to zines.
matthew warhol: You’re exploring it.
Adam Lavigne: I’ve found I’ll really torment myself when making a zine. And making a painting is the exact same way. You’ll sit in front of it and do nothing for like two hours, wondering if you should destroy it.
Anna Cruz: I think zine making is less scary for me, because I always have this closet of imagery and data I want to pull from. I never really feel alone. There’s always options.
matthew warhol: I think there’s a little more structure with zines. Everything has to flow and feed off each other. Painting is just one thing. Here it is! Can we go through some of the paintings around us and talk about them a little bit?
Anna Cruz: Let’s look at the moons! They’re Adams.
Adam Lavigne: Yeah, so when I started making paintings again, I got really excited about the stretching and building of canvases. I never really thought about the options I had. These just started out as exercises in difficult canvas building. This is a twelve sided canvas.
matthew warhol: So why the half earth?
Adam Lavigne: I think it’s more like a rising earth. There may be a horizon line where you can only see part of the earth. Those photographs where you can see the earth from the moon, I’ve always been drawn to those as a symbol of our era. As an artist, you’re always looking for symbols that define the time you live in. The earth from the moon never existed before we traveled to the moon.
Anna Cruz: It’s really cool because I see a lot of that shape from painters that I follow on Instagram, but it’s usually a rainbow or watermelon. But like, I’ve never seen half an earth. It’s really cool.
matthew warhol: What about you Anna? What in here is from you?
Anna Cruz: These two. I usually am drawn to very warm, earth colors. These paintings are pretty much just about color. I hadn’t painted this year. I was scared to start again, so I bought all this new paint and started playing with the colors. Line work has always been part of my style; I continued with that.
matthew warhol: What do the colors in these pieces mean to you?
Anna Cruz: I think of them as times of day. This one is called Sunset Potrait, just thinking about being at the beach and it’s almost dark. This one is being in a jungle in the middle of the day, but not actually seeing the sun. And I put a pear because I love fruits. [laughs]
Follow Anna Cruz: Instagram
Follow Adam Lavigne: Instagram