By srianthi perera, GSN Contributor
Touring musician Able Thought of Brooklyn, New York, exhibits his unique spin on creativity during springtime in Gilbert.
Thought incorporates his black-and-white photography on vintage vinyl records to create his art.
He finds the local weather balmy and the Gilbert Art Walk in the Heritage District a good platform to display and sell his work, which he calls “Lost Life on Wax.” He’ll be at the last Art Walk of the season on Saturday, March 16.
“The crowd of people has been really great; super nice people,” Thought said, adding that he chats with many patrons at the art walk. “Down here, it’s definitely a slower pace of life than I’m used to.”
For three years, Thought has set up shop near the day’s performing musicians – that’s where he’s allocated space – and displayed his vintage vinyl. He sells about 30 or 40 records each time, priced at $30 each.
“It’s popular in culturally rich places,” he said. “I definitely do much better in suburbs of cities. But that said, you never know, I try everything. Sometimes I end up in a place where people are confused as to what it is.
“It really depends on where I am, but for the most part, Arizona always treats me really well. That’s why I keep coming back,” he said.
Thought got the idea for his artwork when he was contemplating on a good way to use his enormous collection of photos. He wanted to do something different than what others do. He also was a collector of vinyl and had about 500 lying about in his home.
He began experimenting on how he could overlay a photo on the vinyl to cover it entirely.
“It was a nightmare at first because a record is really difficult to try to work with. It’s full of grooves and it’s not exactly flat, but I ended up coming up with a process that allows me to put photos on there,” he said.
Four years ago, he researched vintage photographic and printing processes to create his own, which is analog, and requires manual labor. He does not use a printer.
It took him one year to perfect the process. “Every experimental stage, there was something that kept me going,” he said. The record is still playable on the reverse side, although he makes sure that the records he chooses are not valuable ones.
He keeps the process a closely guarded secret.
Thought uses the photos he took of youthful musicians that he jammed with when he visited towns and cities across the country.
These are “regular people,” he said, who deserve to be popular. They have stories to tell.
“I think there’s a lot to be said from being able to treat these kids that are trying to pursue their work, being able to treat them as if they are famous or bring a spotlight to them which could potentially help them grow,” he said.
Their stories consist of hard work and traveling in battered vans to play in various shows “trying to make something happen,” he said.
“And to me, there’s so much more value in something like that being able to shine a spotlight on those kids,” he added.
As far as his work goes, he received a “pretty flattering” response when he toured in 42 states and Japan.
“People are definitely taking notice of it,” he said. “I’ve got very good results.”
With the help of the various stalls he sets up in art shows around the Valley, he has been in the limelight here.
Jennifer Enck, a fellow vendor at the Gilbert art walk who sells kitchen utility items with comic sayings, said that shoppers love to stop by Thought’s booth and check out his unusual work.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Enck, who has an artwork with a photo of the graphics on a Simpson’s pinball machine. “I love music, so for me, I appreciate the use of the vinyl records, which gives it a vintage element, but he also uses very cool black and white photography. He has a great eye.”
In addition to his artistic creativity, Thought is a self-taught musician/songwriter who experiments with dream pop music, which is influenced by the music of the ‘80s and is a subgenre of alternative rock. He incorporates his music in videos that he posts to his Instagram account.
He also makes documentary videos and illustrates comics about his touring life.
Thought has no plans to experience an Arizona summer. When the first hint of heat comes to the Valley, he packs up his Toyota truck and heads back to New York City and Boston, where he summers.
Then, as the mercury dips down and the first snows hit the Eastern states, he’ll be back in Phoenix and Los Angeles. “I like my weather in the mid-70s,” he said. “That’s about perfect.”