Interview with the Artist: Scott Hove on Cakeland
One of the things that makes art so exciting is that artist who is able to create something beyond what you could have imagined - especially when it's a whole new world for you to get lost in.
Oakland-based artist Scott Hove has done just that with his "Cakeland" installation. Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of sweets, this world Scott has created is sure to draw you in. But be careful, for while you might have the urge to take a bite, the cakes on display may just bite you first.
Scott will open his Cakeland exhibition tomorrow, September 4th. The opening reception runs from 6-10 p.m. at Cakeland Gallery, 5600 Shattuck Avenue in Oakland. And now, onto the interview...
All Shook Down: Based on the size of the paintings you have done, as well as the elaborate rope installations, you are no stranger to large scale works. What was the initial inspiration to use cake as the building material for an inviting, yet dangerous new world?
Scott: I have always been pretty comfortable working on a very large scale. Creating an environment large enough to walk through, something totally immersive and unavoidable, is really satisfying to pull off. Building a cake sculpture for the wall is cool, but building an entire cakeland totally affects the viewer. People love cake and have lots of positive associations with it. I take advantage of the viewer's emotional response by building it up and then adding elements here and there, the anti-cake creates a sense of apprehension. This creates contrast, which further heightens the emotional response.
I began doing cake decorating techniques just because I wanted to learn the craft, and because it can look so cool. I have attention deficit issues, and repetitive highly-focused craft stuff helps relax me.
ASD: In order to defend itself against what must be an overwhelming urge to devour what you have built, the cake has developed teeth and horns. Was the idea of incorporating these elements there since the inception of this project?
Scott: I've noticed that people are drawn to beauty, and once they find it they feel like they need to own it. Beautiful places, people, animals, food, bring out the hunter in us. The hunted often evolve defense mechanisms in the form of aggression displays. That's what the cakes have evolved into. The first cakes had no teeth, no defense. They were like sitting ducks, and were too easy to approach. There's nothing really exciting about art that is easy and non-confrontational.
ASD: I personally am not a fan of eating sweets, but that still wouldn't stop me from wanting to touch the cakes. I'm sure this is a problem for pretty much everyone. Have you ever had anyone damage one of the cakes while trying to get their grubby paws on one of them?
Scott: People for the most part are respectful and know that you shouldn't touch art. Once I had a group of mentally disabled persons check out a show. One of them reached out and practically jumped into a wall sculpture, which crashed to the floor. I tend to over-engineer the pieces, and it was not really damaged. The gallery owner threw a mini tantrum though, and scared away the poor person who was just having their natural reaction. I felt more for this person, who now probably has a fear complex about art galleries!
ASD: I know it took a while and some experimentation to get the frosting to look as real and edible as it does - did you go through the process of learning how to make real cakes in order to further the illusion of your own?
Scott: No, there is too much hassle in the nitty gritty of real cake for me to deal with. I just want to capture the illusion. Illusion is the most important ingredient. Besides, with acrylic and construction media you can do stuff you could never do with real cake. Thank god for real cake bakers, though.
ASD: The majority of your works are all centered around the idea of crafts that are assembled and created by hand, something that I feel is important in a world of mass-produced products. I imagine this will continue into everything that you do. Do you have the next project in mind, and would you mind giving us a hint as to what it could be?
Scott: Thanks for bringing up this very important point. I have a real problem with conceptual work that doesn't involve a long process of learning and struggle. It seems like a lot of the art schools are promoting the conceptual over the concrete. This isn't sustainable in my view, and I'm doing my part to make as much cool shit with my bare hands as I can.
As far as upcoming projects, I have a show opening in March at Billy Shire Fine Arts in LA. I will be spending the next few months in the studio doing shocking things with fake frosting. Some pieces will hang from the ceiling, there will be a walk-through piece, and I have some variations on the wall cake that will make people get really upset and/or fall in love. I hope.
We thank Scott for answering these questions. If you're in the area, make sure you stop by and check out the installation. It's not often you get to walk into a world made of cake.