The Gallery that is the World

Artist Nolan Cooley (Nice Cool) Brings Oceanside Community Together with the Gifts of Unifying Vision

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Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?” Andy Warhol

Oceanside is an eclectic beach side military town without a lot of pretense. Unlike other cities up and down the Coast Highway as Malibu, Laguna Beach or La Jolla in San Diego, the real world is very much a part of the working class beach town. That isn’t to say, it isn’t in the least magical or charming with it’s own set of gravity defying properties. Because Oceanside also pops. There is the skater parks, surf culture and downtown area in the midst of a renovation that includes the old town structures. Perhaps Oceanside, is the panoply of America, a diverse quilt work of socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds. It takes a special power to bring these bodies together, a nice cool power. Nice. Cool.

“I don't think geometric art is... I don't like to call it that. I don't think it's any more pure than pop art or anything else. It doesn't have anything to do with purity.” Donald Judd, an American artist, whose rejection of both traditional painting and sculpture led him to a conception of art built upon the idea of the object as it exists in the environment

On 528 Coast Highway, across the street, there is a rock climbing cafe, Vital, where its not impossible to imagine the Cirque du Soleil crew hanging out in their down time. But, at that particular location, there is a boarded gallery cross the street from a patchwork alley wall of primary colors stacked on a downtown Oceanside wall. It’s an odd energy for an alley way that is plainly of a working man’s universe. One might say it is a forgotten alley way.

However, the alley pops with all sorts of energy from the building blocks of a muralist clearly gifted in bringing the sun’s energy to bear within the shadows of alleys. The blocks on the wall are arranged in perfect geometric configuration of primary colors to one another but each one is distinct and different, each one it’s own unique character. It is as if the light from that wall pushes away the debris and pollution into the gutters and invites a quantum of light. In fact, if you see the alley way, it looks like an alley way to a third world nation like Soweto, South Africa or Port of Spain, Trinidad in the evening. The moons light also finds its way into the alley, casting light in the dark hours.

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“Geometric shapes hold an energy pattern, and scientists did some experiments which say certain geometric shapes can affect matter around them. It's simply because when a human looks at a shape, they instantly receive energy from their brain.” Tom DeLonge, an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and film producer
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“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” St. Augustine

The artist though, one Nolan Cooley, is part of what pops in Oceanside. Nolan Cooley is an autistic boy with superstar parents; a world class photographer, Dominic Cooley (DC I like to call him), and “momager” (as told to me by DC), Kristen Cooke-Cooley, who are devotees of the ancient art of excellent parenting. And just what is “excellent parenting”? Well, its not about sunshine and rainbows, or every-day-is-a-perfect-day and my-boy-or-girl-is-a-born-genius. Its not about raising a child prodigy (although it doesn’t exclude that either).

‘Excellence in Parenting’ is about taking the challenges thrown your way and having a vision of unlimited potential no matter what the rest of the world says. It is about loving until your heart breaks, then, somehow, getting up with a renewed heart full of pumping blood and doing it again and again and again. It is about vision; working for a vision of a child and being true to that vision with a singular obedience to faith, a heart literally consisting of hope, and, above all else, love.

SharkHeart studies the Nice Cool work
SharkHeart studies the Nice Cool work
“My forms are geometric, but they don't interact in a geometric sense. They're just forms that exist everywhere, even if you don't see them.” Ellsworth Kelly, American painter, sculptor, and printmaker associated with hard-edge painting, Color Field painting and minimalism

Their son, Nolan, a 13 year old boy diagnosed with autism, is an an up and coming wonder in world of pop art. His work, an assembly of primary colors - lilacs, violets, blood oranges, ever greens, browns, burnt yellows and every other spectrum on the paint board of mankind. To my artist’s mind, I see humanity ordered with all of the distracting clutter of chaos removed. It is an exercise in humility and brilliance; balance and faith; knowing and being. This work is as much about life choices as it is palette selection. This work proposes to say every religion, every culture, every ethnicity, every socio-economic background - we are so different, but also alike. I see a Nolan Cooley piece saying, somehow ‘we all fit together’. I see a Nice Cool piece saying ‘We work together, we fall together and we rise together’. Andy Warhol was a master artist and entertainer. I don’t think he would be shocked at the onset of social media with “15 minutes of fame” being one of his most universally recognized precepts. And, I can see Andy Warhol seeing the perfect symmetry between a Nolan Cooley and the life surrounding it. If I had to choose a title of category for the work, perhaps “Magic Realism” or “Geometric Harmony” or “Visionary Fitting” or “Averaging Harmony”.

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“I'd paint long strips of canvas and abandon them on the beach, or put bread out in geometric patterns for the pigeons downtown. I wanted people to find something nice and intriguing to puzzle over. Then I'd go back to see if the things were still there, or if anyone would notice.” Jenny Holzer

But, I’m not a formally trained art critique, unless, I guess you want to make a case for an Oceanside Art Critic. So, I guess you could say, I know when I go to an art gallery in which half a city pours through in one evening to celebrate the work of a young man who commits hours, days, weeks and years to his craft and that group is eclectic, reflecting the panoply of the work itself, I see serendipity. And perhaps that distinct sensation of elation, wonder and joy, is what qualifies me to note: Nice Cool Oceanside work is art that reaches from the world of material effects as Hope, Faith, Community and infuses the real time world with those effects. Nice Cool work doesn’t concern itself with what is “normal” or “dehumanizing”; it simply works for greater unseen powers that make America truly great.

It takes a special spirit, or three, or a community of spirits to create the burst of radioactive energy that was present at 528 Coast Highway on an October Saturday evening. The sun shown at night time within the four walls of a boarded gallery. The night prior to the debut of Nolan Cooley to the community, men - grandfather, uncles, father - worked as a construction crew to put together a room that would house the sun’s cosmic powers within its walls. It was Fall dark that evening, with leaves rattling on the roadside but these men laid the work for construction of a very special type. real Nice. very Cool.

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“I believe that social change has almost reached critical mass. So many people have undergone personal transformation that their effect on society is having a geometric - not arithmetic - impact. This coalescence of energies brings about meeting, networking, and a sophistication in communications that is unprecedented in history.” Marilyn Ferguson

Men, women, children, fathers, mothers, daughters, brothers and sisters came together in uncommon ways, with bursts of electric energy surging in conversation, as they purchased world class art at affordable prices of a prodigy and they engaged one another. There were camera crews, photographers, hor dourves, smiling faces and and the most eclectic gathering of art aficionado’s ever assembled. At the center of all that power though, was a 13 year old boy, who in the vernacular of child pediatrics is referred to as “autism” but in the very real world of Oceanside, a working class military town, knows how to assemble communities with a geometric precision matched only in his work.

so Nice. very, very Cool. Nolan Oceanside Cooley.

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