Sam Grant is a self-taught painter, photographer and collage artist from Leeds, Maine. He graduated from Manhattanville College in 2001. He grew up in a big 100-year-old house that his grandfather built along a two-lane road in the middle of nowhere. I met Sam in college when I was a sophomore. He was a scatterbrained, tall, skinny long blonde haired kid whose favorite word was “dude.” His signature dance move was an Axl Rose impression, “What you know about that, hah?” He could make you laugh just by the sound of his voice and fool you into thinking that he’s unaware of anything relevant.
We started talking after living in the dorms together. We’d trade stories about our roommate who liked to blast the theme song to Top Gun. He would do aerobics in the living room, while watching wrestling. At this time my obsession with Rage Against The Machine was at its peak and Sam was no different. He introduced me to Tool and I introduced him to Saul Williams. He was a self-taught guitar player and he was always playing on the couch. I was performing slam poetry and hopelessly trying to spit over our friend Connor’s beats until Sam and I decided to start a band. We hooked up with this talented drummer who had a PA system and was schizophrenic. His family lived next door to the “Clintons(as in President Bill Clinton).” Practice was them jamming while I read poetry off crinkled stacks of notebook paper. Just imagine if De La Soul couldn’t rap and Rage Against Machine was playing together for the first time.
Up to this point I had no idea that he could draw or paint; nobody that we knew ever mentioned it. Sam was always up late. If he wasn’t playing guitar, he was in his room. You knew he was up if light spilled from underneath his door. When I finally saw him in his room with the door open he was drawing sketches from a Leonardo Da Vinci book of human organs. I was awestruck, “I didn’t know you could draw?” I said. “Just fucking around,” he replied. Seeing his art was like getting to know him all over again. Years later I discovered that he could also paint.
The drummer thought I wasn’t giving him say over writing lyrics. He called me a “stingy nigger.” We broke up. Sam and I tried other drummers, but they couldn’t carry a beat. There was this white kid with dreads who, after playing with him, Sam pulled me outside, leaned into me and with his eyes widening said, “I never want to play with him again.” Homie couldn’t keep a beat if his brain was a metronome. He later formed his own band, toured the world and made music his life. Sam and I started recording acoustic jams on his 8 track and stayed friends ever since.
After graduation he moved to Barcelona and lived there for years. He toured all over Europe from the South of France to Amsterdam taking pictures with his Holga camera and doing paintings on commission. He put the guitar down and didn’t look back, didn’t miss it. After driving across the United States, he settled in San Francisco. Since, he’s been in several Bay Area group shows at Space Gallery and Rayko for his collages and photos. Although his paintings have never been exhibited, that’s about to change. Enjoy.
How old are you?
I’m 33 years old.
What inspired you to start painting?
I would say it was probably seeing art that I loved, and then wanting to emulate it.
What/who are your influences?
There is a ton of contemporary collage art coming out right now that I am really influenced by at the moment.
What kind of materials do you mostly use to paint with?
I use acrylic paint, and canvas. Pretty basic.
What goals do you hope to achieve with your art?
I don’t fully know the goals I hope to achieve with the art. I guess to spread positivity on some level, or whatever. Feels like the world could use as much of that as possible, whether it be expressed in a subtle way or more obviously.
What contemporary artists do you like?
Oh I like a lot, it seems I acquire a new favorite every week. Ron English is a long time favorite for me. Some others at the top of my favorites list right now are: David Ball, Julien Pacaud, Brock Davis (aka Laser Bread), and Eduardo Recife.
What was it like growing up in Maine?
Looking back on it now I only have good memories of being there. I grew up in a very rural environment. There was lots of nature, harsh endless winters, and mythical summers. It was nice.
Have you ever seen a flying saucer? If so, when and what happened?
Yes. When I was about 13, myself and a friend were playing in his front yard at around 4/5ish on an overcast afternoon. Both of us saw a perfectly triangular craft, completely silent, passing quite slowly overhead. There were three lights at each corner point and we watched until it passed out of view over the roof of his house. The second it left our sight we ran around to the backside of the house to see it more. When we got there it was gone and there was only a nearly perfect circle in the cloud-cast sky and the sun was shining down through it. It was a very dramatic sight and I have never forgotten it. I’m glad I did not see this alone because my friend can corroborate this encounter.