Know the Artist

A native of Queens, New York, Joel Blenz (aka TRAP IF) is an abstract painter working in conversation with textured surfaces, blending and writing as it is defined in the context of graffiti. Blenz’s current mixed media work has found its form and language through a transitional period; one where Blenz’s work evolved from primarily a street-based practice into a studio practice. The studio as a meditative site has emerged as a counterpoint to the adrenaline of street-based art making, offering a context for the reflection and evolution of a painting style developed over multiple decades of work as a graffiti artist.
Process is central to Blenz’s approach to his newer works, which can be characterized as
abstract paintings that play with perception. His geometric objects function formally with a heavy regard for texture, color, materials, and abstraction. Several of his pieces echo small, cropped sections of Blenz’s blockbuster fill ins where he skillfully blends with remnants of colors left in near empty spray paint cans.
Blenz’s studio work retains the grime, grit, and detritus of a street aesthetic through his
manipulation of surfaces that range in size. Working in a smaller scale is a sharp contrast to past work on walls as large as 10 feet by 15 feet. Unencumbered by an ethos of speed, Blenz’s engagement with the spaciousness of time found in a studio practice, has allowed for an exploration of an endless amount of layering and drying time in his painting process. His own lengthy engagement with making each piece is evident in the interactive experience it provides for viewers. When walking back and forth in front of the work, colors shift and fade creating an illusion that confounds the viewer.
A conceptual continuum embedded within both Blenz’s past and current work is his ongoing exploration of the ambiguous space that graffiti now occupies as both an outsider art form and a legitimate player in the contemporary art world.

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2019 – Robot Dreams at Hive Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2018 – Robot Love at Hive Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2010 — Gitana Rosa Gallery, “Ars Graphis” Brooklyn, NY

2008 — 77 West 97th St. “Entrée,” Curated by Krista N. Saunders, New York, NY

2007 — Fountain Art Fair Miami, Gitana Rosa Gallery Booth, Miami, FL
—Vs. Gallery , “13 New York Artists,” Hot Springs, AK
—Gitana Rosa Gallery, “Nostras Vistas,” Brooklyn, NY

2005 — WomanMade Gallery, “GotQuirk?” Juried by Susan A. Gescheidle, Chicago, IL

2005 — Uniondocs, “13” Two person show of photography with Vanessa Liberati, Brooklyn, NY

2003, 2004 — Artists Space, annual benefit “Night of 1,000 Drawings,” Artists Space, NYC

2003, 2005 — Visual Aids, annual benefit “Postcards from the Edge,” Robert Miller and
Brent Sikkema Galleries, NYC

2000 — B.F.A. Senior Show, SMFA, Boston.
—Drawing Show, SMFA, Boston.


2015 — The Gateway, Los Angeles, CA

2012 — Saffron and Genevieve, “Still… Life.” Santa Cruz, CA

2011 — Stumptown Gallery, “Still… Life.” Alma, WI

2007 — Gitana Rosa Gallery, “It’s Not Funny,” Brooklyn, NY
— Sleep Boutique, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

2004 — Artist of the Month series, Lexington County Main Library, Lexington, SC


B.F.A. 2000: Concentration in Painting and Photography,
School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in affiliation with Tufts University.

B.F.A. Coursework 1996-1998: Fine Art Foundations,
Savannah College of Art and Design. Recipient of Portfolio Scholarship.
Areas of Concentration: Painting, Drawing, Women’s and Cultural Studies.


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