Artists Ivin Ballen and Meghan Petras have been married for years but only recently have shared a studio space. I sat down with them both to talk about their work, their personal journeys, and what it means to be married to an artist.

Ivin ballen and Meghan Petras

A few weeks ago I met Ivin Ballen at Bunker259, a gallery on Banker Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. His current show, Ivin Ballen, CEO, takes place in Bunker259’s small, private room where a single piece of Ivin’s hangs on a wall. Guests are given a text by poet and curator Keith J. Varadi, offered a refreshment, and are invited to sit in chairs Ivin built himself. Guests can stay in the room with the single piece of art for as long as they want.

ivin ballen bunker259

Sitting in the private room of Bunker259 felt like going on a coffee date with a piece of art. As Ivin pointed out to me, in a traditional gallery space, it is unusual to spend more than 30 seconds starting at a piece, and often crowds inhibit the ability to fully experience an artwork. Ivin Ballen, CEO is well suited for this space. The large piece that hangs from the wall is an assemblage of forms, textures, and jarring color schemes. Simply walking past this piece or glancing at it from afar would make you think Ivin’s work is a collage of found objects and random materials. However, all of Ivin’s work are casts, hand painted to look like illusions of the real thing.

ivin ballen untitled

While part of his process does require making small sculptures using essentially waste materials, Ivin explains, “I think of these as paintings, but you could think of them as relief sculptures. I’m not super interested in defining them.”

After arranging these materials, Ivin makes a rubber mold of this sculpture where the interior of the mold is painted before the final piece is even an object. “So it’s essentially like casting a thin layer of paint and then reinforcing it.” This detail is a defining aspect of his work. “I sort of found that to physically paint around some of these objects turns them into a painted object and I’m a little more interested in the object being a blue piece of wood not a piece of wood that’s painted blue.”