Written by Steven Schmucker 

The Commune Salon is a weekly meet up for creatives, artists, and art enthusiasts. Each week we invite an artist to bring in some of their recent work for an informal critique. The goal is to cultivate an artistic dialogue and give artists a platform to share their work with other artists.

This week we invited artist Nate Lahy to bring in some of his work for an informal critique. He brought one finished piece and two in-progress. The finished piece—titled KKK (Kim Kills Kulture), 30”x40”—attacks the viewer with a distorted figure of Kim Kardashian painted in thick smears of textured acrylic. The painting satirizes when Kim broke the internet. Her facial features, distorted eyes—one bulging out of her head—and vampire-like teeth give the figure a playful, yet evil quality. Literally standing on a pedestal, the composition (and series) opens questions of why our culture idolizes these entertainers and asks the viewer to evaluate what value these icons are really bringing to our culture.


But Kim isn’t the most important—or time consuming—part of these paintings. Nate says the figures offer a rather blatant social commentary and only take a handful of hours to complete; however, the big message lies in the background—in the thickly painted, undulating patterned flowers raised off the canvas. One thousand, two hundred and six of them! The labor intensive flowers take a huge amount of time and force Nate to work rather slowly, cultivating his appreciation of each flower. His goal is to make viewers literally slow down and smell the flowers.

With ugly, twisted figures as focal points, the beauty of these paintings is found in the little things. From afar, the imperfectly spaced flowers (which are maybe as large as a quarter) melt into a sea of eye trickery. Observant viewers can connect the uniquely colored flowers to discover religious symbols and another layer of evil masked in beauty.

The next Commune Salon will be held at Commune on Thursday, December 1, at 2:00 PM. We’ll be looking at two of my own recent pieces: an abstract painting and a surrealist drawing wrought with symbolism. I’m expecting some very interesting interpretations. All creatives and lovers of art are welcome to join!