Nic Mathis 

Born 1979, Dallas TX

2019 “MEMORY SCREEN” Erin Cluley Gallery, Dallas TX 

2017 "PUBLIC DOMAIN" w/ Julie Libersat, The Box Co. Dallas TX 

Selected Group Shows: 

2018 "Give Me Shelter" Civic TV Laboratories, Houston TX 

2017 "Small" 2017 Erin Cluley, Dallas TX

2017 "Summer 2017 Exhibition" Erin Cluley Gallery, Dallas TX

2016 "Summer 2016 Exhibition" Erin Cluley Gallery, Dallas TX

2016 "Drawing Quote Unquote" Curated by Lorraine Tady, University of Texas at Dallas 

2016 "Works On Paper" Erin Cluley Gallery, Dallas TX 

2013 "UNTITLED" Eyeheart Gallery, NY,NY

2013 "An Evening at Home" Curated by James Cope, Dallas TX

2011 Paul Rudolph Foundation, NY, NY

2011 Champion Gallery"The Sultans Played Creole" Curated by James Cope, Austin, TX 

2007 Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, TX 

2005 Angstrom Gallery, Dallas, TX 

2001 Paradigm Gallery, Dallas, TX


2018 Spring Break Studio Project, The Nasher Sculpture Center

2017 The Great Create, The Nasher Sculpture Center

A founding member of BEEFHAUS/ARTBEEF

Art and Illustration for The Austin Winery


“MEMORY SCREEN” 2019 Erin Cluley Gallery


Dallas Morning News

"Give Me Shelter" 2018 Civic TV Laboratories

The Box Co. 2017

Modeling the Unknown City: The Art of Nic Mathis and Julie Libersat


by Scott Gleeson


Public domain, recurring refrain / belongs to no one, owned by everyone / … / every wall, every curb belongs to all.


Song lyrics, opening scene, Public Domain


Skateboarding, I propose, is a critical practice, challenging of both the form and political mechanics of urban life, and so in its own small way is part of this birth of differential space. Through an everyday practice – neither a conscious theorisation nor a codified political programme – skateboarding suggests that pleasure rather than work, use values rather than exchange values, activity rather than passivity are potential components of the future, as yet unknown city.


Iain Borden


In the opening scene of Gleaming the Cube, a 1989 fictional skater film staring Christian Slater, the protagonist, Brian, and his cohort hire a pilot to fly them over Orange County suburbs to identify the locationof an empty swimming pool in which they intend to skate. Brian navigates for the pilot with the aid of a map while his friends colonize the rear of the plane, pasting stickers on the interior windows. Uponidentifying an ideal site, the scene cuts to a ground-level view of the boys skating in tandem followed by a solo cameo of pro skater Tony Hawk. This sequence illustrates the collective social dynamics of skate culture of the late 1980s and early 1990s characterized by a cyclical process of reconnaissance; the improvisational embodied habitation of urban space; and mediation of the experience through such devises asphotography, style, narrative, and memory. As a product of the visual and material culture tied to skateboarding this film and others within the genre promote an epistemology of urban space specific to youth culture in which the bird’s-eye view typically associated with the cartography of hegemonic, adult capitalist society is appropriated for the pleasure of young people seeking spaces not otherwise provided by developers or urban planners. 


The above social dynamics of skating and the urban epistemology the sport affords its participants are the subject of recent work by Dallas artists Nic Mathis and Julie Libersat on view at The Box Company in an exhibition titled Public Domain, opening June 5, 2017. The exhibition title refers to another influential film in the skateboarding genre, Public Domain (1988), produced by Powell Peralta and set in California, birthplace of the sport in the 1970s. The paintings of NicMathis, an avid skater in his teens and twenties, riff on the Peralta brand, featuring the skull and crossbones logo as well as renderings of skate apparel suspended on hangers, their logos exploding in perspective toward the viewer like the throbbing hearts of cartoon characters in love. Paintings in this series re-present logos of the Bones Brigade skate team, Jeff Phillips and Tony Hawk brands with images and text rendered in drippy paints applied while the canvases were laying flat on the ground. They draw parallels between the physical ‘activity’ of skating and American action painting, while reserving a space for figuration alongside gestural mark making. According to Mathis, these works harken back to the artist’s elementary school doodles of skate logos and his first forays into graphic production. They express nostalgia for skating filtered through an adolescent yearning to consume and produce skating-related visual culture as a signifier of status, belonging, and collective experience. Two painted trash barrels, City of Dallas I and II, and two paintings installed leaning at angles, Budda Budda and Transition / Hawk, reference urban props favored by skaters as obstacles and surfaces for performing gravity-defying tricks.


Whereas the art of Nic Mathis operates within the realm of narrative and memory witnessed in the social dynamics of skate culture, the art of Julie Libersat performs a reconnaissance of urban space, often appropriating the bird’s-eye perspective of cartography. Libersat works across media and disciplines, incorporating interventionist strategies inspired by post-war Situationist tactics with design-based approaches involving coding, modeling, and digital fabrication. Libersat responds to and reacts against the ostensible rationality of urban planning in capitalist, consumer society, reconfiguring familiar public and semi-public spaces like parking lots, big-box stores, and transit systems according to the artist’s subjective ludic sensibility. In certain recent work, the artist deploys mapping, modeling, and miniaturization, affording viewers the aerial perspective of the real estate developer, urban planner, and GPS satellite. Other works like Median Income and Left is Right place the spectator at ground level, directing the viewer’spassage through the gallery space and confronting the viewer with objects which may be interpreted variously as impassable barrier or convivial prop. Libersat’s art reminds the viewer of the degree to which urban design administers and regulates the movement of bodies in space, highlighting the challenges of placemaking for urban dwellers in a perpetual state of transit or for whom no spaces have been defined.


The challenge of placemaking in a fluid urban milieu is one adopted by The Box Company, a factory-turned-gallery situated in a blighted region of South Dallas. Only relatively recently has the neighborhood witnessed efforts at redevelopment, and the Box Co.’s opening in 2016 contributes to a larger effort in the neighborhood and across Dallas in which art venues lead urban regeneration by creating destinations for gallery goers. Thus, if Mathis and Libersat’s art enacts the mediationand reconnaissance functions of the skating social dynamic, the Box Company’s exhibition program, broadly, completes the cycle by performing the ‘improvisational embodied habitation of urban space,’ endeavoring to model ‘the future, as yet unknown city.’


"Memory and physical space are driving forces in Nic Mathis’s work. His subject matter is culled from the memories that persist after first impressions or vivid dreams, resulting in drawings and paintings of weeds, flowers, and the distorted forms of furniture, detritus, animals, and people. Mathis’s compositions record his reactions to these memories within the perimeters of the canvas, the paper, or even his immediate environment.

Mathis’s interest in memory is driven by his experience with color synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that elicits involuntary associations between colors and other entities, such as letters and numbers in individuals. It only follows that his experience of this phenomenon informs his choice of subject matter (chairs, shadows, obscured human and animal forms) and color palette (often muted and limited, but liberally splashed with black). These choices illustrate an exploration of memories that are rooted in inexplicable and personal color relationships.

Moving fluidly between mediums and projects Mathis has made this movement a constant throughout his paintings, drawings, and sculpture. In Mathis' oil paintings dark shadows aggressively retreat into corners of canvas and push chairs and limbs toward the viewer, forcing movement throughout the surfaces of the paintings. Even in the sterility of the small pen drawings Mathis teases out depth and movement through line and shadow. The nervous sense of space created in Mathis’ drawings, as well as the transient state of objects, informs a sculptural practice that incorporates cast-off items like shoes and traffic cones and found sculptures of matadors and madonnas whose status as detritus is called into question through Mathis’ work.


Mathis builds upon personal memories, his own history of transience and collecting, and his unique relationship with color to create work that cannot help but stick within a viewers' mind. His on-going engagement with sketching has produced thousands of pages of drawings—but a glimpse of the history of his engagement with and reactions to his physical environment."

-Laura Phipps



Nicholas Mathis

For "Drawing Quote Unquote" Show at UTD Jan 2016