Every day, our community grows in unexpected and delightful ways. For our Fresh Shops series, sellers who have been on Etsy for a handful of months or are waiting for those first few sales introduce themselves. Here’s a warm welcome to all our newbies!
Editor’s note: This post was written by Jeff, Nate’s dad.
Nate Katz is a 23-year-old, self-taught artist who is high-functioning autistic. He graduated with an associate’s degree in graphic design from SUNY-Cobleskill and channels his obsession with strip malls and chain stores of America into drawings that are charming, cheerful, informative, and insightful, all at once. He sells his pieces in his Etsy shop, Strip Mall Art.
Nate’s strip mall drawings are drafted in pen, brought to life with colored pencil, then faux-laminated with yards of Scotch tape. The backs feature another obsession – toilets – and some works are framed in custom-cut Plexiglas, to showcase the back of the art, as well as the front. Nate’s pieces, like Nate himself, are hard to fit into prepackaged sizes. His work ranges from small, shopping center signboards drawn on magazine subscription cards to 11-foot long pieces.
Nate sees strip malls, which many of us scorn and dismiss, as beautiful things, deserving of respect, without a hint of irony. His details are fascinating. In some pictures he’s got little men, ant-like black silhouettes, who are doing work on ladders, putting up signs. He has notes to himself, or the viewer (though I’m not sure these works are made with a viewer in mind). He also has timelines reminiscent of Donovan’s “There is a Mountain.” In these, Nate lays out the evolution of a site, from a car dealership to a vacant lot to a new Wal-Mart. The things we see as permanent he knows are transient, and when laid out step by step, are somewhat sad and touching. All the hopes of a business dashed, then forgotten. Nate sees a brighter end, when something new and wonderful emerges.
Nate’s drawings have been shown at the Leonard Tourne Gallery in New York City, and in a one-month show at The Smithy Center for the Arts in Cooperstown, New York.