ARTIST SPOTLIGHT | CARL AVERY
The Native American-inspired design on the north side of the Cascade Theatre building is not just a personal triumph but almost an act of redemption.
“I’ve done a couple of controversial murals in Redding and people are really going to judge you based on that. I’d done some stuff for Darkside (a smoke and skate shop) which was obviously on the weird end but that’s kind of who they are as a business.” Carl said
The young girl from the Wintu Tribe who watches over downtown Redding tells a story of hope and reconciliation that is aligned much more closely to Carl’s own values.
Carl is a Yurok man who was raised on a reservation in Hoopa and while the design is not his own, he jumped at the chance to showcase the breadth of his talents.
“The Redding area has seen my work I’m sure from day one, I wanted to show kind of a range. I really love to do everything,” he said.
“I myself am more Native American-based in artwork so when this whole project came together I knew it was Native American, that’s who I am, that’s what I do, so to be able to be a part of it was really awesome.”
Field of dreams
Once with designs of being a Major League slugger, it was a biology that painted Carl almost inevitably into his corner.
“I really love baseball so when I moved to Redding originally, it was to play for Shasta College.
“But when I got here, I signed on to do airbrushing and painting cars and I really wanted to pursue that and I didn’t have time for both.
“I was also 5’7” and 140 pounds and I’m not much bigger than that now so I really didn’t think I was going anywhere in baseball, so I kind of switched what my thought process was at that time.”
A brush with destiny
Gifted at drawing from a young age, Carl was given an airbrush by his father when he was 13.
“He said, ‘here kid, you need to play with this because you could make some serious money with this.’
For the next five or six years I really put a lot of time into airbrushing and trying to learn how to do stencils and freehand and all that stuff.
From there, the transition to murals is really just scale and then going from an airbrush to an aerosol can made all the sense in the world.
It’s been a major transition going from small scale to being able to do it at basically any scale.”
But size, according to Carl, doesn’t really matter.
“I’m not scared of any building,” he said.
Larger than life
Carl uses a “doodle grid” to reproduce his murals on a grand scale.
“I scribble all over the building so it looks like graffiti when I start. But it gives me a road map. So I’ll take a photo of the building after I scribble all over it. And then a lot of my stuff is done digitally so I’ll make it on the computer.
“Then I’ll put it into a program like Photoshop … and it gives me a reference point for every single line so I don’t have to think about it.”
It’s a skill Carl believes lies dormant among so many of his kind.
“As far as the geometrical shapes and the math that’s involved in just figuring out things, I almost feel like it’s a natural resource for Native Americans.
“I feel like there’s so many people that could actually do artwork that don’t think about it on a regular basis but it’s in everything. Everything from triangles to squares and all that stuff plays into bead work and plays into basket weaving.
“All of that stuff really matters and a lot of it is math which is really cool.”
Fishing for fun
While Carl contributes so much to the history and culture of Redding, he happily draws on everything the city and its pristine surrounds have to offer.
“I love to golf, I love to play softball with the kids.
“A lot of fishing too, we do Shasta Lake quite a bit, just go out there with the boys and have some good days out there.”
Although Carl readily admits to being something of an angling snob.
“Mostly bass fishing on Shasta, I don’t do a lot of river fishing over here because I grew up so close to the ocean that the fish just don’t taste the same to me,” he smirks.
“It’s fun to catch ‘em but at the end of the day it’s not something I’m going to eat.”