Providence is well known for its vibrant arts scene, from its galleries and museums to the colorful murals on the sides of buildings. One recent transplant is bringing his unique pop-art vision to downtown in a show at AS220.
Matthew Brennan IV, who creates his art under the name Two Thangs, will show his work through March 26 at the exhibit “Voices Speaking Loudly,” the first show at AS220 since the pandemic hit two years ago.
The name Two Thangs comes from Brennan’s mashup concept, which combines two elements of pop culture, whether it’s the TV shows “Bob’s Burgers” and “Twin Peaks,” journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson with a lion, or a snail on a banana. The inspiration comes from conversations he has with folks and what they’d like to see in a work of art.
“Basically, I go to people, or anybody who comes up to me, and I tell them about what I do, and they pick two things from the outside world,’’ he says. “It can be two things that aren’t singularly from a person’s life. It can also be from pop culture or just anything around us.”
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The idea became his full-time occupation about seven years ago, and he says “it’s led to many very interesting places to take my paintings.”
Brennan began his career as Two Thangs in Seattle in 2015, and he moved to Boston in 2018 before establishing himself in Providence a couple of years ago. He says he enjoys how much is happening in such a small area, and how creativity plays a big part in Providence’s culture.
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“Providence has been a really great place to check out and see what’s going on,” he says. “I feel like it’s especially gathering a lot of steam, because it’s in such close proximity to a lot of cultural hubs, but it’s a lot more affordable than most of those places. There’s a lot of really fun stuff going on in town now on a lot of different levels, with art, music, food and all the places here where creativity comes from.”
The “Voices Speaking Loudly” exhibit at AS220 will wrap up with an opportunity to meet Brennan and discuss his work on March 26 from noon to 5 p.m. He says he enjoys talking about how the concept was born and how it has evolved over the years, as chronicled in this exhibit.
“There’s different ways and different places where I may have taken it, but I still try to pull my ideas from other people,” he says. “There’s a big story that goes with every single painting in the exhibit. … I’ll be there on the closing day to just chat with people about it. Folks can come and check out the different ways people have taken this concept and kind of run with it.”
If you go …
What: “Voices Speaking Loudly” exhibit
Where: AS220 Project Space, 93 Mathewson St., Providence
When: Through March 26.
COVID safety: Masks required
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Providence artist Two Thangs shows his pop-culture mashups at AS220