Art of Analog Mutant: City Portraits

the future of the city; Portrait of Grand Rapids, MI by Marley & Scott Warren

I have spent most of my life living in small towns and cities that i hated…. always wanting to leave them for something…. less shitty?

I have always harbored a fascination with monstrous cities… acre after acre of steel, concrete, traffic, filth, magnificent opulence, poverty, vice, and innovation all mixed up into one chaotic blur

So it seems natural to me that my art should reflect this obsession with all things urban. Lately I have begun a series of collages based upon my new home city, Grand Rapids MI. This is the first place I have ever lived that I liked. In fact, I love Grand Rapids. I can’t see myself in too many other places… at least not in Michigan


technicolor portrait of Grand Rapids by Scott Warren

I have tried to keep a progressive feel about Grand Rapids in these pieces…. the balance nature vs progress is an interesting struggle we have in our society… and I think GR does a decent job in many ways… obviously our riverfront plays a big part of our identity… and the environmentalism and sustainability focus in the city is getting stronger everyday…

So in my work, i try to make a visual battle between the “progress” of rampant expansion of the modern utopia vs the forces of nature… my goal is to make a point and have a sense of humor at the same time… like i said, i like cities and all the ephemeral junk that goes with it… so this isn’t a polemic attack on urban development

One of the things I enjoy most about doing portraits of cities is that it gives me a chance to be the architect. I can create new landscapes that don’t actually exist by altering and combining found images. I can build my own utopia, or purgatory, as i see fit.

Manipulating existing structures and wondering if anybody will see buildings that they recognize within the new work I create is something I think about quite a bit when working on a new piece.  I try to make an accurate depiction of the city, while still taking creative liberties, slipping in a little of my own hopes and dreams for the subject of my work.

Shark City USA by Scott Warren

Maybe someday in the distant future somebody will find one of my city portraits and wonder just what the hell was going on in that city 120 years ago that would make some crazy guy create something this weird…

portrait of Shanghai, China by Scott Warren


About analogmutant

art, music, food, movies, citizen journalism, activism, and whatever else i am into at the moment...
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2 Responses to Art of Analog Mutant: City Portraits

  1. Ryan says:

    Scott, I’m wondering what makes you so positive for GR. I’m a transplant as well and have felt pretty much from day one that I didn’t belong and don’t mesh well. What do you see that makes you bullish on the town? Seeing that I’m here for the foreseeable future, I’d love to hear how another transplant has come to “love” about GR. (p.s. Long time reader first time writer – I enjoy the work!)

    • analogmutant says:

      Having lived in Michigan my whole life, i don’t have much beyond Metro Detroit, Flint, and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti to compare to…. but GR has a lot of the things i actually care about; real food and drink, live music and decent venues to hear it, actual artists and places to see their work, some relevant cultural institutions, lots of community focused groups and projects, lots of creative people distributing great ideas everywhere i turn.

      Having worked in alternative energy manufacturing for several years, i also really appreciate the focus on environment and sustainability. A lot of important lessons can be learned here, whether your goal is to apply these principles to high tech manufacturing, running city infrastructure, or having less global impact in your everyday life

      i think for me part of what i like about Grand Rapids, is that as an outsider i don’t really see or feel those limitations that native Rapidians are so keenly aware of. i hear people say things about how conservative this town is, and how this thing or that thing would never fly here, but i personally am oblivious to a lot of that so i don’t feel that. discouragement like others might. I also don’t really circulate within those “conservative” circles beyond the day job work environment, and even there it seems that they view my creative interests with mild curiosity more than anything.

      In short, I love the OPPORTUNITIES and INNOVATION that I see coming from a lot of really nice people around me. And the way people react to the work I am doing inspires me to try and do more. i have found that in GR it doesn’t take much effort to find creative outlets to engage with the community.

      The nice thing about a town this size, is that its big enough to have a broad mix of interesting things going on, but small enough that you don’t end up being unnoticed for your efforts because there are too many other big fish in the pond.

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