At the intersection of urban life and the natural world, Oakland-based artist Cameron Thompson creates a state of mind rooted in stability and perspective.

This intersection, where city commotion meets indigenous soul, is where Thompson thrives. Perched, his upcoming art show at Loakal Art Gallery on September 5 will showcase a new array of paintings centered around colorful, fractal birds “perched” figuratively in contemplation.

“I’ve always had a fascination with birds — their freedom to go where they want,” Thompson explains. “As opposed to ‘take flight’ which is a theme I’ve done in the past, I wanted to focus more on being grounded, having a center, having a bird’s eye view.”

His alias, Stay Aware, is derived from a similar place of mindfulness.

It’s a delicate junction that Thompson suggests through his artwork, and one that the public is gradually catching on to. In a culture whose mainstream is so far removed from where it once started, it begs the question of whether there’s no longer a space for nature and city life to co-exist.

“It takes a balance. We have a responsibility to learn from the land, to use the land in a way that we give thanks. I have a garden and I appreciate that it’s providing for me.”

Balance has been a ripening virtue throughout Thompson’s artistic and cultural upbringing. Having grown up in L.A. as a graffiti artist, his bold line work and sharp, animated patterns have refined themselves over the years. Thompson also identifies strongly with his Native American heritage, which contributes to the softer, deeper context pervading his paintings.

Thompson elaborates, “I feel that I’m at my best when I’m in an urban environment because it’s somewhere I feel like I’m useful in giving back, whether it be helping others to garden or inspiring others through art.” While living in Texas for a few years, in 2007, Thompson and a few friends established F6, a community-driven gallery dedicated to detaching from the often elitist attitude towards art.

Also an activist, for the past ten years Thompson had been working with at-risk youth to develop their artistic entrepreneurship through mural projects and collaborative art shows. For now, though, he’s shifting focus to his own enrichment both as a visual artist and as a human being considerate of his environment.

Referring to his alias, I ask what it is Thompson thinks we should stay aware of.

“Being mindful of others and the space we take up. It’s our responsibility to pay attention to what’s going on and give back. In America we have this mindset that everything is provided for us. It’s not sustainable. We have to create a sustainable culture, and one that encompasses all people.”

Perched will have its opening reception at Loakal Art Gallery at 560 2nd Street in Oakland on September 5 from 6 – 10 p.m. during Oakland’s First Friday. Thompson’s paintings will be up for display until September 30.

For more information on Perched, visit Thompson’s exhibition page here and follow him on Instagram.

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