Some of the world’s most amazing love stories are when artists fall in love…and sometimes, art can be the most amazing love story on its own. Although much more complicated, the rare and epic love shared in an artist-couple is one of the most brilliant and legendary of loves… as if two powerful storms colliding and growing into one undeniable force of beauty and nature. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Ray and Charles Eames, Barry McGee and Margaret Killgallen—they are notorious and enviable to any who know their tales. This kind of love stands the test of time as legend, and is the kind of partnership that is full of creativity, challenges, and mutual respect. The most recent example of such a love is that of Los Angeles street artists, Dereck Seltzer, aka Haunted Euth and Tina St. Claire, aka TFail. But their story had a plot twist, with a heart-wrenching turn of events.
Dereck and Tina had met in 2011 when they both were participating in the “Beyond Eden” exhibit at the L.A. Municipal Gallery, presented by Thinkspace Gallery. Dereck attempted to woo Tina for weeks before she finally caved and gave in to a date with rules set by Tina. They were instantly inseparable.
“Tina was fiercely independent, beyond capable of standing on her own, and only interested in people and situations that offered challenge and a space for reflection and growth,” Dereck told us. “An entirely self-taught artist, musician and consummate maker of things, she lived her life by a self defined code and with no regret. I of course fell madly in love with her.”
For the next five years, Dereck and Tina collaborated on every major project they could lay their hands on. They shared both a studio and living space, and were always together. Constantly supporting one another, Dereck and Tina were involved in a number of challenging new projects, with or without profit, and participated in collaborative exhibits together across Los Angeles and Orange County.
With their growing relationship, it was easy to see they were a perfect fit, as both of their art grew in intensity and passion. However, private people, if you were close to them, as I was lucky enough to be, you could feel, see, and taste the love exuding off them when they were together. It was like a secret thick perfume, encompassing them in one pink cloud of sweet, thick love.
Tina’s art complimented Dereck’s perfectly as his work leans on the masculine and sharp side of aesthetic while Tina’s lingers in the darkness but lives in the light, feminine edge of contemporary street culture. Her creations are heavily infused with mysticism and street art style. With a background in wheatpasting and mural-style street art, her design-heavy artistic style, whether on panels, canvas, skateboard decks, or paper, is heavily informed by the street. Most of her pieces surround the female form or face, and a ghostly energy with crystals, skulls, and pupil-less eyes peering into the depths of your soul. With fangs, sharp jaw lines, and a feminine strength that is unmatched, her work stands out from the crowd of other L.A. artists. Together, the collaborative works of Dereck and Tina—or Haunted Euth and TFail is unmistakable and hypnotic.
On December 25, 2015, Tina was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme grade four, a kind of brain cancer that stopped this artistic couple in their tracks. At only 31 years old, Tina St. Claire left this world after suffering for only a few short months after her diagnosis. Heartbroken, Dereck was determined to share her passionate art and voice.
“I have never encountered another human being with a lust for life greater than hers, and who approached any and all situations with more enthusiasm.” Dereck says. “Tina had a pragmatic way of viewing life, pulling from it the essence and bare bones of what really mattered and leaving behind the conflicts and distractions so many of us allow ourselves to get caught up in. She believed wholly in the individual’s power to change the world and she did so herself, donating monthly (in secret no less) to charities that supported animal rights, peace, and the idea of equality for people of all color and genders.”
“Her striking visual lexicon was immediately recognizable, fully formed and capable of striking a viewer regardless of the medium, be it a pencil drawing in her Moleskin books or a large scale piece of street art. Tina was well-rounded and prided herself on constantly looking for a means to improve her already formidable skill set.”
Evidence of this can be seen in her hand painted work on the streets around Los Angeles, where she placed beautiful renderings of strong and empowered women alongside gang graffiti, advertisements, abandoned structures and impoverished neighborhoods.
“Her work was to her a way to offer something back to those she never met, but nonetheless still wanted to inspire.” Dereck tells us. “If she could do it, so could you. That was her belief, that by offering the best she could to any given situation she could inspire others to do the same. I know this to be true because she did so for me, time and time again.”
In light of her passing, Dereck is putting on a final exhibition of her work, with never before seen illustrations, prints and paintings, from the last part of her short life. “Eternal,” a fitting title for the remembrance exhibit of this monumental young artist, will be held on April 30, 2016 in Los Angeles.
“Tina St. Claire epitomized light in a dark world and though she passed young, her impact and legacy have yet to be felt to the full extent they will be in the coming years. That I am sure of. I ask that you share her work, her story, and her philosophy of living life not just to live, but to love to the fullest extent that you can. That’s what Tina wanted.”
April 30, 2016
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