Tara Booth

Published on March 1st, 2022

Thumbing through artist Tara Booth’s Instagram feels forbidden yet right. It’s the sensation of stumbling upon a secret diary only to realize the main character is you. Booth’s relatable and fearlessly transparent art provides solace and a sense of shared vulnerability, and starting on February 25th her childlike works will be on view at mtn space gallery in Lake Worth. Booth herself will also be in South Florida as mtn space’s first official artist in residence.

Tara Booth

It’s a big development for the new-ish gallery that sits across Lake Avenue from the county Cultural Council offices, and for the Portland, Oregon-based Booth. When gallery founder Melissa DelPrete came to Palm Beach County from the opposite corner of the country, Seattle, she found a community of emerging and established artists, and wasted no time fitting in. She opened mtn space in 2020 and asked a longtime friend to help run it. A little over a year later, mtn space tapped Booth to launch a residency program.

Like DelPrete, Booth is well-traveled, relocating from Philadelphia to a Pacific Northwest art scene known for offbeat cartoonists such as Gary Larson, Lynda Barry and the late John Callahan. Booth and her comic-style art — including a pair of wordless graphic-novel memoirs, “DUII” and “Nocturne” — have appeared in Hyperallergic, Vice and The New York Times.

Tara’s work has always blown us away,” mtn space director Kenneth Schofield tells PureHoney. “She is extremely driven, and has a unique voice and aesthetic. Her ability to reach so many at such an authentic level is astounding and inspiring.”

Booth — who paints, draws, collages and designs clothing — says in an email interview that she found her calling early. “I’ve always been an art maker,” she tells PureHoney. “I think it started when my classmates in pre-school were impressed by my ninja turtle drawings. I liked that feeling, haha.”

She studied fine art in college and moonlighted as a nanny. Working with kids brought her back to the simplicity of those ninja turtles, and she found herself more inspired by the freedom in her young charges’ drawings. “I’ve probably been most influenced by self-taught artists,” she says. “I’m drawn to low-brow art making, and I have developed a deep love and appreciation for folk art and autobiographical/experimental comics.”With more than 135,000 followers on Instagram, it’s clear that she’s appreciated, too, for the raw, sincere and playful freedom of expression in her work. Pieces such as “How to be Alive,” “How to Stay Afloat” and “Things to do Instead of Killing Yourself” offer coming-of-age, young-adult commentary on mental health — a topic illuminated by the pandemic. Booth breaks down social media portrayals of glamorized FOMO lifestyles to reveal the tenderness of moments that can leave any of us feeling exposed and alone.

“I make paintings and drawings based on experience. I use art as a way to document my life … as a diary, really,” she says. “Art really is therapy for me, and by sharing my personal experiences in an accessible, honest and vibrant way, I’ve received a ton of support and a real sense of community with those who see themselves in my paintings.”

She plans to spend her time at mtn space creating and exploring new artistic forms, including larger scale pieces, hardcover collections of her comics, and animation. Her arrival helps the gallery establish itself as a local and global contemporary arts hub. It furthers the mission that DelPrete and Schofield set for themselves to create relevant, diverse and self-aware programming that centers the artist, and gives resident artists room to grow and evolve in an expansive, adaptable work space down the street from the gallery.

They also plan to publish an application process for future residencies. They chose Booth for her authenticity and ability to capture intimate realities of a generation coming of age in unsettled times. The residency includes an exhibition of her work February 25-May 3. Though the art scene has been acquainted with Booth for some time, it feels like the beginning of limitless possibilities for her — and for mtn space.

mtn space in Lake Worth features inaugural artist in residence Tara Booth February 25-May 3, mtnspace.com. Follow her on Instagram at @tarabooth or at tarabooth.club ~ Amanda Moore