Editor’s Note: Wes Lang and John Copeland are the founders of a collective dubbed White Knights in the House of Kolor out of NYC. Much more than a motorcycle club, the White Knights fuse art, bikes, and music in a way that can’t be pinned down or categorized. Both men are true individuals in a sea of sameness and make their living as fine artists. Both men along with Keino and a few of the other White Knights organize the Brooklyn Invitational show, which is heralded as the East Coast’s best. Our intrepid interviewer, Jeff Wright sat down with them to decipher fact from fiction. Here’s what he came up with.
Who and what are the White Knights in the House of Kolor?
WL: The best friends a guy could ever ask for. We are not a club, just people who care about and support each other through every aspect of our lives.
JC: Some real close friends who ride. And for the record, our name has nothing to do with anything racist. People need to get a sense of humor.
What do you guys do for work?
WL: I live and work in Brooklyn. My trade is being an artist. I am currently working on several exhibitions around the world, including a solo show with V1 Gallery in Copenhagen this fall, a show of my Chateau Marmont works out in L.A. with OhWow Gallery, and a show this June in Portland, Oregon, at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
JC: I make my living with the artwork, mostly paintings and drawings. Work with a few different galleries, here in the US and in Europe. I build and ride motorcycles for myself when I’m not working in the studio. I live in the East Village, I split a large shop in Brooklyn with a Jeffrey Schad and Neil Fenton, my studio is down the street from there.
John, how long have you been in NYC? What makes the East Coast so different from the West Coast?
JC: Thirteen years. Just different out here. Way more dense. Older buildings, shittier weather, a good place to work hard, and a lot of talented people here. I like having seasons.
The art you guys make seems to take influence from a range of styles. Did each of you come from similar art backgrounds? Do you find yourselves feeding off each other?
JC: I went through art school in Oakland, been out here ever since. Yeah, we have studios down the hall from each other, very different work but similar mind-set. Good to be around people doing good work that you respect. Always good to walk down the hall and get an opinion, and talk to someone who I actually believe in. I don’t really go see art very often. My biggest influences are probably my friends and their work, even if it looks nothing like each other. I’d say it’s more about the thought process and the attitude.
WL: I didn’t go to art school, just taught myself how to do it. I don’t limit myself to any one style or medium. I just make what I feel like making, keeps things fresh. John and I have studios in the same building, so we do influence each other. It’s great having him down the hall, so we can bounce ideas off each other. We work with some of the same galleries. I see John more than anyone else I know. He’s the best fucking guy in the world. His artwork is amazing, his bikes are insane, he can outdrink anyone, and he will do anything for me. I’m very lucky to know him.
I can’t help but think a young successful artist who builds and rides choppers in NYC would have a line around the corner of girls. Any truth to that?
WL: (laughs) I actually have a great girlfriend, who I live with and have been with a long time. The queen seat on Deep Purple, the bike Keino did for me, was made and measured out just for her. No other chick’s allowed on it. I’ve had plenty of trouble in the past, but now I am stoked to have someone I actually like to be around and gives me the space I need to be me.
JC: Uh, yeah, I actually have a great lady so can’t complain. No trouble at all.