Thursday, November 30, 2006

Art Space Talk: Don Dougan


I recently interviewed artist Don Dougan. Mr. Dougan is a sculptor who works with a variey of materials. He has had a long career and his work reflects that experience. His work reminds me of tribal alters from another world. My imagination goes wild when I view the forms he has created.
Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Though as a child I had always thought about becoming an artist, I didn’t even decide to go to art school until two months after graduating high school. My parents were not artists but they both made things with their hands, so my handwork was always encouraged. Both grandfathers were architects and painters, and they too encouraged my efforts early on with art materials.

When I graduated high school I was at loose-ends and had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I followed my intuition and applied to art school. The first semester of art school was very tough — it felt like banging my head on a wall — and though I was discouraged I kept trying. Then, over a period of perhaps two to three weeks, it was like a light-bulb lit-up over my head and I realized the only reason I was there was simply to find out what I could do. I realized the wall I had been banging my head upon was simply a door I wanted to open. By the beginning of the second semester of that first year of art school I knew artmaking was what I was going to be doing for the rest of my life."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "It enables me to find out who and why I am. Art shapes my life — it is the means for me to discover my own humanity, my purpose. It is both the way I can best understand and best share what I discover about life. Through the process of making I glimpse understanding who I am and why I exist."
Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Where I came from and my place in society cannot help but affect my art. From a middle class family where both parents worked, I grew-up in an environment that valued education, self-thinking, all the arts, instilled a certain work ethic. Though I rarely do a piece of art that has an overtly social or political theme, many of my pieces contain social commentary — however understated. I think the mind and outlook of the aware individual within society is the first line of offense against the entropic inertia of ignorance, bigotry, and oppression; and that meaningful social change begins and is best achieved within the individual’s own life."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "I cannot give a simple answer to that question because I feel everything in my life is part of what made me the artist that I am. My parents showed me by example to make my ideas real by using my mind, my eyes, and my hands to express myself. They and my grandparents also provided a wealth of books to read about all kinds of subjects, encouraging my mind to be curious and discerning of quality whatever the outward appearances might be.

Whether written by Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Kurt Vonnegut, Andrew Loomis, Agatha Christie; or illustrated with the work of Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Chesley Bone stall, Charles R. Knight; or about the works of artists like Michelangelo, Grinling Gibbons, Ivan Mestrovic, Elie Nadelman or about natural history, paleontology, archaeology, etc. — each work influenced my art in it’s own way.

Nature, in all her majestic little details, showed me the depths I needed to plumb with my perceptions. And later, after I became an art student, I found the sculptural works of Brancusi, Noguchi, Arp, Giacometti, and Cornell. As a graduate student I studied with bronze and iron sculptor George Beasley who — in addition to sharing much technical information — helped me to delve even deeper and to push myself out of the self-perceived boundaries of what I had been doing.

The list of my influences is constantly growing because my work continues to be a dialogue with the world around me. As far as contemporary artists I am struck by the concepts revealed in the work of Igor Mitoraj, Andy Goldsworthy, Martin Puryear, and Louise Bourgeois —among many others. But I am influenced by historical cultures as well as contemporary work — the remains of artifacts of ancient Egypt, of the Etruscans, and of pre-European contact Native Americans sway my perceptions equally."
Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "As a child I was fascinated with shells, minerals, and fossils — I collected them along with marbles, chunks of wood, pieces of broken glass, or anything else that caught my eye. I spent more time making ‘landscapes’ for my toy soldiers than I spent actually playing with or moving the soldiers around. I made sailboats and rubber-band propelled paddleboats the workbench in the basement so I could float them in the stream near the house.

Halloween was always a special time as a child when I could make a mask and costume to wear. I learned to make functional things — whether they were the bow and arrows I played Indian with, or ‘jewelry’ for my mother or sister’s birthdays, or a bookshelf to hold my treasures. As a sculptor I still search out natural forms and found objects for my sculpture.

As a sculptor I am still making landscapes and populating them with characters, still making boats, and still making masks. Functional items I make now include custom-made tools for my own purposes, but also the occasional piece of jewelry, or sculptural container, light fixture, or piece of furniture."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "If you count from when I graduated with a BFA it has been thirty-two years. But in my mind the watershed moment was actually a couple of years later when I completed a 400-pound marble and serpentine sculpture titled Angel’s Kiss. The title referred back to something to a design instructor said my freshman year. He was angrily berating the whole class because we had collectively failed to meet his expectations for a particular assigned project. As part of his trying to get across that we needed to work hard to learn to solve the design problems he said, "Do you think an angel comes down from the sky, kisses you on the ass, and — ‘POOF!’ — You’re an artist?" Anyway, years later when I finished that particular sculpture I felt the sweet paradigm shift and knew that — figuratively — an angel had finally kissed my ass."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I’m not sure I can pinpoint any one thing, partly because of the widely-varied nature of my work in terms of imagery, materials, concepts, and styles. I think the viewers who take the step to become collectors are probably responding to different aspects in the pieces, though perhaps one thing they have in common is a certain reliance on their own senses and instincts. Most of my work is very tactile, and I have always noticed it is difficult for most viewers to resist the temptation to run their fingers over the surfaces of my pieces."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "My website is: www.dondougan.com My website is a personal effort and design, so is constantly being updated and added-to in terms of content. Though I welcome any inquiries as to sales of my work on the site, the website is not intended or promoted as a commercial site. In addition to providing images and philosophical statements about all the styles and types of sculpture I produce, I use the website to share technical information and images about the historical tools and processes used to work stone, as well as my own personal working techniques.

There are pages covering the process of the low-tech lost wax investment foundry we use when I teach in Italy along with stone sculpture, including examples of student’s work. There is also a section on a couple of basic stone-carving classes I have taught in Finland, again with images of the student’s work.

Though I do not blog, there is a good bit of personal viewpoint presented in terms of artistic concept and process, as well as a bibliographical page covering technical sculpture concerns, and a separate unlinked section I use to supplement teaching my physical stone or wood carving classes."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "Currently I am not represented exclusively at any physical gallery, though there are several online galleries that represent my work. I have always submitted to group exhibits with themes that interested me, and I continue to seek out and exhibit in alternative-space venues."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "Though I was represented by several well-respected galleries in Atlanta for over twenty-some-year period, the galleries either underwent new management or closed due to retirement of the owners. In one case the gallery exclusively representing my lip sculptures decided to focus only on artists with an Asian heritage (rather successfully as it turned out) and so I was dropped from the stable."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I have never paid much attention to the trends in the ‘art world’ so much as I follow the output of working artists I enjoy, and am always lookout for new artists’ whose techniques and perceptive eyes provide a dynamic or moving content for me. "

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "I don’t know if I can offer any better advice than what the late comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell gave, which was simply to "Follow your bliss." Or, what an artist friend of mine, Larry Anderson, said to his painting students "There are two rules for an artist. The first is that artists make art. The second is that there are no rules." Or what a fellow stonecarver, George Graham, says to new carvers, "Keep your chisels sharp." Or lastly, what Picasso once said: "Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth." Sculpting can get very expensive."

Q. Do you have any tips on how to save money?

A. "I scrounge — always on the lookout for the discarded that I can make into art. Stone is so ubiquitous in most locations that finding working material is easy, though obviously one can’t be too picky. On the other hand, I feel one should buy the best tools and equipment one can afford and it will never be regretted. Pawnshops are good sources for good tools at low prices (if you know what you are looking for). Learn to make your own tools, or modify readily available ones to meet your needs. Be flexible in your needs and work creatively with the tools at hand."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "Yes, I have done works which are quite explicit in sexual imagery and some gallery owners or exhibition venues object. Since explicit imagery is not a political statement for me as much as an erotic one, and because I have many more works that are not explicit, I simply exhibit other pieces. When I find an exhibit or venue that is appropriate to the imagery I show the work there. In the rare occasions when my work carries a political content it is usually not overt and requires some degree of perceptual acuity on the part of the viewer. The question of political censorship has not arisen for my work, but whether that is due to a lack of perception or a sympathetic leaning of the venue owner/operator I could not say. "

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "The year it took me to work out the final version of Angel’s Kiss was a very difficult point in my career. I had not yet devised a method for working on multiple pieces concurrently, and that particular piece of sculpture went through numerous design changes before I arrived at the version I was satisfied with.

There were periods that lasted for weeks as I dealt with the sculptor’s equivalent of ‘writer’s block.’ That was the only work I completed that year, and I sweated every bit of it. Though in looking back I find the piece itself not particularly striking or remarkable compared to later works, it was a watershed in terms of my perceptions of myself and my work, and in developing an approach to a method of work that suited the flaws in my own psychology.

Now I never am ‘blocked’ psychologically because I literally have several dozens of works-in-progress at any given time. When I am working on a piece and the next step is unclear or giving me trouble I simply set the work aside and pick-up and complete another work. I keep track of all the works (general working concepts, time spent, dates, costs, materials, etc.) on a database on my computer, which allows me to pick-up the work even several years later.

This way of working allows me to go back and finish the work after my unconscious has had time to develop the answer or intuitive method for the step that was unclear or troublesome earlier. In one sentence... why do you create art? It is a voyage of discovery."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM? Not yet.

A. "Although I am a member I have as yet to add any images to myartspace.com gallery."
Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. " I live and work in a suburb of Atlanta in the southeast USA. Atlanta is a beautiful city with much to recommend it, but — speaking very generally — perhaps the art scene here could best be seen through the eyes of the local designers/decorators.

The collectors in the area lean towards traditional, somewhat provincial types of d├ęcor. And the particular northern suburb where my stone is gravitationally attracted is even more conservatively provincial than other parts of Atlanta.

Artists who do impressionistic landscapes, flowers, and portrait work can be very successful here. Contemporary work with an edge is not overly well-received as compared to the type work more fitted to the traditional conservative design and political values so prevalent here, though there are a few excellent galleries for contemporary art in Atlanta proper."
Q. Does your cultural background play a part in your work?

A. "Of course, but only insofar as my general WASP upbringing was something I rebelled against in my youth, and consider simply confining at this point in my life. But my cultural background certainly gives me a strong basis for communicating to a large segment of that population, even though I hope my work transcends those limits and can speak to more culturally-diverse cosmopolitan viewers."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Don Dougan. Feel free to critique or discuss his art.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

New Galleries: Embedded Objects or URLs


For artists shifting to the new myartspace site later this year, the a "gallery" will have some different features that are important to point out.

First, myartspace will introduce the concept of "portfolios". A portfolio is like a folder on a computer. It contains many images. So a portfolio could be named "France" for photos or paintings done there, or "Egypt" or "flowers". A portfolio is a collection of images and a means of organizing them. A gallery is a collection of one or more portfolios. A portfolio can be used in several galleries.

Second, galleries are "flash objects". The new myartspace site is not solely based on Flash, but the galleries are. Galleries can be integrated into other HTML pages (for instance, myspace, LiveJournal, or your own personal website) in two ways. A URL reference can be used to "link" over to the gallery or javascript code can be used to "embed" the gallery object into your work. While this all sounds a bit technical, it should be easy to master. For those that have used YouTube to host and embed videos, a myartspace gallery will be very similar.

Galleries have an automatic "play" mode when they start up. This means that images begin to appear and the viewer moves from image to image every few seconds. The timing of that display can be controlled. Additionally, artists can supplement their images with an audio narration (that explains a bit about the painting/photograph) or with a music track. At any point, one can stop the autoplay mode and take over the process manually moving to the images they wish to see.

More details will be forthcoming over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Art Space Talk: Heather Morgan

I recently interviewed artist Heather Morgan. Heather is an artist who strives to reveal the beauty and terror of human existence. She has an eye for the beauty that can be discovered in people who have been 'damaged'. Thus, she finds beauty in weakness, pain, brevity, and struggle. Heather embraces this aspect of human life with a theme of self-creation. She is interested in the fluidity of identity.

The viewer takes on a voyeuristic nature as he or she gazes upon Heather's paintings. The struggle of her figures can be observed in their awkward poses and contorted positions. They appear sickly and broken... yet they have an inner strength that stares back at the viewer. Heather's goal is to stimulate contradictory forces of attraction and repulsion."

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I began studying Biology in college, but I spent my free time running around town with students from art school. They seemed to be having such a time of expressing themselves. I took an acting class and it was there I discovered that I needed to make something in order to survive the condition of living."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "Making art does not so much "shape" my profession, as it is my profession. I learned to be personally creative through relentless self-invention, before I was even conscious of such a thing. My work expresses the possibilities of self-creation and then contributes to them."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Society must be endured. And yet it sparkles with the power of individuals."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "I am inspired by a Wildean wit and a Morrissey tune, the epic pathos of Michelangelo, the threatening qualities of a German Expressionist painting, the seething life in Nan Goldin's scene, the breathtaking snarkiness of John Currin. David Bowie is really the ultimate self-creator."

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "I come from a background of trauma and violence. This has taught me to be inventive and to be able to mingle all kinds of experiences for the purpose of showing them to others. I want to add a little beauty to the world, made poignant through the pounding of our puny fists."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "13 years?"

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "The people who collect my work have the knack for finishing the stories that are suggested there."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I approach many other areas with the same zeal and sensibility as that of my paintings. I write, take photographs, shoot video, and perform. I studied painting initially with romantic ideas about the Painter, which proved untrue. Painting is not comprised (only) of swanning drunkenly about the city, it is hard work. One could spend a whole lifetime at it, it would seem."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "I have an M.F.A in painting/printmaking. It is a terrific conversation starter. As soon as you mention it to someone, they will immediately inform you that they cannot draw. Studying painting was an experience I cherish for what it lent to my abilities. My career can be measured with my coffin."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "My studio is a pretty fun place to visit. You can have the fur chair."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery?

A. "Most recently I was represented by the oldest gallery in Berlin, Ladengalerie. The director there was a singular force in promoting the interests of figurative painters from the GDR."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I studiously avoid examining what the art world is doing. I just look at the pictures."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Just look at the pictures."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Every point is a tough point, I hit rock bottom every other Tuesday. Don't you?"

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Art is a way to describe the beauty and terror of existence."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Heather Morgan. Feel free to critique or discuss her work. You can view more of her work by clicking on the following link: www.starboy.org

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Monday, November 27, 2006

Art Space Talk: Donald Bruschi

I recently interviewed artist Donald Bruschi. Mr. Bruschi's work is conceptual and contemporary. He explores sculpture, installation, time, performance, and photography by utilizing rays of light. In a sense, his work documents how light can be used to create art.

Mr. Bruschi is known for his 'Light Drawings'. These 'drawings' are time exposure photographs that involve intricate installations and live models that wave neon tubes as the photos are being taken.

The light accumulates on the film with interesting results. In a sense, they are an amalgamation of time and space. Donald documents the outcome as if he were some form of scientist.

These works blur the line between installation, sculpture, performance, and photography. They allow Donald to explore his ideas while pushing technological limits.

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "I made some art/craft stuff in high school that opened the door to art school. I still have some sculptures and prints from the early 1980’s. I got into juried shows starting in 1984. I got serious about art in college and never stopped."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "Ok, let’s look at James at Ask (image above). I set up It’s Just Light: There’s Not Much Too It For my solo show at the Arts Society of Kingston last summer and then did light drawings. I think this was the first morning the sculpture was ready. With light drawing you wave a light source around with the camera’s shutter open. You are working in the dark. The light accumulates on the film. You don’t see what you get until you get your pictures back. It’s with my experience, with film, exposure times, what lens etc, that enables me to get at least a few good shots per roll, usually. I wanted a lot of images because I had to get proofs to the photo printer. I showed three 30"x40" photographs as part of the show. I also projected slides at the opening. I needed good images in a couple of days. There we were, light drawing in a big gallery in front of a sculpture, it was great. I shot a few hundred images over 2 days."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "Last fall for my show at the Islip Art Museum’s Carriage House I set up a sculpture and did light drawings. I pretty much had the idea worked out after my show at the Art Society of Kingston. I wanted to do light drawing earlier in the process and with more people. I did my first light drawing in Islip right after my truck was unloaded with the gallery assistant. Next I set up a sculpture, The Un-Great Wall which would be my light drawing stage. Some of these light drawings were shown as part of the show. I did light drawings with a lot of different people as I set up the rest of my show. Some of the people who helped out were Director of the Museum, Mary Lou Cohalen as well as a few of the other artists. Someone walked in looking for the previous show, next thing she knew she was light drawing.

The other part of the process is the actual sculpture or installation. I work with light in my sculptures, an important my sculpting process is about what the light will look like and how it interacts with the rest of the sculpture. Presently I am working with light coming out of the negative spaces of I-Beams. I also work with stone, steel, wood and other materials. I have a piece with a tree in Exit Art’s City Lights show right now. In Idea Under Construction I use all types of stuff to create a workshop in which sculptures appear to be under construction. I fabricate most of my stuff. I make my own neon, I weld, work with metal, wood, I make all sorts of stuff."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I think they chose me."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "Being an artist, for me, has really made me look deep inside at a number of things. How far one can push and develop ideas is amazing. I get a lot of enjoyment as I see my skills improving. The quality of my work this summer was really good, I spent time with the fit and finish; it looked great. To keep going is a testament to believing in yourself. Its just common knowledge that you’re not going to get into every show, every gallery or have every proposal accepted. Once you accept that you’re past the point of no return. Basically my life revolves around art."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "I’ve always been inspired by Fred Tschida, one of my professors at Alfred University. Through Fred I learned about conceptual art, that you could follow your ideas and the final result might be art. The process and the documentation of the process could also be art. I’m mostly inspired by conceptual artists who broke new ground. Jackson Pollack is a good example. The guy decides to throw paint around and the rest is history. Marcel Duchamp too. Duchamp says anything can be art, I say then anyone can make art. That’s why it’s important to do my light drawings with many different people. At the Islip Art Museum last summer I did Light Drawings with a gallery assistant as soon as the truck was unloaded. I also like Tim Hawkinson, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Jason Rhodes, Damien Hirst. My favorite painting is Architects Dream by Thomas Cole. A lot of people inspire me, I like to keep an open mind."
Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today?

A. "I like the world we live in and my art is a statement about that. You could not make the stuff I make without photography or electricity. My work is a reflection of my mental, physical and technical state. Some of my heroes outside of the art world are Albert Einstein, Einstein studied light amongst other things. I am fond of Nicolai Tesla and Thomas Edison, both tireless inventors who worked with light, electricity and mysterious phenomena. The last book I read was Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. Franklin was an extraordinary person on many levels, and, oh yea, he experimented with electricity."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art?

A. "I earned a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in 3 Dimensional Studies from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1983. Alfred U is a great place. I worked with professors who taught craft and technique as well as concept. Aesthetics were up to the students. My professors were supportive and open minded. I have remained friends with some of them and could show up at their houses tonight and be welcome to stay."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "I keep my website pretty current: www.donaldbruschi.com You can see more work there. I have a few shows in the works, I post upcoming shows on my website."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "My website has a links page. You can check places I have shown at as well as some art organizations."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "To me it looks like we are in a period of individual expression. There are sooooo many artists. It’s not like Europe 100 years ago when Impressionism or Cubism blossomed. I see more creativity and innovation than a unified approach. With the technology I can see work from all over the world in an instant. I see the Internet as a huge resource, you’re reading this, aren’t you? The Internet is phenomenal for finding out about shows, I remember getting Sculpture Magazine in the 80’s and a lot of the deadlines had passed before it was even printed. It’s important to know where we with technology as well as art history."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Make art the most important thing in your life. Believe in yourself, keep pushing, be open minded and keep reinventing yourself. Search for materials, techniques. processes and imagery that you resonate with. Read the writings of other artists. Don’t be afraid to throw stuff out. Dennis Oppenhiem said (in the 1960’s) after a show they would just throw out what didn’t sell. Get involved in local arts organizations, hang out with other artists, share ideas and resources."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "I haven’t been far enough away from rock bottom to know. Its not like I ever thought of giving it up but everything is still a push. I get shows, I have a nice, well equipped studio and stuff. I was at an opening in Chelsea, NY last month. The artist sold about 10 $75,000 paintings before the show even opened, I was inspired. I could use a show like that!"

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I am on a journey, I think of stuff, develop my ideas, people put my work in art shows, I get feed back and I’m off to the next step; it’s a thrilling and stimulating ride, I have met and worked with incredible people."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Yes, under DonaldBruschi. Or look in the Installation or Sculpture section"

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I live in New Paltz, NY a small town with a bit of an "artsy" reputation. We do have a nice arts center: Unison Arts, as well as SUNY New Paltz with the Dorsky Art Museum and a Fine Arts program as well as other places that show and support the arts. I also belong to the Arts Society of Kingston. Kingston is a small city and has a more vibrant and eclectic arts community. I can be in NYC in an hour or so; with it’s too numerous to mention museums and literally hundreds of galleries, NYC’s still the "Place"."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about the 'art world'?

A. "It’s a great place to be!"


I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Donald Bruschi.
Check out his work on the main site by searching for DonaldBruschi.
http://myartspace.com/ Feel free to critique or discuss his work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Art Space Talk: Maia Simonia

I recently interviewed artist Maia Simonia. Maia reveals her subtle vision in each work of art she creates. Viewers have noted that her images have a 'Zen atmosphere' about them. In a sense, she adds serenity to her work with every stroke of paint.

One interesting aspect of Maia's art is the fact that she combines traditional and modern techniques with her paintings. You can observe the old and the new clashing together to form lively images when you view her work.
Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I was 8 or 9 years old, when I start painting. It all happened quite naturally."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "Art lives everywhere where practical or emotional necessity provokes the process of recreation of the inner or outer world. Creation is a living process, which certainly shapes anyone who’s fully dedicated to it. Any profession has the same principle.

Then, as an apple tree can bring nothing more than apple, as well all artists create according to only what they contain. Art for me is a mirror that portrays the true self of the author. Actually, all arts have began from the need in materialization of the reflections formed in mind, for making it visible, tangible and (at the later stage of evolution), discussable. By any means, man needs to see the reflection of his physical and non-physical self." ….

Thus, I can observe and discern myself through my art, which can help me in my further personal development. However, for personal development it is not the only the way and not so simple ether."
Q. How has society influenced your a intentions art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "There certainly are, though the influences are not recognizable in my works.

No matter how integrated we are or not, we still are a part of the society, which has its conditions and structure, meaning that we automatically are involved in it, thus influenced too. Is not it so, that the interaction is the basic low of nature? Everything influences everything…But of course degree of influence depends on the character and source of the influence itself and on the maturity, experience and the knowledge of the person who meets it.

One who is aware of basic principles of life is emotionally more resistive from rough influences. Although, very important to stay flexible and open and vigilant, otherwise there is a great danger of stagnation or delusion. I think even the hermits are not completely protected from the insidious influence of the society."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "Yes, the beauty of the great mind, which contains many other noble qualities, is the most inspiring phenomenon for me. Beautiful mind can encounter you in any corner of life. Can be shaped in any forms, and has many languages. You could meet it equally as in a shoemaker, Plato, or Dante and Giotto, …………Tesla or the street beggar in your neighbourhood who might have rather wider thoughts and a dignified soul than we can ever imagine. Anyone can be an influence and anyone can inspire.

Recently my friend Luciano sent to me this beautiful metaphor:

"Do you know why the ocean is so large and limitless? Because Ocean is humble: by holding itself lower than all the rivers, it receives all their waters."
Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "I was brought up in the environment of mathematicians, physicists, and engineers from where I gained a great love for sciences and mostly for philosophy. I had a golden childhood. After, my independent life I went through heavy storms. Nevertheless, I am grateful to it because due to the practical experience my theoretical knowledge became vivid. I have partly fought with my "William Wilson".

In my works those experiences are not literally reflected, but they are."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "Long enough, though I had some gaps in between that were determined by uneasy circumstances."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "What to say? It is never the same."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "I have degree from the Tbilisi (Georgia) State Academy of Fine Arts, and three years study experience at the Rietveld Academy of Modern Arts, in Amsterdam.

Study has helped me in acquiring of skills. But the question of career is purely my own task and it is a continues process of practice and perfection."

Q. What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "At the Fine art Academy in Georgia, we were taught in classical way. We had 5 hour painting and 2 hour drawing lessons every 6 day per week. In between, we had all kinds of theoretical lectures including the lesson in the defence, where we were studying the defensive methods for the possible military attack from USA.

At the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, I was willing to learn the much about modern art, which I did, although it was much to much to talk about. It was an extended process of real action in making art.

After all, I became more convinced that making good art is not up to where we get our education but up to the personal capability and profound dedication, good art doesn't need to disguise under the veil of the trends."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "At www.freewebs.com/art-maia/ the temporal site before I construct the new one."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "No. Not at the moment."
Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I follow the hot discussions between modern and classical or common art representatives and their curators. None of them could win the battle over what is true art. That often fail to understand that true art can be born from both sides.

It is obvious that there is the tendency of manipulation of the art market. This is a syndrome of the entire world and it pervaded in every single field. Seemingly, some influential figures conduce in determining the standards of art and even try to influence the direction of further development of art, but what is their premise? Benefit? Pride?

However, despite the tendencies of today, I do strongly believe that at the end nobody can control "art" as nobody can control any process of evolution in nature, simply because, that, "creation" is the initial and most powerful element of the universe.

The eternal rebirth of "logos" (idea) tends to gravitate only with the receptive soul and mind. That is the cradle of art. This alchemy cannot be ruled or intruded by profanes."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "I was only censored when I was a student. I painted Apollo and 9 naked dancing muses. Officials dismissed me from the exhibition."
Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Tell me who hasn’t."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Yes. See Maia-art"

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Due to modern technology the world has become tighter; the process of globalization and information exchange has reached everywhere. People are well informed and tend to follow recognized and established values. What happens in the Netherlands happens in the USA."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack of either play a part in your art?

A. "Something like that nature does play an indirect role in my art. Maybe it sounds too loud and silly but for me religion is a philosophy or an idea motivated by keen interest in finding the understanding of truth. Do we know what the truth is?"

Q. Does your cultural background play a part in your work?

A. "Certainly!"

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "I wish persistence and good luck to every artist! In addition, at the end I want to bring my gratitude to you Brain, for your interest in my works!"


I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Maia Simonia. Do a search for 'Maia' on the main site and you will find her work. http://myartspace.com/ . Feel free to critique or discuss her art.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Art Space Talk: Yiu Keung Lam, Marco


I recently interview artist Yiu Keung Lam (Also known as Marco). Yiu's art is marked by his bold use of expressive techniques. Strong use of line and painterly strokes define the images that he creates. He values the exploration of color and marks upon the canvas.

There is a story of pain and struggle behind Yiu's art. This is one emerging artist who truly has a voice behind his work.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "About four years ago, in one occasion I seen one TV program introduced about Monet, I found his work really amazing and gave me great impression. After that, I decided to take a one year course in Fine Art, and I felt more and more interested about Painting after the course."
Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "I'm not work in Art industry, therefore Art means to me is all about personality development. I feel complete and find satisfaction whenever I'm painting and connecting with anything related to Art."
Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "In my Art, I don't have any specific theme, however it's naturally some similar elements come out from my mind and being expressed via my Art, which is "struggle with the Fate", I don't know the exact reason but I guess it most likely influenced from my life experience. I usually have strong feeling about negative issues which happen in society."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "There are so many Great Artists influences me, like Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Vincent, Egon Schiele and Paul Gauguin etc. I like the way they were focus on humanity rather than technical. And I like the primitive colours they used to express their emotion."

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "I didn't have a degree in Art study, I just studied Art in one year diploma course, so it is so difficult for a people like me to enter the Art industry in Hong Kong. However, my tutor who studied Fine Art in UK has inspired and influenced me a lot and he always encourage me to be a Professional Artist. Therefore "Struggle with the Fate" is a message I always express in my work."
Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "I hope for those who can understand my message in my painting and read my mind would collect my art."
Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "I would like to discuss "Mother and Son". When I painted this piece, I was thinking about the tough life my mum went through when I was a kid."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "I'm planning to hold my personal exhibition, so I'm working very hard on it now."
Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I choose Oil as my painting material as I find there is no limitation on Oil creation, at least for me."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "As mentioned before I don't have a degree and I don't have any plan to attend school for Art yet. As firstly I can't afford to be a full time Art student, and secondly I still think Life experience can inspire me a lot in my painting instead of keep myself in Art school. However, if one day I can afford the time and money maybe I'll still consider to study art in School."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "You can visit the following website (although currently the service is suspended and will be resume service around Dec) :

.....http://www.hkartlife.com/marco.htm Which was established when I was studying in Chinese University and apart for my own works, it also contains those art works of my ex-classmates."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I'm not represented by any gallery yet. I was attending two exhibitions as a group before and I'm planning to hold my first personal exhibition next year."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "2005 March Graduation Exhibition of the 6TH Certificate Programme in Fine Arts 2005 Nov "Confused" Fine-art exhibition in First Institute of Art & Design Gallery(Design First Gallery) Hong Kong (their website : www.designfirst.edu.hk)"

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "I think although it's so popular to add some technical elements into Art by computer, but the trends will eventually going back to primitive style painting in Art scene."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "I think only few genius are born to be Artist, the rest of the people in the world has to go through a long way and much life experience to be a famous artist. Nevertheless, I think it's still very hard for a people to be emerged as Artist in a commercial city like Hong Kong. Therefore I think the only way people in Hong Kong is to approaching different knowledge as much as possible, it helps to open our mind in creativity as the Hong Kong Artist I seen are usually follows the China Scene, American Art Scene or else, we don't have our own style."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I like to express my emotion and my resentment of my society directly from my Art piece."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I'm from Hong Kong and I think the Artists here are not being respected. And I don't think there are sufficient people here can truly understand Art as the majority here only keen on commercial entertainment."

Q. Does your cultural background play a part in your work?

A. "A little bit."

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Yiu Keung Lam. Feel free to critique or discuss Yiu's art.


Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Friday, November 24, 2006

Art Space Talk: Jesse Richards

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I recently interviewed artist Jesse Richards. Mr. Richards is a punk film-maker, painter, and photographer. He co-founded the Remodernist Film and Photography movement and was a member of the Stuckist art movement from 2001 until 2006.

Mr. Richards was a contributing artist at the 'Stuckists Punk Victorian' exhibit and the 'Triumph of Stuckism' exhibit. In 2003 he co-produced a short film called "Shooting at the Moon", which premiered at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival.

Jesse's work is marked by what can only be described as 'street truth'. His work may seem crude to some, but at least it is honest (sometimes brutally honest.) This honesty is captured by his ability to convey human behavior and struggles with each shot from his camera

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Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I guess when I figured out that I communicate better by making a film or taking a photograph or painting a picture rather than talking to people because I get shy and miscommunicate what I mean or just chicken out of talking at all. I’m fine about talking once I know you but sometimes its tough for me to get the ball rolling."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "I think it has helped me get away from lying as much as I did when I was a little boy."

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Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Maybe, maybe not. Some people have told me that kind of thing about my films and paintings and so forth, but its not something I think about when I’m making something, nor something I would have the slightest clue about afterwards. But I think its safe to say that what you make is affected by who you are and the world that you live in, whether you mean for that to happen, or not, or just don’t notice."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "Painters I like: Die Brucke group of German Expressionists, especially Schmidt-Rottluff, Nolde, and Kirchner; Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch’s late paintings of models in the studio, a lot of Post-Impressionism, Billy Childish, Joe Machine, Wolf Howard, Philip Absolon.

Filmmakers I like: early Godard and French New Wave, no wave and punk film like Amos Poe and Nick Zedd and Wolf Howard, also FW Murnau, Carl Th. Dreyer, Yasujiro Ozu, Aki Kaurismaki, Wong Kar-wai, Nicholas Ray, Jules Dassin, Robert Bresson

and music is very inspiring, like old blues and gospel and punk and Tom Waits- I could go on forever so I’ll just stop here."

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Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "Ok so I was adopted, I lived with very elderly foster parents until I was almost three and I’m sure they were nice and meant well but I have these very early memories of feeling lonely- actually my whole life I’ve felt a sort of loneliness deep down, even when I’m pretty much happy- that probably ends up somewhere in what I do. Anyway I was adopted at almost three years old by a great family that loves me very much and is thankfully not crazy at all, but I guess the stuff prior to that had an impact.

And then other than that there are things- images, feelings, ideas that you get obsessed with and they get into what you do, sex, women, slow dancing, cigarette smoke, dogs, fighting, loneliness, driving, the vulnerability that you can feel when you’re naked, music, the ocean, dirt. But it is really hard to know exactly where these things come from, why these obsessions matter, and how they fit in exactly."

Q. How long have you been a working artist?

A. "I’ve been making films off and on since I was a teenager- a good amount of them got destroyed in a basement flood in 1998. I began messing around with photography off and on since I was in film school in the mid-90’s and then I started painting after I got arrested in 1999 for destruction of property and reckless burning. I lit someone’s KISS t- shirt on fire and through it out a window. Anyway, it landed in a dumpster unfortunately. So after that mess was over and the charges were dropped I turned to painting to try to help. I’m not one of those people that thinks painting or filmmaking or any of that will save you from who you are-that is a bunch of crap I think- but sometimes it can really help a bit."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "Usually younger people- teenagers and people in their 20’s and 30’s are the people who seem interested in what I do- a lot of punks, and goth girls, people that listen to Tom Waits or Billy Childish also. Once a child psychologist in Liverpool bought a painting- I wonder if it is in her waiting room. But actual collectors I don’t know- I don’t sell tons of work- I’m not a good business guy. I don’t make much effort at selling myself or what I do, and I’m not exactly a prolific painter so, my stuff is priced high ‘cause I don’t make a hell of a lot of paintings- there are more unfinished than finished and when something is done and done right it is hard for me to say goodbye to it, so if I do I want to pay my rent for a while."

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Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "I made this Super-8 short film called "Shooting at the Moon" with my friend Nic Watson. We co-wrote and co-directed it. It was about these two people who were at the end of a relationship; they were together still but didn’t believe in love anymore. The guy drank too much. The girl just began not to care.

It was a big change for me to make this film, because before this there was usually nudity in my films, and I wanted to do something opposite- in this the couple doesn’t even kiss- they almost do while dancing, but then it doesn’t happen.

While making this film I guess the main thing we were thinking about accomplishing was to express this emotional experience, and have people really feel it, and not to get to complicated with story or anything that would distract from this feeling we wanted people to have while watching the film. I think for some people this worked."

Unfortunately the film is not online at the moment, but I have a still of them dancing and almost kissing that you can see."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "I try to work as quickly as possible with whatever I’m doing and to rely as much as I can on my intuition. Otherwise I begin to second-guess myself before I’m finished and that can be a terrible trap to get into."

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Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I started off making films- that was always the most exciting to me. I began painting, and photography and directing plays and acting after that for a few reasons:

To be a better filmmaker by doing these other things.

To blow off steam and have another way to do stuff but without knowing anything about it (not being trained as a painter/actor/photographer) and therefore not having rules or preconceived notions or professional aspirations to get bogged down by.

And within these things- for painting I like oil paint, its messy and feels real and is more satisfying to me, for filmmaking I like shooting on film, especially grainy film like Super-8 or 16mm, for photography I shoot film and have recently gotten into Holga cameras and pinhole cameras because there is an older and sort of spontaneous quality to the pictures they can produce. I also need to get an older Polaroid camera at some point for the same reasons."

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Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "I went to SVA to film school for two years. The first year was great, I did stuff that I was happy with, I had professors that were intelligent and inspiring and enthusiastic. The second year I had bad professors who obviously hated teaching, and were pissed off by it, they were not supportive for the most part and my work got shitty (or at least was not feeling truthful to me), I began to lose my love of filmmaking and I drank too much and got depressed and had a breakdown and left. I still feel a bit guilty about it. I still don’t know if I did the right thing or not. Anyway it took a year or two for me to want to make another film after that."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "Film stills, photography and paintings are here:
http://www.cuntyscoundrel.com/
http://www.remodernist.com/ "

As I mentioned before we’ve gotta get the film clips back up- we had some problems with them, but otherwise you can find stuff there."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "No I’m not represented by a gallery- I’m wanting to pick specific shows and projects and so forth to be involved in as they come up if they’re interesting. Right now I’m planning to have some Holga photos in Johnny Brewton’s next issue of "Bagazine". Johnny runs X-Ray Books Co. and recently did the art direction and design for the new Tom Waits 3 cd set. I will hopefully also shoot some pinhole photos that I’m happy with for an upcoming book including work by various pinhole photographers at Urban Fox Press. Lastly I’m trying to put together a punk film DVD compilation including films by myself, Nick Zedd, Harris Smith, Wolf Howard, and no-wave filmmaker Amos Poe."

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Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "I’ve shown stuff (films, paintings photos) in various places, but the two I liked best were "The Stuckists Punk Victorian" show for the 2004 Liverpool Biennial at the Walker in Liverpool and the Remodernism show that I was in at CBGB’s313 Gallery in New York in 2005. The Walker show is still online here:

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/stuckists/index.asp
The most enjoyable film screening I had was of "Shooting at the Moon" at the 2004 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Try not to think you’re hot shit ‘cause you paint or make films or whatever it is you do. At the same time always tell the truth in what you do, or at least tell whatever the truth is from your perspective. This way you’re probably guaranteed to remain financially poor but you won’t have to feel guilty for being insincere. And try not to think about it as a "career" or yourself as a "professional"."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "No it hasn’t, and if it were I’d quit whatever show or thing it was, or fight back. But at the same time if its something that might upset a child then I have no problem with a warning about content being posted, as with what happened at "The Stuckists Punk Victorian Show" which if anything was pretty much harmless to the show if not a bit silly. But if they had removed the paintings that were a bit racy, I think many of us would’ve taken our stuff off the walls and called it quits on that show. Now you’re wondering about the paintings- one was this intense painting by Joe Machine of sailors having violent anal sex. Joe is probably my favorite of the remaining Stuckists- he does not mess around and because of his fearless paintings, people sometimes get a little riled up. Another one that I think concerned some people was a great one by Wolf Howard called "Being on the Dole Is Like Playing Chess with Hitler". I think people get worried and are apt to misinterpret things that use this kind of imagery and some people may have misread it, or at least were not happy to see a painting that included Hitler as a character."

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Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Well I don’t have a career as a filmmaker or a painter, and don’t want one in that sense. Once something is work I begin to hate it. (Although it is good to have money to eat and buy film and paints and canvas and so forth). But the toughest part about making a film or painting or what have you is when I’ve put a lot of heart and time into something and it comes out feeling phony. That is frustrating as hell.

It is also difficult sometimes to find models, actors, etc. for things especially when there isn’t money involved. Then you have to find people that really are enthusiastic about what you’ve done and want to get involved for that reason. Money can spoil a lot of these things. Also when you pay someone to be photographed it makes it feel, I don’t know, less authentic? I guess that’s the word I’m looking for."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Because I have to, even if nobody looks or cares- and beyond that its sort of impossible for me to verbalize."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Some of my photography is on there. I put a gallery of paintings up twice and twice it disappeared. The internet and computers are not my friends. You can find me under my name- Jesse Richards. Someday I will try to put the paintings up again."

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Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Right now I’m in Western MA, while my girlfriend is finishing school here. We just arrived recently and I’m not really involved in the art scene here yet, but Northampton seems to have a bit of a scene. I used to live in New Haven, CT. which had sort of a negative art scene. New Haven for me always felt like a place where something exciting was about to happen, but then never ever did. I don’t mean just for myself, but in general. It seemed like any time that anybody did anything worth a shit they would either get attacked, ignored, or ridiculed and eventually they would say fuck New Haven and do their stuff in New York City or Philly instead where people actually care about things."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Only in the sense of knowing that life is fragile and short and I need to be honest when I do something because- who knows? I’d rather not do anything at this point rather than do something that felt insincere. I guess that’s not politics exactly but more a feeling about the world? I don’t know…."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "I guess I’ve said what I can for now, but if any of your readers are interested in what I do and want to get involved, collaborate, pose for Holga photographs or whatever or just feel like saying hi- please feel free to contact me via my website.

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Jesse Richards

Outlaw Painting, Film and Photography:

http://www.cuntyscoundrel.com

http://www.remodernist.com

And see a new painting on the Saatchi Gallery website:

http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/yourgallery/artist/details.php?id=537


I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Jesse Richards. Feel free to discuss his work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin