Monday, February 19, 2007

Art Space Talk: Dan Wooster

I recently interviewed artist Dan Wooster. His imagery is confined to the classic subject matter; landscape, still-life, and figure. The process involves a build-up of plaster and paint. Both are scraped away, and then added again, in an often vigorous interchange.

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

A. "I watched my baby sitter making charcoal drawings when I was six years old. Art- making was all I wanted to do since then."

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

A. "The society I grew up in frowned on art as a profession, though approved of art as a hobby. The art I make is always about people, and how they relate to each other, and their environment. I try to remove any overt social context that would limit my expression to a certain time period."

Q. On average, how long does it take you to create a piece?

A. "The paintings I make take about 6 weeks for a smaller piece, and a year for a larger one. Occasionally I get lucky, and a painting is complete sooner. I’m not always sure what image I’m after, so reworking the art is what extends the process."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "Creation is most pure when you remove your brain and ego from the formative process. Not like you don’t think, just that you allow the infinite possibilities of paint to manifest themselves in the process of making an image. Your brain has a very limited scope when it comes to planning a piece of art."

Q. Has your art ever been published?

A. "My large painting " Music to my Ears" was stolen from an outdoor artshow. The story was published by Art and Antiques magazine."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Care to share that experience?

A. "The exhibition most important to my growth was in New Orleans , at Bryant Galleries . I over-worked the paintings, over-framed them, and over-priced them, all in the misguided belief that I had "made it". Projected myself into an imagined future was a mistake that lead me to disappointment and discouragement."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "I go to the studio and get excited as soon as I unlock the door. I turn on the exhaust fan, turn on all the lights, and turn on the espresso maker. I listen to music mostly, all kinds. Sometimes I listen to NPR news."

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

A. "The people who collect my art are generally between 30-50 years old, have gone to college, and are professional people. They are usually more quirky than the average person, and are looking for something different."

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

A. "3 Graces—( on my website, 60" x 48" oil on panel)
I showed, and sold this piece recently at J.Ferrari Gallery in Atwater Village CA . This painting started as a figure in the center, competent and ordinary. As I worked, I became frustrated with its sameness to most other figure paintings. Usually it is my realization of mediocrity that breaks me into unchartered realms. I added the 2 other figures, in different styles, and the piece became an icon of my three influences in art. I struggle to combine the major approaches of 20th century art: Picasso, Cezanne, and Matisse. The synthesis of these influences is what 3 Graces is about."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I attended The Art Institute of Boston, and have a BFA from there. The school is now defunct."

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

A. "I took oil painting lessons from a few local private teachers when I lived in new york and Massachusetts. I grew to love the depth of the colors, the smell, the texture."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "I have a show up now at JFerrari Gallery in Atwater Village CA"

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

A. "I represent myself. Please go to my website to see my upcoming shows for 2007."

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

A. "The emergence of "low brow art " is an important step toward the re-establishment of technique, craftsmanship, and loving care. The conceptual trend that the art world has binged on for 30 years is now in decline. Hopefully there will be a synthesis of the 20th century styles and the new ground broken by conceptualism."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Work at your chosen craft, as much as possible. Other activities can be distractions from your work."

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

A. "A nude of mine was removed from a show. I did not protest. It is the prerogative of the gallery to determine what is shown. If I don’t like it, I can show somewhere else."

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

A. "I hit rock bottom after the show in new Orleans. I had high expectations of success- I sold just a few small pieces, got a low turn-out, only one review, and felt unappreciated. It took me over a year to accept my responsibility for the failures of that show. I was too depressed to send out any slides for over a year. I wasn’t sure I was really going to make money ever again from my art."

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

A. "I make art to celebrate my life, and share that joy with others."

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

A. "I live in the san Fernando valley, in southern California. The art scene here is vital, but disjointed. We need more dialogue between artists."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "I painted a portrait of President bush, but it was rejected by the gallery. Otherwise, no political art from me."

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

A. "My faith is based in my spirit. My spirit is a part of the infinity of the universe."

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

A. "Art movements evolve as artists talk to each other, help each other, and look at each other’s work. Egos and competition can get in the way of real movement towards a greater goal."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Dan Wooster. Feel free to critique or discuss his work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hey brian-
you did a nice job on that page
the way you interwove the art-
appreciate the time and effort!