Interview with Painter, Jackie Santos

Jackie Santos is a painter living in NYC. She was most recently a contestant on Bravo’s reality show, Work Of Art. In this series, 14 artists are competing to receive a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum along with $100,000 check. In each episode, the artists are assigned projects and critiqued at the end by art critic, Jerry Saltz, gallery owners Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn of Salon 94,  Bill Powers of Half Gallery, and host,China Chow.In each episode one or two people get eliminated based on their projects.

I met with Jackie to discuss her new work in her art studio in Long Island City.

LC: I’m looking around your studio and it looks like you’ve been busy! Let’s talk about this new work of yours.

JS: I have always made figurative work – I am currently working on several figurative paintings of women dealing with vulnerability. I’ve always been drawn to the dichotomy of submission verses domination, and I address these themes in many of my paintings. With this series, the imagery is universal and archetypal.
I’m also developing a series of explosion-themed paintings that are made with oil and enamel on canvas.

A year ago, I stopped working for Jeff Koons.  I worked as a painting assistant for two years and during that time I was painting really tightly. Afterwards I felt the need to loosen up my painting style, so I began working abstractly for a change of pace. I’ve always been an oil painter, but now I’m also experimenting with enamel and acrylic, and combining photo-realism techniques with expressionistic abstraction. I also wanted to make work that addresses contemporary politics; this is how the explosion series started. I think it’s interesting to attempt to capture the fast gestures of the explosions with meticulous painting… It’s a counter-intuitive act yet it seems to freeze the moment.

LC: Did “Work of Art” fulfill all of your expectations?”

JS: I think I may have had somewhat unrealistic expectations of the show. While my financial situation has improved, I suppose I thought my life would’ve changed much more dramatically. However, I believe true artists absorb everything they experience and are able to utilize what they’ve learned to inspire their artwork.  I learned a lot from this experience and it has influenced my work.
I also discovered more about my particular strengths and weaknesses. My three strongest projects on Work of Art were figurative. I always knew one of my strengths was my ability to use the figure to narrate my ideas, but this situation made me appreciate how important it is to follow your strengths – each artist has particular gifts and it’s important to utilize them.

LC: Can you tell me stories with working the figure?

JS:  When I evaluate or set up a scenario for an artwork, I tend to hyperbolize whatever it is I find particularly interesting.  For example, in the “Audi Challenge” I felt vulnerable because I was in a glass room and there were so many people staring at our situation and at me. This feeling was also magnified because I’d been confined working in seclusion and suddenly for the first time in weeks, I was exposed to the public. My strength in this challenge was to isolate what was important in the situation; by focusing specifically on the men – rather than depicting every onlooker who passed by – I was able to tell a more potent story. The narrative became a male/female power play, rather than a more general depiction of voyeurism.  I wanted to shift the power around so that I was in control. I did this by using my camera as a “weapon” to take pictures of THEM, so that THEY became the subject being gazed upon, rather than me.

LC: Were you surprised when you finally saw the show on film and heard some of the commentary from your peers?

JS: I was surprised when I heard Miles take credit for my idea in the “Opposites Attract” challenge. I put a great deal of thought and effort into that piece and I was upset when it was implied that he gave me my idea.

LC: How did you deal with criticism, not only on the show, but from media as well?

JS: I was somewhat prepared from my experience at art school. Although, I think it’s hard for any artist to have their work – and personality – criticized on national television. On the show, they portray me as being rather one-dimensional. In reality, people that know me know I’m much more than that character. But this experience definitely helped me develop a thicker skin.
I was fortunate to receive objective, genuine feedback and encouragement from so many fans. Regarding the criticism, some of it has proved beneficial – anything that wasn’t constructive I just brushed off.

LC: How has it made you stronger?

JS: After experiencing the vulnerability of being videotaped naked on television  (among other things) I feel more confident to do anything now. This kind of experience really lets you see who your true friends are; real friends will stand by you through anything, and I was relieved when most of mine did. When the show aired, I felt an incredible amount of anxiety. But now that the show is completed, I feel much more at ease. I am very happy with everything in my life right now.

To read Jackie’s blog and view her work please visit: http://www.jaclynsantos.com

Interview with artist, Daniel St George

Daniel St George the 2nd is a self taught artist , designer and entrepreneur  living in Brooklyn, NY.  When he’s not working on his art, he spends time working on his new publication ­­­“­All is not Yet Lost” which will launch late 2010. I got the opportunity to speak with Daniel in my studio about his art in August 2010.

LC: What are you working on now?

DSG2: Large collages of paper mixed with text — It’s surrealist psychedelic. I’m working with familiar childhood references of cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and removing their eyes and lens to create a dark character and removing their definition. Since the eyes are “windows to the soul” I’m removing that and juxtaposing it with subtext of relationships, social standing, and money, our modern worries. I’m incorporating found books, using text to create found poetry. From there, I’m taking these and painting out words to make new statements. This process allows me to discover something within something and making it my own.

LC: Why the focus on cartoon characters?

DSG2: Cartoon characters have childhood simplicity. Our culture places such high value with these fictional characters. Since these characters are some of the first images that we’re given, at an early age, they make such an impact on our minds. I want to destroy these bonds and redefine these characters and question the viewer ‘s attachments, make them question why they hold such a high value in their mind. My goal is to replace my characters with the commercial branded characters and pull a “Bait and Switch” I want our culture to question our conditioned thoughts, shake people up and say, “How do you feel about this?” and aggressively trying to change these people‘s point of view since we are constantly being reassured that everything is ok. People need to question themselves and I feel our society is holding us back. We are now living in golden cages and need to break out.  The ultimate objection is to question where they are and where they are going. I think that this is the opposite of what is happening in today’s society. We are being reinforced that everything is all right and positive. No one is saying it’s not ok, and it is ok to be scared. No one wants to disturb himself or herself. We are all sleeping giants with great possibilities if we can accept the truth no matter how discomforting. Vulnerability is how you get to be stronger. We are just holding ourselves back ultimately.

These cartoon characters are now a product and are commercialize. People forget all of the stories and morals are learned from the cartoons, which are now thrown by the way side. I have an affinity for some cartoons, which have and haven’t been commercialized. My work has as much negative imagery as it does positive imagery. I love working with dualities, juxtaposition, minimal, and simple elements. I use an ambiguous cool color palette because I don’t want the color to take away from the message. I want people to question this.

To see more of Daniel Work please visit:http://www.danielstgeorge.com/

To find out more about his up and coming publication, please visit

http://www.allisnotyetlost.com

Interview With Painter, Ayakoh Furukawa

Somewhere Nowhere: Child II

I first met  Ayakoh Furukawa in her studio at an “Open Studio” event in Long Island city a couple of weeks ago.The paintings are  whimsical , graphic ,with bold color layered with a dark,  subject matters .  My kind of girl!

Her recent series are Asian girls from the 19th Century, who appear quote sweet and innocent, but if you get up close, you will notice a subtle aloofness about them. Not so sweet and innocent anymore. This intrigued me enough to asked some questions  to Ayakoh about her work:

LC:I love the characters you’ve created in you work.

As you told me, girls in these paintings are precious and beautiful but also cruel and bitter. I think that’s a really clever juxtaposition and metaphor!

Why did you want to portray this? Was this based on some personal experiences?

AF:I tried to paint innocent children with happy paper wall print but you see them bitter.  My childhood was very hard in many ways.   I intend to portray something innocent.

However the truth is there is not innocent childhood and such.  We all experience bitter and sweet memories in our childhood. Childhood is really vulnerable.  You see that aspect in my works.

LC:Looking at your other work-“Text Drawing” in particular- this seems to be a continuous theme in your work. Am I correct?

AF: Yes.  I tried to incorporate text in my work since 2003.  My first works were very conceptual and did not communicate with viewers well. I have started current style from 2005.  First I made portraits of girls in a word or a sentence like FAT, I am lonely, etc.  They were like the girls personal inner voice.  Theme is getting bigger and deeper.  I am drawing long-necked women in Burma with Opera Winfrey’s quotation.   I constantly evoke women’s issues.

LC: Please tell me about your process.

I am dying to know how you come up with such crafty themes in your work.

I felt squeamish, yet, intrigued when I saw your “100 Ways to Torture the Innocent (Part of My and Your Mind)”.

AF: “100 Ways to Torture the Innocent(Part of My and Your Mind)” was completed for Making a Home: 33 Japanese Artist Living in New York Exhibition at Japan Society in 2007.  I had a female hamster, Wachacha but she died while I was returning to Japan.  I really loved her.  She comforted my lonely life in New York.  I missed her and started making drawings for myself to ease my remorse.   One time Eric Shiner came to my studio and got interested in drawings.  At that time I has only 7 or 8 drawings.  I told him that I planed to make 100 like old Chinese scroll paintings.   One hundred means ‘plenty’ in eastern culture.  He encouraged me greatly to do so.

It took a year to complete 100.  I put the date on the drawing that I made.I never abused my hamster.  Hamster became me and you.  Hamster’s life is very fragile so as our minds.  As I draw hamsters , I found that my mind is the one that has been tormented not just by the death of my hamster but also everyday life, childhood trauma and  loss of loved ones.

When I showed them, lots of people immediately got connected with my hamster drawings.

LC: In your latest work, you’ve incorporated European textile patterns in your backgrounds.

Is there a connection between the subject matter (girls) and your textile background?

AF:I wanted to make something unintentional so I made these Victorian children with textile patterns.  I am attracted to these patterns and want to know what kind of conversation that I can create.   These paintings were made as counter works to text drawings.

LC: What are you working on now? Any upcoming shows we should know about?

AF: I enjoy taking photographs now. These are experimental yet I plan to show them in September.

To view more of Ayakoh Furukawa‘s work, please visit:

www.AyakohFurukawa.net

Interview with New York Painter, Usoon Woo

If you ever were to meet Usoon, you would never forget her. Her energy and exuberance makes a long lasting impression and her paintings are filled with passion and spirit, much like herself. 

Below is the conversation we had about her latest work:

 EC:Could you tell me about your current series you are working on?

 I just started a new series called “Graphic Prose”. I love to write and I love to paint so I am excited about this new body of work because it brings both worlds together. The pieces are text-based and very colorful; Inspired by picket signs. They are whimsical, vibrant paintings that represent me, like a visual diary of sorts.

EC: Where do most of your ideas come from?

Keeping my journal close at hand and then browsing through it months later when I am uninspired and deflated. It’s like a cookie jar.

EC:What has inspired you to come up with this idea?

Watching documentaries that involve protests or demonstrations. The picket signs really inspired me on so many levels. I also found some old stories of mine where I started to experiment with changing the fonts and colors; really bringing them to “visual life”. I had forgotten about those and so I am revisiting that idea with a new perspective.

EC:In what ways do you express yourself with what you are trying to say in your work?

Most of my work revolves around symbols or text and a whole lot of color.  I can’t think of a better way to express myself.  With 26 letters, you can say absolutely anything.

EC:What mediums do you work with?

Usually, if I am painting I use acrylics and pastels. But, I’ll use anything I drag home from the art store, or grocery store. Really, who can say no to inks or graphite pencils or markers? I just got done working with alphabet pasta for god’s sake.

EC:I know that your husband is a musician. How has that influence your artwork?

My husband is so supportive and he’s really helpful in any construction issues or brainstorming sessions. He is the most original person I’ve ever met, so he, himself, influences my artwork more than any music ever could.

EC:How has  working for an artist altered your perspective in art? (Either on the business side and/or the creative side.)

Working as an artist assistant has been invaluable; especially here in NYC. I have worked for other artists in other cities, but none can compare to NY. I have learned so much in the studio, and most importantly, I have met so many other artists through the studio.  The artist I work for is successful and amazing. She is basically my mentor; she just doesn’t realize it.  While in the studio, I am there when things go wrong and when things go right. I get to see it all for the most part and it both empowers me and intimidates me at the same time.  Nonetheless, I get to use my artistic skills, which is 100% more enjoyable than any cubicle I’ve ever been in before.

 

 

 

Interview With German Artist, Sibyll Kalff

Sibyll in an artist and musician who resides in Cologne, Germany. I got the pleasure of finding out a lot about Sybill and her work through this interview. For further information about this artist you can read her work online at http://www.sibyllkalff.com. In the meantime, please enjoy reading our discussion below:

LC: What is the concept behind your current series, “Tents in the Sky”? How did you come up with that idea?

SK: The “Bitter ‘n’ Beautiful” text by my friend Dennis Leroy sums a lot up about the background of this series (http://sibyllkalff.com/texts-TentInTheSky.htm) I started that series, dreaming me back in a place I had in Cologne years ago, that I always called my “tent in the sky” and old attic. I rented a little room that came with an attic that was covered with white linen. When it was windy, it moved and made this beautiful sound. I  had attached to the little room, which was basically my workroom office, internet cafe and guest room, another room, built by a friend. It was like in a big big tent. I always dreamt of having this really renovated a real additional living space. I had windows facing a rather big backyard other houses in a good distance, the walls were as thick as can be and for years I never had the feel I had any neighbors in miles around me. I had my  “tent in the sky” for nearly 4 years.

 

LC: How has traveling effected your artwork?

SK:

I always loved to travel and I have many travel sketchbooks. Apart from travel diaries and other objects, photos and I always loved to work while traveling and of course in a way, I always traveled working on my arts and music anyways. You could be caught in a place, but are nevertheless traveling – spiritually, mentally in memories or in daydreams – and of course travels inspired many series of mine, For example the series “1000 opunzien” (http://sibyllkalff.com/texts-dieweitesuchen-en.htm) I started in winter listening to Jimi Hendrix and of course many other bands I loved. Since it was winter I was  missing the hot days in the extremadura, where we spent months hoboing around which there were 1000s of opunzien around( http://sibyllkalff.slide.com/) All other cultures and music and art and places and life was a never ending inspiration for my own art and music – and the languages, people, I  insanely love landscapes and nature and to be one with it and to live outdoors for months and of course all the travels made a very good counterpart to any live in a city and temporarily, not nomadic. Nomadism was the original human life form, long before people had fixed settlements and I  think  nearly every human being has a natural instinct to move, to travel, and to load up the camels. Being on the road, you constantly experience new situations.

A very beautiful text illustrating this is written by my friend Abigail Doan (http://sibyllkalff.com/texts-leaves-seeds.htm) Another series is “Traveling is my Passport Series” as well connected to my wish to abolish all immigration laws worldwide.

I fly back between Germany and NYC, USA for  more then 10 years. NYC was always my hometown , especially the blocks around Tompkins Square. I never wanted to leave, but due to a 3 months tourist visa, I had to.

Daniela Mayer, a German cultural journalist made a very good radio feature about the topic of passports – the history, cultural meaning and all connected to “the passport” You can download the German version of the radio play and find an English translation with all my other passport series related links at: http://sibyllkalff.com/texts-interviews.htm

LC: Do you have an overall theme to your work?

SK: I once said 20 years ago in an interview, yes, the love for life… and it-s beauty -
insanity, despair, bitterness – just all facettes of the dance of life till it leads to
the dance of death. and to express that in all possible artforms, as I really over the
years worked in nearly all media. drawing though was allways the basic
that I allways came back to, like an “artistic home after explorations in other fields”
and I love drawings, because you can imagine and phantasize about all, you
can can have the smalles piece of paper and create universes, huge exhibition halls
full of works and it-s fast and direct and even more in the moment then other media for me.
But my body of work includes sculpture, paintings, computerart, design, visual poetry, photography, language, poetry, writing, performance, film, multimedia, music, theater,
curating, science, philosophy, and many other forms of artistic expression.

I have no overall theme but that and I love to quote Charles Mingus:
” I always love to play the truth of the moment. The reason it is so difficult is,
it is changing all the time”. In a way, my work always tries to express
the truth of the moment, no matter what truth that is in any given moment.
I love to improvise and experiment, like my music, we never
wrote songs (we played some pieces maybe 3 times or very rarely played
a song) but all my music is as well, the moment, the very moment and it-s
expression of manifestation, that-s why i all my life loved zen, buddhism,
taoism – you can find a very good text by the curator of the collection”man and death”
eva schuster about my series “deathdances” at:
http://sibyllkalff.com/texts-totentaenze-en.htm

Maybe one could formulate it as the manifestation and illustration of “the celebration
of life and death” and “the journey from alpha to omega” and all that you experience
on the way. in a way audiovisual diaries. and of course my art is allways politcal
as life is political, just by living.

LC: I know that you also play music. Do you find art and music to be
similar mediums? Is the creative process the same for both visual art and
music?

SK: I have the same approach to both. It’s all the same for me.
Each and every medium has it’s own specifics, but
I play like I draw and I draw like I play. I spent and wasted alot of time long ago,

To ask me, ‘Is it visual art or is it music’ ,which is stupid, as
it all inspires eachother mutually and in a way cannot be seperated at all and
is all one part of expression with different connotations and possibilites.
You hear music and see visual art (of course v.v. is possible, too)
but in a way it’s all the same expression. A flower just grows… it “has to” …
of course with the right amount of water, earth and light it grows happily
with the wrong one it dies. But it “has to grow” and it’s beautiful as
animals are always beautiful. It rains. It just rains. And that’s 1000 songs
that you can listen to and love. I always loved to spend many hours and to
sleep in the extremadura in fields next to flocks of sheep, that had different
tuned bells around their necks. and it was like the most wonderful music
you could not compose or force into existence.
my discography at: http://sibyllkalff.com/music-publications.htm. My main musicpage: http://www.myspace.com/sibyllk

LC: How has the recent influx of artist moving to Berlin from all over the world changed things?

SK:I think that Berlin at the moment experiences a great time for all artists which of course was and is connected to the simple fact, that even with the euro, that basically ruined everyone’s existence and made it hard to survive for nearly everyone.  Although you can still afford space in Berlin and that there is some space left, that of course a changing, too. But nevertheless, I think that Berlin right now is the happening art town in Germany. I’ve been  stranded for 2 years again in Cologne. I lived for months in Berlin in the 90ies, but have not been there since.

LC: Do you think Germany as a whole, is supportive of the arts in Berlin or are there mixed viewpoints?

SK: You can have more then various viewpoints on Germany. There are always countries being more supportive of the arts then Germany. The Netherlands had an incredibly good program, but the cultural budgets went downhill due to an economic disaster.

20 years ago, there were more then 20 people working in the cultural department for the arts in Cologne (as well responsible for funding, grants etc.) Now it is down to 3; This as a metaphor for the general situation of cultural funding in Germany and being supportive of the arts. I am sure that all Berlin’s arts get the best possible funding and support, since it’s  the capital.

Interview With Sarah Dobkin

I had interviewed Sarah Dobkin, an artist from Boston, who talks about her latest work. Sarah talks about how she captures the essence of energy through her paintings through patterns, colors, and movement. More of Sarah ‘s work can be found on  SarahDobkin.com.

Please listen below to our discussion about her work.

Interview with Adam Krawesky

I interviewed Adam Krawesky outside a cafe in Berlin, Germany.

Adam talks to me about his recent move from Toronto to Berlin, and how this change has affected his work both internally and aesthetically.

To view more of Adam’s work, visit http://www.Inconduit.com

Please listen to the link below to hear Adam talk in great length about his photography.

Interview with Adam