This last artist interview of the artist Nathan Lewis for my fifteenth week of art class was not an interview at all. This is because the artist himself was not present at the gallery and only left his works to display for us all to enjoy alongside the works of all the other art students also on display in the gallery. This is the first time this has happened where I conducted an “interview” solely based on an artist’s work and not the artist him/herself. It was all new and unique to me but I thought it was a nice twist to change things up since this is the very last interview before the semester’s end.
Out of all the art pieces by numerous artists on display in the gallery, there was a specific reason why I had to chose this one. That is because Nathan’s art used skateboard decks as its canvas and one of my favorite hobbies is skateboarding! This exhibit caught my eye right away and right then I knew I had to write my post about this more than all else. It was very interesting to see art’s influence reach as far as to include skateboarding and the fact that the decks were used was a very nice touch. This appealed to me the most in all of the gallery because of the sort of connection I share with Lewis’s work, especially since I carry around my skateboard all day and ride it to quickly get around. The graphics were just as intriguing. Each deck had a full-size portrait of a person of some mystical origin. Every one of them was full of detail with vivid colors.
For this week’s art class artist interview, I walked into the Gatov-West Art Gallery and saw a familiar face. That person is none other than the artist Yireh Elaine Kwak, who has presented her works and whom I have interviewed before in these galleries back in week three of this class. Elaine has been painting for around nine or ten years already. She is studying here at Cal State Long Beach for her Bachelors degree (BFA) in painting and this current exhibit serves as her senior show. Elaine plans to aim for even bigger as she shared about her plans to attend grad school at UC Berkeley.
Elaine’s art works are rich and lively because they are all bursting with a vibrant array of colors. She stated that she takes around a month and a half of time per painting. I can totally see why she needs that much time with all the detail that goes into her art pieces. Elaine noted her preference of consistent usage of bright colors in her oil paintings. She primarily uses oil paints when it comes to painting landscapes because it gives the best range of saturated and neutral colors. Elaine’s focus on beautiful and natural landscapes have become the setting of most of her paintings. She states that this is because of the fact that it has always been very important to her family that the houses they chose to live in must have a beautiful view. Because of this strong influence, Elaine has always placed special emphasis on the beautiful landscapes exhibited in her works. She goes outside to watch the view then goes to a studio where she begins to sketch and paint the view from memory. Elaine has further stated that she draws inspiration from famous artists such as Van Gogh.
The artist I interviewed for my eleventh week’s art class artist interview was Gabriel Garcia. His works on display in his exhibit named Toxic Masculinity packed a strong message about various issues prevalent in modern society. The art presented was surely a different and an apparently darker approach to art but I feel its importance nonetheless. They deal with sensitive issues such as emasculation, sexism, sexuality, violence, etc. Each of his art works had different meanings and expressions that he wished to convey to the audience to evoke a strong impression and regard to the subject. Furthermore, they can also be based on significant or interesting events that he has experienced personally and felt the need to share or bring attention to. This gives me the feeling that Gabriel’s art pieces can all individually serve as a critique to a problem in the world.
Gabriel began work on all of his art pieces in the exhibit back in January so it took around 3 months to complete. Based on my past knowledge and experiences, that is considered a very short and quick amount of time to put together a whole exhibit as previous artists usually took more time on their works. Regardless, the quality of the art is right on par with that of previous artists. For his pieces, Gabriel uses charcoal grounds with graphite and ink on top with some erasures. Additionally, he employed the use of gray-scale to have a “psychological voice” and to slow down the pace with which we view the art. I believe this is also to create the gloomy and dark atmosphere and emotions that the art works are meant to express about the sensitive subjects they address. Another interesting point is that the pictures on each wall are connected with and relate to each other. Though they may look scattered, this is not the case. This is because the pictures are associated with various ideas, news events, and personal ideas and concepts as well.
My tenth week’s artist interview for my art class was of the artist Dawn Ertl. I was able to quickly conclude on how different and amazing her works were compared to those of past artists as soon as I walked into her art exhibit and saw a huge network of hanging fabrics. She states that she puts music in all her art pieces (in the case above, the song used was “Wait” by M83), making her works as unique as her name. This is a feat I have yet to understand and comprehend. Or maybe I can’t because it is her very own interpretation. Only later did I notice that there were quite a few plastic bags interwoven into the masterpiece as well. This is because Dawn worked on environmental issues 6 to 7 years ago prior to beginning her works on art. She took up art on the suggestion of one of her friends and so the plastic bags in the art piece can serve as a representation of the fusion she has created between her past environmental works and art.
The patterns of the art piece in the picture above are said to be based on music notations in the M83 song, leaving me to try my best to interpret it. Dawn stated that the piece took 6 months which seemed very plausible for such a huge project. Furthermore, her entire exhibit on display took a total of about a year to complete. Regarding the colors, Dawn stated that she dyed them herself and aimed for contrasting colors that still went well together. Additionally, she looks at the plastic bags woven into the art piece in a poetic way. Upon further clarification, she means that the plastic bags are poetic in the way that they fly around and drift in the air until falling down or getting caught on something. I believe she thinks this way because its fate is very unpredictable and left to the forces of nature. This exhibit served as Dawn’s thesis and is probably her very last show here.
This 9th week’s artist interview was one that was equally captivating as the ones before. The artist was Michael Rollins with his very own exhibit called New Digs. Michael’s work deals with oil on canvas that show intricate patterns or soft swirls that seem to flow straight out of a dream. It is very colorful and a lot seem to be going on in each painting yet there seems to be some sort of order amidst the chaos. Looking at the paintings, I feel like each part is exactly where it needs to be and fit in really well. I later found out that each painting that was on display usually takes a month to complete. That was impressing to me and I thought about how much time, effort, and devotion goes into each piece. Furthermore, Michael often undertakes two or three paintings simultaneously. It was hard for me to imagine how such a thing could be possible. Wouldn’t you forget where you left off when dealing with multiple works? When asked, Michael stated that he is able to switch his train of thought across the multiple ongoing works. It’s also beneficial as he can borrow or carry over ideas from one to another.
Currently, Michael tries to focus on one art work at a time to avoid “mistakes”. I put quotes around mistakes because I did not fully understand what he meant. He could easily make multiple mistakes on his works and I would not notice because of how intricately everything seems to blend together in a seamless manner. So there really is some sort of order or plan to his pieces? Besides, I have always believed that art is one’s expression so mistakes are irrelevant. How can you say someone’s expression is a mistake? Simply let art take you where it wants to go. Michael stated that art is like “problem solving” because of how you overcome all the obstacles and how you organize your works. He also brought up a very interesting point of how painting theoretically shouldn’t be here anymore because of the prevalence of modern technology such as photography. The fact that this hobby called painting still exists must mean that it still holds some value. Perhaps it could be a way of preserving our ancient tradition of expression through drawing it out ourselves instead of letting a camera shutter snap and instantly do all our work. Regarding his work, Michael tries to express without trying to express and simply feels his way through it.
For my eighth week’s artist interview for art class, I walked into the Gatov West Gallery and saw a familiar face. This was because the artist there was Maccabee Shelley who returned to the galleries for what seems to be a second time to exhibit his different works. He was very familiar because he was who I interviewed for my very first artist interview back in the second week of this class. I remember he previously exhibited his works with glass. However this time, he returned with something completely new but just as interesting. He was in the middle of trying to make a functional electric drum pad out of a slab of cardboard amidst a messy desk full of wires, cables, tools, a fan, and electrical equipment as shown in the picture above. A second yet different project he was simultaneously showing was geomancy, which is a method of interpreting markings or patterns. I did not know what geomancy was at the time and I had to search it up in order to know what was going on.
To try to explain all of this madness, the interesting red box that is interactive with a red button in the foreground of the picture on top seemed to be the geomancy exhibit. According to Shelley, it possesses the ability to “tell the future” when someone places their finger on the metallic pads on top. Apparently, this is made possible by the typewriter on the side that has been transformed to become a makeshift magnetic field generator to power the box and electric drum pad. This generator is in turn powered by a tank of liquid nitrogen sitting by the base of the table. The magnetic field that is generated is transmitted to the box that interacts with the touch of a finger that gives off a unique response. Shelley also has a hammer with the handle coated in silicon by his side which he uses to bang against the typewriter when needed to adjust the magnetic field. There was so much technical stuff that I wasn’t able to fully comprehend. It was interesting nonetheless. I’m not even sure if this can be considered art but I guess he can have his own category called “electronic art”. Shelley states that art is an expression and a language that we all chose how to interpret. In this way, it breaks barriers and brings all of us together. This is yet another example to me of how far the boundaries of art can be pushed.
My artist interview for my sixth week of art class was that of the talented Alanna Marcelletti. Her works deal with and express the scrambled experiences of womanhood. This ranges from gender roles to pursuing career goals to motherhood. Alanna states that she is interested in bold sculptures as well. She loves art because of the flexibility it provides and that the best part is being able to play around with ideas and equipment. I was especially intrigued about how specific her theme was. Art can be freely manipulated yet it takes a creative mind and great imagination to utilize it to its full potential. I feel like that is what Alanna achieved because of how incredible it is to carry art into societal issues such as womanhood and gender roles. It really shows how dynamic and expressive art can be. This shows how open art works are to interpretation however you like.
However, I have learned that Alanna hasn’t always been doing art. She didn’t focus on it in high school but has always been interested in it. Alanna stated that she could spend days doing art because she loves what she does. Her works aim to let viewers know the narrative of the painting, its aspect of feminism, and its identity from the viewing. Additionally, it doesn’t take much for her to get started on a work. Alanna often feels inspired by an idea and just goes along with it until it becomes an end product. Her advice to other artists are to always experiment and to have fun with all that you do and set out to accomplish. Feels good to see that art like hers is setting out to spread a positive influence. Alanna graduates this May.