Sunday, May 15, 2011

James Dankert - Painter

Interns Rown
James Dankert

SpotArt Gallery Featured Interview

James Dankert
Saint Paul MN
Website: profile

I’m a visual artist and musician who resides in Saint Paul, MN.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
I paint mostly with acrylics, sometimes with oil, and the “through line” of the last 4 years of my work is the human form. As for style, I’m primarily interested in lines and hard-edged, flat areas of color. My work doesn’t present much in the way of painterly brushwork or illusions of volume, shadow, and light. I’m constantly engaged in the process of discovering my strongest interests and paring down my imagery to include only those interests.

Currently I’ve been working on a series of flat, nude human forms against black backgrounds, taking equal parts inspiration from Attic vase painting and from the paintings of John Wesley. My previous project was a series of office scenes depicting employees in anonymous office spaces. While I started this series with the idea of painting the office as psychological landscape, as I worked through the images, I discovered my deeper interest in the form and framing of the human figures within these scenes. My current series of nudes sheds reference to a physical context and presents the contours of flat human forms interrupted by the edge of the support.


"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?

I hope that my most successful paintings would support a variety of readings, I don’t feel like my paintings are vessels for meaning. That said, I can note what I’m thinking about when I paint. My first hope is that an audience would perceive a certain deadpan humor in my imagery, an eye for blunt and blank moments. In my office series, I’m trying to paint minimally expressive images that capture unremarkable moments of the work day in an office. As for my current series, I think of the imagery as a playful embrace of a non-spiritual, body-centered worldview.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Get out and see as much art as you can and, whenever possible, join the conversation at openings and exhibitions. I don’t follow this advice half as well as I should, but it seems like good advice.

Tell me about your working space and your creative process?
My workspace is cramped and uncomfortable. Whatever painting I’m working on is the eye of a hurricane of clutter and disorganization. If my space were too pleasant, I’m afraid I might just hang out and get nothing done. It’s in an old laboratory building, which I figure is an auspicious place to make art. My paintings start as quick pencil sketches made mostly while I’m sitting around home watching tv, without the use of models. The sketch transferred to the support provides a starting point, then I work out the rest of the image while I’m painting. The most difficult part of my creative process is trying to remain open, not to self-censor myself too severely during the early image-making process.

Conversation in Cube

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Some (there are so many):
Jennifer Davis -
Michael Thomsen -
Gregory J Rose -
Corey McNally -
Clinton Rost -
Ray Becoskie -
Gregory Graham -

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

I love the MIA. Right now, if you went with me, we’d see the Titian exhibition (I haven’t been yet—I need to get off the stick!). Northeast Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s Lowertown are areas I find myself returning to often to look at art during gallery openings and in artists’ studios when they’re open. I also like to see what’s happening at Gallery 13 in downtown Minneapolis.

We’d see everything we could. Since I’m a painter, we’d certainly look at paintings. Beyond that, I don’t have much of an art agenda. I’m curious about most approaches and I linger on whatever strikes me. I almost always find something interesting or instructive in the works I see.

Copy Room

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Lowertown First Fridays
Local Artist Interviews (Facebook)


Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Currently, I have a painting up in the “Flesh and Form” exhibition on view at Altered Esthetics through April 21:


In May, I’ll have paintings on view at SpotArt gallery for the “SpotAwhirl” show opening on May 20 AND May 21, 2011 .

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