Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pete Driessen - Mixed Media

Nauticalia Tentacalus Installation-Detail (Aft View), 
They Won’t Find Us Here Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, Pete Driessen © 2010,
Mixed Media on Optimist Dinghy, Size Varies.
Pete Driessen

Name: Pete Driessen
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Website: profile:
Facebook page:

Pete Driessen is a Minneapolis based multipractice visual artist, painter and educator who creates large scale socio-political paintings, mixed media ship fleets, found object installations, conceptual art statements, and performative participatory projects. Pete received his MFA in Visual Culture from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and has been awarded regional grants and awards, including a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Assistance Fellowship, a Metropolitan Regional Arts Council/Small Arts Grant, and a Minneapolis Arts Commission/Neighborhood Arts New Presenters Grant.

Pete’s exhibition record includes national and regional solo and group exhibitions, including two recent local solo projects: Curatorial Cult Club/Kwestion Quration? at the Walker Art Center Open Field, and Nauticalia Tentacalus at They Won’t Find Us Here Gallery. Pete loves to create and eat homemade banana cinnamon pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, bacon cheeseburgers, and prefers the texture and flavor of Cool Whip over Ready Whip.

Self Portrait with Roof Rake #3-Detail(Face)
Pete Driessen © 2010,
Acrylic & House Paint/Gloss Acrylic Gel & Iridescent Tinting Mediums/Modeling Paste/Unstretched Dark Blue Camping Canvas/Hangs from Grommets, 120 x192 inches

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
When I was a little boy I played a tuba solo in front of a large hometown audience with Novocain through out my mouth! Yikes! Run: John Philip Sousa March: (

My recent work is well threaded into and energized by recent painful life transitions. Some of my latest projects include painting my Self Portrait with Roof Rake series and my Love’s Torment series; illustrating and writing a zine-ish Divorce: Artist Discovery Letter statement; producing a random Artist-Daddy-Mom blog; and developing and curating a hybridic garage-based gallery known as TuckUnder. I’m currently writing a little book entitled, ChromOrgasm, which explores color as a power distributor, and outlines social, political, and biological themes of color within our culture. I recently finished an assemblage about personal miracles for a group show entitled, El Milagro at Intermedia Arts.

I’m just beginning two new large-scale bodies of paintings about transition, masculinity and consummation. I am preparing to create conceptual pieces about the theme of money for a group show at Banfil Locke Arts Center in 2012. I am also preparing portfolio work for Art Basel Miami Beach in December and NYC Armory Week in March 2012.

Despite all the recent producing, I’ve observed that my painting, mixed media constructions, and installation work are growing and extending conceptually into many written, visual and curatorial directions and forms, and as singular, complimentary, and participatory offshoots of my visual arts practice. Like many artists with kids—I lack studio time, I’m having trouble financially piecing it all together, and keeping up with professional and artistic follow through.

"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 get up in the morning and turn on the radio to listen to the weather report. Run: Earth, Wind, & Fire: September: (

Growing up in a large family with a print rich environment helped set the stages for what I produce today. I like verbal story telling, independent documentaries, literary non-fiction, allegorical history painting, and representational narratives. I am allured by everything conceptual and contemporary, too. With my larger paintings I am interested in an emotive reaction within the viewer.

I do not ask anyone to like my work. In fact, I enjoy it more when people dislike my work—because it tells me so much more about the viewers relation to the work and how the work plays into their mindset. Playing into viewer’s false perceptions and the common Americans psyche, and those who have been deceived by power and the media are all a favorite of mine. Exposing a viewer to a new truth or meaning brings a different level of meaning to the artwork itself. The artistic statement of truth seeking is more often visually clearer and journalistically straightforward in my paintings than in my ship constructions or conceptual sculptures.

Triangulation-Detail (Deceptive Face)
Pete Driessen © 2011, Acrylic Paint/Gloss Acrylic Gel & Iridescent Tinting Mediums/ Micaceous Iron Oxide/Modeling Paste/Unstretched Canvas. Hangs from Grommets. 108x144 Inches

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Play something artistic and something that I can work with, okay? David Byrne. Laurie Anderson (, John Cage, Lou Reed, and on and on.
I like hearing the comments from old blue-collar ladies wearing gold Lame who have had a few glasses of wine on Friday or Saturday nights during Art A Whirl. It usually comes down to them thanking me for painting about a social political event that they never heard about, and they declare in a giddy, girly fashion something like, “…tee he…I’d like to see more nude male figures, bigger cocks and larger penis’s in your paintings… tee he, tee he!”

Things that are inaccurate and bug me to the indignant creative core often inspire me. When I was a kid I went to interview with a bigwig art director at a Minnesota based worldwide incentives agency. The old dismissive dork told me to “become an electrician!” Another time, a perfectionist art mentor told me in an invalidating tone that I could not ”make up your own words.” What bullshit! I heard Shaggy in the back of my head laughing, “Like, everyone must follow the Holy American Dictionary and never wane from it, man!” Only if A. Merriam Webster adds a new word, then you can use it! This leads me to hearing and comparing all the reasons by non-artists and right wing business types why artists shouldn’t be artists. Often, just simply quietly listening to the continuous stream of dream stealers makes me stronger as an artist and empowers me to create even more.

I truly love a couple of Taoist phrases; “Chop wood, carry water,” and “The Tao that can be taught and told is not the eternal Tao.”

Tell me about your workspace and your creative process.

I arrive at the studio and turn on the radio on my broken tape player: Suburbs: Music for Boys. (

My creative process is a nomadic and theoretical workspace that is nearly everywhere and can take place at anytime—the home, the car, the cabin, the kid’s school, the yard, and the raspberry patch. I have had studios in Northeast for nearly 20 years, the most recent I created in conjunction with my wonderful arts friendly landlord. I created it to be a large work, study, show, creation, visualization and meditation space. I usually have several large bodies of work in multiple forms going at the same time. The site is a chaotic, disorganized blend—as I work on large scale paintings, conceptual projects, artist statements & writing, reading, collages, mixed media ship constructions, water tank sculptures, and combined installation all at once.

Frequently acting like a silly, scurrying squirrel or chicken-with-its head-cut-off allows for accidents, coincidences and “aha” moments to occur, ideas to generate, and my work to be produced in multiple vector modes rather than linear one-at-a-time mode. I often attempt to separate ideas, materials, organize, arrange, orchestrate and categorize things into goofy systems, kooky charts, mind maps, files of files, and lists upon lists. Gelling time is important to me. Rarely do I work quickly through a piece for the simple reason to get it done. Rushing into creation often has a poor result for me and often conversely affects my follow up with the work. Breaking the studio into four physical arenas has been helpful although it continuously overlaps: office, shop, storage, and creation/exhibit.

I firmly believe the myth of northern light for painters is complete bullshit. Light and artwork are ever changing and shifting. And attempting to have perfect light all day is, in my mind, a joke. I prefer all different kinds of light and its theatrical affect on my art and working conditions—halogen, incandescent, florescent, shadowy, filtered and seasonal natural light that is ever shifting illumination. For these reasons, I created a semi defined rectangular interior building space, devoid of windows, with large working walls and only one overhead skylight. The skylight acts as my own little Turrell sky pesher.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Radio is working again. Run: BAD Cmon Every Beat Box: (

I tend to not follow work that is solely created for ego based, selling, capitalist, careerist, or self-serving purposes. Although my preferences are wide ranging, they are often lean towards critical thinking artists or artworks that are aesthetically advanced in their ideas, imagery, thought and creative processes. I love it when artwork makes me feel uncomfortable and uneasy, makes me pee, makes me think on the toilet, or brings me to a visual or spiritual climax. It's unfair and inappropriate to drop names so consider the following an unfinished list or work in process of artists that visually stimulate and engage me somehow. I know that I am forgetting literally handfuls of talented Minnesota artists and could easily fill pages of artists in every discipline because my interests are wide ranging.

For technical and participatory work I love the Works Progress ( collective,
Steve Deitz & Northern Lights (,
Peter Haakom Thompson (

For conceptual work I watch Aaron Van Dyke (,

For sculpture I follow Aaron Spangler
Andrea Stanislav (,
Gregory Euclide (,
and the Franconia ( troops.

For painting and drawing I enjoy Chris Mars (,
Carolyn Swiszcz (,
Lisa Nankivil (

For photography it’s Paul Shambroom—hands down (,

For sociopolitical work I appreciate Camille Gage (

For Video I watch Matt Bakkom (,

For printmaking I dig Jenny Schmid (

Gorgonica-Triptych/Black & Orange-Detail (Spider/3 Balls)
Pete Driessen © 2010,
Acrylic & House Paint/Gloss Acrylic Gel & Iridescent Tinting Mediums/Modeling Paste/Unstretched Black Camping & Florescent Orange Canvas/Found Mirror Frame/Hangs from Grommets & Wire, 
 74 x 78 Inches

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

Damn this radio, the reception sucks: Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road (…

Where I hang out in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota is often an extension of my art practice and its extension into my life.
Walker Art Center Open Field and Drawing Club (, Midway Contemporary Art & Library (,
Art of This (,
They Won’t Find Us Here Gallery (,
Rochester Contemporary Art Center (,

MAEP, State Fair, Paul Bunyanland, the Soap Factory, and nearly vacant strip malls. I love outstate antique stores, dollar stores, thrift stores, rural flea markets, old fashioned barn keggars, and the smell of fresh silage and fish eviscerations. I love visiting and having conversations at other artist’s homes and studios. I love going to lunch, garage sales, seeking out junk materials and old ephemera, and hanging out at workshops and lectures on all types of subjects. To satisfy my nautical urges it’s the 3 W’s: Wind, water, and waves. And lakes and nude beaches. Wait…there are no nude beaches anymore in Minnesota. Damn, we are sooo puritan here.

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?

Wish I may, wish I might…I want a new stereo with Bose speakers: Gil Scott Heron: The Revolution will Not be Televised (

Often, I utilize nontraditional online media resources for seeking out a variety of quirky and idiosyncratic art related ideas, materials, opportunities, connections and resources. I like continuously learning in all forms and believe that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. I love listening to those that speak to truth to power: Cornell West, Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Naomi Wolf, Amy Goodmann, and Ed Said. I embrace truth and meaning and find inspiration from Link TV (,
and Architects & Engineers for Truth (,

For strictly art thingies I like perusing calendars and classifieds of a zillion blogs and mailing lists, including
radical art caucus (, (,
and rhizome (

Detecting Curation—Detritus #12/Detail (Wolfgang Puck Hamburger).
Pete Driessen © 2010, 8.5x11, Half Eaten Hamburger, Penny, Type Scale, Marker on Copy Paper. Performative “CSI” image of found hamburger. Hamburger found by artist while detecting curatorial detritus around museum. Image 12 of 34 objects. The Curatorial Cult Club/Kwestion Quration? Walker Art Center Open Field, Minneapolis, MN. An artist curated, ten week participatory/performative solo exhibition and alternative publication project. Artist Cell Phone Photo.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Crap! Radio off. Turn on old fashioned analog TV with rabbit ears/UHF antennae: Star Trek/Intro Rerun: (

I will be secretly placing an undisclosed image of a naughty, haughty Michele BachMANn in her birthday suit at the Lake Harriet Troll house during a random bike ride this fall. It will be a fleeting, meek and foible art moment and perhaps it will get blown away by the wind, covered in leaves, partially chewed up by a chipmunk, destroyed by an indignant toddler who has had too much sugar, pooped on by a Canadian Honker, or stolen by a young waif boy who has been recently love smitten.

Later this fall and next year, I will continue developing artworks relating to themes of truthiness, collective deception, false fear, and abuse of power. A few, triumphant galloping horses and odd phallic characters with names like Wolfi, Condi, Karlie, Rummy, Dickie, and Georgie just might show up in my mix, too. I am perennially job hunting and presently preparing six different grants and exhibit applications all due within three weeks of each other, so you might find me on my laptop at Spyhouse burning the midnight oil. Or surrendering and being in the present moment with my ailing father or harvesting and picking raspberries with my kids in our backyard. X0x0X

And here are some things...

Mpls.SW Patch interview/article

And to the Cashe at the Casket, Nov. 4-6: NE Mpls Arts District

Send off to Art Basel, at VanBrabson Gallery on Nov. 19:

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