I graduated with a B.A. in Studio Art from St. John's University (Collegeville, MN) in 2009. Since then I've had my work featured in a few local and regional exhibitions as well as a couple of art blogs. In 2010 I participated in the Summer Artist Residency Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York and subsequently during the following summer of 2011 participated in a group exhibition called "Condition X" at SVA's Westside Gallery. During the second half of 2011 I was part of a collaborative artist group that created a site specific installation which was featured at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in an exhibition entitled "Intersections". Later this year in May, 2012 I will be part of a group exhibition at Rosalux Gallery in Minneapolis, and will also have my work featured in the upcoming Spring edition of Studio Visit Magazine.
American Decadence (Codington Co. South Dakota), Oil on Canvas, 24 x 64 inches
Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
My paintings consist of large scale panoramic landscapes derived from photographs I've taken in various places. Within these landscapes I usually will place figures to help create a visual narrative within the composition. Additionally (in more recent work) I will also add some sort of fantastical, unreal element or occurrence to the narrative, often with a surreal or supernatural bend. I think this recent "surrealist" development comes from my interest in artists like Gregory Crewdson, Beth Hoeckel, Michaël Borremans and Ryan Mrozowski. Probably also from watching lots of movies by directors like David Lynch. Actually the panoramic orientation of my canvases does come from my interest in film so there's definitely a link there. Whereas in college and through 2010 I was interested in attributing symbolic meaning to the various motifs I was painting, I think now it's become a more generic, psychological malaise. I'm interested in the undercurrents of American society and how through this type of work I might be able to comment on those conditions.
"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 guess I'd hope that my work connects with people, either on a personal or psychological level, and maybe that it would heighten some sense they have of themselves and their surroundings.
Jerome Ave (Bronx, NY), Oil on Canvas, 24 x 48 inches
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
One of the more memorable bits of advice came when I did the 2010 Summer Residency Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York. I attended a lecture/pep-talk by Jerry Saltz (New York Magazine art critic and all around swell guy). In one part of his talk he was giving examples of the angst that can come with the constant failures in an artist's career, "fighting your inner demons" as he put it. As he was doing this he made an arm motion as if he was mimicking a gas meter gauge, moving his arm back towards empty with each negative thought. "You say 'I didn't go to the right school' ", he said "I'm not a good schmoozer, I'm not in enough shows, no one gets my art.." and so on. Then he says, "And at your darkest moment of despair you tell yourself, 'But I'm a fucking genius!!' ", as he swings his arm over to the other side. I think the point he was making is that as an artist you have to be passionate about what you do and you must be confident in yourself. Of course too much confidence can be negative, you could become an egotistic jerk but if you don't take yourself seriously no one else will. Come to think of it I'm pretty sure most of the great artists were/are narcissistic assholes anyway, so maybe that's actually okay.
Another similar bit of advice I've picked up is to be true to yourself. As an artist you have to be honest with yourself, and at times self-critical.
Seeking out the advice of others and having critiques are also very valuable. You don't want to live too much in your own head.
Culberson, Texas, Oil on Canvas, 24 x 68 inches
Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
Because my paintings are based on landscape photos much of my process begins with a "photo-hunting" or "location scouting" trip. Sometimes I have a specific place in mind, other times just a general idea of the type of location I'm looking for. Google's street view feature has been very helpful with this. I've also made a map with pin drops on the spots I've photographed for paintings I've done, plus many, many other spots that could work for future paintings. I generally look for landscapes or settings, whether urban cityscape, park, suburban neighborhood, or rural landscape, that have a generic specificity. This is also a good excuse to travel different parts of the country, and on various road trips I will stake out specific places along the way to use for possible paintings. Recently though I've only been able to get out to closer, regional destinations.
Once I have the location photos I compile them into groups and see which compositions interest me, or what could work with the idea I have in mind. I'll also sketch out my ideas and different compositional arrangements. From here I can figure out what sort of composition I can do and what models or figures I'll need. When available I've taken photos of friends or co-workers who can pose for me, other times I've just used online sources and other reference material.
And after all of this I start the painting process, which is your normal canvas building, under-drawing, painting late at night sort of operation. I have a small, one room studio space at home. It's very convenient but also filling up with canvases now.
We'd most likely try to find some really heady and conceptual stuff that we would be fascinated about and try to understand. Later we'd realize we only had a vague notion of what we saw, explaining what we thought it meant in generic terms, and in all honesty would be totally lost and confused. But at least we'd look smart and sophisticated to the general public.
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?
I'm always looking online for new artists and have a ton of files on my harddrive of artists and projects I'm inspired by.
Sighting Near Scipio, Utah, Oil on Canvas, 28 x 64 inches
Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Yes, actually. I have a group show coming up in May at Rosalux Gallery (1400 Van Buren St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413). The opening reception is scheduled for May 4, from 7-10 pm. Several of my paintings will be featured along with work by Chloe Briggs, Brent Erickson and Jennica Kruse.
Also, if this counts as an exhibition, my paintings will be featured in one of the upcoming Spring volumes of Studio Visit Magazine. That should be coming out sometime in early May.