Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art Space Talk: John Daniel Walsh

John Daniel Walsh studied at Alfred University and the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College. He is a video and multimedia artist. His work has been reviewed in Sculpture Magazine, Creative Loafing, Art Papers Magazine, New Art Examiner and several other publications. JD is currently represented by Solomon Projects in Atlanta.

Weekend (Reprise), 2006, LCD montiors, site specific installation

Brian Sherwin: JD, you studied at Alfred University and at Bard College. Can you tell our readers about your academic years? For example, did you have any influential instructors? Also, do you have any advice for current students?

John Daniel Walsh: Both experiences were good in different ways. Alfred in the 90's was a great place with a lot of exciting stuff happening, especially in the electronic art and 2-d departments, which is funny because most people think of Alfred as a ceramics school. To this day I remain extremely close with many people that I first met there. Peer Bode and Andrew Deutsch were instructors that had a profound effect on the way I thought about making art.

Bard was chosen largely because it takes place in the summer - at the time I was living in Atlanta, teaching at the Atlanta College of Art (now SCAD), and I didn't want to give up teaching, so the summer schedule worked out great for me. Bard is a funny place - you don't get so much done in terms of art production because of the short schedule, so what really matters is the feedback, connections, and philosophical aspects of your work. So after the summer you have all year to unpack it. I also got to meet a lot of great people there, many of whom are doing great things now.

I'm not sure what advice I can give students, except that they should try as many different things as they want - if you're early in your career, you have plenty of time to focus, and don't underestimate the value of experimentation.

Manual Blues (Times Spread Time-love Bare), 2008, Video Projector, Wood, Metronome, DVD Player

BS: JD, tell us about a few of your works… 'Manual Blues' for example. Also, tell us about the thoughts behind your work in general…

JDW: Well a lot of my work comes from experiments with chance. Not all, but a lot of it. "Manual Blues" was one of these pieces. I wrote a simple computer program that would take two texts that I would select, and it would weave them together into one. In the end, it's hard to tell what word comes from which source. For "Manual Blues", one text comes from old Blues lyrics, and the other comes from a technical document about gardening.
The words read much like poetry, and I suppose it owes a lot to William Burroughs and Brion Gysin's "cut up" techniques. Anyway, the words are put together by the program and projected onto a sculpture. They are displayed in a certain rhythm, and this rhythm corresponds to a metronome that is attached to the sculpture. I think of it as a deconstructed song. Many of the elements are there - lyrical content, rhythm, syncopation, etc.

Though I've worked a lot with video and new media, not all of my works are electronic. The series "Slow Fade" mostly consist of static objects made from wood, and are painted and silkscreened. Many of these pieces are appropriated, enlarged objects that are literally crashing into other appropriated, enlarged objects. I see these as a physical manifestation of the cinematic fade between scenes, where two things are visible at once, along with all of the baggage and history that's associated with these.

BS: Can you discuss the social implications of your work? Do you strive to examine any specific aspects of popular culture?

JDW: That's a tough one, because I do use a lot of appropriate images from popular culture. But it's not so much a critique on these objects or capitalism, etc. Instead, I often use recognizable images to critique and call attention to the way meaning is constructed. And it's easier to achieve this if I use very recognizable images.
For example, everyone can recognize a pack of Dentyne chewing gum, or Domino sugar, so by using them people can bring their own associations to the work. So really it's more about what happens when associations and expectations become convoluted and mutated, and the objects are vehicles for this experimentation.
Fade 1 (Book and Gum), 2006, Silkscreen on wood and birch pedestal, 22 x 24 x 13 inches

BS: What about other influences? Are you influenced by any specific artist, movement, or event?

JDW: I love all sorts of art and music - John Cage, Duchamp, Eno - anyone experimenting with chance, non-determinate art. Some younger or contemporary artists I'm into lately are Peter Coffin, Aida Ruilova, Wade Guyton, Urs Fischer, Rachel Harrison, just to name a few.

sub Sensory (with Scott Silvey), The hollow forms of domestic sets are scattered throughout the room. There is a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom scene. On large video screens, ghostly figures inhabit these spaces and go about their daily routines. In the gallery are tiny video surveillance cameras that capture the image of the gallery audience, and transports these images into the video space shared with the domestic ghosts
BS: I noticed that you are friends with Scott Silvey. As you may know, I interviewed Scott several months back. Have you ever thought about collaborating with Scott or another artist? Have you worked on any collaborations?

JDW: Yes! As a matter of fact, Scott and I collaborated on a piece called "subSensory" in 2001. This exhibition was the result of a grant from the City of Atlanta. It was a fun show, and a true collaboration from the beginning. We made these bare-bones "sets" of domestic rooms - a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom - and set up cameras that would capture the images of people in the audience. Then the people in the gallery would see themselves mixed up with images of people that weren't there - these kinds of domestic "ghosts" lurking around the gallery.
Scott's sculptures were fantastic. I love collaboration. I'm in a band too, which in some ways is the ultimate manifestation of that - I wish I could bring more of that sort of process into my visual work.
Slow Fade 2 (Pop), 2006, Silkscreen on wood and birch pedestal, 22 x 19 x 9 inches

BS: My understanding is that you are represented by Solomon Projects. You have had two solo exhibitions at Solomon Projects that I'm aware of. Do you foresee a third?

JDW: I certainly hope so! Solomon Projects is a great gallery, and Nancy Solomon has always been so great and supportive. She was one of the first people in Atlanta to really embrace video art, which is not an easy thing to do in a small market. It's hard to believe that the first piece I showed there was almost 10 years ago!

BS: Finally, will you be involved with any other exhibits in the near future?

JDW: Yes, I'm working on a bunch of projects now - I'll be in an exhibition at the University of Virginia in January 2009, a show about landscape, I'm also working on a new video, a group of audio recordings, and a possible audio installation. There may also be a few group shows in the New York area as well.

You can learn more about John Daniel Walsh by visiting his website-- More information can be found at the Solomon Projects website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Monday, July 28, 2008

Art Space Talk: Anthony Lister

Anthony Lister takes the edgiest elements of contemporary pop culture and marries them with unstructured representations of his urban environment to create artworks which are surreal in their imagery but strangely familiar in terms of their thematic base.

Brian Sherwin: Anthony, I read that you apprenticed under Max Gimblett. Can you tell us about that experience? Who else have you studied under?

Anthony Lister: When I was in university I met Max while writing interviews for a local paper. He then invited me to work with him in New York. It was great, and at times, stressful experience. I have studied under a few great artists, but the most of what I have learned has been from watching those that are unaware of my presence.

BS: You create both street and studio works. I've interviewed a few artists who create street art. They often mention that they feel "boxed in" when in the studio and when displaying art in a gallery. Have you experienced that as well… or do you just view it as two practices that allow you to explore your artistic direction under different sets of rules? Are there any rules?

AL: The latter for sure. I don’t confuse myself with trying to create consistent bodies of work both in the studio and on the street. The street work is very spontaneous and loose, I have few expectations with its outcome. The studio is a completely different story, that is where I am aware of the paths I have created in the past and am aware of the paths I want to take in the future. The two practices are almost opposite (in principal) to each other.

BS: So which do you enjoy over the other? Can you explain how your attitude shifts between the two? In other words, are you in a different state of mind when working on the street compared to working in a studio?

AL: They are both enjoyable approaches to making imagery. Even though they are different states of mind.

BS: Anthony, one could say that you are in a unique position in that your work is widely accepted by both the mainstream and underground art community. If you think about it… only a few artists have been able to walk the line between the two. Did you set out with that goal in mind?

AL: The only goal I set out with in the beginning was to be lucky enough to be in a position to make paintings and sculptures for the rest of my life. I consider the street work as a hobby and my studio work as the real deal. It is great that people enjoy both, I do too.

BS: Would you say that you seek to deconstruct the myths of popular culture? In your opinion, do you think that people, in general, want those media created myths to be exposed? Perhaps that is why people from so many backgrounds have embraced your work? What are your thoughts on this?

AL: Popular culture isn’t a myth, it is culture, it is spirituality, it is our heritage. The beauty of media is its ability to expose freedom of speech, or the lack of it. I’d like yo think that the embracing of my work in the world has a lot to do with the ambiguous nature of the conceptual keys and the images aesthetic qualities.

BS: You have openly said that you are not trying to make a statement with your work and that your work simply reflects the world around you. However, it is obvious that some statements are projected from your work upon viewing. Would you say that you leave your work open, philosophically speaking, so that people can draw their own statements from what they have observed?

AL: Maybe.

BS: Anthony, I rarely ask about family during interviews. However, I must say that I'm interested in how your family influences your work. By all accounts you are a wonderful father in that you don't allow your work to block your family relations. You have even included your family within the context of your art. For example, your wife and children have been featured in your Meet the Lister's stickers and you have stated that watching what your children watch on TV has had an impact on your work. With that said, how do you find balance between family and your art? Would you go as far as to say that your family is part of your artistic practice? Would your work be… different… if they were not in your life?

AL: I don’t know. I can’t imagine a life without them.

BS: Anthony, it has been speculated that you draw some influence from the Christian Rock genre. That has been stated on a few websites. Is there a religious or spiritual side to your work? Or is that aspect of your work private?

AL: I just read that myself on the internet. I think its hilarious. No its not true, but I wish it was.

BS: What about other influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists from the past? Any peers? For example, when you visit a gallery or museum what kind of art do you tend to focus on viewing?

AL: Rodin makes me cry, Picasso makes me smile, the Chapman brothers make me laugh out loud, Egon Schiele makes me shake my head with admiration, Bacon makes me jump and so on and so forth. But really- my most enlightened artistic experiences are with my children when I see their works on paper.

BS: Finally, can you tell us about some of your recent projects? What are you working on at this time?

AL: I have been working on sculptures in preparation for upcoming shows in London, Melbourne and Miami. The works themselves are figurative. I am in love with the human form still. I’m also working on a play with my daughter about a whale and a tiger.

You can learn more about Anthony Lister by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Art Space Talk: Vlatko Ceric

Vlatko Ceric was born in Zagreb, Croatia where his currently resides. Vlatko has background in physics, but during most of his professional life he has been involved in computer modeling. He is a Professor of computing at the University of Zagreb and has over 30 years experience in computer generated graphic art.

Vlatko started exhibiting in 2005, and after that his works were exhibited at a number of international print and digital art exhibitions in Europe, America and Australia. His works are in several public collections in Europe and Australia. They are also exhibited in a number of university classrooms and laboratories, scientific institutes and information technology companies.

His works are represented by the Rhonda Schaller Studio galleryin New York City in the framework of their Art Link network.

Vlatko with Agglomeration 34

Brian Sherwin: Vlatko, you have a background in physics, but you have spent most of your professional life involved in computer modeling. Can you discuss how your knowledge of both physics and computer modeling has influenced your personal art?

Vlatko Ceric: Studying physics enables one to understand the power of modeling because discovering physical laws is based on testing hypotheses about how the physical world is functioning. Hypotheses usually have the form of models and contemporary models are computer based, so working in the computer modeling field after a short career in physics was a rather natural orientation for me.

Artists certainly don’t spend their time in proving hypotheses, but whatever an artist creates he must have some idea about it and ideas can be represented in the form of models. Now a category of computer art called algorithmic art is oriented toward representing ideas about how visual objects should look like in the form of algorithms, i.e. procedures that precisely describe structure and generation of visual objects. Algorithms are coded in some programming language and thus have the form of computer model. Algorithmic art is precisely what I do as an artist, so you can see how my background helps me.

During the study of physics one also learns and get used to visual shapes of different relationships that appear in models. This experience then helps one to do the opposite, i.e. to have an intuitive idea about how should the model that has to produce certain type of visual structure look like and this is quite helpful too in algorithmic art.

Matrix, detail, wood, 63.6 x 63.6 x 6.5 cm, 2006 (inspired by Cartesian rhythm series)

BS: So as far as these algorithmic pieces are concerned... is your goal to visualize mathematical objects? Tell us more about the thoughts behind your work.

VC: Algorithmic art should not deal with visualizing of mathematical objects but rather with construction of algorithms that generate images that one has in his or her mind. So this is just the opposite approach than one of visualization of mathematical objects. And in developing algorithms for algorithmic art it is not important whether you use complicated mathematical forms or not - the only thing that matters is whether generated artwork provokes some feelings or thoughts or not.

Some of the issues that are intriguing me are differences between determinism vs. randomness, linearity vs. non-linearity and simplicity vs. complexity in the context of their influence on artworks. Studying influence of these factors expands my experience and helps me to reach the effects I want to get.

Nexus 13, archival digital print, 59.4 x 59.4 cm, 2007 (example of Vlatko's “mathematical modeling” approach)

BS: What interested you in using computer generated graphics as a medium? Can you recall the point at which you felt an urge to explore that direction? You have over 30 years of experience, correct?

VC: I started experimenting with computer graphics very early in my professional carrier in computing, in the mid 1970-ties. An important stimulus for me was the work of my colleague Vilko Ziljak, one of the pioneers in algorithmic art in Croatia and former Yugoslavia who also has background in physics.

I was excited with the ability that one can use computer in artistic purposes and exploit its distinctive features like programming and precision. The author of algorithm (program) can see how his idea looks like, and it is actually quite exciting to see what will be the visual result of program execution. Experimenting with variations of interesting algorithm often leads to further visual discoveries. A peculiar characteristic of algorithmic art is that author have to possess both rational abilities required to compose algorithms and write corresponding computer programs, as well as intuitive and aesthetic abilities required to select visually promising alternatives.
Unclassified Objects 12, archival digital print, 59.4 x 59.4 cm, 2007

BS: Can you tell us about those early years compared to the how you are able to create your work today. Technology has changed... how have those advancements helped you to explore your methods of creation?

VC: Technology has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. In the beginning I used mainframe computers such as IBM 360 and UNIVAC 1100 and the only possible output was with line text printers that printed images in the form of matrix of characters. Besides, one couldn’t check on the screen what the output will look like. Later on I purchased Commodore 64 that had visual output on a TV screen. Although resolution was low this was an exciting experience since now one could use colors and have continuous images.

Today I work with powerful yet small PC computer with excellent screen, inkjet printer, digital camera, Internet access plus powerful programming languages and a variety of extremely useful application software. With such technology one can create more complex works and work more efficiently, and perform much more visual experiments. All this enables me to explore much more visual opportunities and to go much deeper into exploration.
Cartesian Rhythm 11, archival digital print, 70 x 70 cm, 2006 (example of Vlatko's “constructivist” approach)

BS: Vlatko, can you tell us about your process... perhaps you can briefly describe how these works come into being?

VC: I use several approaches in my work, let us call them constructivist approach, mathematical modeling approach, and digital manipulation of photographs. Constructivist approach is based on generation of preconceived structures being described by algorithms. This enables fairly fast analysis of numerous variations of image structure.

Mathematical models can be imagined as internal forces that keeps together visual objects in specific spatial patterns. This approach starts from the rough idea about how the image could look like, and requires intensive experimenting in order to find an appropriate mathematical model that gives an interesting visual result.

Digital manipulation of photographs is using algorithmic approach for manipulation of pixels of a photograph. Pixels from two locations can be e.g. exchanged, or the same pixel can be copied to the whole vertical line of pixels, etc. Images obtained in such a way can be very complex and interesting, and I also discovered that this approach can lead to transformation of figurative to abstract patterns.

BS: Vlatko, can you discuss some of your influences?

VC: During undergraduate study in physics I also attended art history class and was impressed by abstract art, and especially by Brancusi. I was also inspired by Klee and Mondrian, and later by Nicolas de Staël and Max Bill. Influence of op artists Vasarely and later by Bridget Riley was also important for my development.

All this attracted me to abstract art, and this fascination didn’t diminish through all these years. I was especially fond of geometric art, and this was to some extent related to the fact that the New tendencies movement that used to be active in Croatia and part of Europe in 1960-ties included excellent geometrically oriented Croatian artists Aleksandar Srnec, Vjenceslav Richter and Ivan Picelj.

Chaos 2, archival digital print, 70 x 70 cm, 2007

BS: I understand that you are a member of the Croatian Association of Artists... can you tell our readers about that experience?

VC: My membership in this association is rather short, about a year, so I couldn’t say much about this experience. However, it is still very difficult for me to get an opportunity to exhibit in my country since I didn’t study visual arts, and to be worse I work with computer generated graphics. So most art historians in Croatia view my computer prints more as a product of an engineer rather than an artist.

BS: Your work can be found in the collections at Novosibirsk State Art Museum (Russia) and the Reykjanes Art Museum (Iceland). Where else can our readers view your work in person?

VC: Well, although I have over 30 years of experience in computer generated art, I began printing my works regularly three years ago and it was only then that I started sending my works to international exhibitions. So there was not too much chance that my works would be included in more collections.

However, in these three years I was exhibiting in a number of group exhibitions in Europe and North America, including exhibitions in three galleries in New York City, so this is one opportunity that public can see my works. And before my works are included into more collections readers can at least examine my website with images of all my works.
Spectral Variations 6 in the group exhibition Coexistence of Silence and Dynamism held in 2008 in the Rhonda Schaller Studio gallery in New York City (example of “digital manipulation of photographs” approach – manipulation of the small 420 x 420 pixels photo of my head)

BS: Vlatko, some people find it difficult to accept computer based art when compared to traditional methods of artistic creation. It is not hard to find someone who questions the legitimacy of said works. In your opinion, what do people need to consider when viewing computer based works?

VC: Artists always used new technologies so I don’t see why computer based art wouldn’t be legitimate. But I agree that it is questionable whether computer based art has reached or even whether it may at all reach the quality comparable with one of traditional approaches where artists use their hands directly in the act of painting, drawing, preparing prints etc. In this context I may only cite Michelangelo who said “A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.”

Anyhow, there are more than a few artists that reached notable quality in the field of computer based art. Let me only mention here two algorithmic artists, Jean Pierre Hebért and Roman Verostko, so that readers can use Google and see their works.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

VC: I enjoy in diversity of forms and techniques and so I work with computer graphics, digitally manipulated photographs, animation and sculpture, and I use both modern printing techniques like digital print as well as traditional ones like serigraphy.
And thanks for the opportunity, Brian.
You can learn more about Vlatko Ceric by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Adel Abdessemed Exhibit Spurs Bill to Stop the Harm of Animals in the Name of Art

Adel Abdessemed Exhibit Spurs Bill to Stop the Harm of Animals in the Name of Art:

A committee in San Francisco’s city government has introduced a bill with the hope of stopping the abuse, suffering, or death of animals in the name of art. The proposal is a response to a video installation by Adel Abdessemed which involved documenting traditional methods of food production in Mexico. The installation contained graphic imagery involving the death of six farm animals. The installation, which went on display at the San Francisco Art Institute, was canceled abruptly after the artist and others involved with the exhibit received death threats from animal rights extremists. The exhibit involved several sponsors, including the Andy Warhol Foundation.

The bill is still in the process of being drafted. If the bill passes artists who have harmed animals-- and anyone funding or housing the work --will be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. My understanding is that the bill will make it clear that artists can be criminally charged even if the work is ‘created’ in another country where harm to animals is not considered an offense. I have also read that it will be illegal for artists to take advantage of conditions that permit the death of an animal. For example, if the bill passes it would be illegal for an artist to photograph or record a pet being euthanized by a veterinarian-- assuming a vet would allow that in the first place.

Supporters of the bill are concerned that artists will create works that involve harming animals simply to gain the same media exposure that Abdessemed accomplished-- regardless if he wanted it or not. I think the bill is a great move. However, I’m sure there will be some buzz against this bill before everything is said and done. It all depends on what exactly the bill entails-- and how it develops over time. I can see how the bill could end up-- or trigger-- more harm than good if it is not carefully observed.

For example, politicians hoping to win the favor of animal rights groups and other supporters of the bill may push the bill beyond its original intention. That is why people need to pay attention to how this bill shapes. You never know what direction a new bill can take. Will it prevent hunters from having ’trophies’ mounted? Will it prevent grannies from having Fido stuffed? Are those not forms of expression in their own right? Will the bill be strictly against artists who utilize images of abused, suffering, or dead animals that they have caused or taken advantage of as a means of expressing an idea / concept… or will it result in fictional depictions of abused, suffering, or dead animals being illegal as well? I don’t think people will be happy if a student ends up in a youth detention center because he or she drew a cartoon of a dead animal in his or her notebook.

Again, I think the bill is a good step if it is done in the right way. However, politicians tend to drop the ball at the worst of times. At the same time I realize that some people feel that attacking any form of expression is wrong no matter what ethical standards are violated. What are your thoughts on this bill and the Adel Abdessemed exhibit?

(On a side note, I contacted the David Zwirner gallery in April hoping to schedule an interview with Adel Abdessemed. I wanted to offer him the chance to give his side of the story and to discuss his motivation for the installation. Unfortunately, the Press Assistant for David Zwirner informed me that Adel was not interested.)

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Art Space Talk: Nathaniel Stern

Nathaniel Stern is an American-born interdisciplinary artist who works in a variety of media, including interactive art, public art interventions, installation, video art, printmaking and physical theatre. Nathaniel graduated with a degree in Textiles and Apparel Design from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1999, and went on to study at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, graduating in 2001. He later taught digital art at the University of the Witwatersrand, while also practicing as an artist, in Johannesburg, South Africa from 2001 - 2006. He is currently pursuing a PhD at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

enter:hektor, interactive installation, dimensions variable, 2000 (updated 2005)

Brian Sherwin: Nathaniel, you studied at Cornell University and at New York University. How did your academic years influence the direction of your art? Did you have any influential instructors?

Nathaniel Stern: At Cornell I studied music and fashion; I think the combination of composition and design sparked my interests in movement, visuality and embodiment. When I went on to NYU, I had already begun working with digital technologies, but ITP (the Interactive Telecommunications Program) really immerses you in them, exposes you to all sorts of people and possibilities, and so it was that saturation that helped push me towards the trajectory of exploring performativity in my work.

Pretty much all the full-time lecturers at ITP influenced me greatly, albeit in different ways: Marianne Petit, Dan O'Sullivan, Tom Igoe and Danny Rozin.

The Odys Series: The Storyteller, archival print on watercolor paper, 1189 x 841, edition 3, 2004

BS: Nathaniel, I’ve read that you are inspired by the Interactive art of David Rokeby and Myron Kruger. Can you tell us about these influences? What else inspires you?

NS: I believe Kruger's core contribution to understanding interactivity was a concentration on action rather than perception - 'seeing' in particular. He had little concern for illusion-based and simulated VR that replicated reality, and was more interested in stimulation - with a 't' - and how people moved / getting them to move. I think Rokeby is brilliant in many ways, and his work, Very Nervous System (1986-1990), was one of the first and most important pieces to accomplish an affective intervention in embodiment through this kind of inter-activity. But what inspires me most about him is his contrariness. He almost always tries 'something else,' never really accepting the limits or taken for granted in any given medium.

My other influences are fairly idiosyncratic: from Hiroshige, the Impressionists and Homer's epic tales to Liam Gillick or Camille Utterback and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. I often turn to contemporary fiction, theory and philosophy in my thinking and making. I should also say that my wife, Nicole Ridgway, is the most wonderful muse and crit I've ever met: my biggest fan and supporter precisely because she is also my harshest critic before a work is done.
Stuttering, interactive installation, dimensions variable, 2003 (image of screenshots)

BS: It has been suggested that Stuttering is your most well received piece. Can you discuss Stuttering… compared to the direction you are taking with your work now?

NS: Stuttering succeeds in its doubled gesture. The best way to describe the piece is as a kind of invisible Mondrian painting, where each of the 34 otherwise white rectangles will play animated text and spoken word when triggered by bodies in the space.

So on the one hand, if a participants just walks in front of it, the piece itself 'stutters,' enveloping them in a cacophony of broken audiovisual quotes. But as these performers spend more time with it, learn how to move and engage in a kind of intimate and serious play, it is they who end up 'stuttering' - with their bodies. In order to elicit any kind of meaning from this barrage of verbiage, they have to stand like statues, then twitch or nod or shake just one piece of themselves. These interactions have been compared to Tai Chi or Butoh by some reviewers; it can become a deep and literal investigation of our physical relationships to language and structure.

With regards to the direction of my recent work, my entire practice is probably best framed as a series of questions and criticisms that follow on from one another. 'stuttering,' for example, came out of a desire to investigate what happens in front of, rather than on, the screen after '[odys]elicit' impressed mostly dancers. 'step inside' was a response to, and capitalization on, how a small number of participants with 'stuttering' were more interested in performing for, and amusing other, people in the gallery than they were in investigating their inter-actions with the work itself. My ongoing Compressionism series of prints is an attempt to capture the dynamism, relationality and performativity in these kinds of pieces with more traditional visual art objects.

I sometimes go in several directions at once, but there's always something gained, and carried on from, what I was doing before.
Landscapes and Icons: Siren’s Dillisk, lambda print on metallic paper, 610 x 1200 mm, edition 5, 2007

BS: It seems that with each passing year people are becoming more interested in art involving technology. However, traditionalists are often still wary of technology as a medium. In your opinion, what do people need to consider when viewing these works? How can someone learn to appreciate what you and others are doing? Or would you say that it takes a certain type of individual to ‘get’ what you are striving to do?

NS: Maybe a good parallel for my answer to this question could be how Nicholas Bourriaud changed the theoretical frame for understanding socially interactive art with his essays on Relational Aesthetics in the mid- and late-90s. I think the same can be done for physically interactive and/or technological art. As you suggest, simply engaging it differently might better open understandings and appreciation for it.

In a lot of ways, I suppose my work is a kind of material manifestation of Bourriaud's aesthetic; we are both concerned with what happens in the gallery space, with relationality and dynamism. But where he is interested in sociopolitical relationships, my work is concerned with embodied and physical ones. Where he focused on commerce and the social interstice, interactive art tends to highlight emergence and intervene in fixity - whether that of space or time or the body. Not that these are mutually exclusive categories on any level, but we can't forget how brutally Bourriaud has continued to dismiss digital art; his followers, too - like Claire Bishop - continue to overlook embodied and affective interactivity even as they sing the praises of social participation and engagement.

As with any form of art, all it takes is time and effort to grow one's interest and excitement. There's no lack of smart and good work out there to discuss. I'm actually currently working on a PhD dissertation which explores just such a critical framework for interactive art.
BS: Your work often calls for viewer participation. For example, your installation enter:hektor allowed participants to chase projected words with their arms so that spoken words would be triggered in the space. I suppose the major problem you run into is the fact that not every viewer wishes to participate. Has that been an issue for you? Or are people generally apt to comply with what the work needs?
NS: Good question. Yes, for me, the participant and how they move in relation to the work, what they learn and what emerges as they physically engage with it, and how they reflect on that later: this is all precisely the 'work' of any given work. enter:hektor, which preceded stuttering, similarly asked performers to explore their embodied relationships to language. But rather than stutter, they had to articulate by chasing after (or conversely running away from) animated words - sometimes with great difficulty.

Most people have only seen the work online; and yes, in the gallery space, many are too shy to involve themselves. It's never quite the same to watch or read about such art, as opposed to enacting and experiencing it. At least in the gallery, I've tried to work around or with this problem in various ways - unwitting participation through external sensors, closed off environments for privacy, and my aforementioned printmaking series. I do my best to see the issues that arise in any given piece as a potential opportunity to explore something new.

BS: So on a philosophical level do you view the participants as a part of the piece itself? A medium of flesh and movement, so to speak?

NS: Exactly that. Perhaps it can be considered Minimalism's core aesthetic idea - that of exploring the body in space around a simple art object - taken to a different end: active physical provocation.
Compression Series-- Nathaniel Stern scanning water lilies at Emmarentia Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Nicole Ridgeway, 2006

BS: Can you briefly tell us about your other work… the prints and video art?

NS: The ongoing print series mentioned earlier - 'Compressionism' - came out of a desire to engage those viewers who did not want to interact, to invite them into the possibility of playing with some of the questions, experiences and understandings of flesh and movement that they might be missing. Here, I strap a custom-made scanner appendage and battery pack to my body, and perform images into existence. I might scan in straight, long lines across tables, tie the scanner around my neck and swing over flowers, do pogo-like gestures over bricks, or just follow the wind over water lilies in a pond. Because of how the technology works, the entire 3D space and object I've scanned is physically compressed to the size of the scanner face, and I then re-stretch and hand-color the images in PhotoShop.
What emerges in each file are strips of time that are rendered as an ongoing relationship between my own body movements, and the landscape around me. These are then produced as archival prints using photographic or inkjet processes; I also often take details from these images and iteratively re-make them as traditional prints: lithographs, etchings, engravings and woodcuts, among others. They're actually quite lovely.

My video works have a much longer history; they began as monologues by unfolding character-driven narratives, which culminated in a major solo show at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2004-2005. The museum housed odys, Nathaniel, hektor, X, a video installation with three of these characters projected on a sculpture, the odys series, another video installation consisting of 6 separate video works on screens with headphones (now available for iPod), step inside, a large-scale interactive installation, and more than 33 pinhole, generative and ASCII art prints from 'abstract machines of faciality.'
My more recent video works are either documentation of performance events, such as my performed architectures for the Wireframe Series in Croatia and South Africa, or play with hand- carved found footage. An example of the latter would be 'at interval,' where I removed all spoken dialogue from Woody Allen's 'Annie Hall,' leaving only stutters, gasps, and oral fumbles. Even here, you can see the connection between these works and my interests in language, performativity and relationality.
The Wireframe Series: Sentimental Construction #1, public intervention/performance, photo documentation, Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2007

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your current projects?

NS: I've got a few goings-on at present, so I'll mention a handful in brief:

I'm finishing up the aforementioned PhD dissertation. I'm working on an interventionist piece in South Africa that will be part of an exhibition in Cape Town in September. Here, I've set up an antagonistic relationship with the lead arts critic in the country, asking him to give up electricity for 24 hours, and hiring street laborers to power his evening with hand-crank generators. The installation will consist of documentation of the complex negotiations that unfolded between all parties before, during and after this event.

I've just started working on my first mixed realities installation that sits between Second Life and Real Life, which I hope to launch some time in 2009. It tries to build on some of the Minimalist principals of perception I mentioned earlier, but plays them out through an embodied relationship to the network.

With Scott Kildall, I'm planning a self-propagating and self- transforming project that exploits some of the logical flaws in the relationship between the blogosphere and Wikipedia.
I've got two other DIY / lo-tech print-ish projects brewing. One is a series of hand-made sculptural slide projectors, each of which will project several cut ups from my scanned works, bringing these images back into a 3D space. The other will see static drawings and prints mounted on hacked-up digital photo frames playing looped videos in the background. Both of these carry on from some of my ideas with the Compressionism series, which I'm also continuing to produce work for. And more, of course....
Simulate Editions, unique and authenticated virtual art objects in collaboration with Scott Kildall, 2008

BS: So is there a specific message that you strive to convey with your collective work?

NS: It's not so much a message I want to convey as a curiosity I hope to inspire. My prints might ask us to look again, stuttering to feel or listen again. I try to do this in ways that words never could.

BS: Nathaniel, you have given your support to Creative Commons (CC). You have been a contributing member of iCommons since its inception. Can you discuss your interest in CC? Having communicated with hundreds-- if not thousands-- of artists online it seems that many are against what CC stands for-- there tends to be a great deal of confusion about it. In your opinion, what do people need to consider when thinking about these issues?

NS: I think there's a misconception out there that to give art away for free is to devalue it, whether culturally or monetarily. I believe as many people as possible need to see art and talk about it. This always brings a more explicit value in the cultural sphere, and can bleed into monetary value for any given artist's work as well.
The more everyday art appreciators own posters of the Mona Lisa, for example, the more the original painting has value to the true collector. I don't give everything I do away under CC; but when I do, it's usually a tactic for the most effective art work, and with the recognition that this will only bring more value - both culturally and monetarily - to my work more generally, whether it's for sale or not.
Broad Cast Response, video installation, two screens or projections facing one another, dimensions variable. Displayed at the iCommons Summit in Croatia, 2007

BS: What other concerns do you have about the art world or the public acceptance of art at this time?

NS: This is a concern that's bigger than the art world, I think, and so its relevancy is huge: it's unfortunate there are so many ass holes and idiots out there, and that so many of them hold public office.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?

NS: I guess I tend to think smaller, to try to concentrate on my goals for one work or project at a time. I don't want to preempt any possibilities in the future by thinking too far ahead, or too broadly about my work. If I had to speak generally, I'd say I strive for intervention, thought and dialogue.
I like to challenge those things we think we've understood or interrogated sufficiently - for example, while performance art pushes our ideas about the body and identity, some of my pieces will try to challenge what a body 'is', or even 'that' it is.

I like making beautiful and interesting things that mess with you.

You can learn more about Nathaniel Stern by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Myartspace launches major Art Scholarship program for both graduate and undergraduate students

Myartspace launches major Art Scholarship program for both graduate and undergraduate students., the premier online venue for contemporary art has launched a significant Arts scholarship program for myartspace members.

Palo Alto, CA (PRWEB) July 22 2008 --, the premier online venue for contemporary art has launched an exciting scholarship program -- "myartscholarship". The scholarship program is intended for students who exhibits exceptional artistic excellence in all mediums of the visual arts including photography and video, both contemporary and traditional in nature. Myartspace is providing a 3 scholarship prizes for undergraduate students and separately 3 scholarship prizes for graduate students.

First place winners in each category are awarded a $5000 cash art scholarship. Second and Third placement receive $2000 and $1000 respectively. In order to be considered for a myartspace scholarship, the artist must be a member of myartspace. Membership is free and members can upload an unlimited amount of images, videos and music. Members must build and submit an online art gallery through a registration and submission process which is simple and straight forward.

The deadline for submission is November 21, 2008. Scholarship winners are announced on December 19th, 2008. Catherine McCormack-Skiba, the Company founder of myartspace noted "The student body within myartspace is significant in size and importance. We devised a scholarship program for both our MFAs and undergraduate students to compete for consideration and win a meaningful cash scholarship. We hope to expand this program each year."

Students interested in signing up for consideration for a myartspace scholarship can find out more details by clicking to

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Art Advice: Is Creativity linked to Mental Illness?

Q. I've been told that there is a link between creativity and mental illness. In school we learned about Van Gogh and other artists and how their mental illness enhanced their artistic ability. I've found some blogs that discuss this. Is there any truth to it?

A. This is a question that I can sink my teeth into-- it is also a topic that needs to be explored in detail rather than the half-baked theories that one can find scattered througout the net about this issue. I have some thoughts about the link between creativity and mental illness, but I can't promise you a clear answer. I do hope that a good debate will come from this.

As you may know, I have two main interests… art and psychology-- specifically mental illness and the insane. In many ways art and psychology share a strong connection. One could say that you can’t explore one without exploring the other. Thus, it goes without saying that I enjoy reading about both and how they may or may not be linked. However, I am often alarmed by the material I find online that attempts to prove the link between creativity and mental illness-- articles suggesting that all artists are mentally ill and that great artists are insane. I am also alarmed by the number of people who tell me about their experiences in school learning about artists like Van Gogh, the mental illness that they had, and the assumed connection between creativity and mental illness. Thus, I would like to know the opinions of others about this subject. Do you think there is a link?

As for me, I know from personal experience-- having worked with mentally ill individuals-- that one could easily establish a link between creative prowess and mental illness or complete insanity, but that is not to say that the link would be based on fact nor would it be an honest reflection of every artist. In my opinion, these links often serve no purpose other than to enforce a stigma about artists in general-- stereotypes that are fueled by popular culture and people who emulate what they observe on TV.

Based on my work in the field I can say that the artwork created in institutions and rehab centers for the mentally ill can spur us to think about our own state of being-- but not anymore than the art we observe from mentally healthy (if there is such a thing) individuals outside of the institutions and rehab centers. We often attach some form of mystery to the art of these institutionalized individuals instead of accepting that someone in an institution can be talented or skilled in a subject such as art-- just as artists outside of the institutions are often associated with having some form of devine gift instead of being acknowledged for the years of experience and practice that they have embraced.

Don’t get me wrong… as a former mental health professional I have personally observed some captivating artwork as it was being created. At one time I pondered the idea that perhaps those individuals were exploring truths beyond my recognition. However, I reminded myself that the individuals I worked with often displayed total disregard for cultural convention and what you and I may consider ’normality’-- both in their lifestyles and in the manner in which they created art... among other things. Thus, that 'extra spark' or 'enhanced ability' that I discovered in their work was nothing more than a reflection of that-- enhanced by my own desire to discover something more than just a person creating a painting or drawing.

The individuals I worked with were free from inhibitions as to how they expressed themselves with a chosen medium. They were not confined by the studio inhibitions that an art student may spend years breaking him or herself from after graduation. However, that is not to say that all of the work was great. The majority of it was mediocre at best… but for whatever reason I had focused on specific images that had caught my eye. I found that we should approach these works as art created by individuals rather than viewing them with the hope of discovering signs of any specific mental illness or aspect of insanity-- OR hidden truths.

With that said, the unconventional nature of the individuals I worked with would often influence their ability to push the limits of the medium of their choice, so to speak. The individuals I worked with, some of whom were criminally insane, would take chances with their art that some of us would never consider. Thus, it is easy to see why some people view artwork created by the mentally ill or insane as overly unique compared to other art that they have viewed… and thus associate creativity-- or high creativity-- with mental illness. It does not shock me that so many people gaze upon these works with amazement. However, it is dangerous when we attempt to project facts based on our curiosities alone-- and that is what I find so many people doing in regards to this subject online, in classrooms, and elswhere.

People tend to have a romanticized image of mentally ill individuals in general… and an ever growing collective curiosity for the ‘genius’ of the insane. In my opinion, this is largely due to the roll that mentally ill characters have played in popular novels and films... and the fact that so many of us emulate what we observe on the screen or take what we see as truth. Think about the popularity of ‘Girl, Interrupted’, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and other novels and films that portray creative individuals with various forms of mental illness and insanity and you will find exactly of what I speak. I think it is obvious why the public associates creativity with mental illness and genius with insanity. However, I also know that the history and debate concerning the connection between mental illness and creativity can be traced back long before the first television. Is there a link? You tell me.

(I'd like to add that I don't think it is fair when people try to say that creative individuals-- artists, musicians, poets... etc.-- are more apt to be mentally ill when compared to people who rarely tap into their creative-side in that way, so to speak. I think it is safe to say that we all have some form of mental illness. We all have personality traits and experiences that we have to deal with. We all have flaws. An artist might suffer from depression or some other issue... and he or she may explore those problems within the context of his or her art-- which makes the issue more public than private-- but think about how many other people may suffer from the same problems in private. Just a thought.)

Feel free to comment if you have an opinion about this issue.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Art Space Talk: Levi van Veluw

Levi van Veluw is a young visual artist born in Hoevelaken, the Netherlands. He studied between 2003 and 2007 in the Artez School of Arts, Autonomous Arts, Arnhem. He has shown works in London, Stockholm, Chicago and Berlin, among other cities. Levi van Veluw's photo series are all self-portraits, drawn and photographed by himself: a one-man-process.

His works constitute elemental transfers - modifying the face as object - combining it with other stylistic elements to create a third visual object with a large visual impact. The work you see therefore is not a portrait, but an information-rich image of colour, form, texture, and content. The image contains the history of a short creative process, with the artist shifting between the entities of subject and object.

The Material Transfer series were completed and photographed within a time frame of 24 hours and without any digital manipulation. Giving familiar elements such as cheap carpet, pebble stones and sterling wood a new context results in a confusing conflict between the objects normal associations and the new values assigned to it in these works.

Material transfers Sterling wood

Material transfers Carpet

Brian Sherwin: Levi, I observed your work at NEXT in Chicago. Your work was displayed at the RONMANDOS Gallery booth. Can you tell us about that experience?

Levi van Veluw: It was a great opportunity to show my work in America. I wasn't there myself, but the reactions where great.

BS: Levi, you studied at the Artez School of Arts. Can you tell our readers about your academic experience? Did you have any influential instructors? What was the program like?

LV: There are a lot of art schools in the Netherlands, but they all have a different approach. At most schools you have to choose a medium. In Arnhem you did not have to choose and could use every medium you want. So besides painting I could also make videos and photos. During the study you get an enormous amount of freedom, and that was the hardest part of the study. You need a lot of motivation to finish the study. The study was a 4 year search about what you really want.

BS: Levi, since graduating from the Artez Art School you have enjoyed a remarkable amount of success in a short period of time. Your work has been showcased in several different locations across Europe and the United States and you have earned a number of prestigious awards that include the Photographer of the Year Award at the IPA International Photo Awards in the USA. How do you handle success? Do you block it out of your mind in order to focus on your work?

LV: In the beginning it was really hard, but you get used to it. Now I don't see it as success anymore, but as a great amount of opportunities. I can work everyday on new work, and that is what I like the most. I have the time to realize my idea's.

Landscapes Landscape I 120x100cm & 60x50cm
Landscapes Landscape IV 120x100cm & 60x50cm

BS: Your landscapes are very interesting. It is my understanding that they start out as a self-portrait. From there you alter the portrait so that it becomes something more than a face... something more than human. In a sense, these works reflect how we are rooted in nature even though we thrive in a technical world. In other words, these works are more than just a portrait. Can you discuss these works? Perhaps you can tell our readers about the process involved in creating them?

LV: The work is created through several combinations of idea's. I started experimenting with portraits a few years ago. After every photo, I analyze the work and discuss with myself what is good and what is not. Therefore they are not really portraits, but more of a series of experiments. Creating the work is a one man process. It is very important that I make every decision while I am creating the work itself because the process is part of the work. The objects really exist on my head and not though the use of a computer.

BS: Levi, what about influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists?

LV: No artist has had a direct influence on my work. But I like artists like, Erwin Wurm, Hans op de Beeck, and Anish kapoor.
Blocks 60x50cm & 120x100cm

BS: Levi, what are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your future plans as far as your art is concerned?

LV: I am now working on a piece for interpolis/achmea art collection. Besides that, I am creating some new portraits that will exist from different kinds of light sources, a new rotating video and I am also experimenting with sculptures.

BS: Where can our readers see your work in person? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

LV: In the Netherlands there is an exhibition named:
Holland zonder Haast, Scheringa Museum, 25 May - 28 September
In oktober Ronmandos gallery will present some new work on the FIAC art fair in Paris.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

LV: I don’t really have anything special to say. However, please take a look at my website In October there will be new work to view on the site.
You can learn more about Levi van Veluw by visiting his website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Art Space Talk: Andrea Heimer

Andrea Heimer is an artist and designer living in the Pacific Northwest. Andrea's series of Pop Portraits caught my eye. In these works she utilizes repetition and color to produce what has been described as “bombastic“-- and sometimes “psychedelic“-- portraits. However, her color use is deceptive when one considers the themes conveyed within the context of her work.

The style of Pop Portraits, which has been described as neo-pop, depicts mainly women and focuses on subjects such as wealth and addiction. In these works Andrea has created a world where debutantes reveal they are secretly cutters, society girls lead double lives, and money is no object.

Along with her husband, she is one half of the band No-Fi Soul Rebellion.

Stiff Upper Lip, pen/ink on paper, from the Coveted series

Brian Sherwin: Andrea, you originally wanted to be a reporter... but you discovered that you desired to create art instead of writing about it. Can you recall when you made that decision? Was it something that you struggled with for a length of time or did it come to you suddenly?

Andrea Heimer: In 2006 I was working as a freelance arts and music reporter and writing for several publications. I started to feel myself become increasingly stressed with each new assignment I took on and found that writing was no longer fun for me. After a few months of mulling things over I figured out I wasn’t happy because I simply didn’t want to be writing about art, I wanted to be making it. I’d always been artsy as a kid, but never figured it into my adult life until that moment.
I started to learn everything I could about the creative process and almost felt like I was making up for lost time; all the years I spent not making things. I started off with some pen and ink drawings, then on to acrylic painting, silk screening, printing making, and photography. I started my first series, the somewhat psychedelic Pop Portraits (which I’m still adding to). I also learned about how to approach galleries and talk with curators. I had my first show within 2 months and was thrilled when most of the paintings sold.

Bottled Coke, pen/ink on paper, from the Coveted series
BS: Andrea, as far as your art is concerned you are self-taught, correct?... Have you had any formal training in art? Have you considered art school?

AH: I am self taught and have never attended art school. I don’t see it in my future at all at this point since I’m happy learning on my own about most things, including art. I tend to look at my lack of technique as something of a technique in and of itself. My work is visually exuberant across the board and I credit that artistic excitement to my lack of training. Everything is new for me and I’ll try just about anything. I’m essentially void of aesthetic morals aside from what I’ve made up along the way.
St. Amelia, silk screen/acrylic/pen/ink/pencil on canvas, from the Icon series

BS: So would you say that you are still searching for a medium that you feel a strong connection with? Or do you strive to express yourself in as many ways as possible?

AH: Yes and yes! I’m definitely up for trying all types of mediums and have tried a surprising (to me) number of them in a short few years. Perhaps I’ll settle down when I find the right medium, but at the moment I’m enjoying “playing the field” so to speak.

BS: You seem to enjoy creating series of work. For example, you created a series of paintings that involved female saints and you are currently working on a series of pen and ink drawings called "Coveted". What attracts you to creating a series of work?

AH: The truth is I like to work in a series because I’m incredibly anal. I like things to be neatly organized from my jewelry to my tax records, and my art is no exception. I’ve usually got a lot of thoughts and ideas swirling around up top, and the only real way to keep everything organized is to neatly separate it out into a series here and there. I also think it’s easier for the viewer to relate to a series with a tangible idea attached to it.

St. Odilia, silk screen/acrylic/pen/ink/pencil on canvas, from the Icon series

BS: Do you place all of your focus on one image at a time... or do you work on several?

AH: When I work with silk screening I have several paintings going at one time since the ink takes a little while to dry, but drawings I tend to do one at a time. Both are good ways to go, though the multi-tasker in me sees the silk screening as excellent use of time. Although going that route you can either end up with five great paintings if you’re having a good day; or five canvases of complete hideousness on a bad one.
I did spend one entire 24 hours without sleep, desperately trying to get work done for a show I was asked to participate in the day before, which also happened to be my first ever exhibit of my paintings. I seem to remember working on six or so at once like a crazy person, in my pajamas and wild-haired. The paintings turned out great, but I turned into a zombie for a few days.
Yes, silk screen/acrylic on canvas, from the Encouraging Words series

BS: Can you give our readers some details about the different series that you have worked on... for example, tells us more about Coveted... what about the inspiration behind the female saint series?

AH: Absolutely. The Pop Portraits series was the first thing I started on and am still adding to. These pieces contain everything “me”, bright colors, bold imagery, and repetition. They’ve been an excellent forum to learn about color, pattern, and placement. Most of the images are dramatic faces inspired from romance comics whose clean lines really appeal to me.

The Encouraging Word is a series on positive reinforcement. Silk screened words such as “Yes” and “Oh Yeah” are repeated on colored canvases. The idea of art actually speaking to people (and saying encouraging things no less) tickles me, and I even keep a few of these on my own walls. Oddly, Mastercard put these on their Priceless Picks website not long ago, which was in turn a positive outcome of the series.

Icon was a series of female saints painted for a solo show in May 08 at Bluebottle Gallery in Seattle . I wanted to do something dramatic and reading about the lives of saints has always fascinated me. I chose 12 of my favorites and used every technique I’d learned so far on the portraits. The photos were partially screened in pale ink and filled in with marker, pencil, and ink. They turned out gaudy and tragic, exactly how I thought they should look.

Coveted is a bit of a palette cleanser from the last show. It is a series of minimal pen and ink drawings on the subject of wishful thinking. Each drawing is named after something I’m coveting at the time it was drawn. They are simple drawings with little color and I’m really enjoying them. They are also the first series I’ve offered as a print.

Sharp, silk screen/acrylic on canvas, from the Pop Portraits series

BS: You have stated that you want your work to have a "look at me" aesthetic. Can you go into further detail about the thoughts behind your art?

AH: I’ve always thought art should demand attention. I think the same way about books, movies, and people too. I’m not interested in meek things, so I try to make art that really calls attention to itself if only for a moment or two. Like writing, art is perhaps a thrill seeking device for me. The same way it was exciting to see my name and words in print and know that someone across the United States could be reading them, it’s exciting to think of my artwork as part of someone’s life in their home in some other place.

BS: Is there a specific message that you hope to convey with your art?

AH: The message changes with each series but one of the feelings I hope to convey with all of them is affordability. Making affordable art is important to me because I know what it’s like to start an art collection on a budget. The internet is a fantastic way to purchase and find art you’d miss otherwise, but all the convenience in the world doesn’t matter if the prices are over your head. Making art is wonderful but once something is done I’d rather have it be enjoyed by someone rather than sitting in my studio.
Girl No. 2, silk screen/acrylic on canvas, from the Pop Portraits series

BS: What can you tell us about your influences? Are you influenced by any specific artist?

AH: The self made man has always been an inspiring figure to me. Andy Warhol falls into this category of course and he’s definitely an influence. My husband, Mark Heimer, is a self made man and truly a creative force. He is a huge inspiration and I have watched him do show after show and put out album after album as the fantastic No-Fi Soul Rebellion, with no help from anyone. He makes me want to be better at what I do.
Also Henry Darger, the man who spent all those years alone and drawing his own epic stories, will always inspire and haunt me. His story touched me so much when his artwork came to Seattle I could only spend a few minutes at the show. I couldn’t breathe in the presence of his drawings. They were too sad and too great.

BS: What about exhibits... will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?

AH: For the first time in awhile I don’t have any shows booked, but I continuously make new work and offer it for sale on my online shop ( I also have artwork for sale at Bluebottle Art in Seattle ( and Vitamin Design (

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art... your goals?

AH: I hope I’m around for a good long time. Haha, is that a goal?
Thanks Brian!!

You can learn more about Andrea Heimer by visiting her website and blog--, You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Art Advice: Stop Complaining and Focus on your Online Presence!

Q. I read about an artist who sells work daily online. It was frustrating because I'm lucky to sell once per month and my paintings are better than his. Am I doing something wrong?

A. What works for one person may not work for you. It is also tough for me to give you ideas when I don't know your strategy. Being successful in marketing your art online can be like entering an iron man competition-- you will be tired at the end of the day and you will most likely have a few bruises... both physical and mental.

The strain of trying to discover the online marketing plan that works for you can prove to be very taxing. The key is to not set your expectations too high. Just because you have not sold many pieces online so far does not mean that you will not be successful later down the road. You also want to make sure that you don't distract yourself by wishing you were at the same place as another artist-- you can end up wishing all of your time away.

While it is important to have ambition it is also important to be realistic-- leave your ego at the door. Just because you have read about an artist who sells thousands of dollars worth of art online each day does not mean that you will have those same returns starting out nor does it mean that the artist is being truthful in the first place. Also, remember that just because you think that your art is just as good as the work by this individual-- or better --does not mean that success will come easy for you.

Don't waste your time complaining-- you will find little sympathy. You need to remember that most of the successful artists who sell online had a collector base offline to begin with. Other successful artists online have had to work long hours both online and offline in order to reap the fruits of their online marketing effort (that is where the bruises come in... if you were wondering). One could say that a great deal of luck is involved either way.

The best advice I can give you is to be relentless in your online marketing efforts. Join social networking sites. Create accounts on art sites like Post videos of your art on Place links to your personal website-- or the main site that you use to sell your art-- on the profile of every website that you have joined. Communicate on those sites and include links to your art. Maintain a blog about your art and comment on other art blogs. If you want to market your art successfully online you need to establish an online presence. You can't expect a website and one post to do all of the work for you nor can you establish an online presence if you are rarely online... so spend some time each day and post, post, post. If it is important you will find time.

Starting a blog about your art-- and art in general-- can be a very interesting venture. For example, if you honestly feel that the artist you mentioned does not deserve the credit and collector base that he has obtained... why not review his work on your blog? Don't be nasty about it or do some sort of 'his art, my art' comparison-- just critique his work and see what kind of reaction you get. You never know, the artist in question might end up returning the favor which may result in his blog readers-- and collectors -- visiting your blog... at which point they can make the decision about who creates 'better' art. Shifty? Perhaps. However, throughout history artists have reviewed their peers. Trust me, you won't be breaking any rules of etiquette. Isn't that a better idea than simply complaining?

If you establish an online presence other avenues may open as far as selling your art is concerned. I know a few people who have been invited to exhibit their work after someone observed their work on a forum. It can happen. The hard truth is that you won't get anywhere if you spend your time complaining about what others have accomplished. That goes for online art marketing as well as offline art marketing.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Art Advice: I hope this does not sound selfish. How will donating my art to charitable fundraisers help my professional career as an artist?

Q. I hope this does not sound selfish. How will donating my art to charitable fundraisers help my professional career as an artist?

A. Well, you could have put it a different way. It is hard to donate anything without having some form of good intention, true? Dr. X is not going to destroy the world by donating something to charity, right? I suppose that could be debated. Actually you hit on something here... artists often mention the fundraisers they have been involved with and are apt to include those ventures on their resumes. However, few are willing to reveal that in the back of their mind they hope a collector or curator will notice their work during the event. If they value their art they obviously value what people think about said art and of them, correct?

The idea is that you will do a good deed and may very well do good for your future at the same time-- two birds with one stone, so to speak. That idea is not exactly something to feel guilty about because you are-- I hope-- donating to a charity that you agree with... and with any luck you will have future success with your work so that it earns more when you donate art in the future, right? Charitable events can be great for making connections.

As for how donating art might help your career... well... who is to say. In other words, don't donate art to a charity if your only goal is to garner fame and fortune. The reality is that you will leave with one less piece and hopefully a burst of warmth in your heart (come on guys, I'm not all bullets!). That said, if you choose to donate for the right reasons it is acceptable-- in my opinion --to hope that maybe someone influential will admire your art beyond the charitable action that you have taken. Also, If you are just starting out and have had few exhibits donating art to charitable events can be a great way to add something to your resume. If you happen to have dozens of paintings, sculptures, what have you, just sitting around... why not donate a few to a charity that you believe in?

To sum this up, the best expectation that you can have is that you will help someone or something in need. Leave your flights of fancy at the door... but keep an eye open for future possibilities.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

My Art Advice: Ask a Question

I don't know why I did not think of this before! As you may know, I ask people to send My Art Advice questions to my email or to my account on,, or For now on simply ask your question here. It will be easier for me to keep track of what has been asked. From this point on I will include a label 'Ask a Question' on all My Art Advice posts so that everyone can refer to this post to see what has been asked already and add new questions if they want. I moderate comments so if you have a question that you do not want me to make public be sure to let me know or comment anonymous so that it can be made public without being attached to your identity, so to speak. You can still contact me by email or on one of my profiles, but I can't promise that I will read it.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fred Ross: Noah of the Art ARC.

I stumbled on a speech by Fred Ross recently. Fred Ross, the Chairman of the Art Renewal Center, has long preached his concerns about the "merciless and relentless assault" that "the art of painting" has endured for the last one hundred years at the hand of Modernism. In doing so he has insulted thousands of artists and art lovers in the process-- which is probably why his website ( does not seem to allow visitors to post replies to his rants. Last I checked they did have a forum, but for an issue as hot as the one they project the debate seemed rather one-sided-- mostly ARC staff stating that they can't debate unless the argument is "intelligent".

In Fred's world the opinion of others does not matter because in his opinion you are not an artist unless you cast Modernist theories aside at which point it appears that you must be approved by his organization in order to be considered an 'artist'. In his opinion, 2,500 years of painting history has been corrupted in the last 100 years by art historians and critics who embraced Modernism. In other words, if you are not painting in a manner that Fred enjoys you are "brain-washed".

The typical rant by Fred Ross involves attacking the idea of 'freedom of expression' which he feels has corrupted the art world since World War I and he has gone on to say that the modern idea of "expression" is actually a form of "oppression" or "suppression" that has created the most "restrictive system of thought in all of art history"-- I guess it does not matter that religious fervor and the ruling powers of the past restricted art for... lets say... 2,500 years!

Fred Ross reminds me of a twisted Noah figure who feels that we must be saved from the flood of 'bad' art that, in his view, dominates our culture. It seems that Fred thinks that salvation can only be found by accepting the views of ARC. Sorry Fred, I choose to brave the storm. I rather enjoy it.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Art and Politics: An Angry Response

Earlier this week I received an email from a person who was upset about an interview that I posted several months ago. He was angry because the artist in question made some statements about how he supported the Republican party and conservative values. The email stated that I should not have allowed this artist to push his 'conservative agenda' on the readership of the blog and that as an artist I should do what I can to "fight the good fight"-- meaning that he thinks I should be one-sided in the views that are projected on this blog so that specific views can be championed. That is something I simply will not do... I try to be as neutral as I can and I allow people to speak their mind.

The person went as far as to say that I should be fired for having allowed it and that he considers it a 'crime against free thinking people'. I found his response interesting because anyone familiar with the Myartspace Blog and the Art Space Talk series of interviews knows that politics are mentioned in the majority of the interviews and that a wide range of political and social views can be found. There is something here for everyone.

I think this issue runs deep-- especially due to the political climate of today. The problem is that so many people think in absolutes. Both liberals and conservatives are guilty of this. This attitude leaves little room for discussion and or for exploring alternatives. The negative aspect of such thinking is 10-fold when people start to expect that every artist should adhere to a specific political opinion. This kind of goes back to the artist stereotypes that I mentioned in my last post--- it seems that some people assume that every artist should be liberal and embrace the Democrat party. What say you?

Based on this email I have a few questions I would like to ask. For privacy feel free to answer anonymous:

1.) Does your opinion about a work of art change when you discover the political views of the artist who created it?

2.) If you are a conservative should you keep your political affiliation secret from your artworld related peers?

3.) Do you agree that the political thoughts of an artist can help or hamper his or her success in the artworld and the impression that curators, collectors, and other artists have of the artist?

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Monday, July 07, 2008

My Art Advice: Why do so many people view artists in a negative manner?

I did not really want to go into this issue. However, several people have sent similar questions to me... so I guess writing about it is 'now or never'. This is a question that has a number of answers and I do hope that you will all give your thoughts on the issue. One could say that the popular image of artist as 'rogue' or 'anti-hero' can be traced back generations-- the issue can actually be complex in its simplicity. However, I will focus on more recent times and how movies have shaped this 'image' in contemporary culture. In my opinion, movie depictions of artists can be credited for enforcing the negative stereotypes that some people have about artists in general.

It is no secret that movies about fictional artists often portray the characters as drug fiends hampered by emotional instability and fueled by lust. Even when a film is about a historical artist it seems that individuals with the most volatile or disrupted personalities are selected. Picasso, Modigliani, Pollock, Van Gogh, Goya, Warhol are the usual suspects as far as these movies are concerned and they are often the base for fictional artists in movies as well. Think of an artist who endured some form of strife in his or her life due to addictions, mental disorders, lifestyle, or a combination of the three and most likely there is-- or will be-- a movie about that artist if he or she has had any success with his or her art. In other words, negativity sells and in this case it can feed our collective 'image' of what it means to be an artist.

These artists and their traits are selected because each had specific flaws that are embraced by our inherent need to observe negative situations, places, and themes-- a need that is often enforced by the media. In other words, their lives-- and fictional characters structured from their lives-- are marketable as a plot due to their struggle and our desire to observe said struggle. The challenges-- both inward and outward-- that they faced invoke our curiosity... kind of like how people tend to take a few extra glances as they drive by a burning house or vehicle accident. Just look at the negative stories that dominate newspapers and news channels and you will find proof of how marketable negativity is. Positive aspects of life are often considered boring by media standards... and 'boring' does not earn big ratings.

Thus, the issue of how the 'image' of the artist has been shaped negatively is actually an issue involving how we view the world as a whole based on what we are subjected to viewing and our natural curiosity for destruction. That said, the problem with movies like Lust for Life, Surviving Picasso, and Modigliani is that they rarely reveal the brilliance of the artist at work. They may offer scenes that depict the artist in his or her studio, but they tend to favor personal drama-- specifically self-destruction or the destruction of others by the hand of the artist-- over artistic creation. These films often remind me of watered down soap operas with a few brushes thrown in for good measure. The art, which is what made the individual famous and 'movie worthy' in the first place, is often excluded throughout most of these films.

Viewers end up learning very little about the artist or his or her art from watching these movies because focus is often placed on a single aspect of the artists life-- drinking problems, sexual addictions and abuse, self-harm and so on-- not to mention the fact that these movies are often historically flawed in the first place. Someone with little knowledge about art or the artist in question may end up associating the creative strength of that specific artist with the addictions and flaws that said artist lived with. At that point the viewer may think that an artist-- every artist- must rely on addictions or endure great strife simply to create. Need proof... ask a dozen people about Van Gogh and I bet you that more than half of them will mention something about his ear before saying anything about his paintings or technique. Due to these stereotypes being enforced people sometimes forget that a work of art is created by a person... not by sex, drugs, and empty bottles.

Picasso was not just a self-centered womanizer. Van Gogh's greatest achievement was not self-harm. Modigliani liked his drink, but that was not the only focus in his life. These artists are known-- or should be known --because of the art they created... not their personal lives. Their personalities and lifestyle simply add an extra spark of interest in what they left behind-- I don't think it should be the focus. Unfortunately, movies often focus on these specific traits/events as far as these artists are concerned and as far as fictional portrayals of artists are concerned. Even more unfortunate is the fact that some people view these movies and form opinions about every artist based on what they have observed. Even worse, some artists emulate what they have observed to some degree in the hopes that they can be 'famous' as well. Personality-- both the negative and positive aspects of personality-- can have an influence on how popular or accepted an artist is, but in the end the art should be the focus because the art is the reason for remembering. People need to think about what an artist has to offer-- or has offered-- to society due to their art instead of what he or she did in the bar or bedroom.

One can find these artist stereotypes on television as well. For example, if you turn on HBO tonight you may stumble upon a documentary about the artist Chuck Connelly titled, The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale. Insiders who have viewed this documentary have stated that it is one-sided as to how the artworld functions and that it, like the movies I mentioned, focuses on specific negative aspects of Connelly's life while leaving questions about him unanswered. So, to answer your question directly... people often view artists negatively because of the negative 'image' that movies, television shows, and other aspects of the media have created by focusing on traits and personality flaws that fuel artist stereotypes. So if you are an artist watching a movie like Surviving Picasso just remember to survive the stereotypes.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin