Monday, April 30, 2007

Art Space Talk: Laura Splan

I recently interviewed artist Laura Splan. Laura is a mixed media artist based in New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of California, Irvine where she originally studied Biological Sciences. She received her Master of Fine Art in Sculpture from Mills College in Oakland, CA.

Her interest in science and medicine stems from a variety of experiences and interests and is influenced by cultural trends and events. Both her father and sister have worked for a company that manufactures surgical and medical products such as implants. This nurtured her interest in medicine and gave her access to images and information she might otherwise not have had. Health epidemics, bio-terrorism, reality makeover shows, cloned cats, anti-microbial products, and pharmaceutical commercials all serve as fuel for inspiration for her work.

Q. Laura, you originally studied Biological Sciences. How has that early study influenced the art you create today?

A. "I think my early Biological Sciences study opened my eyes to a disconnect between innate and learned behavior especially as it relates to social constructions of femininity.

I became fascinated with relationships between the social and the biological, the natural and the manufactured. I was interested in the conflicts between natural and artificial selection as they relate to evolutionary advantage vs. social constructions of beauty.

At some point in my artwork, soon after Dolly was cloned, I began to reference a lot of biomedical imagery in my artwork. This was sort of a reinvestigation of these interests that has continued in my work."

(Pillows is a stack of pillows covered in pillowcases. Each pillowcase is sewn out of fabric on which images of skin have been inkjet printed. Each pillowcase possesses unique markings and coloring and is printed from a different image of skin. They evoke our psychological relationship to objects as projection surfaces for comfort and familiarity. The comfortable nature of the soft pillow is undermined by the magnified detail of the skin and even more so by the image of meat-like flesh on the pillow inside the pillowcase.)

Q. Both your father and sister have worked for a company that manufactures surgical and medical products such as implants. How has their shared knowledge influenced you as an artist? What other medical influences do you have?

A. "Growing up my father would occasionally talk about the products, implants and instruments that the company produced such as artificial knees and hips, orthopedic braces, surgical instruments, etc. He would have brochures and annual reports lying around with images of doctors, x-rays, surgical implants and instruments.

One time, I watched these corporate videos he had demonstrating the company’s products during knee surgery. I was also able to accompany him to an operating room to observe an eye surgery to implant an intraocular lens. I think these experiences made me highly aware of the extreme vulnerability, malleability and resilience of the human body.

I also recall him telling a horrific story about doctors under the influence of drugs and alcohol amputating the wrong limb of a patient. My sister once told me about the recall of an implant product in which all the recipients would have to have the recalled product replaced in another surgery. The company of course pays for the surgeries and they also send the patients flowers in the hospital. I think this made me aware of the element of human error in science.

I was also very accident prone as a child. I entered the first grade in a cast (broken arm from roller skating) and left on crutches (bike accident). I’ve seen an emergency room or two in my time as well as my share of my own flesh and bone."

Q. You have been exhibited at: San Francisco MOMA Artist's Gallery, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Los Angeles Center For Digital Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Rosa, CA, Nexus Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Delta Axis Gallery (Memphis, TN), Arthouse (Austin, TX), the Art & Culture Center Of Hollywood (Hollywood, FL), and Galerie SAW Gallery, (Ontario, Canada)... can you reflect on any of these exhibitions?

A. "I think what’s most memorable about exhibitions is the comments and stories that your work evokes from people. Some people come up with some fascinating ideas as to what your intentions are and others share some very personal and intimate stories about their lives and their bodies.

At my MFA exhibit, a woman shared with me that she was scheduled to have a baboon heart transplant. She gave me her phone number and asked me if I would be interested in video taping it to make some artwork out of the footage. I left her a message but never heard back from her.

I do find it satisfying when I show a piece and someone’s story about what they think the work is about is exactly my intention. In 2000, I made a series of large latch hook sculptures in the form of antidepressants and anti-psychotics for an art exhibit that was part of the first Ladyfest in Olympia, WA.

As soon as I got to the gallery someone came up to me and was so excited to tell me what she thought about the piece and it’s narrative implications, which were all exactly what I had in mind. I was surprised that an object was able to communicate such specific information between two people. I was also touched that she would take the time to share her thoughts on the work so thoroughly and generously."

Q. Laura, can you go into detail about how society has influenced your art? What are the social implications in your work?

A. "I sometimes like to create visual metaphors for social paradigms. Stethoscope (2002- image above) is a good example of that. Stethoscope is a twenty-five foot long functional stethoscope. Viewers are invited to listen to each other’s hearts on either end of a table.

Before the invention of the stethoscope, physicians would lay their heads directly on a patient’s chest to listen to the heart. In 1816, Rene Laennec was inspired to invent the stethoscope by his desire by some accounts to preserve a female patient’s modesty, by other accounts to preserve his own modesty.

This sculpture exaggerates the alienating nature of an object and explores the stethoscope as a visual metaphor for a social paradigm. Its maintained functionality questions standards in forms that do not necessarily relate to function.

I also like to work with images and forms that somehow reveal meaning in and of themselves. I find neuroanatomical structures to be wonderful visual metaphors for the complexity of their own function and the fragility of our bodies.

Blood as a drawing material is conceptually informed by society in the sense that our relationship to it and the emotional reaction it evokes are largely socially constructed. Blood can evoke a range of emotions and ideas across different cultures; anything from fear to fascination, from disease to ritual purification, from punishment to reward.

Most materials and images are not neutral and have a lot cultural baggage embedded in them. It’s that baggage that I enjoy playing with in the studio."

Q. Can you share some of your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "I think that the best art is able to be at once beautiful, evocative, and memorable. Beauty is an artistic device that one uses to keep the viewer looking, pursuing, enjoying. There needs to be something "off", however, to evoke experiences other than just pleasure. It should trigger a memory, idea, or question so that the viewer is encouraged to peel back the aesthetic surface layers of the work and to see what ideas and stories lay underneath the exterior we call art. The interior should be facilitated by the artist but informed by the viewer. This is where the real artistic experience lies. It’s a shared one of sorts in which two people communicate in a way that defies language."

(Blood Scarf depicts a scarf knit out of clear vinyl tubing. An intravenous device emerging out of the user's hand fills the scarf with blood. The implied narrative is a paradoxical one in which the device keeps the user warm with their blood while at the same time draining their blood drip by drip.)

Q. Has your art ever been published? Where?

A. "My work has been reproduced in publications of varying interests that cross over between art, design, craft, and science. After my show at the New York Hall of Science, it was reviewed in Discover Magazine (February 2007).

My work also appeared on the cover of the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal (November 2004). Surface Design Journal (Fall 2005) did an issue on Machine Embroidery that featured my Doilies series. And 3rd Floor: A Portable Artspace, (Spring 2005) included images of a photographic diptych I did titled Blood Scarf (image above and below)."

Q. Laura, do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "Sometimes I work for hours in complete silence. I find when I’m trying to figure something out or I’m experimenting or concentrating, I really need silence.

If I’m drawing, I like to listen to mellow music (Cat Power, Lily Allen). But if I’m doing more physical work like sanding wood or framing artwork I like to listen to loud punk or dance music (LeTigre, Devo, Blondie).

If I have a really long haul ahead of me of simple, repetitive work like knitting or latch hooking I like to listen to audio books. I was on a Victorian Science Fiction kick for a while.

Since I often forget to put any music on at all, I also end up listening to a lot of Reuben Lorch-Miller’s ( musical selections since we share a studio, which I would describe as dark metal (Big Business, Melvins).

As for what gets me in the mood for working in the studio that would be deadlines. If I don’t have a deadline for a studio visit or a show, I can be incredibly undisciplined or spend too much time messing around with the administrative side of art making (emails, portfolios, applications)."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "One place to always see my work is my website, . I keep it pretty up to date because it’s become such an important tool for me to communicate with curators and collectors. There is also a "news" page that lists all the details for my current and upcoming exhibitions."

Q. Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "Sympathetic Coordination is a solo exhibition of my work at the International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago, IL, May 4-July 20, 2007). It’s part of their "Anatomy in the Gallery" program that curates one-person exhibitions by fine artists that reference the body and medicine in their work.

I will also be in some upcoming group exhibitions including Reimagining the Distaff Toolkit, which will begin at the Bennington Museum, (Vermont, 2008) and travel to other galleries and museums. It’s an exhibit that includes work that references, revamps, and reimagines tools that have historically been important for women's domestic labor.

I am showing sculptures and drawings in The Powder Room at Track 16 Gallery in Santa Monica, CA (through May 19, 2007) and photographic work at the 10th Annual Subtle Technologies Festival, in Toronto, Canada (May 24-27, 2007)."

Q. Laura, has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "My work has been censored. In 2005, I was a featured artist on a pbs arts series called Spark! on KQED in San Francisco, CA. The final segment was about 9 minutes long and at the last minute the "higher ups" (at KQED I believe) censored about a 2-minute segment.

The segment contained images of a photographic series I did called Dissected. The photographs were formal portraits of cats that had been dissected in a high school. Someone decided the work was too graphic and disturbing for even their late night audience. I wasn’t surprised, as I already knew how controversial the work was.

I guess I just took it in stride since there was never any agreement between us that they would be highlighting any particular work in the segment. I also knew how hard the producers and editors worked on the show and that it probably bothered them more than it did me."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "The art scene in New York City is hard to describe because it’s not just one scene. NYC is such a vast, diverse place that there are really 100’s of scenes within.

I moved here from San Francisco though and so did many of my artist friends. So I had somewhat of an instant art community when I moved here. I try to frequently exchange studio visits with other artists and have found artists here really receptive to that idea. I also send out an email to my friends if I’m going to a reception or lecture and others are good at doing the same.

There’s so much going on that it’s hard as one person to keep track of everything. It’s a group effort sometimes. Basically, there’s tons of art happening here 24/7 and thousands of people here actively engaged in it. It can be invigorating.

While nyc has a reputation for being a difficult place to live, I’ve found it an easy place to feel surrounded by art and an art community. I’m also sort of a loner though so for me to feel a sense of community doesn’t really require a lot. I’m a product of the suburbs in that way.

The best thing about nyc is that there is just about every kind of "art" imaginable here and usually at least one venue or institution supporting its display. The hard thing about it is how saturated it is. There are thousands of other artists here trying to access the same support, funding, or venue, audience. That can be daunting."

(Prozac, Thorazine, Zoloft is a group of large pillows crafted out of hand latch-hooked rugs, which have been sewn together and stuffed. These soft, oversized anti-psychotics and anti-depressants provide a different kind of comfort than their prescription counterparts. The time consuming nature of the latch-hook process provides a sufficiently mind-numbing effect. Latch hooking is a simple but tedious craft that has traditionally been used to depict idealized and romanticized images from domesticity and nature.)

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "I tend to believe that everything has political implications whether it’s your intent or not. You should be prepared to own up to and address it regardless of your intent. As an artist I think about the aesthetic and conceptual choices I make on those terms as much as I can. It can be tedious and stifling though and in the end if it ruins the piece, there’s no point.

Because the body is such a highly politicized locus, a lot of my work may read as political since I use so much anatomical imagery. I also use a lot of imagery and processes traditionally associated with women. I try to consider the political histories of women, femininity, and the body that are going to inevitably inform the work."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "I’m an Atheist but I was raised Catholic in the Southern Baptist South in Tennessee. I would say a lot of my work is sometimes a reaction to different forms of repression that dictate concepts of order and disorder, standard and deviant, and right and wrong. I believe religion often does this. So do a lot of other institutions.

A few times, people have interpreted spiritual meaning out of some of the work I’ve done with blood imagery. I understand and welcome their interpretations but did not have that sort of intent or inspiration behind the work."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Laura Splan. Feel free to critique or discuss her work. Check out her website at:

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Art Space News: The Artist Project

This exhibit was very appealing. The Artist Project featured original works of art by over 50 cutting-edge artists. Held in the Mart's lobby- it was the first exhibit I entered before making my way to the Bridge Art Fair preview. I returned to the exhibit later for the Preview Night. Each artist was jury selected for the event. Thus, the level of artistic skill and creative ambition was high.

The environment was very amicable. Each booth represented an artist and most of the artists were on hand to discuss their work- while others traveled the floor in order to discuss work with the other artists and patrons. I was pleased to find out that most of them had heard of and several mentioned that they had accounts! It was awesome to come face-to-face with the scope of influence that has obtained.

I was really impressed with the caliber of work on display. All of the artists are worth mentioning, but I will focus on a few for now. You can find out more about The Artist Project by visiting the official site:

('Sunrise' by Jane Fulton Alt)
The photography of Jane Fulton Alt (sample above) was a joy to observe. I sense a certain spirituality about her work that is very calming to view. She is a Chicago born (1951) fine art photographer and has been very active in the Chicago scene for years. Her work is in several public collection- including the Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY.
Themes of grief and loss are common in her work and serve as a reflection of humanity. Her series 'Mourning Light' shows her "attempt to counter the darkness that had enveloped me. These photographs speak to the light in the face of that darkness, and are an effort to memorialize all who have died thru out time at the hand of evil. " You can observe more of Jane Fulton Alt's work by visiting her website:

(A sample of an on-going project by Jeremy Tubbs)

Jeremy Tubbs booth was a crowd favorite- not so much for the work he had on display, but for the vision behind it. This artist has focused on taking a picture of himself once per day since September of 2006. His goal is to document the procession of aging upon his face by photographing himself daily.

As a greater amount of photos are cataloged, his plan is to produce a video at 15 frames per second making each year pass in a period of approximately 24 seconds. So, by the time he is 75 years old the video will be a little more than 20 minutes long.

Observers were fascinated by the life-long project that Jeremy has set for himself. I think some of the allure of his project has to do with the fact that so many of us try to deny the aging process- Jeremy embraces it. You can view the 'Random Pic-A-Day Timeline' (sample above) on his website:

('North Pond' by Hiroshi Ariyama)
The photography of Hiroshi Ariyama was a hit as well (sample above). He sold a screenprint while I was discussing his work with him! Mr. Ariyama's current series of work is called 'Our City, Our Neighborhood'. The series is comprised primarily of simple urbanscapes that enhance some aspect of reality through a very graphic manipulation of light, color and texture.
Each image begins as an original photograph which he modifies or simplifies until finding the "right moment". The image is then separated into tonal ranges for which he selects colors that he feels celebrate the moment. Hiroshi's intent is to capture an emotional point in time within each scene that can range from a nostalgic reflection, to a simple current observation to a happy glance into a moment's fleeting possibilities.
(Hair Piece 13 by Monica Rezman)

The work of Monica Rezman was also a show-stopper. Monica Rezman is a painter, textile designer, and most recently a photographer who currently splits her time between Chicago and India. Rezman has always been fascinated by ways women use personal adornment as A kind of language. Splitting time between the east and west has served to broaden her vocabulary.

Her current body of work comes from two sources: As a child, she watched her mother alter and augment her own hair with falls and wigs. Her three year old daughter is experimenting with female adornment the same way.

Using a very traditional form of oil painting techniques and charcoal she explores the subtleties, richness and mystery that the hair creations hold for her. She is struck at how much feeling and emotion is revealed in a simple strand of hair. Eroticism, hope, sadness, and disappointment exist simultaneously in these works.

When I observed her work I thought that I was looking at actual hair hanging on the wall (sample above). I was shocked to find out that the hair was a charcoal drawing! You can find out more about Monica and her work by visiting her website:

I have so many other artists to cover. I will be posting more about my trip to Chicago this week. More to come...

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Art Space News: Bridge Art Fair- Chicago 2007

(Michel Dubois, Juliet, 2007, C-print numbered on 3, 47.2 x 51.1 in- Galerie Paule Friedland& Alexandre Rivault)

Anyone who counted Chicago out as one of the mega-centers of the art world was sadly mistaken this weekend. The Bridge Art Fair, Art Chicago, The Artist Project and several other venues hammered skeptics with a visual blitzkrieg that has not been seen in Chicago for some time. I was in attendance on the 26th and 27th- representing and observed the visual onslaught with my own eyes!

I ventured to Chicago in order to attend the preview party for the Bridge Art Fair. However, my eyes strayed toward several events that were happening during my trip. Artropolis, as a whole, impressed me greatly. I will be posting several entries about my visit to Chicago in the coming days.
(Daniel Edwards, Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston, 2006, Resin Cast, Life Size- Capla KestingFine Art)

After quickly viewing The Artist Project I made my way to the Bridge Art Fair preview. I was one of the first members of the media to arrive at the preview (I actually forgot to pick up my press kit until later- sorry guys, I cheated). I was greeted by Daniel Edwards 'Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston' (image above) as I turned a corner to enter the exhibit.
This sculpture caused a great deal of controversy when Edwards revealed it to the public. However, it did not seem to have the same impact during the Bridge preview.
The majority of the people who stopped to observe the sculpture only seemed to be interested in taking "Hey, I'm standing next to naked Spears" type photos. I believe the message of the piece has been lost to the media and controversy surrounding it- which is unfortunate for Mr. Edwards. Onlookers viewed other works more seriously even though the piece appeared to be the figurehead of the Bridge Art Fair.

There was a great deal of work to observe in the 65 booths- a maze of art and anticipation. I don't think anyone will disagree that Chicago was the heart of the art world that night- the thumping was loud! Distorted voices and scratching vibes completed the atmosphere as the DJ gave life to an already lively event.
The gallery representatives were friendly and eager to discuss their collections- a constant flow of energy! Thump, thump... Thump, thump. I was impressed by practically all of the exhibited work. However, two booths stuck out: Contessa Gallery and Marx-Saunders Gallery, LTD.
(Roy Lichtenstein, Reverie, 1965, Screenprint in colors, 30 x 24 in)

Booth 60 was my favorite- hands down! What can I say- I have a love for art history. The booth was occupied by the Contessa Gallery. This gallery presented works by Roy Lichtenstein (image above), Horst P. Horst (image below), Pablo Picasso and many other modern masters.

(Horst P. Horst, Mainbocher Corset, 1939, Silver gelatin photograph, 9.5 x 7.5 in)

I was amazed to observe the first work of art by Pablo Picasso to feature the Minotaur. Steven Hartman, owner and founder of The Contessa Gallery in Cleveland, allowed me to take a picture of the piece as we discussed the influence it had on Picasso's later works.
Mr. Hartman has excellent communication skills and a strong knowledge of art history. My chat with him was one of the many highlights of my trip. I could have stayed at the Contessa booth all night, but I had other venues to observe. (
(Hank Adams, sHAMy, 2006, Glass and copper, 27 1⁄2 x 22 x 15 in)

Booth 50 was occupied by Marx-Saunders Gallery, LTD. This gallery only featured the work of two artists. However, they both made a huge impact with onlookers. Three glass and copper sculptures by Hank Adams (image above) peered back at observers- while Jen Blazina's School Desk Installation (image below) invited observers back to class.

(Jen Blazina, School Desk Installation: Recollection, 2006, Cast glass, photo transfer, and metal)

Blazina's installation was very impressive in that it conveyed a dark... almost foreboding mood. It really captured an old classroom feel- a time when everyone was just a face and the classroom seemed more like some surreal hell than a place of learning. I was later informed that Blazina's installation was a show-stopper during the weekend hours of the exhibit.
The installation was a very interactive experience even though it was very somber in its approach. Observers were allowed to step into the 'classroom'. Faces from an old year book were hauntingly projected upon a chalk board and upon the desks. There was no sign of life and no real reflection of the lives who once 'inhabited' the classroom. It actually reminded me of stepping into something from Silent Hill.

An interesting aspect of this gallery is the fact that it has a focus on artist who use glass as a medium. The gallery was founded by Bonnie Marx in 1990- Ken Saunders joined the gallery in 1995. The focus of the gallery’s efforts is to broaden the exposure of contemporary artist who use glass to create exceptional works of art. I was really impressed. (
Both of these galleries made an impact on me. However, I will be posting more soon...
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Art Space Talk: Elisse Pogofsky-Harris

I recently interviewed artist Elisse Pogofsky-Harris. Born in Chicago and receiving her degree in art from the University of Michigan, Elisse Pogofsky-Harris’s work has been strongly colored by the eleven years she spent living and working in Rome, Italy.

"Her metaphoric language creates a dream world where past and present merge. Art historical allusions, personal symbolism and carefully observed reality intertwine in compositions that speak to both individual and universal concerns about life," wrote Richard West, in a recent catalogue of Pogofsky-Harris’s work.

Ojai, California has been her main place of residence for the past twenty five years, but every year she returns to Italy to paint in her studio there. Ms. Pogofsky-Harris’ work has been widely exhibited. Her highly acclaimed art is part of collections of museums, corporations, and universities, as well as many prestigious private collections.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I was 10 years old and had to stay home from school for a month in bed, I entertained myself by drawing and painting. It became a serious interest and I began to fantasize about having the life of an artist."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "The first mature phase of my art developed while I lived in Rome, Italy for eleven years. I did aquatint etchings and the content had to do with the people I saw daily. I was mostly interested in the lives of the elderly people around me so visible in the streets.

Years later, I became involved in an international women's arts project called Women Beyond Borders, a cross cultural collaboration connecting women, to honor and document women's voices and visions, to encourage dialogue and collaboration and to inspire creative expression."

Q. On average how long does it take for you to create a piece?

A. "I usually respond with a quick "as long as I have been making art". But the truth is I work on my paintings until I feel they are finished which can take as long as a year or as short as a week. Of course size has a great deal to do with the amount of time spent on each piece. I often work on more than one project at a time which allows me to put the work aside. After not looking at the painting for several weeks I may decide to rework much of it."

Q. What was your most important exhibition?

A. "My most important exhibition was at the Frye Museum in Seattle, Washington. The museum had just been renovated and my work, covering a ten year period was in four major galleries. The most exciting moment was when I saw the banner, the HUGE banner hanging in the museum entry with my name on it and and the title of the exhibition 'Spirits, Wolves, and Metaphors'."

Q. Do you have any studio rituals?

A. "I turn on jazz music as soon as I enter my studio, if I am having trouble working I might sort through books, photographs, old letters, or portfolios of my work."

Q. Where can we see more of your art.

A. "You can see my work on my web site at or look me up on the Ojai Studio Artists web site. My work is represented in many public collections including The Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA; The Bank of Levy Collection, Ventura Museum of History and Art, Ventura, CA; The Santa Fe Arts Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA; Municipal Art Collection, Ventura, CA; The Harithas Collection, Longacre Museum, Longacre, Texas; The Municipal Art Collection, Ventura, CA; The University of Houston and Rice University, Houston, Texas; The University of California, Los Angeles, CA."

Q. In one sentence, why do you create art?

A. "I create art because I have to."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I am in Ventura County, California. I have seen over the past 25 years an amazing shift in the recognition of this area as a large active arts community. The city of Ventura has taken on a development program that recognizes the cultural and economic benefits derived from supporting the artists in the area with grants, exhibition spaces, workshops, and festivals.

Focus on the Masters organizes a Ventura studio tour as well as recognizing the outstanding artists in the area and archiving their work.Studio Channel Islands at the new California State University in Camarillo, CA, has an exceptional exhibition space and has consistently had outstanding exhibits.The City of Ventura has an outstanding public arts program and has promoted live work space for artists.
In Ojai, CA The Studio Artist Tour is one of the first of its kind and has brought national recognition to the city. When funding was cut for the arts in California, the Ventura County Arts Council persevered helping support arts groups within the county and bringing programs and art to the schools."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Because I lived in Italy for such a long time, I absorbed the historical art that was around me especially that of the Renaissance and Pre-renaissance, which was religious and mainly Christian in nature.
On my return to the states, I began to draw from this influence using Christian iconography in my compositions. I began to wonder about my own religious roots and began to research Jewish themes which I felt closer to. These themes became pivotal to my work. I have since moved on from those themes."

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Elisse Pogofsky-Harris. Feel free to critique or discuss her work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Monday, April 23, 2007

Art Space Talk: Ajay Angre- World Palette International

I recently interviewed artist Ajay Angre. Mr. Angre is the founder of World Palette International (WPI). He is also the Director of Marketing Communications for WPI. Mr. Angre's job is to promote original art created by emerging Indian artists. He accomplishes this by utilizing a Direct Response Marketing plan and by gaining exposure for WPI artists online.

It can be hard for artists from India to gain international exposure due to economic reasons. Many of the artists represented by World Palette International are from rural areas of India. Thus, the respected artists may lack in communication and financial resources to expose their work to a wider audience. Many of these artists create master works while living meager lives. It is the goal of WPI to gain the proper exposure that these artists need in order to facilitate their careers and earn the living that their talents warrant.

Mr. Angre is currently working with in order to gain further exposure for artists represented by World Palette International. Ajay has over 30 years of experience working with various organizations and has built strong connections throughout the 'art world'. is proud to introduce our blog readers to Mr. Angre and his organization.

Mr. Angre has allowed me to post several examples of work by WPI artists. You will observe examples of work by Senior and Junior artists from India throughout this interview. Please keep an eye on the WPI website (which is currently under construction): Enjoy!

(A painting by Prof. Anil Naik- Professor Naik specializes in all forms of art- realistic, abstract, portrait painting, landscapes, conceptual art, murals...)

Q. Mr. Angre, you are the Director of Marketing Communications for World Palette International. Can you tell our readers about your organization? What is the mission of your organization?

A. "World Palette International based in Mumbai, India is founded by the Artists of senior rank to promote the up coming Indian Artists who have talent, creative vision but no marketing opportunities and exposure. Besides, exploitation of upcoming artists by middle men and so called agents was a matter of concern that needed to be addressed immediately.
For over two years now I've personally met our very senior artists and expressed my desire to start some marketing activity to promote our emerging artists who come from socially and economically backward classes but have tremendous creative talent. We collectively thought we must do something to stop exploitation of our artists and do something to offer a viable platform to showcase their work nationally and internationally for sale.

I received overwhelming support for by all my seniors for creating an organization that was named World Palette International. I am proud to state here that I am the founding member and Director for Marketing communications of World Palette International.
As I am from the creative side, ( I Graduated in Applied Art from J.J.School of Art, Mumbai) World Palette International, the name, logo style and the symbol to represent artist color palette and Art with an International outlook was developed by me. This became my passion and a mission to create such a powerful medium via WPI that can and will cut across all boundaries, borders and help an artist receive his/her due share and recognition. And with recognition, the monetary rewards.

My dream and passion is coming into realization with our collective efforts. The reason it is working successfully is because Artist are working in the interest of Artists. No commissions, no fee whatsoever are charged as a matter of policy. Our Artist get a price he or she feels, he/she deserves for the work as far as possible. It was only possible if Artist works for Artist and build up a team to support each other in a marketing oriented environment. This way, we could build up confidence in our artists to use this platform freely and assured support of the artist in this movement can only make our organization strong and efforts effective."
(A painting by Parag Ghalsasi- Parag is an established artist who can skillfully paint the human figure. He is known for his eye for detail.)

Q. You have worked with Prof. Hanamante, Prof. Vishvas Yende, Prof. Anil Nagpurkar, Prof. Anil Naik, and Prof. Srikant Jadhav- all leading art instructors from India- in order to give structure to World Palette International. When did you all decide to create this organization?

A. "It is really an interesting story if I may say so. The concept of developing such a platform for our upcoming artists came to my mind when I was working in the Gulf, in Dubai. One couple from Europe came to meet me as I was working with the leading English language daily as an Art Director. They were visiting the Gulf in order to promote European Art and Artists. They were looking for representatives who can work for them in the Gulf region.

At that point of time I thought of our Indian artists and their poor state of affairs. I thought of working on the same lines for our Artists in India. And while on vacation in India, I planned to meet all my fellow Artists, and college faculty to know their thoughts. I received encouraging response from every one of them since they knew my strength in marketing communications and my exposure to the outside world.
In 1999, when I returned back to India, I started serious work on the concept of creating a viable marketing platform for deserving talented upcoming artists from India. For about six months I was just talking to Artists and Art Professors, to understand where things were going wrong, why an artist's position in the society is so bad in spite of having great talent- why an artist cannot make a decent living out of his passion for art.

Well, this was totally an area of research and deep study to find out what is responsible for this state of affairs. I studied the art market, artists, buyers, art institutes, art galleries and exhibition events for six long months. I discussed with senior and junior artists and came to my own conclusions about the marketing approach that we should have. The senior faculty members were a big source of feed back for me. After spending a lot of time with many of my seniors and upcoming artists, I presented my marketing plans as a matter of communication strategy and we started working on that in Feb 2005.

Our first exhibition was held on 30th of July 2005 for only two days at the famous Golf Club of Mumbai. But my marketing plans were focused on "Direct response marketing". After my studies, I firmly believed that Direct Response Marketing is the only economical and result oriented channel of communication which can generate a effective response in terms of actual sales and also, wider, deeper penetration in the selected target group is possible.

So in effect, World Palette International started it’s active role in July 2005."

(A painting by Kishore Nandvdekar- Is a self-taught artist who has been honored by the Maharashtra State Art Board.)

Q. Mr. Angre, you are an artist as well. You graduated from Mumbai's reputable Art College Sir J.J. School of Art in 1971. You also have 23 years of experience working as an Art Director and as a Creative Director with International exposure in Advertising and Marketing. How has your artistic and business training helped you to meet the challenges of forming an organization like World Palette International? I will assume that critical thinking and creative decisions play a major role in strengthening your organization.

A. "Yes, indeed with the kind of experience and exposure that I was fortunate enough to have over 23 years of my career- my creative thinking and marketing vision helped me a lot in guiding my mind to follow certain paths and my sixth sense in difficult situations kept me on my track. Firstly, I must say being an Artist myself, it was an advantage for me to understand artist's mind, attitude and thinking in general. My creative side helped me in grasping situations fast and also helped me to see the future outlook.

Also, being an artist with a professional attitude and vast experience from the field, I could command good respect from fellow artists. My professional strengths in marketing, advertising and promotions were the basis for receiving respectability within the art world. My communication skills are excellent and I believe in great presentations. I am a good listener.
During my six months study of everything in the art world and artists, my role was only as a listener to know many aspects of the industry. I have a habit of listening to everyone and even discussing issues with everyone. I am open to suggestions, but the final processing of information I gather, I decide myself, what is vital that needs to be used to make my decisions to strengthen this concept and based on that I apply my creative vision, experience, and my sixth sense to arrive at a final conclusion and decisions.

I am willing to change my course after careful considerations. I call that fine tuning of your thoughts, plans and approach. I strongly believe in listening to everyone because I sincerely believe everyone has a creative potential and a solution to offer from a different perspective.

I also strongly believe in my own convictions, beliefs, gut feelings and a lot of winning attitude to succeed in your endeavors. But I must say, as a creative person, I always follow out-of-box thinking. I am not a traditional thinker but a creative thinker. Building up an organization requires human understanding, financial understanding and marketing understanding.

My experience from every organization that I worked with certainly became an asset for working in all these critical areas. To build up an organization, you need a leader with vision, with confidence and extra ordinary capacity to influence and motivate others to come along with you on the mission to succeed in our dreams to build a brighter future. Our not so confident artists, with no hopes for a better life or future needed this confidence with a powerful message that said "we can and will make it together"! So let us do it now for a better tomorrow."

(A painting by Ram Khartmal- Ram is an emerging artist who has gained recognition in India for his conceptual work.)

Q. Can you explain some of the difficulties that artist from India may have in regards to gaining exposure for their work internationally?

A. "In the first place, most of the Artists are from poor family backgrounds. Their socio economic status is from the lower level in the society. Most of them learn in schools in the vernacular languages. So they are very poor in their verbal or written communication skills. In addition, they lack presentation skills. World Palette International is spending a lot of time explaining to our artists their drawbacks and how to improve on them.

The reasons why nationally or internationally their reach is poor and the exposure to their work is almost nil is due to their socio economic conditions. Of course I don’t blame them entirely for their state, the circumstances they live in are such that making a living only on art is a difficult thing for them. So most take up a job in schools or colleges as Art teachers to support their family and that is where their passion for art and their creativity takes a back seat.

With the daily struggle in life, lack of funds, marketing or communication skills, it is very difficult for most of them to think about State or National exposure for their work. The international exposure is a dream for them.

I strongly feel, this is where organizations like World Palette International can play a very important role in offering these unknown artists all the supports possible for getting them the right exposure in right places. So for International exposure, systematic organizational efforts can give them the necessary confidence and logistic support."

(A painting by Prof. Balagi Ubale- Professor Ubale is known for painting religious subjects that stir an emotional response.)

Q. I understand that World Palette International is working with the creators of in order to help promote the artists that your organization represents. Can you go into detail about your thoughts on how such alliances are vital in regards to gaining exposure for emerging artists from India? What do you see as the 'big picture' in this venture?

A. When we formed WPI, My marketing vision was very clear. The entire marketing strategy evolved from a deep study of issues and a result oriented approach. I saw from the beginning WPI as a National and International marketing platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and to obtain the necessary wider exposure to sell it.

In the first place, my study on the Art Gallery Exhibitions in India did not reveal very encouraging results in terms of sales for upcoming artists. The so called buyers in India go for famous names who are like brands. And it is looked purely as an investment for attractive returns in the future. In most cases upcoming Artist’s work is only admired by Art lovers, critics and faculty but sales are remote, if any.

The Agents and art dealers or art Galleries too, promote only who they want to promote irrespective of lack of quality and creativity. I personally feel after my serious interaction and debates with senior artists that the emerging artist has no place here in this totally commercial Art world where art is not seen, respected, and appreciated as an art but a piece of investment for making money.

Whereas, my study and interactions with people in the West and Europe discovered one important aspect about the people of these regions. Everyone appreciates original art and whenever possible likes to adore their walls with original works of art. This is a very important aspect for art and artists to flourish were art is admired, appreciated and bought.

My study also revealed that Asian Art and especially Indian art in the last decade has become more popular in many countries all over the world and many Art lovers have taken a liking for an ethnic color palette and admire cultural, religious and traditional works of art from India. This was strong enough reason for us to look for alliances and associations with overseas Artists, Art Galleries, Art net works and organizations to represent our interest in respective regions.

My first breakthrough was with UK’s very old and popular Art studio involved with commissioned work in portrait painting. When they thought of launching their website to promote Art and Artist from all over the world, our five Artists work was selected with great admiration and recognition and our artist’s presence was solicited at once for mutual interest.

So to say, in regards to associations and alliances with overseas Art organizations, we always thought of the prime importance of obtaining wider exposure and effective commercial angles for our artists. As I have mentioned before, my initial plans reveal long term plans to open our representative offices in the US, Canada, UK and Middle East.

I have always seen the bigger picture in this era of globalization. People all over the world are changing their preferences and looking beyond for new ideas, concepts and thinking. Our Indian Art is also playing a major role while crossing borders. Its ethnicity, earthly palette, bright and refreshing colors with cultural, traditional, and a rural touch is attracting attention of art lovers from all over. And if that is any indication, we must have our presence in the outside world, beyond the Indian horizons. And the best way to do this is with the alliances, associations of same minded people who are professionally dedicated and working with passion and vision."

( Another painting by Prof. Anil Naik)
Q. I admire the work of the artists from World Palette International that I have viewed. There seems to be a lot of tradition behind these works of art- yet it is displayed in different ways. For example, the work of Gopal Sharma appears to be very influenced by traditional themes of Indian culture while the work of Kumud Dass conveys this tradition in a more contemporary manner. Both artists capture the essence of India. It must be a joy for you to see these traditional themes handled in various styles- can you comment about the artists you've worked with and the direction they are going with World Palette International?

A. "It is indeed a pleasure to see a variety in the style of work by every artist. Of course, the style whether traditional or contemporary are a direct reflection of their own cultural surroundings. The renderings developed with their own creative talents is an individual style influenced by studies of art and culture. For example, Gopal Sharma’s style and rendering in miniature art is a typical influence of his living in Udaipur where traditionally families are painting miniature forms of art from the Mughal era. The children -while growing- only see everyone in the family and around drawing miniature art on Mughal Kings and queens life styles or Hindu religious scriptures. Whereas, Kumud Dass renders Buddha and Buddhism in a bold, contemporary style with a cool, peaceful blue color palette.

As a principle, we decided to give our artists total freedom to produce whatever concepts; in whatever art form they desire. The only condition and rule applicable is, every art piece created in whatever form, or style is subject to prior approval by our team of senior artists, as regards to themes, quality of work, framing, mounting and pricing. And only then the art works are included in our collection for necessary exposure.

For our Artists, we have no fees, no membership enrollment and membership fee. The original art works are always in the artist’s possession. No work is kept on a consignment basis as is done with art agents and dealers. Only good quality photo prints or high resolution images of the Artwork are what we require from the Artists. Our Artist are free to sale their work directly to any buyer if he finds one and no commission is charged on the direct sale.

WPI tries to get the price that the artist wants for his or her work. On this no commission is charged. As a rule, we want our Artist to get his price first. If the buyer wants to negotiate on the price we have in writing from the artist his bottom price. We work with our artists on this understanding and that has helped us in boosting up confidence level in our artist to use WPI as a very reliable, trustworthy platform to sale their work through. On realization of sale, payment is made without any delays.

It is a WIN-WIN situation for an artist as no exploitation of any kind is experienced by an artist at any stage. With our policies firmly in place and our honest efforts we have earned a good reputation among artists. More and more artists want to use this platform and World Palette International is building up a great collection of Indian Art with different strokes, styles, renderings, and themes."

(A painting by Ramesh Pachpande- Ramesh has devoted many years to the cultural study of Rajasthan. He is skilled in figurative painting and works with all media with ease.)

Q. Many of the artists associated with World Palette International have attended or have instructed at Sir J.J School of Art, Mumbai. However, I noticed that some of the artists are self-taught. For example, Kishore Nandvdekar is a self-taught artist who has won National Awards for his art. Is it harder for the self-taught artists to gain exposure outside of India- compared to the artists who have trained at a School of Art? Or is their equal concern for both the trained and self-taught artists from India in regards to gaining exposure internationally?

A. "Allow me to express myself on this, I would say it really doesn't’t matter whether you are an Art graduate or a self starter or self-taught Artist. If you have it in you and have taken pain to develop your skills, under the guidance of some GURU, you are bound to shine. After all your work speaks volumes about your creative vision, ability and sensitivity. I know engineers, doctors from totally deferent professional backgrounds learning Fine Art under some Art Teachers or just by themselves and producing very talented work of Art. I would put it this way,
it is only hard for everyone until they make it at the top. Everything in-between is an up-hill task for all. It is not a bed of roses for anyone.

All the Artists I have shown you the work of like Prof. Anil Naik, Prof. Srikant Jadhav, S.K. Desai, Prof. Balagi Ubale, Ramesh Pachpande, are very senior Artists and their work is much appreciated, admired, rewarded and in personal collections in India and out-side India. They have received top class honors at State and National levels. They are recognized in the art world for the all-around brilliance in their work. However, they have failed in gaining international exposure.

Just recently, we have produced a DVD on Prof. Anil Naik’s Demo on portrait painting. I consider this man has magic in his fingers while working on portraits. We have plans to do a proper launch with marketing promotion of his DVD during his exhibition scheduled in the month of December this year. We have plans to launch the same CD in US markets too. It is developed for art students, hobbyist, amateurs to learn techniques in portrait painting.

I think personally, this digital medium offers a great live demo for art students to learn with a close look at his techniques. He has a mastery over all media,. Water colors, Oil, Acrylic, Pastel, Charcoal or color pencils. I think he has amazing talent in him to produce portraits from a live subject and I would be glad to show you a short clip of his demo in portrait painting.
He is equally good in realistic work, abstract work, illustration and figurative work. You will be amazed to view his work. But, the man is struggling for a decent living. He is a senior faculty in our leading Art College Sir J.J. School of Art.
Same is the case with Prof. Srikant Jadhav, S.K. Desai. Ramesh Pachpande. I consider these artists as exceptionally brilliant and I have received praise for their excellent creations from the world over. But non have worked or made efforts seeking international exposure. I am convinced now, their socio economic conditions are responsible for this state of affairs.

If marketing efforts with the right strategy is in place for all these brilliant artists for International exposure, I am confident all of them can make it at the top."

(A painting by Srikant Jadhav- Srikant specializes in painting nature and flora. He is known for his excellent work in oil with photographic detail.)

Q. Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about World Palette International or the art coming out of India today?

A. "I can assure you, with my marketing plans in place for US, Canada and UK, all our artists work including our emerging artists like Kishore Nandvdekar, Ram Kharatmal, Suresh Bhosle, Kumud Dass, Balagi Ubale, Neelesh Ved and many more in our collection can create a
sensation in the west and Europe for its ethnic brilliance.
We have today many more Artists from rural areas who have brilliant creative talent which has not yet been shown to you. I strongly believe, today, Indian Art with its ethnic and cultural flavor, with traditional expressions, is very refreshing, and attractive to Art lovers, critics, and collectors in most of the Western and Europeans countries.
I strongly believe this is the right time to take Indian Art across the Indian shores. More of it needs to be showcased for wider exposure- more of our emerging talent- with their brilliant use of colors, concepts, renderings and sensitivity- needs to be seen!

I have developed very ambitious marketing plans for the US and Canada. I have been putting in many hours on the net to develop my contacts with Artists, Art Galleries and business institutes from the West and Europeans countries. I have received very encouraging responses from many.

Much of the ground work is done by World Palette International. It is only a matter of time for us to develop the right partners in these markets and forge ahead.

Knowing about at this time is therefore a great importance to us to explore a mutually beneficial relationship based upon a long-term understanding. I am indeed glad to know you all and to know that your activity in the Art field is in the same direction that we are pursuing.
Since we have developed ambitious plans for the US and Canada, surely it would be our pleasure to have more in-depth dialogue for a better understanding to work along on the same platform of our mutual interest.

I look forward to having more interaction with you to take this into the right direction for developing the potential of Indian Art all over the world."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Ajay Angre- founder of World Palette International.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Art Space Talk: Osvaldo Gonzalez

I recently interviewed artist Osvaldo Gonzalez. He is a self-taught digital artist, born in Argentina. Working in a melancholic vein, Osvaldo creates complex and emotional scenarios of the human condition and strange dreamlike figurations. He has a knack for creating dark mysterious stories. His use of layering to create depth, tonal qualities, and aged effects are decisive and work together to produce otherworldly narrative moments with a delicate and detailed sense of atmosphere and transparency. He currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife Mariana and his iguana Morticia.

Q.When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your life?

A. "During high school I really enjoyed drawing class, and at the age of 17 I had the opportunity to start a job as an ad designer at the local paper in my hometown. It was a great experience and I discovered that my life would always revolve around art."

Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there social implications in your art?

A. "I feel that the downward spiral of the human condition is what gives impetus to my artwork."

Q. On average, how long does it take to create a piece?

A. "Sometimes the idea comes in a flash, I make some sketches in my book and in a few hours I have the outline of a piece. Sometimes it is more complex and in the middle of the process as I am adding to the piece, I suddenly have a drastic change in focus finally finishing the entire composition in a couple of weeks. Other times I start with only a few basic elements and no fixed idea, then after arguing with myself a piece is born in my heart and in my eye. I try to tell a story with each piece I create."

Q. Can you share your philosophy about art and artistic creation?

A. "The most important for me is the act of creating a good concept and bringing it to reality. The birth of a good idea is the celebration of art, the choice of a medium is only a complement."

Q. Has your art ever been published?

A. "Some of my pieces have been published in Expose I, Exotique 2, Desk Top Digital Culture Magazine, Recrie, art and science and several online sites."

Q. What was your most important exhibition? Please share that experience.

A. ""Digitized Show 2003" (Collective exhibit of digital art) in Fulton Street Gallery, NY was my first exhibition. It was then that I realized that someone other than myself could appreciate my art. My first show in Las Flores, my hometown, in 2004 was also a very important event for me. There I was able to meet up with old friends and share my art with them."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to keep you going?

A. "I like to hear music while I work, my favorite bands are Dark Tranquility, Therion, Nightwish, Sentences, and To Die For. I also enjoy a fine glass of wine."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "The essence of my art is somewhat dark and melancholy, it is difficult for me to generalize on the type of person who seeks it out."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "I like to go fishing on the ocean with my friends. On one fishing trip, we caught a tuna and I was truly surprised by its’ beauty. Before cleaning the fish to eat, I decided to scan it. This was the beginning of "Dagon’s Odyssey",, this piece tells a postmodern story of agony and punishment. According to legend, Dagon (Etruscan god half man, half fish) used to wander into coastal towns in order to capture women and take them to the profound depths of the sea. This piece shows the tension that is created when a creature is trapped by its own desires."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I am a self-taught artist. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend a university, and I continue learning on my own to this day."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "I like to mix drawings, photos, and incorporate found objects in my compositions. I always strive for an "antique" photographic look. The digital medium is perfect for putting my ideas together and making them a reality. Lately I am experimenting with collage and mixed media, I feel very comfortable with these mediums."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. ""

Q. Does a gallery represent you? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "I have started contact with some galleries this year that have expressed interest in my work, but I still don’t have anything defined."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in? Can you provide links to their sites?

A. "Some of the galleries are: "

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "It doesn’t matter if you have a paintbrush or a digital pencil, what is important is to have a restless heart, and to be able to transmit what your heart feels while leaving to the side what is trendy or popular. Create, create, and continue creating."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "This hasn’t happened, but if it did, it wouldn’t be of great concern to me."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "It was when I realized that for economic reasons, I wouldn’t be able to study art at a university. It was a bitter truth at the moment, but at the same time I was able to discover my own ability to teach myself to be an artist."

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "Just one word is enough…Passion."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "I live in Miami and I am not really connected with the local art scene. I think that in order for art to be truly appreciated it has to transcend geographic limitations."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "I think that in some of my pieces, the consequences of bad politics can be perceived."

Q. Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "The dark side of the human nature is the engine behind my work. We are prey to the dependency on technology, we are hypocrites, there is a lack of love and an abundance of selfishness among other evils. We are trapped in dark and perverse systems where wars are fostered and hungry are digited.

My work is not related to religion or faith, but I try to demonstrate how wrong we are to drift away from true spiritual values."
Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the ‘art world’?

A. "Blessed are those who appreciate art. More blessed are those who feel it and live it."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Osvaldo Gonzalez. Feel free to critique or discuss his art.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Friday, April 20, 2007

Art Space Talk: Jeremy Wagner

I recently interviewed artist Jeremy Wagner. Mr. Wagner grew up in the suburbs of Boston in a very artistic family. His grandfather- Sherle Wagner, was a renowned designer. Jeremy's artistic abilities were nurtured from a young age.

Mr. Wagner attended Cambridge School of Weston, an arts-focused High School. He later studied at Otis School of Design in LA and earned a BFA at Rhode Island School of Design in 2001. Jeremy is currently earning his masters in painting at Hunter College.

Mr. Wagner currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is represented by the Sara Nightingale Gallery ( ).

Q. Mr. Wagner, your work is derived from you fascination with architecture and the repetitious forms which are depicted through architectural structures both interior and exterior. Why did you decide to take this direction with your work? I understand that your grandfather, Sherle Wagner, was a renowned designer... did he influence your artistic direction?

A. "I recently read an interview with Marcel Duchamp where he was asked why he chose those specific objects as ready-made artworks, and he responded by saying "They choose you…" I recall thinking that I could relate to that.
Inspiration for a painting or a series can come at anytime from my surroundings and once I recognize that object or environment as something I desire to make an artwork of I internalize why that object or space spoke to me. I subconsciously look for subjects that evoke that sensation so I can continue to paint.
Architecture interests me because I have a visual appreciation for geometric hard-lined forms. It gives me pleasure transforming such spaces into paintings because through deletion of superfluous detail and employing simple lines and perspective I am able to transform a flat surface into a space that conveys depth and emphasizes my interests in the subject matter.

I attribute my appreciation for design, craft, and Fine Art to my Grandfather Sherle Wagner who was a brilliant designer and to my family’s involvement in the operation of his business in which as a teenager I had hand experience fabricating his designs.
Visiting my grandparent’s New York upper eastside apartment as a child was like discovering a secret art museum right under the noses of the Guggenheim and the MET. It was filled with artworks of artists my grandparents had met through their industry in New York; including Jacob Lawrence, Robert Gwathmey, business trips to Florence, Italy introduced my grandparents personally to Floriano Bodini where they became collectors of his prints and sculptures."

Q. In a sense, you dissect the geometric shapes and hard lines of architectural forms in order to arrange them into compositions that are geared for maximum graphic impact. Can you go into further detail about this process?

A. "In the creation of my artworks I generally use numerous source materials; images from the web, architectural books, photos I’ve shot and most recently I have been working with an architect using 3D computer programs to generate imagery. I essentially cut and past the images together while stylizing the composition and giving the images an iconic appearance. It is my intention in doing this to develop my own vernacular or to make a sort of elusive social commentary."

Q. You have an unorthodox approach in the way in which you use materials for your paintings. You are known for combining your skill as a painter with your skills of printmaking. Can you go into further detail about how you combine these two forms of artistic creation in order to create a piece? How do you make it all come together?

A. "I was formally trained as a printmaker. Which was a major I chose because I felt that training in painting was too restrictive and traditional, however I always knew I wanted to be a painter. So I took the skills I learned from printmaking: particularly silkscreen and intaglio (etching) and now apply them loosely to my painting process today.

I have always been a process-oriented artist, which is why I may have gravitated toward printmaking in the first place. In intaglio one works on a copper or zinc plate, and creates imagery through resistant grounds and acid to etch into the plate, which is then inked up and run through a press to transfer image to paper.

I enjoyed working on a metal plate but I visually preferred the plate to the prints that were pulled from it. So I began painting directly on various sheet metals, using masking and layering processes like those I’d learned in silkscreen to then spray enamel paint through airbrushes or spray guns occasionally I screen-print directly on the metal.

I strategically apply paint as a resistant or protective mask to prevent the metal from rusting in areas while leaving others exposed and treat it with chemicals to aid oxidation. This way I can utilize the decompositions of nature and oppose them against the forced, deliberate hand of the artist. I am able to achieve great effects through my exploration of materials and processes, which keeps the art-making process fun and fresh."

Q. You have said, "My paintings portray 'territorial marks' of human presence but are void of actual physical demeanor or appearance.". Can you go into further detail about how your work captures the human condition without portraying the human form outright?
A. "In my work I have been exploring a number of avenues that address American consumer culture, recreation, and relaxation. In my paintings I am invested in depicting the environments where these activities occur. Shopping mall food-courts, swimming pools, amusement parks, tropical vacation getaways, and tract housing have all been subjects in my artwork.

Most recently my paintings examines the impacts of consumer society on the natural landscape. I choose not to depict humans in a majority of my paintings for a number of reasons. I want the viewer to experience the spaces without the distraction of human presence. I challenge the viewer to have a reflexive experience with the environment, making the subjects or environments less specific in location and time in hopes to evoke an element of nostalgia or familiarity.

In the series titled "These Colors Don’t Run…" I depict images of sneakers hung from telephone lines juxtaposed with a natural landscape. Which I felt is representative of contemporary American culture and a shifting landscape.

The symbol of sneakers dangling in telephone lines once was a site exclusive to urban ghettos, now they can be seen in just about every American city. Their significance varies on what legends you subscribe to because they embody numerous meanings. The most popular belief is that they designate "gang territory" or a location to buy street drugs.

By juxtaposing the sneakers, an urban icon, with a natural landscape I am making a non-didactic societal commentary. The sneakers serve as a symbolically loaded object that represents both a consumer product that is literally thrown away and as a territorial claim to the land.
The telephone lines criss-crossing dissect the skyline and represent a nearly obsolete technology. The wires coupled with hanging sneakers function as a screen that obscures an otherwise pure landscape, which is removed, detached from the human affairs, the staking of territories, the erecting of telephone wires."

Q. Mr. Wagner, you have a strong background in the study of art. You attended an arts-focused High School (Cambridge School of Weston), studied at Otis School of Design in LA, earned your BFA (printmaking) at Rhode Island School of Design, and are currently earning your masters in painting at Hunter College. How have your studies and the art departments you've worked in enhanced your work? Who did you study under?

A. "I have studied under so many talented professors and artists, and every institution has provided me with different lessons. As a teenager who was disenchanted with school in general, attending an art-focused high school basically saved me, and I was able to nurture my creativity and be accepted at Rhode Island School of Design.
My undergrad experience at RISD was really very formal in retrospect and what it may have lacked in theory I am getting a heavy dose of at the MFA program at Hunter College. The training has collectively influenced my work and continues to do so.

However I feel that many of the ways that critical discourse and analysis is being conducted in classrooms in art schools is antiquated and ineffective, and I look forward to teaching myself as I have many ideas how to instruct young minds on peer-to-peer art criticism and art making."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "The easiest way to see my work is on my website where I post upcoming exhibitions and try to update new works regularly."

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I have been showing with Sara Nightingale Gallery in Watermill, New York. In addition to showing in the Hamptons, plans for upcoming shows with galleries in Toronto and Luxemburg are in the works and dates for those shows will be posted on my website."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Jeremy Wagner. Feel free to critique or discuss his art.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin