Sunday, May 20, 2007

Art Space Talk: Ted Stanuga

I met Ted Stanuga at the Artists Project exhibit in Chicago. Ted is known for creating. Ted has said the following about his paintings: "Intention is reasoned anticipation. In facing the infinity of the blank canvas fear supplants intention, and anxiety produces the energy to move against the resulting inertia.' Marks are made and removed, images surface and are removed, replaced with new ones we cannot see. Lines are made that cannot be seen because they have been pulverized by light. Color, tone and rhythm are created, changed and reapplied in a dance off between need and intention. When you finally let go of enough, it emerges."

Q. I observed your work at the Artists Project exhibit in Chicago. How did the exhibit go for you?

A. "It was a wonderful opportunity to meet artist's, gallerists, and museum people, sales were slow."

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

A. "Very early in life, 4th grade I think. Each day we would get an hour to draw while the teacher played music, and that experience changed my life."

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

A. "I think to work every day in and dedicate oneself to art is itself a monumental political statement. The choices we make at every level can be defined as political, and I am quite concious of that as I work. The first job I had as a 15 year old was picking cucumbers with the Mexican fruitpickers in the Imperial Valley, way south in California. That experience has tipped my politics left ever since."

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

A. "Yes. Since I value the mimetic in life and disdain the didactic, art that includes the viewer in a way that he or she can continually find his or her self in the work is the experience I am after. Confronted with the blank canvas I submit to that anxiety and give the resultant energy voice to move against inertia. Marks are made and removed, some are left that you cannot see because they have been pulverised by light. Images emerge and are taken out and eventually, something emerges with enough history to stand."

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

A. "I had some prints early on at the Brooklyn Print Biennial, and it was at that time I knew that my work would be looked at seriously."

Q. 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. "I would say they are habits not rituals, and Jazz is what I listen to 90% of the time when I listen to music in the studio. However, the great majority of the time the studio is very quiet."

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

A. "People that read and tend to be verbal. Jungians not Freudians."

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

A. "The easiest one to do that with is "Swamp JuJu for the Crescent City" which was begun during the flood of New Orleans after Katrina hit. JuJu is magic stuff one carries for protection, and I was trying to make a talisman that would help them somehow. Its the only work like that I have ever done, and am not at all mystically directed or religious. I just had to do something with the feelings I was having about the travesty/tragedy. I then thought it might get donated to an auction for the city and help those in the 9th ward, but I found out that very few people around here know that the Crescent City is what New Orleans is known as, so the piece made little sense to anyone, except children can see animals in it."

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 attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, no degree."

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

A. "They chose me early on, and became acutally an extension of my hands."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "I have several shows coming up. The next one: Call and Response is a show of watercolors that were done by myself and another artist working on the same sheets. It will be at Common Ground, Grace and Clark, May 29-June 30. Also keep up with me at,"

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

A. "All of the galleries I have exhibited in no longer exist. They include Dart Gallery Chicago, Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago, Lannon Cole Chicago, Missouri Gallery Chicago. I have also shown at the MOCA Chicago, San Francisico, and the Brooklyn Museum."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Artists are finding their way back to each other. More work is getting done. The explosion of technocommunication is changing the nature of how art is sold, shown, transported and talked about. A new thing is emerging and I for one am not sure what it is. A nice place to be really."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Pack your lunch box, go to the studio, turn off the phone, and go to work."

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

A. "Once a long time ago. It was figurative and had a semi rigid penis. There were childrens groups coming to the show that I did not know about, so no big deal."

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

A. "Yes. I dont like to talk much about it, but I am just coming out of a period like that where one chooses to pay the storage bill and live under a bridge. Awful."

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

A. "I love the idea of someone getting pleasure from something I have made with my hands."

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

A. "Chicago is jumping right now and this is after a long quiet spell. There was a noose around its neck for the longest time, but with the work of several tenacious and courageous souls the doors have been blown off the asylum, and there is great art and artists surfacing everywhere. Theses artists may leave Chicago but you will be suprised by how many in this next generation began here."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "Its in everyhing I do from cooking to painting."

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

A. "I am an athiest so I suppose it too is in everything."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "That its diffiucult, with objectives constantly trying to blurr. Stay clear and do the work."
I hope that you have enjoyed learning more about Ted Stanuga. Feel free to critique or discuss his art.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin