Saturday, June 30, 2007

Art Space Talk: Brian Hubble

Brian Hubble's paintings, drawings, photographs, video, and interactive experience blurs the line between reality and imagination, with a reminder to be wary of a culture constantly barraged with information.

His work reflects satirical commentary on topics that have become a part of our society's routine digestion. Subjects such as internet consumption, the media, politics, substandard healthcare, and social class prejudices are spared no lenience.

Through allegorical approach, the artist perplexes, amuses, and provokes. The viewer must decide when truth is negotiated, and what underlying message is ultimately voiced.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Hubble, you are known for being a practitioner of anti-art happenings and your Outsider Art approach to artistic creation. Can you go into further detail about your artistic philosophy?

Brian Hubble: I feel that it's important to usually have something to say with the work. I tend to be more interested in art that deals with an issue and less interested in art that is produced for "art's sake." Still, it is important to be careful in the physical aspect of creating a piece. Personally, I like to create work that challenges people to deal with their own sense of reality.

Brian Sherwin: Your paintings, drawings, photographs, video, and interactive works blur the line between reality and imagination. They are known for serving as a reminder to be wary of a culture constantly barraged with information. These works often reflect satirical commentary on topics that have become a part of our society’s routine digestion. When did you first decide to focus on these issues?

Brian Hubble: I decided to focus on these issues about 2 years ago. The "reminder" aspect is deeply influenced by the acts of Alan Abel. The approach is deeply influenced by the Andy Kaufman school of thought.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Hubble, many of your photo-collage illustrations deal with social injustice and human psychology. You have been called upon to visually explain topics from why different cultures hate one another (Yale University Alumni Magazine) to everyday life for children in third world countries (Johns Hopkins University). Based on the direction you have taken with your work... is it safe to say that you feel that an artist should tackle issues that are vital to contemporary living? Should artists use their talents and skill to advocate for reform?

Brian Hubble: I think an artist should tackle whatever issues they feel need to be addressed. It doesn't necessarily need to be about contemporary living or social/political reform. For instance, one of my favorite movies of all time is dirty work. It's a simple story with a ridiculous plot that has nothing to do with any of those kinds of issues. It's just a funny, pointless film. Sometimes that is all that is needed. I try to never underestimate the validity of pointlessness.

Brian Sherwin: Speaking of politics, art, and advocacy... can you discuss your work on "My" Bike for President (2007)? Tell our readers about this project and explain why you felt it was important to document it.

Brian Hubble: The works in "My" Bike for President are the remaining documents of a project concocted by a man I discovered named D.B. Wood. In 1988, he decided to run his Zebrakenko 10-speed for president. The attempt was actually well received and the project was going strong for quite some time. Unfortunately, the bike was disqualified for having been born outside the united states. The project and support apparently folded soon after. Since our meeting, D.B. has sent me one banner/painting from his campaign. I hope to received more in the coming months. It really all depends on him. I don't think it is so much interesting to document it than it is to just give this man's unheard passion a more mainstream forum.

Brian Sherwin: What about 'The Second to Last Resort'. Can you discuss this project? What were you motives behind it?

Brian Hubble: 'The Second to Last Resort' is the name of the upcoming exhibit. A few years ago, I created a storyboard for a dark childrens book called one long nite in Switzerland and the second to last resort. In a child's dream, a family of four were brutally murdered and eaten by three monsters while on holiday deep in the Swiss alps. The storyboard was later developed into a few paintings which were the proto-type for a childrens book. I later played two book publishers against one another by drumming up fake interest in the story, which resulted in a confusing bidding war.

Brian Sherwin: Can you explain your artistic process? Do you follow a certain routine when you are in the studio? Do you have any habits or 'rituals', for lack of the better word, that you follow to set a certain mood for working?

Brian Hubble: With my illustration/published collage work, there is certainly no routine. The only thing consistent about that approach is in the beginning, when I conduct a process of elimination with the photographs to be used. From then on, it's whatever works in finding a happy result. In my current body of fine art work, it all depends on the project at hand. Sometimes I'm on the phone with D.B. or his former supporters. Other times, I'm painting traditionally on canvas or drawing on flattened deerskin paper (which I highly recommend!)
Brian Sherwin: I find it interesting that you sometimes use welded glass (samples above and below) as a surface for your work. I assume there are some difficulties with using glass as a surface. Can you explain some of these challenges? For example, how do you transport them safely when exhibited? Economically speaking, is it cheaper than working on traditional surfaces?

Brian Hubble: I mainly painted on glass for the childrens book proto-type works and for a body of paintings I produced about 4 or 5 years ago. The main challenge was to not cut myself (I eventually wised up and sanded down and taped the edges BEFORE starting a piece.) It was also tough not breaking a piece in the process. I would sometimes get excited while flipping and painting on either side, which resulted in a few shattered pieces and more scars. Yes--not the smartest. As far as transportation, I really had to just bubble wrap them like a madman. I also custom made wooden frames and backing, which helped support. Economically, it was great. I had a glass hook-up here in Brooklyn.

Brian Sherwin: Your dark collage illustrations have graced the pages of publications such as the New York Times, Harper's Magazine, M.I.T. Technology Review and Psychology Today. Did you expect your work to take off in this manner?

Brian Hubble: With the illustration, I just hope to work with responsible journalists who had something interesting to say, no matter what the publication. The fact that I've had the opportunity to work with some well-respected magazines makes me all the more thankful.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Hubble, in 2004 you collaborated with Yoko Ono. Can you tell our readers about this collaboration. What did you two do together? Have you remained in contact with Yoko? Also, what other collaborations have you worked on?

Brian Hubble: In 2004, Yoko Ono was part of a festival in Seattle. She along with the art director of the magazine who was promoting it, chose my illustration. I made a collage that went along with the article about her project. The relationship was short and sweet. I have worked with the art director many times since, but not Ms. Ono. It was one of those one-time shot kind of things. I have also worked in a similar manner with Francis Mayes/Atlanta magazine and rock band guided by voices/ Cincinnati citybeat on their break-up.

Brian Sherwin: In 2005, you were interviewed in Print Magazine for being one of 20 top international artists under 30 years old. How did you feel about making that list? Have you noticed an increase in success since that interview?

Brian Hubble: It was a great honor to be chosen for that. I'm always humbled anytime anyone chooses to recognize my artwork (I'm humbled right now by this interview!). Being interviewed and having my work displayed in print certainly opened up some doors for me. Artwork is one thing, but seeing your picture in a magazine is really weird.

Brian Sherwin: Finally, can you reveal any of your future plans? Are there any projects on the back-burner, so to speak?

Brian Hubble: I have a few multi-pieced projects coming up. I'm definitely staying in contact with D.B. about acquiring more of his and his supporters' work from the '88 campaign. I am also working with another man I met in North Carolina some years ago. He recently applied to take a trip to the solar system through a small governmental agency in Italy. I'm helping him develop a myspace profile to rally support and display artwork he is making based on the opportunity. Myspacers beware! You may soon come to know the story of William Williams!

I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Brian Hubble and his art. You can learn more by visiting Brian's website:

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Friday, June 29, 2007

Luv 4 Richard Serra

I think the Richard Serra retrospective at MoMA is a good opportunity to talk about phenomenological art and how it changed our understanding of what art could be. I say it's a good opportunity because Serra is one of the best and because I don’t think people sufficiently appreciate the new aesthetic experiences made available in the late 60’s. People, there is more to the late 60’s than conceptual art!

To recap: as we’ve been told (over and over again), in the 1960’s people asked the big questions and really changed things around socially, culturally, politically, etc. Artistically, the 60’s were no different, with "post-minimal" artists like Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse and, our hero, Richard Serra questioning and gradually disassembling modernism’s assumptions (using Jasper Johns as a guide). Judging by the sampling of his early work in the MoMA show Serra asked several timely questions, including: "Is it art if I use industrial materials instead of artistic ones? Is it sculpture if it is placed directly on the floor or hung on the wall? Is it sculpture if it shows the process of its making?" Of course, these questions are banal now (today the early work is difficult to understand without knowledge of what sculpture was circa 1965), but trust me: at the time they were significant. And trust me, this questioning lead to something significant, as well.

And this is where I think the misunderstanding happens. Because I know what you’re thinking: “All this questioning lead to conceptual art and the diffusion of the aesthetic experience into theory, language, and context,” you say, “Boring!” And while that is partially true, the late 60’s also introduced something called “phenomenology” (or “theatricality”) as an art experience. Basically, phenomenological art focused on giving the viewer a physical or bodily experience more than an intellectual or visual one. So instead of losing yourself in an image of a landscape or pondering a jargon-filled text, phenomenological art made you feel with your body, and often the experience was immediate, unexpected, and overwhelming. And identifying this latent aspect of art (a painting is an image and, also, a physical object) was more or less innovative! For example, while Anthony Caro’s sculpture might not move you, Serra’s "One Ton Prop (House of Cards)" would definitely move you…the hell out of the gallery before the huge steel slabs fell on your ass!!! And while these “Prop” works may not be as threatening today (behind glass partitions at the MoMA they’re history, not sculpture), back in the late 60’s in some rundown loft they were (reportedly) pretty badass.

At the MoMA retrospective one can discern how, over the course of his career, Serra has continued to develop more physical experiences for the viewer, while also incorporating context and image to greater or lesser degrees. So, not only are these works physically rich, but they are visually and intellectually rich as well. However, the emphasis remains on the viewer’s physical experience of the objects. I mean, just try not to feel while walking through his Torqued Ellipses or the newer work on show in the MoMA’s contemporary galleries on the 2nd floor. I double dog dare you.

Now that you’ve lost that dare, observe all the other visitors experiencing, exploring, and (holy shit) enjoying Serra’s Ellipses. No prior knowledge is needed, no museum copy is required: this is great art. So, I say unto you, contemporary artists, claim the bounty that is yours! Reconsider your understanding of late 60’s art and embrace the phenomenological! And the next time you find yourself in the presence of contemporary art, notice: does it make you feel before you think? For contemporary art is often flooded with words, theories, and strategies but often lacking in feeling.

This blog entry can also be found on my blog, right here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Art Space Talk: David Hochbaum

David Hochbaum's art: the construction of paintings built on photographs and images that are not only the contemplation of human behavior, but also a reaction to history, astronomy, sex and iconoclastic symbols.
While maintaining dialogue with his own behavior, each picture produces a vision from his private world which is bound to elements and symbols. An exposition of men and women caged in a world constructed by extreme nature and surrounded by his own cuneiform symbolic language.
Artistic craftsmanship of the captured image are married with the depositions of alienation to show the archetypal roles of gender, age and reason. The figures in his work seek a balance between the static and kinetic forces of a very surreal and psychosexual environment in which they dwell.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Hochbaum, you have been working on "photo constructions" for more than 10 years. Can you give some insight into the process? Why did you decide to focus on this?

David Hochbaum: Well. most of my work is photo-based collage. When I get an idea that I want to translate into photography, I'll sketch it out and then try to find the right model for the job. Depending on the shoot, I'll sometimes build sets, some more elaborate than others...whatever I leave out I can paint in later.

I do all my own printing still, I love working in the darkroom. My printing methods are mixed, I love the fine print as well as sloppy, scratched paper and negatives...experimentation is endless. The prints are mounted on wood and , well I'll paint and collage and screen print ontop of the photos...lots of media.

I am learning a lot with each body of work I do. Photography came sort as an accident for me, I needed to fill a course at community collage so I took basic Blk & white. I loved it and it helped me to decide to go to art school in Boston. I needed a school out of NYC, too distracting.

The anal retentiveness of photo bored me..I was looking at artists like Rouchenberg and the Starn twins and wanted to push photo a bit more. I love the spontaneity of collage and the techniques of painting and hands on building in the wood shop...really I just could not afford to mount and frame all my work so I built my own. Over the years I picked up other techniques to combine...there is a lot to learn.

BS: In your work you've created a world full of strange creatures and surreal landscapes. The images remind me of the troope plays from the 1800s and how they utilized movable sets and outlandish costumes in order to create a living environment within the context of their performance. Are you influenced by the past in this manner?

DH: Oh yes indeed, I love opera and ballet, and limited types of theater..the past has always been a big influence on my work. I've been looking at the shit since I was a child and it has helped make me the kind of artist I am..

BS: David, you have exhibited at the Strychnin Gallery in Berlin and NYC. Can you share some of your experiences exhibiting at those galleries?

DH: Strychnin approached me in Jan 2006 to do a show with them and I was thrilled. I have never been to Berlin and they were excited to work with me. Yasha, the owner of the gallery, has been so good to me. She is very supportive and works her ass off to make me look good. He treats her artists fantastic. I look forward to working with her on many future projects.

BS: Your artist agent is Les Barany. He is also the agent of H.R. Giger, Irina Ionesco, Robin Perine and other established artists. How did you meet Les? Care to share insight into the business side of art?

DH: I work with Les on specific projects. He is not my agent in the traditional sense of the term. If he can pull me into one of his projects, we discuss it and see if it works. I do not work exclusively with an agent..I do have limited contracts with certain gallerys.

I met Les when I was art director for a club in NYC. He was installing an HR Giger room on the top floor and I was to work with him on it and over-see it after it was up. After a few weeks I mentioned that I was an artist, he looked at my work, and thought we should try to work together.

It is on and off with us, he has many other artists he works with and is always busy with something. I have no insight to the business side of art. it makes no sense to me.

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

DH: I suppose it was when I was at the Museum School in Boston. The people I was surrounded by were as enthusiastic about making art as I was and our lives were absorbed with it. It became a part of life to the point where, like now, I cannot see myself not creating or building these objects which personify ideas.

I remember the day , as well, when I realized that I needed to make a choice about how serious I was, cause its not the easy road to take, that's for sure. I saw no other way to live.

BS: David, how has society influenced your art? What are the social implications in your art?

DH: I live in it so it gets in..all of the pictures I make tell a story, a lot of them are about relationships, one on one rather than statements of the populous..but the emotions I play with in my imagery are universal, so it is not hard to be able to relate the the characters in the portraits...The themes change though, from each body of work.

The most recent body of work is less restricted to myself and people close to me, it is more of a reaction to the state of affairs in my country and the world... it is not very blatant though. Not an obvious political point of view type work... I guess when you are fed up you cannot conceal what you feel and it comes out.

BS: Where can we see more of your art?

DH: Well, my web site for one... Also the Goldmine Shithouse site...That is my collaborative group. The next solo gig I have is at the Corey Helford gallery in LA. THATS in Sept. There are a bunch of group shows and art fairs as well. It is all posted on my site and updated frequently.

BS: Do you see any trends in the 'art world'? What is your opinion on said trends?

DH: I try not to comment on that too much so not to offend anyone, people tend to take me the wrong way when I state my opinion about trends. I am not a fan of trends. But I do see a lot more opportunity for unknowns to get a shot. I like that.

BS: David, what was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

DH: Its like anything else, up and down. Finding the time to work can be tough. Its not easy to maintain in an environment like NYC, unless you come from money, and I don't.. but I love it here.

I've been here most my life. So by now I have a system to amazing group of supportive friends, I've been tending bar for over 9 years to help pay the bills. I've hit the rocks a few times and I'm sure I will again... its part of the gig.

I have a lot to learn and never want to stop learning and evolving, no matter what the reaction from the critical eye i may get. I don't do it for the praise or money, if I'm broke, I make smaller work or draw.

BS: With that in mine... in one sentence, why do you create art?

DH: It is one addiction of mine. I see no need to stop.

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

DH: Generous.

BS: David, would you suggest that emerging artists pick up as many skills as they can? As you mentioned, framing can be expensive. What other advice do you have for someone just starting out?

DH: Well yeah, skills help... the tricky thing is that is is also a matter of natural talent and passion. I would say to find what you love and focus on it, don't spread yourself too thin just to make it or whatever.

Well, I started making my own frames cause I can't afford to get it done for me. Over the years I learned more and it has evolved from there. Pick wood outta the trash, get a hammer and screw gun..look at the frames you like and copy them the best you can. I dunno.

BS: David, your work has been in several major art fairs recently. I believe I saw some of your work at either the Bridge Art Fair in Chicago. . What is your opinion of art fairs? Do you enjoy them more than the traditional gallery setting? Some artists are tossed on this issue. They admire the fact that so much work and be shown to so many viewers, but at the same time they think that the amount of work takes something away from each individual. Would you agree? Or do you enjoy the 'visual chaos'?

DH: I am new to them, it has only been 2 years that I've been in any. I like going and seeing the smaller ones, it's a good chance to see what is up with so many artists at once. At the same time I know what it takes to get in, you need a gallery and money so it is a limited arena of art.

My friends and I started up our own called Fountain last year where we set up shop across or nearby the larger festivals. we build up raw spaces, install lighting..and throw a kick ass party. I find it very inspiring and see that it has that effect on a lot of the people who come to see us... I like that.

However, I see these festivals as a tool for scouts and trustees and shit like that in the elitist art world so it is no surprise to me that the individual gets lost in the mix.

BS: Finally, as I know you are busy... what are your goals for 2008?

DH: Survive it... I have dedicated most of my time to Strychnin gallery in Berlin and London. I wanna slow down a bit, only a bit, and focus on all the things that I've been exploring lately..but who knows, things change so fast... I only wanna keep working and traveling.

Feel free to visit the following websites if you are interested in learning more about Mr. Hochbaum:,,

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Monday, June 25, 2007

Art Space Talk: Aaron Board

I discovered the art of Aaron Board while observing art on the community. Mr. Board obtained his MFA from the New York Academy of Art. Since that time he has went on to exhibt at several galleries- including Greene Contemporary Art. Aaron is presently an instructor at the Ringling School of Art and Design. He is known for his mastery of traditional painting methods.

Brian Sherwin: Aaron, you obtained an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. What was that department like? Who did you study under?

Aaron Board: I was lucky. Eric Fischl and Steven Assael had just started teaching at the academy when I started. Vincent Desiderio was already there and he was tremendous influence. I also credit Randy Melick and Martha Erlebacher with having a great influence.

The school's building was a rickety-old jalopy at the time, but everyone recognized the value of the institution's mission and made it work. Now, the school gets financial support from rock-stars and princes - literally.

BS: I understand that you are an art instructor yourself. You are presently a member of the art faculty at Ringling School of Art and Design. Can you tell our readers about your teaching philosophy? What do you look for in a student?

AB: My educational philosophy is to just give students the technical tools to realize their vision. I don't meddle much in trying to alter their chosen path unless they're doing things that are terribly trite or cliche and don't realize it. I teach mostly foundations courses, so there isn’t a whole lot of room to meddle anyway.

The only thing that I look for in a student is engagement. I've had student's whose artistic pursuits annoyed me (like Anime, for example), but as long as they’re engaged then we can both learn something and I truly enjoy the exchange and the opportunity to give them whatever insight that I have to offer.

BS: You have been actively exhibiting your work since 1998. According to the documentation before me... your first show was at the Nexus Gallery in New York. You've also been involved with Sotheby's. Which exhibit has stuck out the most in your mind?

AB: Sotheby’s was just the brick and mortar venue for the New York Academy of Art’s annual fund raiser called Take Home a Nude. That looks a lot more impressive on paper than it really is.

The best was probably at Cazenovia College. I got to see all of my large work installed in one large room. I got to finally find out whether I could truly put together a coherent show. A very close second would be at Greene Contemporary in Sarasota, simply because it’s a very dynamic gallery that gave me a lot of free will on what could be hung.

BS: Aaron, I'd like to discuss your older compositions in gold and platinum (sample above). You executed this series of drawings in 24K gold and platinum on black sandpaper. Why did you decide to use gold and platinum as a medium at that time? How did it enhance your future work?

AB: Strictly by accident. I was sharpening a silverpoint for a traditional silverpoint drawing on a piece of dark sandpaper and voila!

I wouldn’t say it enhanced other work, but it really taught me how to work within the limitations of any given media.

BS: Now on to your works on canvas... your compositions often involve a male and female in some form of struggle. The images bring up a lot of thoughts. Many of your paintings of the story of Adam and Eve, due to their nudity and awkward relation to each other. Other images remind me of the 'Rape of the Sabine' theme from past Masters. At the same time, there is an element of bondage within the context of your images- an essence of counter-lifestyles. Direct me on the right path... what do you see in your work? What are you attempting to express?

AB: Hmm, most all of those images are comprised of idiosyncratic symbolism that seeks to express something personal, whether it be a personal struggle or personal joy – believe it or not! Ropes are strictly devices in the allegory – they’re not to be taken literally.

BS: You seem to be influenced by artists of the past in more ways than one. I notice that you create diptych and triptych pieces. Can you go into further detail about which past artists have influenced your work the most? Who are the Masters in your eyes?

AB: Caravaggio, Rembrandt, David, Mengs. Jan van Eyck – is probably the most important for many reasons. I think that is probably the most obvious old-master influence. Light, paint- application, altarpiece construction – it can all pretty much be found in van Eyck first.

BS: Tell us a little about your studio habit, ritual, or whatever you wish to call it. How do you start and finish your day when you are in the studio?

AB: Work whenever I can – that simple.

BS: Let us discuss your painting 'Strife' (image above). This painting is one of your most viewed pieces (as far as your website is concerned). What do you think is the allure of this piece? A viewer can pull several stories from this piece. Is the woman on the bed looking at who she once was before the birth of her child- her old life passing through the door in exchange for the new life before her? Is it a story of a jealous lover who is in the shadow of the wife and child that stands before her and the man that she desires? Perhaps it is a story of a lesbian couple haunted by the child that they may never be able to share? Aaron, you tell me... what is the story behind this painting?

AB: Similar ideas to all of those were going through my noggin when constructing the piece, but the latter is just about spot-on. This is actually one of the few paintings that I have executed that wasn’t diligently planned before paint hit the canvas. The canvas was stretched for another painting concept (that still hasn’t materialized) but had to be put off because the model, that was 8 months pregnant, kept going into false labor every time we were scheduled to worked together and eventually the baby popped out and I never got to use her for the piece. I was itching to do something quickly and "Strife" was the result.

BS: One of your more controversial paintings involves a Christ-like figure armed with an assault rifle. Is this painting a reflection of how you see the clash of politics and religion today?

AB: It’s actually more of a response to the rash of school massacres since Columbine. The broad idea is mocking the pathetic act of using a gun and/or violence to communicate something to somebody instead of using intellectual reasoning. However, your interpretation is welcome and sounds entirely viable!

BS: Recently you have indulged yourself with experimentation. Why have you decided to break away in this manner?

AB: I just want to challenge myself. I can’t stand artists whose work doesn’t show some sort of honest linear growth. Besides, some ideas feel like they’re going to explode in my head if I don’t get them out on canvas! So, I make them even if they’re consistent with most of the other stuff that I may be doing at the time.

BS: Of these works I find 'From SRQ, With Love' (image above) to be one of the most interesting. Can you tell us about this piece and what it represents?

AB: SRQ is code for Sarasota, Florida – a town that’s supposed to be artist-friendly but has gotten drenched with millionaires moving in and driving up the property values. The town’s history is largely shaped by the legacy of John Ringling and the circus.

The design in the background is the former logo for the Ringling College of Art and Design. The brown object is a Judas Cradle (a medieval torture device), which kinda sums up what living in Sarasota has become. It also speaks to the somewhat tenuous relationship that I have as an employee of the college.

BS: I understand that your daughters helped you with 'The III Astrayter'. Care to explain that to our readers?

AB: My girls helped with the faux-Pollack in the background.

My children inspire me to succeed as an artist. I want them to be proud of ol’ Dad.

BS: You were working on a series called 'Art is D.E.A.D' (sample above)in which each piece represented a letter of the word 'dead'. What happened with this project?

AB: It’s just on the backburner for now. The second "D" is actually an unexhibited finished piece that fell prey to a technical failure.

BS: Another interesting aspect of your work is that you also construct the frames for them. Some of the frames I observed are very unique. I understand that you see the frames as a part of the piece... a part of the aesthetic. I know from experience that it can be very difficult to construct a decent frame. Where did you learn this practice?

AB: Totally self-taught. I’ve also built many pieces of original furniture for my home.

BS: Finally, and I know this question might be kind of generic... where do you plan to be in the next 10 years with your work?

AB: Evolved

You can view samples of Aaron's art on He also has a personal website:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Art Space Talk: Steven Zevitas and Andrew Katz (The Open Studios Press)

I recently interviewed Steven Zevitas and Drew Katz of The Open Studios Press. Mr. Zevitas (President & Publisher) and Mr. Katz (Associate Publisher) discussed New American Paintings with me. Also, Mr. Katz gave me insight into a new publication- Studio Visit Magazine. You can learn more about this project by visiting the following site:

New American Paintings began in 1993 as an experiment in art publishing. With over five thousand artists reviewed annually, it has become America's largest and most important series of artist competitions. New American Paintings is a juried exhibition-in-print. Each edition results from a regionally focused, juried competition and presents the work of roughly 40 painters.

Thousands of artists enter the competitions every year, but only a limited number make it through the rigorous jurying process. Mr. Zevitas and Mr. Katz work closely with renowned curators, such as Lisa Phillips of the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Charlotta Kotik of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, in order to select those artists whose work deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

From post-modern pastiche to the landscape, from recognized artists to recent M.F.A. graduates, New American Paintings does not discriminate against style or yield to art world trends. You can learn more about The Open Studios Press and their publications by visiting the following sites:,,

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Zevitas, you are the President and Publisher of New American Paintings. The publication has featured the work of more than 1,800 emerging and mid-career artists from throughout the United States. Why did you decide to focus on emerging artists? Many art magazines only focus on artist who are established- what makes New American Paintings different?

Steven Zevitas: New American Paintings' focus on emerging (and in some cases mid-career) painters has defined the publication since its inception. Most art publications devote editorial space exclusively to artists who have been sanctioned by curators, critics, and, increasingly and perhaps disturbingly, collectors. Because of the jurying process that we employ, literally ANY painter has a chance to appear in New American Paintings. This would never happen with Art forum.
Our readership tends to be a highly independent group of art aficionados who do not need to be spoon fed a list of "hot artists" and new trends; they are capable of making up their own minds.
New American Paintings presents a wide swath of emerging talent and our readers may choose who is deserving of their attention. Of course, many artists who have appeared in the publication over the years have gone on to receive a lot of editorial coverage in other art publications (Layla Ali, Alexis Rockman, James Siena and Amy Cutler to name several).

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Katz, you are the associate publisher of New American Paintings and you are also involved with Studio Visit Magazine. What is the difference between the two publications?

Andrew Katz: Given the popularity and function of New American Paintings, I am pleased to say that there are more similarities than differences when it comes to it and Studio Visit. For example, the goals of both magazines are essentially the same. For artists, we are helping them get their work published and into the hands of collectors, galleries, and other individuals that might help advance their career or generate sales. And, on the flipside, we want to bring art to artlovers.

New American Paintings and Studio Visit are both juried exhibitions in print, however, New American Paintings only features 40 artists and Studio Visit will likely showcase the work of 150 artists per edition.

Methods of distribution will be the main difference between New American Paintings and Studio Visit. Given its reputation and long history, New American Paintings has a large subscriber base and presence on the newsstand. This means that the reader pays to receive the magazine which allows us to produce the publication free of charge to the artists selected.

Given that Studio Visit is a new magazine, we will be sending the publication to galleries and curators at no charge in the beginning, so in return, artists chosen will be asked to contribute a small fee that will go to its production.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Zevitas... Mr. Katz... when did you both decide to enter the field of art publication? Are you both artists as well? What are your goals for publications that are released by The Open Studios Press.

Steven Zevitas: I graduated from Boston University in 1991 with a degree in Art History and Business Administration, so I come to the fine arts primarily from the side of art appreciation. My early career was in financial services, but I quickly realized that I had no interest in that career path.

In 1993, I was hired to start New American Paintings under the roof of a larger publishing company. I had no prior publishing experience a the time. In 1999, I has the opportunity to buy the publication, and I have since launched several new projects.

I have never looked at The Open Studios Press as a publishing company per se. I have always viewed the company as a mission driven organization, whose mission is to find new and creative ways of bringing artists and art lovers together.

My hope is that all of our "products" effectively help artists reach the widest possible audience for their work with a minimum of expense. Our latest publication, Studio Visit, is another project driven by this goal.

Andrew Katz: I went to school for Industrial Design at RISD but never really practiced as a designer. Almost right out of college, in 2002, I opened a fine art gallery (Gallery Katz) which had a presence for four years in Boston directly across the hall from Steven and The Open Studios Press.

As I became closer friends with Steven, who by the way taught me a lot about the gallery business, I also learned about New American Paintings and the publishing business. When I made the decision to close Gallery Katz, Steven offered me a position at OSP. Since then, I have been busy helping Steven improve what was already a highly successful business.

Brian Sherwin: Can you tell us more about The Open Studios Press? When was it founded and why?

Steven Zevitas: The Open Studios Press was founded under the roof of a larger publishing company in 1993. The first edition of New American Paintings was released a year later. The company was founded because of the large number of artists who are unable to find meaningful exposure for their work.

From the beginning, we were convinced that their were two groups of individuals whose needs were not being satisfied. For artists, New American Paintings is an exposure vehicle of immense value. For those with an interest in contemporary painting, the publication is an invaluable resource for discovering artistic talent that they might never come across within their local environment.

One of the great challenges facing artists is how to get exposure beyond their immediate geographic area. The internet has done much to alleviate that problem, but with the vast amounts of information available on line it has become increasingly difficult for an artist to get their work noticed.

New American Paintings was connecting the creators and consumers of fine art for at least four years before the first "on-line gallery" emerged. I think that the quality of our jurying process makes exposure in New American Paintings an extraordinarily valuable opportunity.

Brian Sherwin: How can artists get involved with your publications. In others words, do they simply submit images of artwork to you via email? Do they send slides? Also, what are some of the common mistakes artists make when submitting work for review?

Andrew Katz: Each publication has different criteria. Because New American Paintings only features 40 artists per edition, our editor is able to contact each accepted artist to gather necessary materials for printing.

Studio Visit accepts a much larger group of artists, so we ask that all work that is submitted be "press ready," meaning all digital files are high resolution and all slides are good enough quality to be scanned and printed.

In the near future, artists will have an opportunity to submit work online (we will be done with the online option for New American Paintings within the next one to two competitions).

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Katz, I understand that Michael Lash is the juror for the first volume of Studio Visit Magazine. Can you tell us about Mr. Lash. What are his credentials? Also, when is the deadline for submissions?

Andrew Katz: We are fortunate to have Mr. Lash jury the first edition of Studio Visit. Currently, he is the director for the North American operations for the Center of International Cultures in Mexico City. In addition to his busy schedule, he is also the Director of The Freeport Art Museum and Northern Illinois University Art Gallery In Chicago.

In the past, he has served as the former Director of Public Art for the City of Chicago. The deadline for submissions is June 30th, but we will take submissions from any "myartspace" blog readers until July 11th.

Brian Sherwin: The Open Studios Press jurors list is very impressive. Would you say that these juror connections help you to build bridges between emerging artists and high ranking members of the art world? Is that one of the goals of your publications?

Steven Zevitas: I have always worked hard to make sure that we have the best and brightest curatorial minds working on our projects. There is no doubt that the quality and integrity of our jurying process is what sets this project apart from other publications and web based products that try to replicate our model.
Having a respected juror adds an incredible amount of "weight' to the publications. In the early days of the project I was able to convince some extremely respected members of the curatorial community to work with us. As the publication's reputation has grown it has become easier to find jurors. At this point, we are contacted by curators who want to work with us.

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Zevitas, I met you in New York during a meeting for You are one of the jurors for the New York, New York Competition- along with Mr. Rondeau (Art Institute of Chicago) and Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern). How did you get involved with Are you looking forward to the competition?

Steven Zevitas: I am very excited to work on the upcoming myartspace competition. James has worked on several editions of New American Paintings, so I have known him for years. He is absolutely one of the top talents in the curatorial world.
Jessica is a former curator at the ICA in Boston, so I got to know her during her time here. She has also juried an edition of New American Paintings, and is similarly gifted at her chosen profession.

I was introduced to the founders of myartspace by a mutual friend, Christian Benedetto. The aims of our projects are parallel in many ways, and after sitting down with Brian and Catherine to discuss our mutual businesses it became clear that there might be ways in which we can work together.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the endeavor that they have undertaken. In its fully conceived and deployed from, myartspace can provide an incredible infrastructure for a sharing of images and ideas throughout the world. It is exciting to be a part of this project and to learn from it.

Brian Sherwin: What other projects do you have planned for the future? Can you give us any insight?

Andrew Katz: Well, in addition to these publications, we also run osp catalogs (, a project where we design and print Fine Art catalogs for artists, galleries and other institutions.
Recently, we designed and printed catalogs the Zach Feuer Gallery in NYC, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and we’re presently working on a 328 page book for the International Sculpture Center.
These projects are larger in scale, but we also regularly work with individual artists to produce catalogs for exhibitions or promotional use. For me, In the immediate future, my focus is going to be on improving online features for both artists and subscribers.

Steven Zevitas: We are always working on something new. Right now Studio Visit is a major focus. Our catalog design/production services, osp catalogs, is growing rapidly with new and ever larger clients finding their way to our door. I operate a gallery in Boston
( in which I work with emerging and mid-career artists from around the country.
Most significantly right now, we are in the process of bringing New American Paintings' jurying process on- line. When complete, this system will allow for a much more efficient process and the possibility of new applications such as multi-juror panels.

Brian Sherwin: Based on the level of controversy and success that has been present in the art world as of late... what do you think are some of the challenges facing younger artists today? Are you wary of some of the directions art has went in recent months? As in, diamond skulls and market booms...

Steven Zevitas: The rise of the internet, the popularity of the MFA degree and the current boom in the art market have done much to define the art world of the past ten years. I think that each of these forces has had both positive and negative implications for emerging artists.
While there may be a lot more opportunities to gain exposure, there is an extraordinary amount of pressure on emerging artists to develop their "style" and to find the "right" gallery - activities that should be secondary to a consistent and considered studio practice.
Seeing newly minted MFAs sell out shows in New York City at $10,000+ per painting is an intoxicating spectacle, but I truly feel that dealers are doing these artists a tremendous disservice. Eventually, the frenetic pace of the art world will slow down and their will be a large number of artists who are kept without a chair.

Andrew Katz: I agree with Steven. It is very tempting for younger artists is feel like the overall art market dictates the price of their work before they have even sold anything.
Young artists need to remember that their work is only worth what someone will pay for it. Start slow and raise your prices as your demand increases. Overall, pricing is a huge challenge for younger artists trying to make it as a professional artist.

Brian Sherwin: Are there any emerging artists that collectors should really be keeping an eye on at this time?

Steven Zevitas: Just about every artist featured in New American Paintings! There are a number of emerging abstractionists that I am interested in right now: Chuck Webster, David X. Levine and Xylor Jane, among others. As a disclaimer, I should state that I have worked with all three of these artists at my gallery (

Andrew Katz: Seriously, pick up any issue of New American Paintings, we believe in all of them. I am on the opposite side of the fence as Steven in regard to abstraction. Some of my recent favorites to come out of New American Paintings are Amze Emmons, David Linneweh, Donnie Molls, Jassalyn Haggenjos, James Benjamin Franklin, and Chris Ballantyne.

Brian Sherwin. Finally, based on the work that you do in the art world... what is your philosophy about art and the artistic process and how is that philosophy reflected in your publications?

Steven Zevitas: That is a tough question that would require a lot more time to address. I would say that I am most interested in artists who are able to marry their chosen form and subject in such a way that their work's content is an inevitiablity.
I am quite sure that whenever an art object effects me deeply it has a lot to do with an artist's ability to channel their energies into meaningful content. This can happen equally with the brash figuration of an artist such as Dana Schutz, or the reductive and intuitively driven abstraction of Brice Marden.
When it does happen, which I have to say is rare, the effect can be revelatory. As a passionate viewer of art, I live for those moments.
I'd like to personally thank Mr. Zevitas and Mr. Katz for taking the time to discuss their publications with me. A big thanks goes out to Mr. Katz for extending the Studio Visit Magazine submission deadline for readers of this blog. Also, to learn more about the New York, New York Competition visit the following link:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

Friday, June 22, 2007

Art Space Talk: Basil Alkazzi

I recently interviewed Mr. Basil Alkazzi. Mr. Alkazzi has been an active artist and strong advocate for the arts for several decades. His donations and awards have benefited several artists and institutions. Basil actively supports the Royal College of Art in London, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Arts Foundations that gives some sixty studio spaces to young artists in New York.

Mr. Alkazzi's contributions to the art world have helped many artists, including- Thomas Connolly, Michael Rich, Sandow Birk, Oscar Romp, Nana Shiomi, and John Jacobsmeyer. These artists have went on to have great success with their art.
You can learn more about Mr. Alkazzi by visiting his website:

Brian Sherwin: Mr. Alkazzi, it is an honor to interview you. When did you first decide to take up the brush? In other words, how long have you been painting?

Basil Alkazzi: Thank you. You are very gracious and kind.

I clearly remember the black Windsor & Newton water-colour box I had received for my birthday when I was seven or eight. I have always, since the age of fourteen or so, known that that is what I want and I am meant to do- Paint. I suppose I have been painting seriously for some fifty years.

BS: Mr. Alkazzi, you have said the following about your work, "I used to look inward and heavenward, for inspiration and expression, but since moving to the South of France, my whisperers, have altered my creative vision, directing it, to the heaven on earth, as they did when I was a child, to the natural elements of growth, to re-discover their secrets and mysteries and their magical life-force, which radiate serenity and a passion for life, and all that life is.". Would you say that the role of an artist is to give shape... or to capture the heaven that one can find on Earth? Tell us more about your philosophy.

BA: I don't know if an artist has a specific role, each expresses himself or herself in their own way, according to their own unlimited limitations- and we all have limitations. For me, there is a need to create. A compulsion if you like- An expression of the inner self- I am drawn to paintings of other painters that are sublime, that visually express an intangible beauty - where the created image can, and does allow contemplation, and so enriches my soul, abundantly.

BS: Your work is known for having a dream-like quality. They are often calming to the viewer, but at the same time they display a mystery that gives the work a provocative edge. I realize that many people have written about your work- including the art critic Donald Kuspit. However, for our readers, can you go into detail about your work, the themes that you reflect upon and the process in which you create?

BA: I go through long periods of creativity, and then totally drained, this is then followed by a shallow period- At such times, I travel, and I read, and only during these shallow periods will I visit galleries and museums. I love to look at, to gaze at, to contemplate the works of Turner and Constable, and almost all the painters at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

When the time is right, and the need surfaces, I try to create an environment that allows creativity to happen, to flow, where I can become the instrument- I listen to classical music, I go for long walks, I isolate my inner self, the nature of the work being so solitary, and then sometimes I re-look at and contemplate some of my earlier work, feeding off them in a way- and always at nature, and then things start to flow....

I often feel, and I mean this very humbly, that it is not I that is creating the painting- because in the end I have sometimes taken a gasp of wonder at the finished work.

BS: In your own words, what should we see in your work?

BA: You will see in my work, or in any work, whatever you allow yourself to look and to see, and then, to listen to something within you, that then allows you to feel, what ever you are looking at and seeing.

BS: Mr. Alkazzi, you have been noted as being a very strong advocate for young artist. You have reached out to help creative artists throughout the world. Why do you feel so strongly about this?

BA: I come from a privileged background, and I am always very grateful for that great Blessing, and reaching out and helping those less privileged or fortunate, allows me to spread and share in that Blessing.

BS: At one time, you offered an award to help creative artists in the United States. The recipients of that award have went on to do great things. For example, John Jacobsmeyer has been a regular at the Art Chicago and Scope art fairs and has been featured in ARTnews Magazine. Have you kept in contact with the recipients?

BA: Many of the recipients of my awards both in the United States, and at the Royal College of Art in London, have kept in touch with me, and I with them, including John Jacobsmeyer, Sandow Birk, Matthew Burrows, Michael Rich, Josette Urso, Brian Rutenberg, Isabel Young, amongst many others.

BS: In 1986 you established the Basil H. Alkazzi Foundation Awards at the Royal College of Art, London. Can you tell us more about the foundation.

BA: My Foundation at the RCA currently gives a bi-annual two year full Scholarship Study Award in the Department of Painting, and this of course includes maintenance. There is then the Fatima & Faiza H. Alkazzi Award, a monetary award that selects the best painter at the Degree Show, and whose selected painting is then kept at the College, to be sold at a future date, and with the proceeds to create a new award, in the name of the recipient. My other award, now the Sheldon Berg Award, has changed over the years, from a travel award to Greece, and later to New York, and now to a monetary award to be used for the sole use of a studio for a graduating student.

BS: What else have you done to advocate for painting?

BA: I actively support the New York Foundation for the Arts; the Marie Walsh Sharpe Arts Foundations that gives some sixty studio spaces to young artists in New York; to encouraging individual artists, and sometimes sponsoring a catalogue, to make their work better know, as I did for Thomas Connolly, Michael Rich, Sandow Birk, Oscar Romp, and Nana Shiomi.

I am very impressed with many of the painters I saw in China- Zhu Wei, Su Xinping, and especially Chao Ge. I would love to set up an award to help the young painters in that country.

BS: Mr. Alkazzi, your art can be observed in several public art collections- the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Rutgers-Camden Collection of Art, just to name of a few. Reflecting on your accomplishments... what makes you the most proud of the work you have done and the collections you have been involved with?

BA: There are many paintings and periods that I feel I have expressed my creativity best in- Those that have found a home in a public institution? I would have to say the TRANSMUTATION series, two of them at the Metropolitan Museum, along with WHISPERING SILENCE II, also at that home. THE LAST SUPPER, comprising of thirteen paintings, each depicting only the hand with the wine goblet of one of the twelve Apostles, and that of Jesus Christ. There are two versions, one is at the Santa Barbara Museum in California, and the other, I have kept for myself. BLOSSOMING MOON IN SKY-SCAPE II at the Neuberger Museum, the first version I have also kept for myself. I also like the TRANSFIGURATION series, as well as the FRAGRANCE OF DREAMS series, now at the Dayton Art Institute.

I like to keep some of my best work for myself, the series VOYAGE OF DREAMS, the tryptich TRANSFIGURATION OF DREAMS, and others.

I am very happy with my more recent work, starting with the RITES OF SPRING- they are freer, brighter, but just as expressive and contemplative.

BS: Finally, what is next? Can you reveal any of your future plans?

BA: I have a new publication "RESONANT ECHOES" by Dennis Wepman, a K. Izumi Art Publication, to be officially out in July, relating to my more recent work, and I have an exhibition coming up in Tokyo of my small scale paintings.

My plans? I will go on painting, as long as they want me to, or have need for me to, to fulfil that long, long ago given promise.

I'd like to thank Mr. Alkazzi again for answering my questions. Again, you can learn more about Mr. Alkazzi by visiting his website:

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Art Space Talk: Cara Walz

Cara Walz is an American artist proud to be painfully midwestern and nurtured from an early adulthood immersed in punk culture. She studied drawing, painting, sculpture, performance and photography at The University of Kansas, where she received her BFA in 1990.
After a year's tour with the punk outfit, 2 Car Family--where she regularly witnessed all-age shows by then unknowns, Green Day and Neurosis--she moved to Chicago to study time-based media (primarily video and performance) at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
On her own time she continued to nurture her first love, drawing, and in 1993 received her MFA in Time Arts from SAIC. Her work has been included in many group and solo exhibits, including The Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, MoMO Studio, and The Stray Show. She received a Franklin Furnace Grant for her experiments integrating performance and drawing in 2000.
Cara is associated with the Micromentalist movement, founded by Patrick Welch, a British painter now residing in Chicago. The Micromentalists embrace a D.I.Y. attitude toward the production and dissemination of art, adopting strategies from independent music culture. They believe that art should be accessible, affordable and meaningful beyond the 'art world subculture'.
She is currently represented by Telephonebooth Contemporary Art ( and resides in Kansas City MO, where she teaches painting and drawing.

Brian Sherwin:Cara, in 1993 you received an MFA in Time Arts from SAIC. Can you tell our readers about Time Art, the department you were a member of and the mentors you had while attending SAIC? How did those experiences influence your future work?

Cara Walz: I have to think way back now... First off, very few schools offer Time Arts, so I get this question a lot. At SAIC at the time, Time Arts consisted of sound, video/film, performance and installation with moving components. Freshmen Foundations students were required to take not just 2D and 3D but 4D as well, and I assisted in teaching them, which was a ton of fun.
I was admitted into the performance department and worked closely with Lin Hixson, director of the performance group Goat Island, and Werner Herterich, whose work dealt with the body and installation. I also worked closely with Leah Gillham in the film/video department as I negotiated my way through video work.

Lin was an amazing person: She could quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, especially in terms of relevant influences, and she helped me focus on things I still look at now, especially how-to imagery.

I remember showing her a picture from a package of processed cheese that showed how one should remove the cheese from the plastic film. That picture is a gem. I still have it.

Werner told me two things I'll never forget: 1) The market requires that artists know exactly what they're doing and who their audience is, but in reality this is rarely the case, and 2) Art is what is left over after an action, trace evidence.

My fondest memory of Leah is when she chewed out a freshman (maybe he was a sophomore) for his video during critique. I know this sounds horrible, but he never attended class and you could tell that he spent a total of maybe 20 minutes to make the video. If you've ever worked in film or video you know how long it takes to get something good. He was wasting our time and she was livid.

Brian Sherwin: You have noted that punk culture has been a major influence your development as a person and artists. Can you reflection how that culture has influenced your work?

Cara Walz: Punk always tries to be direct: emotionally, technically and conceptually. I don't even understand other people generally. If punk culture hasn't influenced a person's life it's like they're from another planet. I try but it's hard because, when I was about 7 or 8 years old I saw Patti Smith on Saturday Night Live. When I was 13 I read Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to The Monkey House. I was moved to tears by George Romero's Night of the Living Dead.

I saw The Flaming Lips perform from Oh My Gawd at a tiny bar, which was all tremendous feedback and extremely emotional. Wayne spent most of his time on the ground and the music just flowed from one song to the next. I was dumbfounded, completely overwhelmed. You know how you get that tingle? I try to get that when I work. I want people to get that when they look at it, as if a heart is right there in front of them, and it's ok if you stab it or kiss it. It makes no difference.

Brian Sherwin: So is it safe to say that you desire to establish an emotional connection between your work and the viewer... regardless if that connection is healthy or not?

Cara Walz: Yes, I desire an emotional connection and a intellectual one as well, but no, I don't set out to shock or offend anyone. But in any given intimate conversation between two people, there's always the chance that something will be said that the other person doesn't want to hear, even if it isn't intended. This is a risk I don't mind taking. Better that than talking about the weather or exchanging recipes.

Brian Sherwin: Cara, in 2000 you were awarded a Franklin Furnace Grant for your experiments integrating performance and drawing. Can you discuss the work you were doing at that time?

Cara Walz: I was using bodies and objects as elements in a moving drawing on a stage. This work was heavily influenced by Goat Island as I was fresh out of graduate school. The bodies and objects were connected, so that there was no more significance to one or the other.

For me it was about understanding form and movement in a different way, probably because I've always been obsessed with life drawing, especially gesture, and the way the body moves from one pose to the next.

The bodies would clump together in bunches or heaps, then separate and be strung together, especially with rope, and I know that sounds like bondage but it was more like Butoh or acrobatics. Sometimes the bodies would be suspended using pulleys or repelling gear. I liked defying gravity and then giving into it.

In this work I began collaborating with other people, something I still love to do, and narrative began to enter the picture. Sometimes the performers would want to break what they were doing and perform a tiny bit of tango or exchange slaps, for example, and I welcomed that into the structure of the whole.

Brian Sherwin: You are associated with the Micromentalist movement, founded by Patrick Welch. Can you tell our readers more about the movement?

Cara Walz: This is a new association, but it's funny because as soon as I fell into it it fit. I love Patrick. He makes teeny tiny paintings. His most known are his "insult" paintings, but many of his others are quite complex in form and meaning, in a good way, not in an obscure way.

They have written a tongue-in-cheek manifesto (because any manifesto has to be tongue-in-cheek nowadays I suppose), which you can reach from my website, and it says all the things I've been saying for quite awhile now. Like when did art become rarefied? When did one require a degree to understand it? Why does art need to be monumental and expensive?

Some people think "micromental" means "small mind", and that's ok, but Patrick was thinking about the opposite of monumental. Intimate. I have always looked at art as a prehistoric cultural expression. It hasn't changed since we were living in caves, not at its very core. You shouldn't have to be a big time investor in art to be able to enjoy it and own it.

Art is what people who think in pictures do. And artists want to share these pictures with others.

Brian Sherwin: How exactly has music influence your art? Is there a direct link to the sounds you vibe to and the work you create?

Cara Walz: One of the drawings I sent you is of Andrew Bird, an amazing musician. His song, "Heretics", is on my website and you can find more of his stuff if you click on his name. I like an incredible variety of music, but even though I'm a punk, I'm still a woman, so I tend to avoid the extreme aggro stuff. It just doesn't work for me.

I also think that too many people try to define punk as a tight style, and it's not. It's a perspective. Punks are realists and they pull no punches.

Brian Sherwin: It would seem that you allow your medium to surround you... based on the image I seen of you working in your studio space. Describe an average studio session. What do you set out to do and when do you know that you are finished?

Cara Walz: I have two studios at present: One at home and one in a building downtown. In both the process is the same but the size is different, because the downtown space is larger.

At home I make tiny pieces. An average studio session for me cannot go beyond 5 hours. If I go beyond that I tend to mess things up. I make big, bold decisions in the first hour, decisions about the overall composition, shape, color, new elements, etc. Sometimes this takes longer than an hour, because I work on several pieces at a time.

I like elements to accumulate beyond what the work can accommodate in order to get a ton of texture and history (time, if you will) into it. Then I edit, get rid of what doesn't work formally or conceptually. This can take some time or go very quickly, depending on how many early decisions were good ones.

The remaining time is spent doing what I call "piddle-farting", adding tiny elements, little surprises that you only see up close. I love to piddle-fart. I think all artists do, but it's really the last thing you should do because it has nothing to do with the structure of the thing.

A piece is done when it works like a machine upon the eye, and when the elements interrelate to achieve a particular emotional tone not unlike a good piece of music.

Brian Sherwin: So I would take it that artists like Damien Hirst- his diamond skull and expensive prices- goes directly against the ideals of the Micromentalists. So is one the groups goals to keep their work affordable to the public? Is it more about given back to society rather than dropping jaws with price tags and making the big shows?

Cara Walz: I met Damien Hirst when I was in graduate school at SAIC, and he was a nice bloke. He got a ton of breaks early on in his career. I also met Kerry James Marshall, a very good artist who has received a ton of attention as well.

Hirst's work is cynical to say the least; it always has been. Marshall's has always been heartfelt. I pass no judgment because there's room for cynicism, but it's just not for me.

Of course we'd all like to make a ton of money and achieve notoriety making art. Wouldn't it be great if there were more Charles Saatchis in the world to give us all a jump start? But in reality, most artists, many of them very good, don't run into a Saatchi-type while they're still in graduate school. This shouldn't negate their work or exclude them from the market.

Some of the best musicians come from the independent music scene. Shouldn't this be possible in art culture as well? I'm proud to be an independent artist and in control of my own destiny, even if my market has its limits. I don't dismiss collectors because of some Marxist ideal, but I don't think regular people should be excluded from owning and enjoying art too.

Brian Sherwin: Let us return to a question about artistic collaboration.What collaborations have you worked on besides the work you did with Goat Island? Is there a certain co-creator, so to speak, who has stuck out more than others?

Cara Walz: I consider the work I'm doing on MySpace to be a collaboration of sorts, because the particular friend I'm making the drawing for informs the piece, infuses it with its heart.

Sometimes I don't know what to make of people and so those drawings can be a bit strange, but I'm also surprised by how often a connection is made, albeit an electronic one.

Many of my friends are 'actual' ones, and those drawings come pretty easy, but I try to make each work as if an electronic signal is enough to get some sense of a person, because this is how we communicate now.

Even if you talk to someone face to face things get lost in translation or misunderstood. This is what Baudrillard meant when he wrote The Ecstasy of Communication. Maybe we don't communicate to be understood but to be heard, to make a song with no words, to chant in order to express simple loneliness or longing.

To answer your second question, Mirja Koponen, who, last I heard was in the UK, was probably the strongest artist I've worked with, but we've lost touch and I don't know what she's doing now. I suppose I should 'google' her...

I also participated in a group show a couple of years ago, curated by Charles Roderick, who was getting his MFA in sculpture from The University of Illinois at the time. This wasn't quite a collaboration, but the work in the show was sociopolitical, challenging, a great assembly of artists from around the world. It was called "Mind in Matter: Constructions of The Built Environment", and artists were tackling the urban world we construct in a variety of ways.

Anyway, Charles' work struck me immediately. He would gather materials and make sculptures in the urban environment, using the space and context as much as the materials he brought. Then he would take photographs of them. He was literally making his mark in shared, public space, transforming it from something cold and impersonal to specific and intimate.

Brian Sherwin: Finally, what are your plans for the future? Where do you see your work 10 years from now... or is it more about the process of getting there?

Cara Walz: I've never been good at planning for the future, and so yes, it's all about the process. Ten years from now I hope to be happy and healthy and I hope that my friends and family are likewise. On their CD Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, The Flaming Lips sing, "All we have is now."
I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Cara and her art. Feel free to leave a comment.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin