Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Original Folio Weekly interview transcription

How long have you been teaching at Flagler?
I guess I am really curious that the exhibition is seemingly about the process of meditation, or at least a deliberate gesture of practicing or acknowledging insight/stillness before any actual work is done. Do either of you follow a meditation style or spiritual discipline that benefits or influences your work?
Could you describe your own respective process/ritual of “a private creative practice?” Do you honor/suffer from any superstitions or compulsions that tie into your preparing to roll up your sleeves and get to work?

I fell into teaching at Flagler because I knew Patrick from a number of years back in my undergraduate years. Patrick was in graduate studies when we met and he taught me a thing or two about painting. I decided to get on the grad school bus and went to get my MFA in Sculpture from Parsons School of Design in NY. Two of the biggest art mentors during my years of schooling there was Tom Butter and Louise Fishman. Tom really shaped my visual language and explained to me that making art and talking about art is as complex as keeping friends and maintaining relationships. We maintain close correspondence through the mail. Louise is an old school Ab-Ex painter, an incredibly wise woman. Her studio visits with me were invaluable and she explained to me about the struggles and the inadequacies of making art which I am always burdened with.
I finished up my years at Parsons and ended up kicking around New York for a few more years making art, working random jobs, and raising a family in Astoria, Queens. The city and that neighborhood in particular was really formative to my practice. On one block you can be inundated with affluent Greek yards and families, turn a corner and shake hands with the Muslim in the kitten friendly Stop & Shop bodega. The art objects currently gracing the country are as plural as the streets. There is a kind of regurgitation of visual cultures and histories happening that are then being spewed out and clobbered into some semblance of something. I like to think that I am engaging this eclectic puzzle through the sculptures and paintings that I fabricate. A lot of what I do is free-wheeling and involves collage and jumbling disparate materials together by way of props and other adhoc methods. The end product usually reveals the ridiculous and irrational act of this thing we call “making art”. Don’t get me wrong, I am dead serious about what I do but at the same time you feel like crawling under a rock.
Louise taught meditation techniques to me as a way to clear ones head before engaging in creation-my life is much too chaotic for the allowance of that practice though. I tend to kind of dive right into the making of stuff. A mess is made and then I begin to react against the onslaught and refine. I tend to be a night person when I work and have realized that when I am engaged in something in those late hours, you feel most alone. The practice feels entirely secretive and bizarre. It would seem to me that the created object has more ability to reach beyond its material mayhem to touch personal nerves with its creator...but this may all be a delusion. A great deal of pacing and staring at actions I have made is engrained in my studio practice and I have an Australian Shepherd that is always at my heels. Sometimes I just sit in front of the thing that I have been fabricating and find myself baffled at how I had arrived at some of the forms or material combinations. It often feels like someone else is at the steering wheel and I am operating unconsciously.

Could you elaborate on the title From: Goya To: Gooseneck? Is this merely wordplay or is there any greater significance? What was so affecting from this Camus story that compelled you to create an entire show (if this is the case) based on the piece?
I think the idea of “absurdism” played a big role in Patrick and I doing a show together. We were sitting around trying to think about what the connective thread was in our work and realized that it was such a ridiculous thing to be striving to do. Patrick paints monsters and at times I’m grasping at straws. We did need some kind of statement to bring clarity to the cacophony and I remembered this great short story by Albert Camus (who was considered a philosopher of the absurd) called, Jonas, Or The Artist At Work. The whole story is really wonderful but one excerpt seemed to tap into the wealth of what we do. The passage comes at a point in the story where the artist has lost himself and his light (inspiration). He has tried to seal himself up in silence from distraction to really allow himself to work and when he has done this, the artist faces a profound loss and leads those around him to believe that he is working when in fact all he has to account for is a long waiting meditation.
I feel like at times when I am making my work that I have literally lost my mind and that it is not I who am making the art, but rather the art dictating to me what it wants to be. You work in this private void where it is just you and the object and no one else. That can be real unnerving. Where does the faith in the thing you are creating come from? Is it just because it feels good to be making anything at all?
I believe this gets at the core of the show. From: Goya To: Gooseneck is a bit of play on words but does convey some embrace of history and hybrid of absurdity. The title also felt appropriate as being an exchange or correspondence between two people.

Could you describe some of the works featured in the show? Will there be paintings by Moser/sculptures by Myhre or do you both have works in differing media in the exhibit? What materials are involved?
While Patrick is a painter and I am a sculptor, both of us dabble in other media. Patrick is going to be showing a video along with his monster paintings and I plan to put up a couple of paintings/collages and a wall relief piece along with the various sculptures to be displayed. I’m actually really excited to show one of the paintings measuring 4 foot square which lays the foundation for new developments. It took many months to craft and revise. The wall relief is also new for me and will be a conglomeration of similar forms found in the paintings but fabricated out of various materials and spray paint. I work heavily with metal and teach Metal Sculpture at Flagler, so a good deal of the works feature metal elements along with wood, fabric, concrete, found objects, and store bought products. The work have figural tendencies and titles help elude to this but the work also functions on a high level of abstraction.

What are some of your greater “non-visual” influences or current faves, be it music, authors, foods, guilty pleasures, whatever?My two boys are a big source of inspiration. My oldest, who is 6, is already exhibiting artistic flare and works on paintings and random little things he calls sculptures. I sit and watch them work and at times am really impressed by their material invention. I actually steal some of their techniques. An author that I read over and over again is Raymond Carver. His personal life and the stories that he wrote resonate with me. It all stems from the foundation of one sustaining their passions through adversity with perseverance.

Do you feel any affinity with any local NE FL artists?I really don’t. Maybe I just have not lived here long enough, but no one around here appears particularly thirsty for art. There is not a competitiveness that seems to exist among the creative individuals that are here. I guess that I am not really one to talk though. My life and practice is pretty private and I do not have the mentality to show, show, show. It has been four years since I have shown anything at all. I have a hand full of like-minded individuals that I banter with and share ideas among and the majority of them do not even live in the same state. I rely on the good old fashion post office as my hub for communication with these few other artists.

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