Friday, May 8, 2009
Well, winter is over.
The clouds have receded.
The sun is out.
The flowers are in bloom.
I have a propensity to hold a jaded outlook on the relationship of humanity in our world today. I think it shows in my art. Especially in some of the older stuff. It's something I've always struggled with. I believe there is good reason in exercising ones scruples about "progress". I mean, there is alot of fucked up stuff going on. All over the world. Overpopulation. Global warming. War. Genocide. But In my dwellings on these matters I find myself slipping into long periods of ...well, depression. The Pacific Northwest Winters only encourage this. So, with all of this concern I've developed for the sour points of humanity, I have, at times found myself only depressing people with paintings. And, surely spreading a blanket of depression doesn't actually help or change the situation.
Last summer I had the opportunity to participate in the 2008 THIRTY! SHOW. a group exhibition put on by Flora S. Bowley. http://www.thirtyshows.blogspot.com/
http://www.florasbowley.com/ The idea is that thirty artists each make thirty paintings in thirty days. The month of hard work culminates in a single-night group exhibition of 900 pieces of art. It creates an excellent opportunity for artists to meet. To healthily compete and exchange ideas. Before the painting race began, Flora put together an online roster of artists involved with links to each of their online portfolios. Curious who I was up against I perused through all the artists work. So much talent. I had seen the exhibition the previouse year, and was completely blown away. I made sure I would be in the next years exhibition. In fact I came back early from a trip to South America for it. With a sense that I wanted to paint something completely different from my previous work, I was subconsciously seeking a new aesthetic, in all these artists websites. Well, there was plenty of inspiration there, but one guys work really struck me in the right way...for me. It was graphic, but still painted damn well. He used vibrant colors in jarring-good way. He threw in silly very simple little geometric shapes, which beautifully supported the drama, composition, and mood of the piece. And above all, looking at his work, just made me happy. Well, I ended up trying to rip him off in a number of ways. I do that sometimes. I hoped I'd have time to apologize later, and maybe make it up to him. But I stormed ahead. I had ammo again. Colors! I can be graphic in a painterly way! Yeow! I am proud of the work I did for that show. I feel like it was sorta a mile marker for me. I was headed in a new direction. I was happy and confident of the work I was doing. The only thing I worried about was meeting this guy at the show, and not being able to look him in the eye.
As it turned out our paintings were created by two people with completely different experiences. And as a result the way we utilize various techniques, choose and portray characters, choose mediums, and interact with the world is... unique to each of us. There was nothing I could have subtracted from Jeremy Okai Davis' paintings. Only inspiration to be gained.
The reception was a complete blast. Loads of folks rolled in, lining the block, waiting for their chance to walk through the gallery. When i spotted Jeremy, I couldn't help myself, I had to meet the guy. As it turned out, he was super excited to meet me too. He was an exceptionally genuine person. And I learned that he was also from the South East. North Carolina.
So, I got his phone number, thinking I would have the tenacity to call him up later in the week. Well, I got swept away into the night. Woke up the next morning and flew to Colorado to visit with my parents and brothers for a week. When I got back to Portland. I was relaxed after the vacation, but totally burnt out on painting. On talking about painting. I never ended up calling him.
In January I moved into a studio with Branden Walker, a talented painter, and Tara Tamaribuchi, who had recently had a baby. Tara ended up moving out soon after I moved in. Brandon put up a posting on craigslist for the studio space. Some days, he'd describe to me the people who had replied. With the economy scare, I suppose there are not many people looking for a space to rent strictly for creating art in. We didn't receive many replies. One day, However, Brandon, desperate to get someone in by the first of the next month said he had found a great painter who was in a similar situation. Who was having trouble filling a vacant spot in his studio. Well, Brandon showed me the link to this guys website. Ha HA! It was Mr. Jeremy Okai Davis. So, we emailed him hoping to persuade him to move into our space. Brandon threw in a link to my website. Jeremy remembered my paintings, and was thrilled with the idea.
Jeremy moved in a few weeks before I was to hang the largest solo show I have ever put together. I was a bit of a mess. Totally stressed out. My little section of studio floor was often completely trashed with beer bottles, paper scrapes, palette scrapings, brushes, spilled paint, cigarette butts. And that was the environment Jeremy, with a pretty tight and efficient studio set up, had to move into. He was exceptionally good about it. In fact, I don't believe I would have been able to complete those paintings had he not been there. To have that dialogue going on is so important for me. Jeremy's paintings are on one wall. Mine on the other.
Last night Jeremy had a piece in a group show at Tender Loving Empire, a gallery in NW Portland. It was a Mail-In-Art show. Artists created a piece, put stamps on the piece itself and mailed it into the gallery. It was a rad show, Jeremy's piece rocked, and they had some great bands playing. After his show we tore it up around the Pearl for First Thursday, with his good friend, Lady Liz, and star of the Northwest Yellow Corporation, Matt Seely. On the way back over to our homes on the East side we stopped by my show at Rontoms.
Good times were had.
The Summer is Neigh.
Let's make it one to remember.
Jeremy Okai Davis:
Posted by William Leake Bruno at 2:34 PM
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