On Wednesday I was asked to present my work to a class of students at Evergreen College in Olympia, This was the beginning of an outline/bullet point and thought I'd share...
To Get a Better Hold You've Got to Loosen Yr. Grip
I first stumbled into art, or painting specifically when I was just out of high school and enrolled at a local community college. It was a interesting time, I was living in the suburbs of Federal Way, just south of Seattle by some twenty miles and constantly going to the city to inform myself. I had through high school, been listening to loads of Punk and New Wave, thanks to some friends of mine that I found interesting and curious. I recall seeing and hearing records that were utterly unusual; graphics, images, instruments, loud, rebellious, beautiful. I would often purchase records as a dare, it's how I discovered Einstürzende Neubauten, and Soviet France. I would seek out shows by these and other bands at various independent venues and thus began this trail I still find myself on. I saw several shows at a gallery/venue run by Larry Reid called Roscoe Louie. Shows by the U-Men, Ten Minute Warning, Jodie Foster's Army, inside a gallery featuring shows by local artists that struck a nerve. Often it was antagonistic, both the art and the music, but I persisted with curiosity, intending to inform myself as I went, taking note, reading, saying yes instead of no.
This also corresponded with school, I walked past the art studio at Highline Community College, and decided to step in. It was electric, easels, paintings and drawings hanging in this loft like environment. I immediately switched from being a business major to an art major. I began going to Saturday classes at Pratt in Seattle. I knew I wanted to continue this to a four year school, so I began going to the colleges here in the state, and seeing faculty shows, student shows, raising my game so to speak. At the time I was really charged by the current international and national works featured in Art In America, Artforum, and Flash Art. I read up on Joseph Beuys, Georg Baselitz, Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Anselm Kiefer, Nam June Paik, and on and on.
I had seen a faculty show at this time at Western Washington University, and was also really excited by the sculpture that was found all around the campus. One artist in this particular faculty show threw me, and stuck with me: R. Allen Jensen. I found him in class that day doing a critic, and decided to take a look. The appearance that he made and the way he would talk of the work that the students were doing hit a note for me, and that was that, I wanted to enroll.
The next two years were so formative to my growth as an artist, I often miss those days. Hard critics, pushing the work in different directions, taking weekly lumps from both faculty and my fellow classmates. It was fantastic.
Music was still an ongoing interest of mine, and Bellingham had a great scene itself. Estrus was just beginning to put out records and showcasing bands both locally and bringing in bands from all over the world with their Garageshock Festival. I played music with some other art students, and kept my ears tuned as well as my hands. I kept interests on both Seattle and Vancouver BC, and this was encouraged by R Allen, or Bob as we were allowed to call him. I struck up with a new gallery that had just begun in Seattle around the time of my graduation, Galleria Potatohead, and did my senior show and opening shot in Seattle in one fell swoop.
A year later and another show at Galleria Potatohead and more interest peaked. Linda Farris did a studio visit, and thanks to Shawn Ferris, her Director, I was included in a group show. This was followed with another solo show just six months later, and I was rolling. Failure was lining up to kick me, as after my second show with Linda Farris, she announced that she was closing. Linda was a powerhouse art dealer, I practically made a living from her sales. It was difficult post Linda, and I was a bit thrown ego-wise, when I went to other galleries and sought representation and was turned down, over and over.
Fortunately Elizabeth Leach stepped in and starting showing me in Portland, again, a powerhouse dealer, and another director in Miriam Rose that loved what I was making. Later was to come Ester Claypool Gallery here in Seattle, followed with Circa Gallery in Minneapolis. The work was mutating and influenced with all sorts of references from childhood; Slot Cars, Croquet, Benday Dots.
Staying curious, attempting to say yes to ideas more than no, and getting a better hold by loosening my grip.
[To Be Continued]