Monday, April 21, 2014

ADD and Ancient Chinese Secrets - An Interview with Scott Bergey

Scott Bergey is a man of few words and tons of ideas.  Last time I checked his Flickr photostream, the image count was somewhere around 5,230.  Even if only half of those images are original works of art, this is a man with a fertile imagination.

Let's see if we can coax a few syllables out of him.

Scott, with a selection of his art at RAW
(Riverdale Art Walk in Toronto, Ontario) 
Not sure there's a tent big enough for the whole collection.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wake Up Your Joy - An Interview with Renie Britenbucher

Renie Britenbucher says she lives in Northeast Ohio but don't you believe it.  Renie lives in a wondrous, whimsical world that is at once hilarious and peaceful.  I dare you to bring any negative emotion to Renie's Web site.  When you find yourself humming "What A Wonderful World", you'll know you've entered Renie-land.

And you'll never want to leave.

Let's chat.
Field of Poppies
Q1.  What is your first memory of art?

A1.  I know I was very young. I remember being attracted to pictures in magazines and tearing them out. I don't think I had a concrete understanding of art yet, but loved pictures and images.
Colorful Yellow Chair
Red Poppies Still Life

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dancing From Canvas to Canvas: An Interview with Jen Noren

Jen Noren can paint a picture of a lonely street and make you want to live there.  She paints a blue guitar with a red background and you think, "there's my guitar", even though you never owned one.  Her love of life is writ large across every canvas.  You want to see what she sees; the world in technicolor.

Let's chat.
Paper Route

Q1.  What is your first memory of art?

A1.  I have a lot of early memories of art, because a lot of people in my family painted for fun.  But I think my earliest memory of art was when my big sister got in trouble for painting her baby cradle with my Mom’s red oil paint.  It’s a pretty vivid memory of being up in the attic in our house in Ashland, [Ohio], the house I was born in.  I was probably around a year old, I bet.  [Interviewer's note:  My first conscious memory is from age 13.  Some of us are late bloomers.]  I remember my Mom yelling at my sister Wendy, and seeing the wooden baby cradle smeared with red oil paint. Red is still my big sister’s favorite color.  I think, to Wendy, the cradle must have looked beautifully transformed!

I remember thinking it smelled really bad, like a skunk.  [Interviewer's note:  Hahahahahaha] I also remember seeing the oil painting that my Mom was working on.  It was a snowy, old fashioned horse-and-buggy church scene, with a big red church that had a tall steeple.  This painting hung above our fireplace mantle in my childhood.  I don’t know where it is now.

Wendy still paints furniture, lol! After writing this, I think I should gift her with a red cradle. Mom yelled at her then, but it's been a family joke about Wendy's artistic expression ever since.

Rt. 55

Friday, April 11, 2014

Slippery Visual Slopes - Gianna Commito

Discovered the work of Gianna Commito today.  Luckily, Artsy Forager already did the hard part - describing these incredible pieces in artsy terms.

Turf, 2010
As for me, all I can say is they took my breath away and who can ask more than that from art?  If I forced myself to think sensibly, I suppose terms such as "controlled chaos" might come to mind, or "a riddle wrapped in an enigma sliced into geometric pieces."

Stall, 2010

But I'm not going to force myself, because I would rather inhale the raw beauty than try and impose woefully inadequate words upon these striking works of art.

Track, 2010

Wing, 2009

Moth, 2009
Where, you ask, would a person capable of creating such intricate slippery visual slopes reside?  Excellent question.  According to her bio on the Rachel Uffner Gallery Web site, Gianna Commito, although born in North Carolina, lives and work in Kent, Ohio.  Ah, Kent; the bucolic town sporting a University of the same name from which graduated "Bonnie Turner, writer/creator of 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70s Show" and "Dav Pilkey, Children's author best known for Captain Underpants."  Should have guessed.

Brig, 2012

All images above courtesy of Gianna Commito's Web site, with the exception of "Brig", courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Vastness, Seclusion and Solace: An Interview with Robert McAffee

Robert McAffee joins us today to talk about his childhood; his pre-art career(s); inspiration and motivation; and his trailblazing uncle, Jack Reid.

I am in awe of Robert McAffee who, for all his insightful talk of art and controlled anger toward the treatment of the First Nations children of Canada, manages to maintain a childlike quality of playfulness and joy.

OK, I adore him.  Let's chat.


Q1.  What is your first memory of art?

A1.   Six years old and my mother taking me to visit her brother, the late and very well known landscape artist, Jack Reid. The visit inspired me from that young age to be an artist one day. He continued to be a mentor and friend until his death in 2011.

Click here to see my dedication page to Jack Reid.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

No Wrenches - An Interview With Dana Irving

Dana Irving is a Vancouver-based artist/singer/songwriter, whose works can be found on her Web site or at the Ian Tan Gallery. Ian Tan describes her art in a way that would make the most seasoned art collector perk up:

Her style; a marriage of Emily Carr, Lawren Harris and
Dr. Seuss [Editor’s note: italics and bold are mine],
is a visual testament to the force of the
sublime natural landscape in the
Pacific Northwest.

As I write this, I’m listening to snippets of Dana Irving’s Smilin’ CD (one minute teasers available on Dana’s site).  I’m tapping my feet and feeling better by the minute, half of my brain trying to decide if this is blues or country or both when a song titled “No Wrenches” begins and I am knocked off my feet. I haven’t heard vocals like this since Joan Armatrading sang Down to Zero and broke my high school heart.

Let’s chat.


Q1.  What is your first memory of art?

A1.  I grew up in a small town in northern BC [Interviewer's note for Americans who think Iowa and Idaho are the same state - "BC" stands for British Columbia], Canada.  I hate to say it, but when I was young, the place was pretty artless.  A logging town full of practical people doing practical things.  My mother knew I needed something ... so at four years old she took me to ballet classes at the home of this lovely, eccentric Norwegian lady. She was passionate about dance and she was a great teacher.  I remember being dazzled by her and her house full of paintings and antique furniture.  Everything about her was inspiring

Thursday, April 3, 2014

10S - The Rise of Graffiti in Saigon

Graffiti, which has run the gamut in the US from police chasing kids armed only with spray paint, to upstanding citizens painting over these scary defacings of public property, to Banksy stalkers waiting for him to finish so they can carefully knock down the wall and sell it for a gazillion dollars.  The market has spoken.  And, in so doing, nearly destroyed the purpose and beauty of this underground grassroots movement.

Smithsonian Magazine, in an article written by Will Ellsworth-Jones and appearing in their February 2013 issue:
It could be said that Banksy’s subversiveness diminishes as his prices rise. He may well have reached the tipping point where his success makes it impossible for him to remain rooted in the subculture he emerged from.
Americans have become jaded about this art form.  Which is why I was so happy to open my latest missive from the Wooster Collective this morning and see a country with no tradition of graffiti (other than graffiti left behind by American soldiers, but that's a story for another day), beginning its tenuous journey with graffiti and the talented artists behind it.

The country is Vietnam, the city is Saigon and the graffiti artists call themselves "10S" (short for 10 Seconds Crew).  10S recently celebrated their 5th anniversary as a group by painting their largest surface to date - a 100' x 16' wall.

Daos (10s)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Vandals Took The Handles

Rob Dobson graciously agreed to appear as my debut Riffs post.  Rob is a singer/songwriter/artist/philosopher. His first album, containing all original material; and recorded, produced and (eventually) distributed independently, is due out in a couple of months. The album cover, of course, is a gorgeous Rob Dobson original painting. 

An interview with Rob resembles a jam session. So much to talk about. We’ll try and stay with Rob The Artist but I cannot rule out cameo appearances by Rob The Musician, Rob Who Grew Up in South Africa and/or Rob The Philosopher. 

Hang on and enjoy the ride.

Q1.  What is your first memory of art?

Rob:  It's hard to say because I have all these memories and I'm so visual ...  I remember at my grandma's house when I was really, really young there was this pond with Koi in it and that's the first thing that came to my head.  But I didn't consciously think of that as art.  And that's not what my art looks like.

Swimming Under Water, 2013