IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative- Josh Dorman

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IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, curated by Eleana Del Rio

This show features the work of ten Koplin Del Rio artists and completes the series of three IDENTITY exhibitions introducing the gallery’s artists to a Seattle audience. Curator Eleana Del Rio grouped these artists together because they share a common interest in pictorial narrative. They all invite the viewer to interact with the imagery and engage with the work in a manner that allows two narratives—both the artist’s and the viewer’s—to play out over time.

Featuring David Bailin, Eric Beltz, Shay Bredimus, Wes Christensen(1949-2015), Josh Dorman, Tim Lowly, Michelle Muldrow, Len Paschoal, Fred Stonehouse, and Yuriko Yamaguchi

November 3 – December 23, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, November 3, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #55: Josh Dorman

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1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
As a NYC-based artist, I can’t say that I have the ideal environment, but in many ways I’m fortunate. In the city, I have a basement studio with one small window. I’m not eager to work very large these days, so the cave-like space is good for me. I use incandescent clip lights to create pools of warm light on my paintings. Because I use a lot of collage, the panels move from table to wall to floor. I sometimes work lying down on top of the panel. Last year, we bought a little home in the Catskills and I’ve set up a small studio there as well. Looking out the glass doors to see wandering geese and flowers and green is heavenly. But it can also be a distraction. It’s easy to get drawn away from the ineffable world of a painting to the tangible act of picking a flower or a cucumber. I often listen to music or podcasts while working. The more my left brain can be occupied, the less it gets in the way of the creative process. And the less it can bother me with doubts and questions.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
Coffee helps. As a part-time teacher and father of twins, I take every moment I can to get to the studio. Summers are sacred time. It also helps to have a looming show as a motivator. And seeing an old friend at the Met or MOMA can inspire me. A wall of Klees or Turners can send me sprinting home to work.

3. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several? Though I’ve experimented with animation in the last several years, the mixture of paint and collage is still inexhaustible for me. I use only antique paper sources—maps, charts, textbook engravings, player piano scrolls. I usually have 5-6 panels of varying size going in the studio simultaneously.

4. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
I consider my work to be connected to the painting tradition in a deep way. I believe all great art is conceptual and spiritual. And what is termed “Conceptual Art” holds very little interest for me. I seek to create work that feels current but also outside of time and place. For inspiration, I look to ancient and Modernist sources. From Sienese paintings to Persian Miniatures to Breughel, Redon and Ryder. I try to use collage (appropriated images) in a way that honors the original creator and transforms the meaning. I hope to build worlds that invite the viewer in to figure out what is painted and what is collaged. I hope to generate images that are utterly specific and completely open-ended.

5. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Insight: Unfolding the Visual Narrative, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
I could discuss “Shipwreck” briefly. It began, as do most of my paintings with a small compositional sketch. I knew I wanted an enclosed body of water. I knew I wanted it to be seen from above, underneath and sideways simultaneously (like Cubism, yet visually not at all). I glued down a base layer of old player piano scroll paper. The dots and perforations generate a rhythm, create a horizontal pattern, akin to waves on a sea, and also remind one of DNA charts and other modern technologies. I then created a nest like border by laying down pine needles and grass, pouring watery inks and letting the liquid evaporate. Similarly, gears and embroidery wheels created ghosty stencils in the pink sky. Once this enclosure and pool was built, the sea creatures, bathers, and detritus of humankind began to fill the pool, while fossils and bones embedded themselves in the border earth. This is all improvisational, based on the piles of old books I surround myself with and on the forms that call to each other, jumping scale and substance. After several weeks of layering collage and paint washes, the actual ship was one of the final additions, giving a central anchor to the piece. What it all means I leave to the viewer. I have ideas and suspicions, but if I were to know the exact narrative beforehand or afterward, I would lose all interest in making art.

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“Have You Seen the Red Village?”, 2012, ink, acrylic & collage on panel, 24″ x 24″

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“Shipwreck”, 2014, acrylic & collage on panel, 24″ x 24″

Things That Kill- Fred Birchman

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Things That Kill curated by Norman Lundin

“Consider, for example, such varied assassins as leaded water, pills, red meat, too much sun…. Consider, for a moment more, that of the many things that kill, countless are appealingly beautiful as well as lethal, seducing artist and viewer. How to handle these “killers” in such a way that the intended expressive implications are conveyed, is as formidable an artistic challenge as engaging the more overt content implied by the show’s title.” -Norman Lundin

Including work by: Fred Birchman, Brian Blackham, Marsha Burns, Joe Crookes, John Fadeff, Ellen Garvens, Jim Holl, Michael Howard, Amy Huddleston, Caroline Kapp, Dianne Kornberg, Riva Lehrer, Brian Murphy, Elizabeth Ockwell, Anne Petty, Glenn Rudolph, Graham Shutt, Kathy Vargas and Evelyn Woods

September 1 – October 29, 2016
Opening Reception: First Thursday, September 1, 6 – 8pm

Artist Interview #6 Part 3: Fred Birchman

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1. In what way is your work a reflection of the theme “Things That Kill”? Is your work for this show in line with or an exception to your usual way of working?
All of the objects are quite literally and obviously, “Things That Kill”. This was definitely not a stretch for me or outside my usual way of working in that I started with a kernel of an idea and riffed on it. It is a bit unusual for me to work thematically, but not too much of a stretch.

2. How did you approach the subject matter?
I took the theme (or the “objects” of the theme) and used them as a basis for the work. For “Overture”, I took the trappings of targets and target shooting and used those elements as an abstraction of sorts, hopefully subjugating the loaded (no pun intended) content. Same for “Hatchet Job”. An axe handle and blade are quite beautiful as objects by themselves and by detaching the pieces, that is a bit more evident. It’s probably no accident that a person could read certain things into the separated objects, such as the detachment of the head from the “heart”, but I view that as an ok subliminal response. Icing on the cake, if you will.

3. Are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight to a new viewer about your work  in “Things that Kill”?
I used to work as an illustrator for my day job and working with themes and content were a given. Conversely, I usually resist narrative or story telling with my studio (fine art) work. That’s hard to do when working with such charged content.

One thing I should admit is that, “Witness” was really Norman’s idea. He was responding to the wrecking balls that I have in many of my current drawings and he suggested I use that. My normal response is to immediately reject that kind of advice, but somehow it stuck and I like what turned out.

IDENTITY Method: Degrees of Separation- Sarah Perry

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IDENTITY Method: Degrees of Separation
Darlene Campbell, Kenny Harris, F. Scott Hess, Ira Korman, Judy Nimtz, Sarah Perry, Robert Schultz & Peter Zokosky

July 7 – August 27, 2016
Opening Reception: July 7, 2016: 6 – 8 pm

Method: Degrees of Separation, the second of three IDENTITY exhibitions, highlights the art process with a special appreciation of historical methods within a voice of haptic ways of seeing. The featured artists come from various points of view—conceptually, pictorially, and aesthetically—yet collectively they share a deep dedication to creating artwork by way of a traditional method. In curator Eleana Del Rio’s words “Tradition by way of ‘method’ – stated loosely – is the exhibition’s topic.”

Artist interview #44: Sarah Perry

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1. What is your ideal working environment? – space, music, lighting, etc.
I’ve made 6 studios across Southern California, so I’ve fine-tuned what is my optimal working space. A large double window with a long work table below it. Thousands of electrical outlets including 220 for welding. At least 600 square feet with an industrial belt sander and band saw, a CD player for music and books on tape and doors that open onto a natural setting. This studio would be attached to a house which would contain a good man and two cats. Above all, it would be free from crime and manmade noise – freeways, car stereos, gun fire, lawn mowers, etc. If someone would have told me earlier in my life that I would indeed have this scenario in my future, I would have called them nasty names for torturing me. It’s still hard for me to believe what I see when I open my eyes in the morning.

2. Is there a specific motivator in getting you into the studio? – after morning news? coffee? after family is asleep at night?
The prime motivator for getting me into the studio is being able to get involved with a sculpture. Usually I get up early, feed as many animals as I can, then slip into the studio without even thinking about it. Or even changing into my work clothes! I have to yank myself away to shower and do chores. Then hopefully, I get to return and go for a deep swim with the piece. I’m frequently an obsessive worker, spending 16 hour days for weeks at a time then stopping to do house repairs or go on a tree planting jag.

3. What is your preferred medium?  Do you work on one project at a time or several?
The idea for the piece dictates the medium- anything from truck tires to cellophane. I find working with disparate materials challenging and refreshing, although when I return to sculpting with bones it feels like coming home.

Most of the time I work on one piece until completion. Space is a limitation and having two pieces going simultaneously covers too many surfaces. Occasionally the physical demands of a particular work can be overwhelming and I have no choice but to sit down and do something different. Especially if one piece takes a year or more to birth.

4. Is there anything you would like to share as personal interests outside of the studio – outdoor activity, cooking, reading, museum/gallery hopping?
Reading is essential for me. I tend to vacillate between literature by authors like George Saunders and Louise Erdrich to natural history (with a smattering of poetry and Sci-Fi). I’m also inspired to understand the neighborhood creatures. I have a fine relationship with a family of ravens that tell me all kinds of things. One call is a warning for rattlers, another for hawks and a quite different one for bobcats. We call back and forth through the day, and I believe that I speak raven and roadrunner as often as English. I am admittedly going feral.

5. In what way is your work a reflection of “tradition by way of ‘method’”?
There could hardly be a longer tradition in art making than carving, burning or drawing on bone. I list the Inuit as one of my favorite influences. But I will use whatever approach is necessary. If I need to make bees for a piece, I will take the time to figure out how to do it so that it’s believable and archival.

Most everything I do is hands-on and personal. Although I use electric tools, they’re not particularly high-tech. No computers, I-Pads, replicator machines, video equipment or mass-scale interacting robotic mind feeds are necessary for my work. A thinking brain, two hands and eyes and a commitment to a piece, however long it takes or demanding it is, is a tradition I hold to. There is of course plenty of room for different approaches in this wild art world.

6. With the examples of your work represented in IDENTITY Method- Degrees of Separation, are there any anecdotal notes that may give insight into your artist vision to a new viewer?
The seed for the bee wall socket series was planted when I returned to an abandoned house off the 14 freeway. I had been there several times over the years, collecting owl cough balls for their tiny bones to use in sculptures. This time, a few years had passed and the place was folding in on itself. One white carpeted room remained intact. The ceiling, walls and floor were covered with long, graceful arcs of crimson blood from IV users. Within the walls I could hear a massive bee hive. Something ‘else’ had taken hold.

I’m drawn to what is implied, hidden beneath the surface yet full of significance- oblique warnings from the unconscious; the smoldering wall socket harboring bees, the ancient eyes~behind your eyes. How do we reconcile our inherent contradictions; fear/empathy, love of the world/ loss of it. Look to the titles for a clue into a piece and if you have a moment, come wander in.

“Observing Observing (a white cup): Fred Birchman, Kimberly Clark, & Evelyn Woods”

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With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #30: Fred Birchman, Kimberly Clark & Evelyn Woods

Fred, Kimberly & Evelyn have each participated in our interview series in conjunction with earlier exhibitions.  We posed the following question to each:

How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

Fred Birchman:

When I was told of the idea, my main thought was how can I make it interesting? I immediately thought of it falling, not only did it give me the opportunity to view it from different sides, but also I got to draw it three times! It is also difficult for me to separate most forms from their context. So rather than doing so, I decided to write out the running dialogue that usually occupies my brain whilst I’m making something. That way it becomes MY drawing and MY white cup. Thanks for including me in the show. Now I’m going to go get some coffee….

Kimberly Clark

This was a real challenge for me.  I procrastinated as long as I possibly could.  Though my work is rooted in observation, the idea of setting up a white cup seemed very far removed from where the inspiration from my work comes. In the end, I became interested in how I would, and if I could, make a painting of a white cup that had space and air around it.  Of the two paintings that are included in the exhibition, I had a difficult time letting go of the oil painting.  I painted it again and again, sanding it down and painting it again.  I kept getting pulled back into the painting, because something was missing.  I’m not sure if I ever found what that was, perhaps that needs to be answered in another painting…

Evelyn Woods

I got pretty excited when I first heard of the white cup invitational show.  It got my brain to working up ideas for how I could paint a simple white cup but make it visually interesting. So much so that there are still around 20 more paintings waiting to be explored.  This challenge also propelled me into doing something different with my work.  So that’s a good thing.  I also went back to using the camera to create the cup compositions, which not only freed up time but allowed me to edit before starting the painting.  In my previous drawings I worked directly from a composed still life set up in the studio.

“Observing Observing (a white cup): Kathy Liao”

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With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #23: Kathy Liao

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1. How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

Charles Hawthrone, on the subject of Still Life, quoted “There is nothing in the world so helpful to a young painter as a study of white, if he will but be honest.” I was very excited when I found out the theme was “the white cup.” One of the assignments I gave to my painting students was to paint a white cup or object. The parameter was to only paint with neutral tones mixed out of primary colors

Kathy Liao Demo for "Color for Painters" class at Gage Academy, Seattle, WA

Kathy Liao Demo for “Color for Painters” class at Gage Academy, Seattle, WA

The exercise was always a challenge for the students, and they either loved it or hated it. However, this assignment was usually an eye opener for the students. It not only demanded the students to discern warm and cool temperatures of color, but also challenged them to really see the infinite colors perceived within a deceivingly simple white object against a white background. Observation is KEY. When I started out to tackle this theme, I was drunk off of an art-viewing high from having visited the In the Studio exhibition, curated by John Elderfield at the Gagosian in New York. The exhibit highlighted works by the pantheon of masters, including Thomas Eakins, Jean-Leon Gerome, Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Giacometti, using their studio as a point of departure for their work. I marveled at the incredible daylight commanding its way into Matisse little attic studio in L’Atelier sous les toits and the colors that were teased out of the shadows of the dark studio. In Diebenkorn’s, Untitled (Studio Interior), with his detached but brutally honest observation of the observed composition in front of him, Diebenkorn painted a folding chair in front of a wall with his own works on paper. I loved the playfulness and the scrutiny in which painters responded to their inspirations and the legacy it implied. In Larry River’s The Wall, the viewers could tease out Vuillard, Picasso, and an upside-down Matisse poster. Braque’s Atelier VIII is a lyrical composite of the cornucopia of objects in his studio. The artists’ works were honest and direct responses to their environment.

Using the white cup as the protagonist, I completed a series of studies and paintings during my residency at the Brushcreek Ranch Art Foundation. The white cup, very much like the artist (myself), was influenced by and altered in response to its surrounding. The nature of the white porcelain picked up and distorted the color, the light and shadow, and the geometry of its surrounding. The name of the game was to record its brilliant mirage and, in turn, how it transformed the space in which it occupied. I had a lot of fun taking the cup for a “walk” around the studio. I was allowed to observe my studio environment from a new perspective, through the scale and the reflection of the little white cup.

2. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?

I am currently teaching at Missouri Western State University as an Assistant Professor. I am lucky because I absolutely love teaching.

3. When did you consider yourself an artist?

When I realized most of the decisions I make in life, from taking up that first part-time jobs out of school, the teaching gigs, the places I travel and move to, the books and objects I buy, to every whim and curiosity I follow and pursue, are all for that next ten thousand works I’ll be making. Everything I do, I realized, is to allow me to continue to make work, to never stop doing what I’m doing now.

4. What are your influences?

Most recently, see 1. Otherwise countless to name.

5. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?

I was fortunate to have a studio/office provided by the university. Tall ceiling and a window view. I could always use a bigger studio, but I’m making this home now.

6. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?

Music, audiobooks, NPR. I need background noises to get me going. I teach a lot so time management is key. If I were lucky, I could squeeze in 6-8 hours in the studio on a busy week. Of course, there are the burst of productivity and sleep deprived weeks before a show deadline. But honestly, I am most productive at artist residency, with an uninterrupted period of time to work.

7. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

Yes, I work on several paintings at the same time. I also like to work in different mediums. I would often start with a painting or a drawing, hash out ideas and variations through printmaking, which might branch off to completely new projects.

8. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?

I love working with and thinking through collage. It allows me to focus on shapes, colors, texture, and the existing but unexpected marks of found and pre-made materials. The process removes me from “painting” the named object, and allow me to simply observe and record what is in front me, one shaped piece at a time.

9. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I will admit, between teaching and studio practice, this last year (my first year at a full-time teaching position), I had no life whatsoever. I hope this next will be better. I recently moved to Kansas City and I’m hoping to dive into the art scene there. Other than that, I do travel a lot, for work and for pleasure.

“Observing Observing (a white cup): Robert Schlegel”

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #20: Robert Schlegel

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1. How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

I don’t do a lot of still life work. I like the idea of a challenge and this seemed to be a good one to attempt. At first it seemed somewhat simple but once started the magnitude of the complexities multiplied. Formal white cup, informal white cup. Representational white cup. I eventually decided on paper cup that morphed into a more formal pottery white cup.

2. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?

I consider myself a full time artist .

3. When did you consider yourself an artist?

In 1977 I was selected by Wayne Thiebaud for inclusion into the Artists of Oregon show at the Portland Art Museum and it was with that validation that I realized I may become an artist.

4. What are your influences?

Cezanne, Matisse, Winslow Homer, Schwitters, Fauves, Morandi, Hopper, Wyeth, Bay Area Figurative artists. I am influenced by the rural and city landscapes, especially the architectural intrusions into these landscapes.

5. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?

I share a three bedroom ranch house with my brother, a print maker/painter. The house is about 1500 square feet. We each have a painting space and share a print making room. We use shop lights in makeshift tracks for our lighting. We are in the woods in the coast range in Oregon.

6. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?

The days in the studio vary depending upon the work that needs to be completed. Stretching and preparing canvas and preparing frames occupy some of my time. I begin work in the studio around midday and often go until midnight. I enjoy the solidtude that evening brings as it seems to enhance my ability to create, especially when painting. I typically like to work from sketches done in the field. I transfer these sketches on compositions on canvas, panels, found and archival paper. I listen to music most of the time, jazz, classical and have an ipod shuffle of albums. I’ve listened to Springsteen’s “Live in Dublin” more times than I can count.

7. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

I work on several projects at a time. For two dimensional work I primarily use acrylic and frequently used other mediums, i.e. charcoal, paper, text.. I paint on found papers and paint over pages of books. Recently I have been engaged in fabric and paper mache and found object sculpture.

8. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?

Sticks and putty knives for scraping and mark making, spritz with water, rags to wipe, old brushes that can slop on paint, meshed bags to create texture. For sculpture work I use mostly found objects, pencils, wire, reclaimed wood, paper mache, cloth, screws, nails 9. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job? I enjoy reading, restaurants, walking and trolleys in Portland. The Oregon coast. Camping. Traveling.

“Fred Birchman: Reclamation Projects”

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

Fred Birchman & Carolyn Krieg share the gallery space May 9 – June 20, 2015

Reception for both artists, May 9th, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #6: Fred Birchman

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1. Are you a full time artist, if not how do you support your art?

Until recently I was doing graphic design full-time for msnbc/NBC news. I’d get up at 4:30 a.m. to get in a few hours in the studio each day. Now I forage for nuts and berries and head to the studio at a reasonable time after breakfast.

2. When did you consider yourself an artist?

I think it was about my third year in college that I started to make art seriously. But it wasn’t until a year or so after college that it really sunk in that this was going to be a life long thing. When I had to figure out when and how I was going to make art amongst all the day-to-day stuff and it didn’t discourage me, that’s when I knew. It seemed like that would have been a good time to bail, but I didn’t.

3. What are your influences?

I had a couple of pretty strong college profs that made a big impression. Tom Schlotterback taught me how to draw and R. Allen Jensen taught me that I had to go to the studio everyday. Of course there are all the artists like Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, William Wiley, Ed Keinholz and Llynn Foulkes that I stole from…I really dug the “Cool School” guys from L.A.!

4. How big is your studio, what kind of lighting?

It’s about 290 sq.ft. (damn, that sounds small). It was built over our garage. The ceiling is about 25 ft at the point so it makes it seems a lot bigger. Maybe I should install a trapeze? I have incandescent cans on tracks. AND a big window.

5. What is a typical day in the studio like for you? Do you listen to music, radio or tv in your studio?

I usually take up where I left off the following day. Finish up a drawing and leave it hanging to glance at while I start something else. Sometimes I’ll make adjustments or fuss a bit. After a few days if I haven’t gone back into it, I’ll take it down and consider it done. I listen to NPR mostly, but occasionally I’ll put on some jazz or Neil Young. I drink a lot of coffee while I work.

6. What is your preferred medium? Do you work on one project at a time or several?

Drawing with whatever device strikes me at the time. I usually take up where I left off the following day. Finish up a drawing and leave it hanging to glance at while I start something else. Sometimes I’ll make adjustments or fuss a bit. After a few days if I haven’t gone back into it, I’ll take it down and consider it done.

7. Do you have any special or unique tools, devices or process that you use in your art making?

Nothing special. But I do believe that you have to make yourself available to making art. Go to the studio every day. If my brain is empty, I’ll start sweeping, cleaning up arranging, whatever…and before I reaIise it I’m onto something. There’s something about being in the studio that just gets you going.

8. What do you do outside the studio, aside from a job?

I enjoy cooking and my wife, Robin and I usually have folks over a couple of nights a week for dinner and wine. And we travel when we can. I don’t hang around other visual artists too much, but I have a lot of friends that are other things like builders, architects, writers, mechanics, etc. Mostly they are just great folks who inspire me and keep me curious.