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Entries from February 2010

Out of the Mainstream: Brooklyn meets Portland….Week 4: Dan-ah Kim

February 28th, 2010 · 5 Comments

This week’s Brooklyn artist, Dan-ah Kim, was born in Korea and attended local design powerhouse, Pratt Institute. Besides working as an artist and designer, Dan-ah also does freelance work in film. In March, Kim will be in Year of the Tiger, a group show at funky Los Angeles gallery, GR2. Dan-ah lived in Mexico, LA, New Orleans and Florida before settling in Brooklyn seven years ago.

How would you describe your work?

Narrative, slightly surreal experiences and adventures that are interested in exploring the world.  Whether the character in a piece is lonely, mischievous, or dreaming, I’d hope the emotion comes across as honest.

What are, in your opinion, the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

Staying focused on creating genuine work without giving in to a successful formula, especially in years where it is such a struggle to make a living as an artist.  It’s hard to not put your own self worth into how well received your personal work is, but to do so is a dangerous hole to fall into.  For me balancing artmaking with the rest of my life has always been tricky- Once I get into that place in my head I get careless about everything else.

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

There are some pieces I’m particularly fond of.  Ones that were a struggle to get through, or ones that started evolving my work into something a little different.  I’m always very happy to be part of a film crew and proud of our sets.

Tell us about the biggest risk you’ve done taken as an artist.

To be honest that’s something I need to work on-  Other than moving to New York deciding to be an artist feeling like it was such the risk, I could use some getting out of my comfort zone as an artist and experimenting more.

What do you love most about Brooklyn?

I love how Brooklyn is its own experience.  The buildings, places to eat and drink, parks, interactions on the streets, cats in backyards, everything contributes to the energy and lifestyle that’s particular to here.  And the bad days, weather, moments make the good ones that much sweeter.  It’s balanced yet always changing.  Manhattan and all of it’s perks are close by, but people who live here seem to have a special affection and pride in calling Brooklyn home.

What makes Brooklyn such a great place for independent art?

Everyone is seeking an alternative lifestyle.  There are so many creative people here and everyone’s got a story.  You feel supported and surrounded by people just as strange as you.  There are endless resources and venues to see various forms of art, and Brooklyn itself always inspires just with its scenery and characters.

This week’s Portland artist is crafter, Stephanie Congdon-Barnes, who you may know from her 3191 project with Maria Vettesse. Check out Stephanie’s interview and lovely photos here.

Picks of the Week: photography!

February 26th, 2010 · No Comments

This week’s theme is photography, an area I am admittedly still learning to navigate. One of the tough questions when buying photography is whether the artist intends to sell additional prints and how that affects the long-term value of the photograph. When you buy an original painting or drawing, you own the only “original,” but this is rarely the case when buying a photograph. In overly-simplified terms, the more copies of the photograph sold or made available, the less valuable your photograph is. Therefore, if you’re looking to purchase a single-copy or very limited edition, you should expect to pay much more.

Putting aside the question of retained value, the fact that photographs come in editions is also one of it’s strengths: photographs can be produced in a variety of sizes, and therefore, prices. Keep in mind that many photographers accept requests for alternate sizing.

Picks are from 20×200, etsy and print society.

Media Mash-up: Manfred Naescher’s Film-inspired Watercolors

February 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

I’m thrilled to present the work and interview of Berlin designer, Manfred Naescher. Manfred is originally from Liechtenstein and attended art school at Emily Carr and RISD before settling in Berlin. He has a host of amazing personal projects, including the zines below: The Endless Summer, Fighting and Conte de Printemps, inspired by the eponymous films. What I admire most about Manfred’s work is that his watercolors are peppered with modern themes such as ambiguity, ugliness, rage and joy, all while depicted in such a traditional medium. Naescher’s zines are available here. Contact the artist for inquiries about originals.

How did you get into art? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist/illustrator?

I started art school at the ripe age of 29. Before that I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life because I had a serious interest in many things, like music, writing, linguistics, literature, comics… So I took a lot of time to acquire an odd variety of skills and knowlegde, without mastering anything really, except how not to enter a traditional career path. I was a radio and TV show host in Liechtenstein, worked at a newspaper, played in bands…

I did draw a lot as a child, and I never really stopped drawing, so in that respect I got into art in a somewhat conventional way. I made multi-page comics and wrote stories as a preteen in the 80s that I stapled together (zines, really, but I didn’t know that then). I made posters, flyers and other kinds of design for punk bands as a teenager and in my twenties. I later was a university newspaper cartoonist, and, to make a long story short, that job lead me to the Emily Carr Institue of Art and Design (now Emily Carr University), from which I graduated as a designer. I also did an exchange semester at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Your zines are inspired by movie stills. Why movies? Are you a film buff?

I’m interested in film as a visual language and as a vehicle for storytelling, and some filmmakers have simply created evocative imagery that I’m drawn to, or situations or moments that speak to me. If I’d be forced to decide on a favorite art form, it would probably have to be film. My film knowledge is pretty fragmented, so I’m certainly not a well-rounded film buff, if I’m one at all.

I do have some favorite directors, periods and genres, but preferences are always shifting, and I don’t want to fetishize films, I just want to be engaged and inspired by them. Having said that, current favorites would be early French New Wave films (especially Truffaut), Film Noir, Hitchcock, Lang, Jacques Tourneur, Vittorio de Seta (not to be confused with Vittorio de Sica, who’s also great!), Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Eric Rohmer, just kind of the regular cinephile canon, mostly films from around 1920 to around 1960. As for new films, I totally enjoy big popcorn movies like “2012” on their own terms, or films by Gus van Sant or the Coen Brothers, and I thought “My Winnipeg” by Guy Maddin was one of the best films of the past few years. I’ve recently discovered the work of Owen Land, and particularly his film “Dialogues” (2007-9) made an impression on me. I also like the social aspect of watching movies together. I’ve run film clubs in the past, and right now I run a private bi-weekly film club that only shows french noirs, mostly from the 50s. (more…)

Artist Crush: Pia Bramley

February 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

Pia Bramley‘s work is marked by a deliberate simplicity that belies its startling beauty and uncanny depiction of people in everyday activity. Her work is packed with so many telling details, imperfections that reveal much about these people on an intensely human level. It’s what I love about this kind of humble art.

Out of the Mainstream: Brooklyn meets Portland….. Week 2: India Richer

February 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

India Richer: fine artist and decorative finisher based in Brooklyn, NY. India was actually born in Brooklyn and grew up mostly in nearby Queens. She’s been back in Brooklyn since 1993.

What are, in your opinion, the greatest challenges of being an artist today?

I can’t speak for other artists but staying focused can be one of the most difficult things for me these days. Other people’s images, ideas and perspectives can scatter my concentration and the internet has created a culture where turning on the computer can become a habit that fills the place of creativity with the immediate gratification of distraction. The most gratifying work for me to make is that in which I can see the both the struggle that I went through to create the experiences that I’m expressing, and the struggle to get it down on paper in a pure way. I can always make pretty images but it’s challenging to really focus and make something that feels meaningful to me.

In a more general way it seems to me that art is looking for it’s place and purpose in society. Artists are going down increasingly divergent paths and the idea of art and what it is and what it’s for is becoming increasingly fragmented. There is more opportunity than ever to choose from a huge variety of possible mediums and types of art and the question seems to arise “what is the purpose of art and why are we making it?” It’s challenging to forget all these questions and simply make the work that I want to make because I feel compelled to do it, and let the meaning and purpose, if there is going to be one, come later.

What accomplishments/works of art are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the times when my work has acted like a thread of understanding between me and a viewer. It doesn’t happen very often but every once in a while I will hear from someone who feels a piece in such a resonant and compelling way that they write to me and tell me how it has touched them. For me this is what makes sharing my work worthwhile.

I really don’t care if I get notoriety or ever sell anything (though those things are nice too). I just like the thought that I can speak to and connect with people in a wordless way, and that what I have to say is available in my work for discovery to those who might be looking for it.

What do you love most about Brooklyn?

The little stories that can be seen when you shift to micro focus. A green patch of moss growing in a vacant lot full of construction debris is more beautiful to me than a field of flowers because there’s an idea of motion there; the sense that a story that goes beyond mere beauty is unfolding and something unexpected could happen.

There’s something very poignant to me about nature’s unwillingness to quit even in the face of a concrete world. I like that intrepid spirit and the tenuousness space that it can create between harsh and gritty, delicate and vulnerable. Living in Brooklyn offers constant reminders that soft and hard, dark and light can coexist and magnify each other through their contrast.

Check out this week’s Portland artist, Michelle Ramin, on Habit of Art.

As part of the artist interview series, we are inviting readers to participate in a dialogue about the Portland and Brooklyn art communities.  This week’s question:

Do you think it’s harder for artists to make a living in a small city or a big city?

Picks of the Week- Flickr Favs IV

February 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments

Bringing you some of my new favorites from Flickr. Full list here. For availability please contact artists directly.