DRAWN IN: TOBIAS TOVERA
Tobias Tovera (Oakland, CA) is a sculptor by trade-- earning a BFA in the practice at California College of the Arts; he has studied with the mfa program at San Francisco Arts' Institute. tovera's current series is a study in alchemy in the truest sense of the word: turing "base" materials into "noble" materials.
Sourcing mineralized salt from the flats of the South Bay; water from the San Francisco Bay and local rivers-- Tovera transmutes these humble materials into truly unique art through experimental, self-taught alchemy.
Writes local arts critic Bill Sasser for Art Voices Magazine:
"Poured horizontally in multiple layers on wood panels coated with iron oxide, chemical interactions between various elements spontaneously create his colors through oxidation. Variable rates of evaporation and different patterns of crystallization and oxidation create layered graduations of texture, color, and space. A single painting may take six months to complete, becoming a topography of the passage of time. "
The resultant works are evocative of the natural. Each color is a result of a chemical reaction with the solvant, salt, or chemical with the iron; enhanced through the addition of fire.
Ari Rudenko + Tobias Tovera + Denise Susanne Townsend
Thursday, June 1st to June 8th
ABOUT THE ARTIST: TOBIAS TOVERA
Tobias Tovera is an American visual artist recognized for his work in painting and the sensory surrounds of his multi-media installations. Tovera was born in Sacramento, California and studied at the California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute.
His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States and Europe, and is part of numerous private, public, and corporate collections. Using the concept of time as a foundation, Tovera’s studio practice explores energy systems, finding new dimensions in his materials as they metamorphose from one form to the next.
The conception of his work was inspired by alchemy, medicine, and the primordial formations of living matter. From the chemistry of water reacting with minerals to a magic that reaches beyond science, Tovera’s work examines opposing elements such as nature and artifice, chaos and order, to reveal how they interact, transform, or propel each other.
Tovera states, “I want my art to spark connection with nature and through process and alchemy, create a visual form that liberates both an intimate as well as an unknown aspect of the cosmos.” During the course of his career Tovera has developed two bodies of work in painting and a series of multi-media installations.
His new work investigates the interplay between his paintings and his installations and how they inform each other. Tobias lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area of California and is the founder of the Ark Project, an international artist residency program. He has been awarded with residencies at the Performance Art Institute, Root Division, and Local Language Art and has been published in Studio Journal Knock, Studio Visit, and Art Voices Magazine.
'We expect art to give us a sense of connection to the world and ourselves. We expect nature to give us the same thing. Tovera’s work, in its embrace of entropy and fluidity, its references to and imitation of the natural world, plays on this parallel set of expectations. Are his paintings nature or art? Maybe they are both.'
DRAWN IN: RUSS WAGNER
A work of art can truly compel us, when an artist inspires us to see something familiar in a new and different way. Artist Russ Wagner, whose career in financial sales brought him around the world, has combined the techniques of masters to create dazzling, saturated portraits of a dreamlike San Francisco.
as an function of wagner's career as a successful financial salesman, wagner traveled the world, visiting museums and absorbing international arts and culture. In his travels, he encountered two artists whose work inspired him above all others: Vincent Van Gogh, and Edward Hopper.
To inquire about this piece:
Text: 408 - 909 - JCOS
From Van Gogh, Wagner was inspired by a saturated color palette. The Impressionist tendency to capture a moment in time. "I am inspired by movement, strong color and candid interactions between people and their environment. Capturing that one small moment in time that holds so much emotion," says Wagner.
ABOUT RUSS WAGNER
Russ Wagner has been painting for over 15 years and resides in
Pt. Richmond California. Known for his bright, fauve-influenced use of color, Wagner paints the "unseen" colors he perceives in both interior and outdoor scenes.
His unique brushstroke and warm color palette evokes a sense
of motion and passion. Wagner's oil paintings, inspired by years of studying the Masters including Hopper and van Gogh, capture the vitality of life.
His current exhibits focus on San Francisco cityscapes and
historic streetcars. "I am inspired by movement, strong color and candid interactions between people and their environment.
Capturing that one small moment in time that holds so much
emotion," says Wagner.
Wagner's sense of craft can be seen in his exacting choice of
canvas and high-quality paints. His work is divided between
commissioned pieces, for which he works with his clients to develop
the subject and theme, as well as a variety of outdoor and candid scenes.
Wagner received a bachelor's degree in finance from
Arizona State University in 1987. After a successful career in
financial sales, Wagner chose to devote his time to his true passion
of painting life in motion.
DENIAL // ONCE YOU POP.... // on view through feb. 6TH
DENIAL (Daniel Bombardier) is a Canadian artist whose work critiques consumerism and the human condition.
THOUGH BASED IN WINDSOR ONTARIO, DENIAL SPENDS MUCH OF THE YEAR TRAVELING AND EXHIBITING THROUGHOUT CANADA AND USA, HAVING DONE SOLO SHOWS IN LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO, NEW YORK, TORONTO AND VANCOUVER.
In 2000 he adopted the moniker ‘DENIAL’ as a means of poking fun at advertising, politics and media messages that contemporary society is often ‘in denial’ about.
Intended as a conceptual means of marketing absurdism, DENIAL also challenges traditional notions of graffiti and public art through his bold and often satirical visual subversions.
In these images I play and interact with different selves, enacting characters I never fully identified with through self-portraiture. For me this work conjures themes of vulnerability, the feminine, transitory states, dreams, death and rebirth.Read More
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Artist, Ray Phillips has always held a passion for creating art. Like many artists, Ray's artistic journey began as a young child; covering every scrap of paper and blank space available to him with his drawing. Quickly, it become evident to his mother, that Ray's desire to create was insatiable and required a direction. She sacrificed, supported and encouraged him to cultivate his talents by enrolling him in the prestigious Houston Museum of Fine Art School, now named the Glassell School of Art. Through this opportunity of study, Ray learned the fundamentals of art, an education that would continue throughout his life and lead to a professional career in design and music.
As an adult, Ray focused his artistic attention on graphic design and music; playing in a band at night and creating ad campaigns, posters, t-shirts, logos and branding for a long list of clients by day. Design and music created a challenging puzzle that was stimulating and interesting for Ray and he soon rose to become a partner/ creative director of a design and marketing firm in Houston, Texas; yet the longing to create fine art was still present. He soon learned that no experience or turn in the road in his journey was a wasted effort and began creating fine art in the evenings, integrating the skills and techniques he learned as a designer.
Ray's work has evolved into an amalgam of typography, abstract composition, collage/ mixed media and hidden secrets. No one painting begins as a manic expression with the stoke of the brush; rather each piece is initiated in Ray's mind and translated to canvas. Ray's work is as much an intellectual pursuit as creative endeavor, as evident when he speaks about his work.
"Enough is never enough. Each piece is like a series of small battles - something to overcome in anongoing effort to please myself. The creative process is sometimes very exhausting, unlike the interpretation some have that it's always therapeutic with ideas just flying onto the canvas".
"I often feel completely spent after finishing a piece."
Michael Babyak // WHERE THE GAME BEGINSRead More
THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE (1937)
Since it opened to traffic in May of 1937, the world has had a love affair with the Golden Gate Bridge. Built during the Depression, this man made monument, demonstrating the strength and determination of the human spirit, has fascinated many with its awesome size and beauty. The construction of this bridge across San Francisco’s Golden Gate sought to defy nature itself. In addition to an earthquake in 1935, workers fought against the rough waters of the open sea as well as constant wind, which could reach up to 70 miles per hour. Yet, they prevailed, and upon its completion, the Golden Gate Bridge, reaching a complete span of 4,200 feet, was the largest suspension bridge ever built in its time.
THE PEDESTRIAN HANDRAIL (1937 – 1993)
Over the years, the Bridge's maintenance mostly consisted of constant repainting in order to preserve its overall beauty and the steel's integrity. However, after 56 years, the severe winds and salt air of the open ocean had begun to deteriorate and compromise portions of the pedestrian handrail. So in 1993, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District replaced a significant amount of the pedestrian handrail, which the Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co. later acquired.
A PASSION AND AN IDEA (1994)
One afternoon in 1994, a San Francisco television station did a news story on the fate of the Golden Gate Bridge steel that was removed during the handrail replacement in 1993. Richard Bulan, who was born in San Francisco and raised in the Bay Area, thought it would be great to have a headboard made from the historical steel. Through perseverance, he managed to track down the name of the contractor and get a section of the approximately 12-foot long, 1000 pound handrail to his home. He then spent over a month cutting and grinding down the section of handrail, until he had not only crafted one headboard, but also three more just like it. When friends began expressing interest in purchasing the headboards, Richard realized the potential market and the Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co. was born.
GOLDEN GATE DESIGN & FURNITURE (1994)
From the Bridge’s original 1930’s handrail, the Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co. has created a line of unique collector’s edition furniture that captures the historical spirit and style of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Therefore, you no longer have to settle for mere pictures or trinkets to represent this engineering marvel. The Golden Gate Design & Furniture Co. now allows you to make this breathtaking monument a part of your home or office in both a functional and artistic way.
FROM THE ARCHIVES • WILL MARINO /// DARTBOARD ART
WILL MARINO is a Connecticut-born, Santa Cruz-based recycled materials artist. His work has been featured in the JCO'S group exhibition “Viewing Nature Through Art", an eclectic study of flora and fauna curated by Julie Jenkins. His work has been widely exhibited throughout California, and is featured in the permanent collection of NBC Studios (Studio City, CA).
Here, we explore Marino’s new works, made of unwound paper dartboards, currently in the archives at JCO’s Place.
AT FIRST GLANCE, Will Marino's swirling, snaking forms appear natural and somehow inevitable. Gentle swirls in pale colors edge up against each other, referencing the natural movement of wind and water-- as shown here, in Marino's Beekeeper's Series.
And yet, as explored in JCO'S Art Blog post, INSIDE THE STUDIO WITH WILL MARINO, the process behind these pieces is multilayered and complex. The source material--machine-made paper dartboards--is inorganic and painstakingly extracted. Buried beneath the painted surface of the dartboard are rings of wound paper, which are extracted by the artist and carefully pulled apart into long strips of paper.
Yards and yards of paper ribbon are yielded by a single dartboard, each strip colored along the edges, evidence of it's former life as a dive bar / man cave staple. This process is repeated time and time again, the parsing apart, the un-winding, the re-winding... A sense of repetition, reflected in the artist's process, in the media used.
Each intervention the artist makes into the dartboard provides another layer of abstraction and distance from its original source material
Here, by reducing his color palette to simple black and white, Marino places an emphasis is placed on pattern and rhythm.
SIDEWALK SALE! JEFF OWEN // NOIR
ABOUT THE ARTIST
My sculptures combine the past and the present.
I have a deep affinity toward the materials I work with, a wonderful sense of emotion, feelings, and dreams for what the material was once used for and now what it will become in my hands. These feelings direct me on my path.
My processes emerge with patterns. Taking one piece of steel, adding to it, deleting from it, constantly discovering the metal’s unique appeal. When a sculpture encompasses all of my creative energy, it is finished.
My technique is brute force, decide-at-the-moment. The interesting shapes of metal; the patterns, textures, and grains; all entice me. I am fascinated with form.
My aspiration is to create sculpture that is completely unique; that no one has done before. I resist conformity and mass production.
My art is as individual as I am.
- JEFF OWEN
Monte Sereno artisan Ron Oburn creates custom designed, upcycled license plate guitars... A lighthearted blend of kitsch and nostalgia.
And this one brings new meaning to the Golden State Warrior's rally cry: STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.
On the head:
Steph Curry's #30
2015 World Champions #15
Harrson Barnes, #40
Steph Curry, #30
Andre Iguodala, #9
Klay Thompson, #11
Draymond Green, #23
Along the outsides of the body, the years of the Warriors' World Championship wins: 1947, 1956, 1995, 2015
A perfect gift for your dad or grad, to commemorate this record-shattering season.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS GUITAR is currently on view on JCO'S Place.
MEET AMERICA'S POP ARTIST, JOHN STANGO
When it comes to America and art, John Stango wears his heart on his sleeve, and on his paint splattered pants and shoes, as he puts in a full day at the office – his paint-speckled studio on Philadelphia’s south side
“I love America and I love life as an entertainer,” says Stango, as he swipes broad strokes of bright blue and black acrylic paint on a giant canvas featuring his latest renditions of starlets Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. “I’m a painter who’s a lot like a standup comedian with a brush,” Stango explains. “The more in your face my paintings are, the better.”
His in-your-face, testosterone-fueled style was fostered during the formative years, when he was the perennial class clown with a natural quick wit. Now it’s his explosive color palette that lures the audience in before he delivers the punchline with the signature detail, and clever whimsy of his paintings.
The influences of pop art greats Andy Warhol, Peter Max, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and LeRoy Neiman are evident in John’s masterful work that captures iconic pop figures like only Stango can. “I really dig the whole vibe around Andy Warhol,” Stango noted. “Warhol was one of the biggest American artists of all time, and certainly one of the biggest influences on me and my brand of pop art.”
Stango uses a unique combination of hand silk screening, intense brush strokes and explosions of color to create his distinctive and highly sought after paintings. His subjects range from Hollywood and political icons to sports heroes and a new spin on Americana. His iconic concept pieces that showcase some of John’s most imaginative work feature sexy bombshells, designer logos and cultural imagery in clever, one-of-a-kind compositions. “Who else paints flowers growing from a can of baked beans,” Stango mused. “I’m not always sure where it all comes from, but the goal is to make people smile.”
Stango didn’t start painting seriously until his early twenties. He excelled at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and he would later discover that art is literally in his blood. The artistic talents John and his late mother, Frances Elaine Rockwell, shared could be traced back to a cousin – famed American artist Norman Rockwell. “My mother was such a great painter, but she never had a chance to pursue an art career and never really talked much about our Rockwell family ties,” John explained. “I’m proud to be part of keeping a family tradition and legacy alive.”
REFLECTING ON ROCKWELL
As John Stango sees it, Norman Rockwell was the Andy Warhol of his time. Magazine covers were the Internet of the 1940s through the 1970s and for nearly 60 years Norman Rockwell created hundreds of cover paintings for top magazines like the Saturday Evening Post. Rockwell considered magazines to be the “greatest show window in America.” Stango and artists today have a split-second window to make a big impression with their work, competing for eyeballs with films, television shows and a constant barrage of online imagery.
“My paintings should grab people by their shirt,” says Stango. “And I really think my work would stop Norman Rockwell in his tracks. I have no doubt he would dig these paintings.” If Stango’s cable guy is any indication, his pop art has struck a chord with the masses. “Our cable guy came over to connect my service and just stopped and stood there in front of one of my paintings on the wall,” John recalled. “I said, ‘Hey the TV’s over here’, and he said, ‘Wow, this painting is so cool.’ He lost himself in that painting for a while,” Stango said with a chuckle. “That’s the kind of reaction I’m getting from celebrities, politicians, and just about everyone who sees these paintings.”
Stango is a hardworking artist, a prolific painter much like Warhol and Rockwell were. As a result, his work is in more than a dozen galleries and hundreds of homes and businesses across the U.S. He refuses to take shortcuts, as evidenced by the handmade, hand-pulled silkscreen imagery that has become a trademark of John’s cutting-edge pop pieces.
STANGO'S WORK WILL BE ON VIEW AT JCO'S PLACE THROUGH APRIL 10TH
Russ Wagner's Pt. Richmond studio is nearly as colorful as his warm, textured canvasses.
The artist uses a variety of brushes and a palette knife to create heavily textured works, inspired by Impressionist masters like Monet and van Gogh.
Wagner achieves his signature luminosity by creating densely layered paintings. The underpainting creates a saturated canvas that sets off the final colors. Applying paint with a palette knife creates textured edges and bold swaths of color.
A final archival layer of lacquer, applied once the thick oil paint has dried, will protect the carefully-engineered colors from fading with time.
"These paintings will look as good in thirty years as they do they day I finish painting them." - Russ Wagner
We asked Deanna Fainelli, mixed media urban artist, and Emily Weil, large-scale abstract painter, what practicing art means to them.
Each of these artists prioritizes creativity in their own lives, by listening to that voice that drives them to MAKE.
Emily Weil inhabits "The Zone," that quiet, inner creative space where expression and gesture proceed thought. Her swaths of unstretched canvas convey the fearlessness that comes from working straight from her gut. Acrylic, india ink, graphite crayon, and oil pencil become frenetic, emotive works.
Deanna Fainelli has indulged her wanderlust spirit in travels that have taken her around the world--through Asia, Europe, and across the United States. (Check out her August 2015 road trip to Cape Cod on Instagram @dfainelliart). By working with a combination of acrylic paint and image transfer, she manages to create compelling cityscapes that tell a story.
Artists, how do you prioritize creating in your own lives?
Q&A WITH RYAN, INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY AIMEE SANTOS
What themes do you explore in your work? Are there particular themes that interest you right now?
My work highlights blue-collar workers as hardworking heroes of our society. It honors their perseverance and loyalty in taking unglamorous jobs seriously and executing them with both incredible precision and an artistic touch. The dwindling appreciation that society yields to blue-collar workers is alarming, and through my work I attempt to elevate the status of all blue-collar workers in America.
Within this body of work I deal with a wide range of issues that connect labor, class, economics with my personal history and family. Using cast objects and construction materials that combine craftsmanship with symbolic irony, I am able to communicate my thoughts, ideas, and memories on themes of labor. I use my life’s experiences as a springboard for my ideas to develop and eventually deploy in both performance and gallery installation. Having worked as a landscaper, maintenance man, and construction worker, I have gained an appreciation for this select group of workers who comprise the engine that runs this great country.
Tell me about the medium(s) that you work in. What do you like about these mediums? What challenges you in working with these mediums?
I work in a wide range of mediums and my work ranges from cast metal objects, to performances, to clothing, to drawing with non-traditional materials. I believe that the piece should dictate the medium, because the materials used inform the concepts behind the work. Working in this interdisciplinary fashion often brings challenges in that I am constantly learning new techniques and the nuances of various materials, but this method of working is what excites me in the studio.
What is your ideal work environment? Do you need to shut yourself off from the world or are you inspired by music / people / environments around you?
One of the greatest parts of being an educator is being around the thoughts and ideas of your students. For much of my studio practice I enjoy working with and next to other people, exchanging energy and ideas. I do however always have projects that I am working on at home by myself, allowing me to have a more private studio experience. I guess in some ways I have found a balance that works well for me between being in a busy studio and a private workspace.
I know it can be hard for artists to part with their work. Is there a particular piece that you will never sell?
I don’t have a problem parting with my work as I see selling an art piece as a way of giving it another life. There are few things as rewarding as having someone like something that you have made so much that they want to live with it. I make-work because I have a deep internal need to, and if someone wants to purchase it, well, that is a bonus in this exploration that I am going through.
Rarely do I make art for myself, but I recently made a cast iron version of my late Grandfather’s hat. I think I’ll put that one on my shelf.
Did you always want to be an artist or is this something that you came to later on?
I grew up surrounded by creativity and handy work. My mother was a fiber artist, my father had a woodshop, and my brother and I were always encouraged to make things, and attend summer art camps.
That being said, I knew that I wanted to be an educator from an early age, I even joined the Future Teacher’s Club in sixth grade, but I was interested in teaching either biology or physics. All through high school I continued to take both art and science classes, and when I started college I took mostly science courses. I did however have one ceramics class and soon realized that I had a passion for the studio beyond my passion for the lab, and changed majors my sophomore year.
You teach art at San Jose State and Santa Clara University, so I imagine that you’ve spent a lot of time with new/emerging artists struggling to figure things out. What’s the one thing that you think a new artist needs to know?
To be an artist takes an incredible amount of dedication, drive, intelligence, craftsmanship, maturity, and pluck. The amebic like definition of what it means to be an artist is one that is constantly changing, and keeping up with scholarly research regarding contemporary art movements is extremely important. It isn’t so much that young artist’s work needs to always be at the forefront of the next movement, but rather to understand where they fit within the art continuum. It is this, as well as an uninhibited commitment to their studio practice that will allow them to find their voices as artists, and elevate their work beyond themselves.
The world is changing, and the next generation is going to be one that has more schooling and is more informed than ever before. The job market is going to be completely saturated with intelligent people, and what is going to set them apart is the power of creative problem solving. The skills and way of thinking garnished from being enrolled in art courses go well beyond the studio, and these are the lessons that will help shape the future of our society.
Will Marino is one of our newest artists at JCO'S Place, and is the inventor of repurposed dartboard art! His incredible work features an extremely unique, detailed, and laborious method that we've featured at length below. Even a small piece can take Will up to 80 hours to create!
Will starts with paper dartboards, he then smashes out the center to gain access to the paper strips that are contained within each layer. At this point, Will begins the long, arduous process of extracting the rings of wound paper and pulling them apart until he's reached the outer edge of the dartboard. After all of the rings of wound paper have been removed, he begins unwinding them into long strips that are similar in thickness to a brown paper bag. Once this step is complete, he is left with hundreds of ribbons of paper, whose edges show just the color and pattern from the original face of the dartboard.
Once the strips of paper within the dartboard are unwound, he begins the process of reshaping and rolling each ribbon into the exact shape, color, and pattern he envisions. As these ribbons are reassembled, intricate spirals and concentric circles emerge. We should note that there are no other materials involved in this process; the only color visible comes from the wedges, numbers, and text found on the original dartboard face.
After the various shapes are formed, he then tightly packs each shape on top of the rough sketch. He diligently matches each piece of rolled paper in order to create images that reference the movement and flow of water and air, as well as the sparkle and shimmer of the night sky.
It's an extremely intricate process of placing the pieces and filling in every nook and cranny of the design. These pieces are even more incredible in person, as the depth and dimension really comes across in a way that is not apparent in pictures. Seeing Marino's pieces in person are truly an experience; it takes seeing them in person to understand and appreciate the time and effort that went into each piece, especially on the scale that some of these works are. The artwork featured in this post, titled 'Shadow Dance, is 37.5" X 39" X 2.5".
Be sure to come into JCO'S Place from April 21st to May 17th to check out Will Marino's work during our Mother's Day show - Viewing Nature thru Art - along with Shannon Amidon, Jay Ruland, & Holly Van Hart. The work from this eclectic mix of artists is truly unique & really emanates nature's inherent beauty.
JCO'S Place: Fine Art | Los Gatos is located at 45 N. Santa Cruz Avenue, next door to the recently renovated Los Gatos Theatre.
WHO IS JEFF OWEN?
Jeff Owen is a nationally recognized metal sculptor. His sculptures express his emotions, concepts, dreams, and the patterns he sees in life. Owen’s sculptures have won awards at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s 39th National Juried Exhibition (2nd Place), the Carmel Sculpture in the Park State Juried Exhibition (First Place – Emerging Artist), Santa Clara Indoor Sculpture Exhibition, Los Gatos Art Association Member and Open Juried Exhibitions, invited to Golden Globes Gifting Suites, invited to bid on gift sculptures for the United States State Department G20 Summit, and many other events and exhibitions.
WHEN AND HOW DID JEFF BECOME AN ARTIST?
Mr. Owen’s “art” life began as a child sitting in the back seat of a 1957 Chevrolet with a drawing tablet, only the best from the art store, and his favorite #2 pencil. His mother would toss him and all of her drawing supplies into the car and drive all around town looking for interesting buildings, homes, or people to draw. Always on a busy street, cars whizzing by with all the noise that accompanies them; no matter, they were there to draw whatever was out the side window of the car. He’d say his drawings were never much to look at, but he always received tons of “that’s beautiful” or “I wish I could draw like that” from his mother.
WHAT SPARKED JEFF'S INTEREST IN METAL SCULPTURE?
Mr. Owen’s life as a metal sculptor began when he discovered a neglected oxy-acetylene torch set and a small welder in the back of his father-in-law’s garage. “What is that?” Jeff asked his father in law Chet. “Oh that, you wouldn’t know” Chet said. “That’s for welding metal.” Jeff persisted, “Can I have it? Are you going to use it?” Chet’s response, “What are you going to do with it? You don’t even know how to use it.” Finally after coaxing it off of him, Jeff brought the old torch set and welder back to San Jose and started creating. He has been addicted to metal welding ever since. Steel is the perfect media for Jeff Owen to express his emotions, dreams, and visions.
WHAT'S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I create my sculpture with the intention of creating artwork that has never been created before. I spend many hours each day in my studio arranging and rearranging pieces of metal into unique shapes – until I feel the sculpture “comes to life” on its own. I’ve often said that my sculptures create themselves; I am only there to assist them in this process. I work steadily, calmly, and passionately on each sculpture and each piece is a unique individual unto itself. I incorporate patterns into all of my sculpture. Taking one piece, adding to it, or deleting from it, then ending when the sculpture encompasses all of my creativity, this is what charges up my artistic energies. When my creative force is flowing, I work on a sculpture to completion. It is finished when the creative flow ends.
WHAT DO YOU ASPIRE TO CREATE WITH EACH PIECE?
I have been an artist all my life. I am fascinated with engineering and architecture. The shapes of metal, its patterns, textures and grains; all entice me to create. My aspiration is to create sculpture that is unique, something that no one has done before. I resist conformity and mass production. My art is as individual as I am. My sculptures are made from rough forms and strong characters that have passed through all polish and are back to nature - the rough again - transformed.
WHERE DO YOUR MATERIALS COME FROM?
My sculpture can come from the found discards in nature, from parts and pieces, assembled or monolithic, solid form, open form, lines of form, or, like a painting, the illusion of form.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
My artist’s language is the memory from sight. My art is made from dreams, and visions, and things not known, and least of all from things that can and cannot be said. It comes from the inside of who I am when I face myself. It is my inner declaration of purpose; it is a factor which determines my artist’s identity. Words can do little in explaining a work of art, let alone the position of the artist while in the creative irrational flow of power and force.
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN A PIECE IS FINISHED?
When I begin a sculpture I’m not always sure how it is going to end. In a way it may have a relationship to the work before, it is in continuity with the previous work—it often holds a promise or a gesture toward the one to follow. I do not often follow its path from a conceived drawing. If I have a strong feeling about its start, I do not need to know its end; the battle for solution, finish, end, is the most important. If the end of the work seems too complete and final, posing no question, I am apt to work back from the end that in its finality, poses the question and not the solution. When I start a sculpture it may be with only a realized part; the rest if travel, excitement, and realization to be unfolded, much in the order of a dream of quest.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SAY THROUGH YOUR WORK?
I do not seek answers. I do not think of what the work is for, except that it is made to be seen. I’ve made it because it comes closer to saying who I am than any other method I can use. This work is my identity. There are no words in my mind during its creation, and I’m certain words are not needed in its seeing. That is the marvel—to question but not to understand. Seeing is the true language of perception. Understanding is for words. As far as I am concerned, after I’ve made the work, I’ve said everything I can say.
Jeff Owen's work is available and on display now at JCO'S Place.
Gordon Smedt, a Los Gatos, CA native, is one of the artists represented by JCO'S Place. His work is heavily impacted by the influence of modern pop art, but his style develops from traditional impressionism and figurative painting. Gordon likes to take both ordinary and contemporary objects and, through painting them, gives them a new meaning and importance. His works are textured and layered, which he uses to "construct a visual patina" to compliment the nostalgic items that he paints. Painting only on a large scale, it has not only become Gordon's signature style, but he says that it is an integral part of the impact his pieces make on the viewer.
When did you decide to become an artist?
At age two when Mom placed my first abstract scribble up on the refrigerator.
Which step in creating a work of art is most difficult? Which is easiest?
For the most part, the entire process comes fairly easy tome. Years ago, creating a painting was much more difficult. Brushwork, color mixing, editing, were just a few of the things I would have to constantly think about and often struggle with. Painting now is very intuitive. Almost like the painting tells me what it needs.
The process of creating a painting is like a roller coaster. There are many ups & downs. I don't think I've ever created a painting where it didn't hit some rough lows, often a point where I'm thinking it was becoming a disaster. The most difficult step is fighting my way out of that dip, making it work, and getting it back on a high.
What is it about large-scale painting that appeals to you?
Using music as an analogy, if you love the song you crank up the volume.
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color can change daily, but it really depends on the context. What I like in the color of a shirt will probably be different than what I like on a car. In general, my favorite color was blue for most of my young life, but for some reason I think orange has taken its place. When it comes to my favorite color in a painting, it's the greys next to the standard colors that I find the most attractive.
Why is Superman a consistent theme that is seen in your works?
I'm sure growing up watching Superman has something to do with it, but probably on an unconscious level. Early in art school, I was a design/illustration major before I switched over to painting. I love graphics, especially iconic type & logos. The Superman logo stands fro everything good, powerful, and honest. I love mixing the iconic symbol with regular objects to give them a new identity.
What comes first: the inspiration from an object or the object of inspiration?
I think I understand this question, but the two alternatives seem like the same thing to me. If the questions is am I inspired when I see an object to then paint it? Or do I find inspiration to pain a certain object and then search to find it. I would say both, but usually I dream up an idea and then either create or search for the object to paint.
Which piece of yours is closest to your heart, and why?
A simple small painting of a chair.
During art school I went on a weekend trip to participate in a Southwest style painting workshop. We were supposed to paint a model dressed up like a Cavalry soldier on a horse with an American Indian woman in her full tribal dress standing next to him. We had about 4 hours to complete the painting while the sun moved, the wind blew, and the horse & models constantly shifted. I remember being frozen, staring at my empty canvas while having no interest in the subject matter in front of me. I pulled out a small 8" X 10" canvas board and walked around the area until I found a simple, old, metal chair standing alone in the grass. I painted the chair and napped for a few hours. When it came time to put up our art for critique, my chair drew all the attention from the other artists.
With that painting, in that moment. I learned that the completely simple and ordinary can become the most extraordinary.
You're known for building everything yourself - from your canvasses to your house - what drives your passion to do this?
I can't take credit for building everything myself. Though I was involved with every aspect of designing and building my home, I had a lot of help from some very talented friends & professionals.
I'm most often called "a painter," but give me a lump of clay, a block of wood, a camera, or anything else and I'll make art. I love to make stuff. I don't know if it's a genetic thing, or goes back to always playing with things like Legos as a kid, but I've always had a drive to make, build, create... Half the fun for me is researching and designing the project before I get started. Whether it's a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, or art studio, I love designing and building things that are fun, efficient, different, and aesthetically interesting.
In regard to building my own canvasses. This has got to be the least exciting part of my career. I only do it myself because when I'm inspired to make art, I hate waiting around for someone else to make me something.
When you are not painting, what do you do with your free time?
Work on my property or spend time with family & friends.
Do you have a favorite artist? Or mentor?
I've been inspired by many but do not have a favorite.
Has being a part of the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz Mountains community influenced your work in any way?
Not so much what or how I paint, but sometimes what I do with my art. I've learned that when you're in a community, that community can share your success. If an artist gives their work to their local schools, museums, and fundraisers, this will not only greatly benefit the community, but will also bring positive attention to the artist and their work.
How long have you lived in Los Gatos, and, where is your favorite place in Los Gatos?
I've been living here for about 22 years now.
My favorite place? Is this a trick question?
Sorry, my favorite place in the entire world is my home & property in the Los Gatos Mountains.
JCO'S Place is a strong runner-up!
If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
1. My family
2. My friends
3. The Rolling Stones