Sunday, October 25, 2009

Michael Brucks

Tell us about your work.

This new series of work started with the idea of creating a cult but without an ideology. As if someone was lost in a forest and accidentally stumbled upon some ancient, long-forgotten world rife with all its symbols, relics and artifacts but no understanding of what it meant. I loved that idea. I wish I could discover that world. Instead I made it myself!

What is your background? How did you get involved with art?
I'm from the suburbs. I went to Catholic schools my whole life. My older brother and I used to put on mock masses when we were little ones in the middle of the night. I loved cartoons on Saturday mornings. I once made a promise to god that I would NEVER give up my Saturday morning cartoons! Alas, I grew up and discovered girls. But I always loved to draw and create narratives. It's just in my blood. I had to do it.

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/ shows you'd like to discuss?
The new work had been planned to be exhibited by a not-for-profit organization called Gen Art. We had some problems but I love the people there and I really hope we can do the show together.

Is any of your work political?

No. I'm officially apolitical. So many people shouting "Obama this" and "Obama that". Do all these people truly believe their destiny lies in the hands of some random dude? My future belongs to me. Who cares who's president.

What themes does your work generally revolve around?
I remember watching Dustin Hoffman on "Inside the Actor's Studio" and he was telling a story of having dinner with Sir Lawrence Olivier. They had just finished filming "Marathon Man" together. Hoffman asked him "why do we do this?" and Olivier said, "you want to know why?" and then leaned over the table and stared him dead in the eye and whispered intensely "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!"

What materials do you generally work with?
Paper, Canvas, Wood, Oil, Acrylic and Charcoal. I love wood. I love cutting it. I love the smell of it.

Did you study art in school?
Yes. I too have one of those useless Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts! I met great people in school. School is a great place to strike up friendships and socially interact. But as a witty American writer once said, "never confuse your schooling with your education."

Have you held any jobs/ careers that you'd like to discuss?
I once heard that Bruce Willis said that he got laid more as a bartender than an actor. I was a bartender once.

Any amusing anecdotes regarding your work?
The nicest thing anyone said to me regarding my work was "you're fucking crazy! (dramatic pause) but in a good way."

What are you currently reading?

I found an old book publish in 1885 on "legerdemain" which is an old way of saying "sleight of hand." But I really just got it for the old instructional illustrations. I love those! But I don't read that often. I mostly just sit alone in my studio and stare at the wall or walk around and pretend things and talk to myself.

Favorite movies?
Braveheart, Apocalypto. I love strong archetypes and I don't think anyone does it better these days than Mel. I don't care what anyone says about him.

Trois Couleurs: Rouge, Bleu, Blanc. The late Krzysztof Kieslowski made this trilogy and he's amazing at creating these compelling, intimate moments that really hit me in the gut. They don't seem to have a clear logical explanation to them. I value the gut much more than the head. He's dead now, but he had guts!

Music you like:
Aphex Twin, Underworld, Marilyn Manson, Eminem, Old Metallica

What are some of your interests?
Close-up magic, filmmaking, languages, mimicking accents... especially strong Russian ones like Sean Connery did in "The Hunt For Red October."

Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels?
I used to love when Jae Lee did Sandman. I remember always hunting for anything that Bart Sears drew. I never read the stories though. But after finding out that "A History of Violence" was a graphic novel, I changed my mind! Great story! Great movie!

Favorite visual artists?
Luigi Serafini created a series of works called the Codex Seraphinianus. What an amazing idea!

If someone were to come to your town/ city to visit, what places/ bars/ parks/ events etc should they be sure to check out?
There is a tree growing in an alley way on Leavitt street (in the city of Chicago). I used to remember the crossroad but now I forget. But you should drive up and down Leavitt until you see this tree growing in an alley. It's magical!

Your website(s):

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ellie Brown Interview

For the record, please state your name, age and occupation. Ellie Brown, 34, Professor and Artist Marketing Consultant.

Tell us about your work. My primary medium was photography for many years, but now also work in altered books and mixed media. My subject matter varies, but always comes from a personal or documentary perspective. My largest project to date has been photographing my sisters for ten years which is now in a book called Two Girls: My Sisters 1996-2006.

What is your background? How did you get involved with art? I am from Boston and was raised by a mother who was an artist, so it seems that it was in my genes and I had no choice in the matter. I had always wanted to go to Massachusetts College of Art, and so I did and then later, I went to San Jose State for my MFA.

What are some of your goals and/ or plans? Currently my goal is to get my artist marketing business off of the ground. I would really be happy to teach, help other artists, make art and continue to exhibit actively.

You currently have a solo exhibition in NY? Yes, at Center for the Book Arts in NYC. It is up until Dec. 5th and I'm giving a talk about my work there on October 28th.

Have you held any jobs/ careers that you'd like to discuss? I have had some truly terrible jobs which I don't care to relive. Some of the best jobs I've had have been teaching at various colleges when I have a class where the students are engaged and I feel like I have actually taught them something.

Any amusing anecdotes regarding your work? In my collaborative work, Ten Days in the CAPSULE, I gained a strange degree of fame from people who were following the project and I have since become friends with some of them!

What are you currently reading? The Happiness of Architecture by Alain de Botton.

Favorite movies? The Graduate may just be at the top of my list for its humor and cinematography.

Playlist of a few favorite songs: Oh no, what genre? I was a DJ for many years so I always think in Genres. I'll give you a quick soul playlist since that was one of my favorite things to play.

  • Listen Here, Valorie Keys
  • Soul Time, Shirley Ellis
  • California Soul, Marlena Shaw
  • Nothing But A Heartache, The Flirtations
  • Date With The Rain, Eddie Kendricks
  • Move On Up, Curtis Mayfield
  • I Believe in Miracles, The Jackson Sisters
  • Tainted Love, Gloria Jones
  • Harlem Shuffle, Bob And Earl
  • Able Mable, Mable John
What are some of your interests besides art? Looking at architecture, walking around cities, laying in the grass, people watching, good films, scuba diving, seeing everything I can in the world.

Historic figure you'd like to have a drink with, given the chance? Mick Jagger circa 1965

Favorite comic strips/ comic books/ graphic novels? I'm a big Daniel Clowes fan. I also just read Black Hole by Charles Burns.

Favorite visual artists? That is a long list, sort of like music, needs to be broken down by genre for me. I'll just name a few random ones in no particular order: Olafur Eliasson, Spencer Tunick, Fred Tomaselli, Joseph Cornell, Kara Walker, Emmet Gowin, Sarah Morris, Sally Mann.