After 14 years of living in Logan Square me and my Oktober Studio are moving. This is not just a place I rented; I made it into my home. I love it. I walked in through the door for the first time ever 14 years ago and I knew this was it. I never thought about leaving. I thought I would die here. I wanted to spend my final days here. To me it's perfect! It's got three large windows in the living room. I love lying on the couch under the windows staring at the sky and the giant red and white police tower with blinking lights. I love seeing the train pass by every 10 minutes. I love that my hallway is large enough to be another room. I love that the spare bedroom has a nook that my twin bed fits into perfectly. I love that I am on the top floor. I love, love my bedroom; it is large and even though the closet is a tiny triangle, I love that it's a triangle. I love that my bathtub is big and the room is shaped like an L. My kitchen is fantastic. I love that it's extra large and the wall with the window looks slanted. I could fit two kitchen tables in there. I paint on the floor in front of the windows and listen to the L. My apartment is in the perfect spot too. The L is two door downs from my front door. There is a bus stop right out the front door and three others less than two blocks away. The police station, a bakery, post office, currency exchange, dry cleaners and fire station are all also less than two blocks away. The back yard is a double wide parking lot. Family Dollar and Chase are across the parking lot. There are three small grocery stores within in one block. There are only 6 other apartments in the vintage building with windows in almost all rooms but the bath. Packing and cleaning will be my life for the next few months as I get ready to move. Since it is where I live and work I have art exhibits in my apartment. All the walls are covered with paintings. I have over 100 paintings and I need to sell all of them before I move. I cannot paint anything new until I move. So I am having a moving sale. Here are a few pieces in the sale.
was your first childhood experience with art that hooked you?
It’s hard to say. I always liked
drawing, and was lucky enough to have regular art classes growing up and
supportive parents and teachers.
What made you first realize you wanted
to pursue a career in art?
At some point in high school.
Initially I wanted to be a writer, but then gravitated toward art. My parents
were really supportive, and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted as long as it
made me happy. Then I was lucky to have a few fantastic professors in undergrad
that really expanded my horizons.
What do people always say to you about your art?
I’d say that the question that I get
most often is regarding the text; most people ask me where it’s from, which is
ironic, because for the most part, it’s the only thing that’s not appropriated
from another source.
you are painting; the prose; does it come to you as you are making the art or
do you have notes and choose what copy you want to add to each piece?
It’s a bit of each actually. I keep
text fragments and drafts of texts in my sketchbook and on scraps of paper in
my studio. When I’m working, sometimes I’ll pull from these, and other times
I’ll write something specific for the painting.
is your favorite color to paint with?
are the steps/process to your creations?
Usually, I have a general idea of
layout and composition in a broad sense, a couple of images that I want to use,
as well as a starting point for the color. Normally though, I don’t have things
completely mapped out; as I want to be able to respond to the painting as it
develops and leave things open for ongoing creative problem-solving.
is the strongest influence in your life on your paintings?
Probably my working class background.
It has had a huge impact on my work, particularly in how I deal with the impact
of culture and experience on identity.
What is your take on the Chicago art
scene? Do you have a Chicago influence? What would it be?
I’m a transplant to the Midwest from
Pennsylvania and I’ve always been really excited by what’s happening in
Chicago. There’s a quirkiness that I really respond to. When I go to galleries,
there’s always something that I think is really good, and that doesn’t always
happen in other cities that I get to. I
also like that there’s a pretty diverse array of work being made and a pretty
good sense of community. Even though I live 90 minutes away, I’ve been able to
make good artist friends and feel like I’m part of the ongoing discourse.
do you dislike about the art world?
It’s a dynamic organism that has good
things and bad things. It is what it is. I’ve been lucking in terms of my
experiences, but there are a lot of horror stories out there.
has been the biggest challenge for you as a painter?
The biggest challenge is carving out
enough time to be in the studio. The non-studio aspects of life have a tendency
to get in the way, but in the past two years, I’ve been able to maintain a much
more regular studio practice, which has made upcoming show deadlines a bit less
have been some of your non-art jobs?
I’ve been fortunate, before my
current teaching position, I worked for a museum for 9 years, 6 of them as
curator. Before that I had a range of jobs that got me through college and grad
school. I worked for a sign company, did landscaping, and worked for a tree
farm. Of those, the sign company was probably the best job. I didn’t do any of
the design or vinyl; I helped with the installation and maintenance end of
things. A husband and wife owned the company and he worked another job that was
shift based, which meant that my job was shift based, which was kind of fun and
kept it interesting. Although at the tree farm I did learn to drive stick in a
Korean War jeep.
you have other interests or talents?
I play guitar and am pretty obsessed
with bass fishing.
are three words that people would use to describe you?
I only need two: Beard. Tall.
would be the 5 people at your dinner table dead or alive?
That’s a tough one…How about Larry
David, George Saunders, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Poehler, and David Lynch
should play you in the film about you and your art?
Alexander Skarsgard, but he’d have to
put on some weight.
advice would you give other artists?
Work hard and put time into your
work. Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. Too often, I think artists early
in their careers get too fixated on securing a gallery or having a mature
career right out of the starting gate. That’s good in the short term, but often
it’s not good for the long haul. We’ve all seen shows that are great, and then
5 years later either the artist has disappeared or the work doesn’t live up to
that initial start. Don’t be in a hurry, put in the time.
is your favorite artist?
Vernon Fisher. His work is just so
smart and well made. He’s one of those artists that each new body of work is
are your top five favorite paintings/sculptures, etc?
do you want to tell people who don’t understand art?
I think that it’s important for people to not be
intimidated, to realize that it’s ok to not like something, and that not liking
something doesn’t need to be the same as not thinking that it has any cultural