November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Robert Soffian/Artist Interview

The Ringmaster's Diary

 The Ringmaster’s Diary, by Robert Soffian

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Robert Soffian:

The Melody of Shape & Color

with Michael Foldes

 

Q) When did you know you would become an artist?

A) I do not remember.  If you mean painter, I knew I always wanted to paint. However, for many years I wrote poetry, plays and directed.  So I didn’t really have time.  I was surrounded by art all my life.  My parents collected art.  I studied art history when I was kid at University of  Florence.  Also I was exposed to many artists growing up.  I had friends whose parents were artists. Mostly Greenwich Village in the early 60’s.  People like Jack Levine, Leon Golub.  In theatre, one is involved with design, lighting and period all the time.  So being informed about art styles and movements is just part of the package.  Also directing is really moving shapes inside a frame…composition, making pictures etc. I also designed lights for many productions: dance, plays, even music groups. So I was painting with light… I was pretty  good with this and always had a sense of liquid and  melody of shape and color. The truth is…one day my wife and I got into a small argument about what I would do after my life in theatre.  And I said “paint of of course.”  And she said “really…I don’t believe it.”  So you might say it was my answering her question.  This was   many years ago.  Funny out of this came a joint exhibition we did in San Francisco!) Also my sister, who is five years older…was a painter. And I watched her. I like to paint because it is so obviously personal and doesn’t involved lots of stuff…like making theatre.  It called to me.

Q) Were any of your family members instrumental in your artistic pursuits?

A) My father loved Shakespeare and poetry.  MY parents always took me to museums and plays.  My sister painted.  My mother loved Kandinsky’s work. I was surrounded by art in the house. It was rare in the 1950’s and 60’s..but my parents loved to collect.  And the walls of our house were were packed like  a salon.  It was odd.  But the images drilled themselves into my mind.  Art was valued. And the people who made art were respected.

Q) Why the intense colors, and not more figurative work?

A) Great question.  The truth is that I see my work going backwards into more figurative practice. I really view myself as a kind of figurative painter.  My abstraction is not pure.  I enjoy all kinds of art and technique.  Really I often work in a simple palette.  But I feel the vibrancy of my way of seeing requires the reflections of their colors.  There is short hand also.  They are sexy, fertile, fecund. Hues and pigments mirror the natural world and less conscious truths.  They are obvious and hidden.  Vivacity.  I often vacillate between a wildness with line and color and austere paintings.  I enjoy contrast.  Contrast creates focus. White and black even.  Some shapes just require their voice.  And if they are figures/they have a real colored shape. One can eat color. Make love to color.  Sense its shape.  Ride its destiny.  Cheap fun if you can get it.)

Q) Do you paint for a living, and if so, how long have you been fortunate enough to make a living as an artist?

A) It is a living.  I could be a very rich artist if I lived in The Congo!)  But yes I do sell my work.  Also the world of art is dominated by trends and what’s hot or currently hip and goes in cycles . Always new artists imitate their teachers and the paradigms they swam in.  I will keep any ideas to myself.  I do not think that one art can explain another well. The painting speaks for itself..   I have been working as an artist for less than twenty years.  One hopes to find a few collectors who value your work and understand its practice and support your efforts through its myriad phases.  I think I operate from a place of security when I am producing work which is honest and dynamically valid.  That is important.  I guess I have confidence in my vision.  Of course, just making art is a challenge of beautiful cruelty.

Q) What artists have had the greatest effects on you as a person, and your work as an expression of your perceptions?

A) I am drawn to all art which is good.)  For me it doesn’t matter what school or style or concern they express.  I think I have a sharp, trained intuition.  In general, I gravitate to the Modernists.  Picasso, Miro.  The energy and freedom of Abstract Expressionism  is compelling.  I enjoy Tintoretto.  Rauschenberg of course.  The other great innovator…Duchamp.  For me, it really is an unfair question. Artist search for expressive forms in their own epoch.  Van Gogh, Michelangelo,etc.  I am thrilled by the magnetism of ritual art:  New Guinea, Alta Mira.  One should learn from all the great teachers.  Steal what you can.  The main thing is not to imitate.  One might try to see if you could try to understand how something was accomplished, some techniques.  Or see beneath the technique and begin to empathize with the practice and concerns of the sincere efforts of all artists who create authentically.  The main thing is to discover who you are and what you needed to do. Yes, it is a conversation with the past and even some contemporaries.  We just move on.  Who doesn’t admire Rembrandt or Beuys?)  One ought try to avoid comparisons. Let others say what  they see it to be or its influences.  Goya, Praxiteles…Matisse…

Q) Where did you grow up, and did you find a receptive audience in your early years  that reinforced your desire to paint? Or did you spend a lot of time swimming upstream?

A) My childhood was spent in the East Coast..Philadelphia/New York.  But I have done a fair about of traveling and working in many states and countries. The various locales and experiences, of course influence one’s perceptions and way of being.  So I have lived in Wisconsin, Virginia, and for the last 30 plus years in California…Far northern near MT. Shasta, San Francisco and now LA.  When I was younger I lived in Europe for many years.  Mainly in Amsterdam.  But I have spent time in India, Bali, Greece, Argentina, on and on. Every place has a smell, a palette, a special light.  The light in Budapest was almost like Paris!  and  Greek light just explodes.  The contrast between that and the sea is elixir. The water greatly inspires me.  The way the colors integrate with the rhythms of the sea.  I think, unless one is a genius or extremely lucky, mostly artists go through a similar trail.  At first, even you doubt your efforts.  Then a few friends begin to notice what you are doing. Then other artists who you respect offer critique and encouragement.  And then you find some buyers, then maybe galleries, then collectors. Nothing is easy.  What is one’s goal?  Fame? Money?  For me, the freedom to explore was what drew me to painting. In the beginning I allowed myself to make any mistake possible.  Now as I know a little more, one forgets that mistakes are what we are after.  To watch something come alive through informed accident and the logical systems of the subconscious.  If I have a practice it entails the rigor of time, repetition and the ability to allow myself the honestly to be privately Universal. My basic feeling is intoxication and analysis.  One’s lover will find you…I know the purpose of what I am doing.  It takes time for some people to hear the drums.))  But when they do it should feel good.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Robert Soffian

Soffian gallery with interview, V10, N4

[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_yesterday.jpg]50Yesterday
Yesterday
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_the-spine-of-the-matter.jpg]70The Spine of the Matter
The Spine of the Matter
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_x-ray-man.jpg]110X-Ray Man
X-Ray Man
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_the-alley-of-poplars-001.jpg]60The Alley of Poplars
The Alley of Poplars
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_the-duchess-out-of-hamburg.jpg]70The Duchess Out of Hamburg
The Duchess Out of Hamburg
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_susanah-and-the-elders.jpg]40Susanah and the Elders
Susanah and the Elders
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_syn-snap-rag.jpg]40Syn-Snap-Rag
Syn-Snap-Rag
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_ten-screen.jpg]40Ten Screen
Ten Screen
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_state-power-813x1024.jpg]40State Power
State Power
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_surprise-guests.jpg]30Sunrise Guests
Sunrise Guests
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_pasiphaes-dream.jpg]30Pasiphaes Dream
Pasiphaes Dream
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_serial-face.jpg]20Serial Face
Serial Face
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_jeune-fils-2013-20x26.jpg]20Jeune Fils 2013
Jeune Fils 2013
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_jump-forward.jpg]10Jump Forward
Jump Forward
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_little-shiva.jpg]10Little Shiva
Little Shiva
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_gardener-wirth-green-bird-744x1024.jpg]10Gardener Wirth Green Bird
Gardener Wirth Green Bird
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_have-a-ball-2.jpg]10Have a Ball 2
Have a Ball 2
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_house-of-spirits-1.jpg]10House of Spirits 1
House of Spirits 1
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_firmament.jpg]10Firmament
Firmament
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_five-screen.jpg]10Five Screen
Five Screen
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_fox.jpg]10Fox
Fox
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_downtown-alphabet-2013-26x20.jpg]20Downtown Alphabet 2013
Downtown Alphabet 2013
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_fight-at-a-nightclub.jpg]10Fight at a Nightclub
Fight at a Nightclub
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_bruno-1.jpg]20Bruno
Bruno
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_dance-static-2.jpg]70Dance Static 2
Dance Static 2
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_dawn-patrol-2.jpg]40Dawn Patrol 2
Dawn Patrol 2
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_a-couple-2013-36x48.jpg]50A Couple, 2013
A Couple, 2013
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_barktree-bark-bark.jpg]10Barktree, Bark Bark
Barktree, Bark Bark
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/robert-soffian/thumbs/thumbs_bird-and-guillotine.jpg]10Bird and Guillotine
Bird and Guillotine

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Q) In your website bio, it says you discovered the Violent Femmes. Just how did that happen?

A) In the late 1970’s I ran a multi-purpose theater in Milwaukee called The Metropole. There I produced all genres of performances. Acts that were local and National: Theatre, dance, punk, ballet, performance art, film and many genres of live music etc. This was a time  when eccdentric acts toured specialized venues, a kind of circuit…the Kitchen in New York, Name in Chicago, Walker and places in LA and SF. Anyway I held auditions, open mikes regularly. Brian  was my friend and worked at the theater and he played bass in my pal Jerry Fortier’s band…”The Ruthless Acoustics.” One evening I was holding an open mike and Gordon Gano then a  waif showed up and sang a couple songs. I liked his performing and introduced him to Brian and they formed the group with Vincent who was an actor before a drummer. Not long after both The Ruthless and Gordon opened for Nico at the Metropole. She was staying at my house sort of hiding out. Wonderful concert. But she was consuming quite a bit of vodka. Nico was a dear person.  She played solo with her harmonium that night. The Violent Femmes and I have been associated ever since then. Brian was a good janitor also!!  He lives in Hobart Tasmania now and curates a weird museum of art and music events.

Q) You have a very eclectic background, a chain of links stretching across many media, which to me is evident of a mind that seeks and a body that follows. So, looking back on it all, what possesses you when you make a life-change from one thing to another. For example, from archaeology to theater to art… I don’t see how you can really leave any of it behind. In fact, when you talk about color in light and pigment, it’s evident nothing has been left behind, only transformed as it became the foundation for moving on, or in another direction.

A) I think the creative impulse just wants to be involved to make things. It seems to me as I look back a bit that I have been interested in trying to understand the differences between how the aesthetics differ from one thing to another. It’s all a type of psychical discovery. This moving from one art world to another. It is also about epistemology…searching for knowledge. I am just fascinated by the various ways our mind must work within each discrete form. Also I get bored. I believe in hard work. I like to get deep into a discipline. In fact I think there is jealousy between the arts. Also often  I need to express myself this way not that way. Still I have found that combining interests and skills is what I always like. I enjoy collaborators. Even within myself. There is a process of discovery. Those eureka moments when the possibilities of each field astound and engulf you! You have to have confidence to travel even if the confidence is self invented. All the answers are wrong or so opaque that searching is the only fun. I really think everything is consistent and logical since I am following what I know I must do. I say I must try this. I can do this. Failing is interesting. Look  I learned something! I have a strong sense of being lead by my subconscious. If such an entity really exists. I am inclined to follow it. I like the history of things.  I see it is my  forte to attempt connections. I wish I had more time to do more.) I think backwards also.  That helps. I know where I went, now I just need to find how I got there! In general once you begin to suss out the limits of each realm one can begin to investigate things creatively. It’s the limits that really create! And truly all knowledge is transferable across disciplines. They just look different because they use tools from a special kit, Unified Field Theory of Aesthetics. Some paths are corporeal some just ethereal some textural some visual or aural. Some are New. But the best are really really old.  Because everything repeats. Does this help? On the other hand: I am Adventure Averse. But I am attracted to what appears an innovation. That is until I recognize it’s original status.

Q) You mentioned you were dyslexic. Was there a point you can recognize when the right and left sides of your brain suddenly meshed and you were moving forward in high gear?

 A) Never. I just learned how to use it. To see it as a gift rather than a deterrent. I learned to see blocks of words, pages all at once instead of each word.  I FOUND OUT THAT BY PRETENDING I could stop stuttering when I was 13 years old. I realized that gibberish can make sense.  I discovered that liquids and colors communicate sense memory. I found out that something about how I process things let me see things clearer. It helped me see the cosmic jokes abounding in paradigms. It let me find friends and co-conspirators who also recognized the shibboleths and pomposity of certainty. I learned to interpret myself. There is an acting exercise I use called “Go Left by Going Right.” That about sums it up. When at a loss get more lost!  To really find something one has to NOT look for it. I go fast up there. But my mind feels it is slow so it just works out fine….I am not quite sure the brain works that way. But I will say that Art is my saving Grace. Because I always saw things in a different light. And thus I knew I had to share my vision.  So in that way I knew it was correct to be me. Doubt is very specific in art. It is often pointing out what does not work. Editing and cutting away the “wrong for this moment” thing and then seeing what remains. Absurdly the via negativa is the most positive.

Q) Do you have siblings, and are –or were they – as adventursome as yourself?

A) My sister was a painter. Now she is a classical scholar. My mother taught. My dad was an attorney who loved Shakespeare and poetry. I am the black sheep. We always were expected to travel and appreciate the arts. I don’t know why. Our parents encouraged us to learn. Their lives were full of poignant life events: illness, stress, drink, frustrations and surviving The Great Depression. They did not have the luxury to be artists they thought. But we had a large library. We talked about politics, and crime and whores and boxing and the horses. The world of the inner city was ever-present as many of my dad’s clients were poor and black. And of course there was The Mob too! However I think they never expected me to really do creative things.  Family is the basis of all drama. Each one is an adventure. I think it is impossible to understand how and why and what notions our families really entertain. I am sure my children hardly understand who I am and I certainly only know them as a father. Every life is an adventure if our thought dreams could be seen…I think I was a product of the 1960s. I really believed that change was imminent. In terms of who I was to become… I learned that I could communicate and inspire some. Every person senses the power and draw of the erotic force of creating. However only time reveals who actually stayed until the game got going in earnest. The crucible is eternal. Perhaps the one who does nothing embraces the most adventure. I am not that person. I could be him. But I did not allow myself to be. Instead I like to make expressive things that satisfy and trouble me. But eventually we all will have the same adventure.

Q) How did you happen to go abroad, to Italy, at such an early age? Did you go alone, or with relatives?

A) I often marvel at what I was allowed to do!  When I was 13 years old my father and mother were spending summer in France. They arranged that my sister take me to Florence to study at the University. I imagine she was my chaperone and my presence offered  a little stability to the situation. In actuality she was a lovely blonde 18 year old who wanted adventure and I was a little nerdy kid who she probably regretted knowing. Anyway the classes were all in Italian. We tried to learn Art History and Italian. The lecture halls were hot and sweaty and brimming with infatuation! We traveled there on what were then called “student ships” which were really Italian freight transports converted to haul college students to the Continent. What a blast!.  The year was 1960. My sister and I lived in a pension…Pensione Panoramica Angelica/ 60 Via Cavour. She often left me there in the evening to zoom into the Tuscan hills on a Vespa with one dark boy or other. Luckily for me in the neighboring room lived an ethereal French girl close to my age…so I was never lonely. I think I learned many things that summer. I have three grown children and I am still amazed that my straight parents encouraged us to do things like that! I am probably more protective than they were. Funny isn’t it? They were always doing things like that. What were they thinking?  Perhaps this was their vicarious adventure. I had few restrictions. But I was a good kid. They could trust me. At least for awhile…. I think that travel/ traveling alone is a wonderful growth opportunity. It instills self-reliance and opens one up to many mechanisms that will be useful during one’s lifetime. It’s sometimes scary but very invigorating. And of course one quickly realizes that the world behaves in many ways you never expected. That they are many right answers!

Q) At the time, what was the most important thing you thought you were bringing away from your work in Greece, and does that remain so today?

A) Greece remains today my most sacred place. The light is bright and bold and shattering and clean. The sea is fresh. Cretan Blue.  The cicadas never stop sounding. The past is present. The ruins are proud and sad. I get dark there. Everyone thinks I am Greek. I love to swim. I feel at home. The year I graduated from High School my parents arranged for me to work on a dig there through the University of Pennslyvania. My sister knew the program and the archaeologists. I worked there for about 4-5 months before I started college. I was the youngest member of the expedition. My job was to do scale drawings with rapidograph pens of the numerous shards which were uncovered. I meticulously drew the rims and bodies of graceful jars, amphorae, oil lamps, small broken heads of sculptures… whatever. My work station was a small table under a canvas drop. I think in later years I saw where one or two were actually published in some schorlarly journal! This was miraculous considering I was just learning what graph paper was and struggled to create each piece perfectly. This was a laughable experiment but I was treated kindly by everyone. Before I started to work I was sort of marooned in Athens at the American School of Classical studies because the lead professor was delayed. I had little money. But I was lucky to find a couple who showed me how to explore back roads of Greece using the Guide Blue. So I spent a month taking buses and donkeys up and down little trails viewing sites, sleeping outdoors and being free. Greece in those days was quite primitive. Not the bustling destination of today. One was able to investigate ruins with hardly anyone around. No one had money. Everyone hated the Germans! I wrote my first full chapbook of poetry that summer.  Later, I returned to Athens with hardly any money but somehow the residents of a nearby whorehouse took pity on me and allowed me to sleep in a shed on their roof. Very idyllic. I read all of The James Bond books, ate pistachios and  became friends with the girls. But boy when they fought you didn’t want to be around! I also grew a mustache. I still have a beard. So that stuck. I go back to Greece every so often. I always feel welcome. Later I studied Ancient Greek. So I learned to love the meter and melody of Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Sappho, Herodotus, et al. That classical education ( I also studied Latin) has allowed me to understand English better and developed in me a great love of the Humanities.

Q) I see elements of indigenous imagery in your work, e.g., in the Femme and Genetics and of course, in Went Native… What informs these pieces that’s different from what informs you as a stage lighting director?

A) In Light Design color, hue is form and movement. One is creating an illumined environment where action happens and bodies inhabit. It is a very old thing to do. Lighting a fire. Making a shadow. Revealing something mysterious. Those paintings you mentioned are also about the movement of life. In the days I did those I was interested in archetypes. I made a whole series on motifs from Micronesia and stone age cultures. Procreative things.  Pre-verbal. Light is sub verbal. So there is some connection. Lighting is very elemental. Fire light.

Q) You mention Miller and Burroughs and I wonder, did you know them, meet them, work with them? What was their influence on you – and are we talking about the same (Henry) Miller and (William) Burroughs?

A) Never met Henry Miller. sure would have loved to though.  However In the early ’60s I went to a camp for the children of leftist artists and bohemians.  It was called “Lincoln Farm Work Camp.”  It got its name from the Lincoln Brigade of Anarchists who fought against  the Nazis in Spain during the Civil War there.  There I became friends with the kids of Jack Levine, Arthur Miller, Leon Golub, Burroughs and many many more.  Funny place. Pre-hippie . Our week was eight days long…etc.  Great topic for a book.  As it happened about ten years later I was a sort of hanger-on at London’s New Arts Lab.  This place in Camden Town housed a theater, gallery, and was also the home of the London Filmmakers Cooperative.  There Burroughs put on a small show of his recent paitntings.  He was hanging out in London in those days.  These paintings were the ones he made by shooting or throwing things at balloons filled with pigment.  I helped hang the show and got to know him a bit. Pleasant, Mandarin, funny/ arch/arcane and everyone whispered around him.  He was trying to kick.  Unkle Bill! That period introduced me to some good theater. The People Show for one.  Later we took “experimental” films up to Stockholm….Bailey, Ron Rice, Carolee…I was just a kid wet behind the ears. 

Q) What is your earliest memory?

A) I am about three years old. I am at our house on the Jersey Shore. Near the beach. My mother wants me to eat eggs for breakfast. I DO NOT WANT TO EAT EGGS! I am wearing a striped blue or yellow shirt. I have curly blonde hair and blue eyes. I ran out onto the porch. There are many many  red bricks steps down to the pavement. My grandmother comes out of the house. She is a big Russian woman with pendulous breasts. She is wearing a housecoat. She takes me up in her arms and cradles me. “He doesn’t have to eat eggs.” She says to my mother. I stop crying. The wind blows her hair.  My mother agrees.

Q) What obstacles to working have you found over the years, and how did you get over them? Something along the lines of writer’s block… did you ever experience painter’s block?

A) For me, if I am not creating something I usually feel out of sorts. or “Neurosis is cool/Neurosis is Hot “)  So I try to be involved in a CREATIVE ENDEAVOR as much as possible.  There is a compulsion to that.  But so be it. I will just start something to get the line alive without a plan if need be.  Also I am convinced that the more one does the better one gets.  I have done this directing plays, writing and now painting.  I try to paint every day.  I work without present judgement.  Judgement happens within the practice moment by moment and after.  But I just like to work.  ” Work on What has been Spoiled” as the I Ching hexagram says..  .sometimes on several paintings at once.  My hand gets more limber too.  I like to work at night but also in the morning. I like it quiet.  I talk to myself though.  This is a deep concentration better than any drug.  I love to watch how my brain works.  The hours between 3 and 6 or 7 pm are usually fallow.  Nap and rest.  Of course, sometimes I don’t work.  It bothers me.  Because it takes a lots of gas to build up the speed and get the mistakes out.  Similar to writing strategies where the first things one writes is usually garbage…but one must clear the pipes!  Then there comes the time when an idea or technique or material has been tried in a series of paintings.  And I just need to stop and regain a type of balance and perspective.  However If I had a choice I  would never stop.  Because in my view the mind gets freed up and all the messages get clearer.  I conjure that how I work best is accepting the signifiers from inside and below my rational self and then trapping them and organizing them in a very conscious effort.  In other words I enjoy how the rational and  illogical cooperate.  Another way of saying this is that the illogical is just as valid and prevalent as the opposite.  You may turn the corner and meet your true love.  Or who is to say what sperm what hit the mark? If I am not working creativity I feel I am not doing my destiny. weird.  I like white wine. and I drink Drambuie on the rocks. My sense of humor  is an acquired taste.  So is what I make.  But I convince myself I have the confidence to go on.  Isn’t this what we are supposed to do?  The main difference between an artist of any genre and a person who just loves to express herself (himself) and perhaps does it well…is that the artist never stops.  While the most graceful amateur( literally “lover of art” ) does it on Mondays and Holidays!  I am lucky to have had children and relationships that centered me.  And a way to make a living.  Those platforms have given me a grounding to pursue my passionate obsessions and desire to say something.  To add something to the stew.  The fun is in the journey. It is a path I treasure.

Q) What other creative outlets do you have? Do you play an instrument? Write? Go hiking in the Sierras?

A) Well I have always written poetry.  So I do that. Sometimes I will write dramatic texts.  Of course, I used to teach theater and film…so that occupied much time.  I direct a play if something really excites me. I prefer new plays. I usually say I can play every instrument poorly.  My favorite is the SAX.  Contrary to what people think (about artists)…I like sports.  So I play and watch baseball(my favorite and Packers football)!  I read mostly poetry and  biographies and new plays.  This year I translated a small book of Italian poems written my(friend) Esther Grotti.  That was hard and great fun.  I have two cats.  I really love to travel if the opportunity arises.  Of course I go to galleries. and Museums.  The beach is good.  I really enjoy cooking. mostly sea food.  My two sons live nearby so I get to hang with them every week or so.   I like science, mostly physics.  I stare out the window.  My partner, Cynthia, is a musician and songwriter so I go to her concerts.  And I watch how she creates.  We talk about practice and process.  I think about art.  I try to get my older friends to work with me on projects and convince them that communicating is worth the effort.  I read their novels. I visit North Beach in SF.  I worry about the direction of compulsive materialism.  I stay in contact with old friends.  I frequent the haunts of young people to see what I am missing and what I should know.  That is an impossible and mostly invisible task.  I mean they do not generally see me.) I try to motivate myself to invent things to do.  I marvel at the stupidity of war.  I dwell on the zeitgeist and motif of social media. I remind myself there was once something called “The Jet Age”. so that gives me faith.  I swim sometimes.  I eat chocolate and drink Earl Gary.  I pretend I am a comedian and play my jokes in my head.  I try to contact my intuition.  I dance around the shimmering membranes between Universes.  I think about meaning and lack of meaning.

Those Ionian Philosophers were really smart!  I hustle and promote and hide out.  Mostly I watch and receive…and I like to talk about all this stuff!

Q) What would you say is the direction of art today, and what will the influence of technology be on the more classical media such as drawing, painting and sculpture?

A) I tend to think that artist will  always adapt to new materials and technologies.  That is a given. And also the most vital things contain their negation.  And yet I always feel and hope that the hand and body will retain its prominent place.  The last century was the time of Light.  In fact we are still experiencing ourselves through new light…cinema, video, lasers , computers, the 01010  on and on. the nuclear world/the quantum space.  I think often about the Eternal Return.  Things will proceed and morph.  Consciousness will grow.  We will become alienated by our inventions. We will return to the essentials.  Personally I am not a very intellectual person.  Many if not all of the current ways of viewing things seem to bore me.  Whatever is believed is suspect.  Most paradigms appear humorless, inflated and conflated with bad nonsense. Fun is good.  Sly Fun. SEX The Death Machine is a good game.  I try not to say this.  Perhaps this is the province of dumb age?  I prefer things that can include raw satire.  I am not sure about the pretended brilliance of popular culture critiques.  Nor do I understand so much irony. It’s like casting a play.  A good director just is able to tell who is right for each role.  A bad diretor never does.  Let’s hope we can recognize the most potent works of art sans belief system.  A good creator is either in the time or beyond the time.  Show Me do not tell me what things mean. Please!  Recently I have been assembling lots of archival material.  So I begin to understand something about the relevance of archiving things, events, ephemera.  Many of the things I see which combine media and seem new are really just modernized  versions of things done decades ago with better equipment.  Does this sound harsh?  i hope not.  The Eternal Return.  Certainly the ubiquity of phones with cameras, You-Tube Channels etc asks and goads everyone to pretend to be artists.   To record to watch to work for The Paris Match in your head.  Yes it democratizes expression.  It tries to destroy elites.  But how will it actually affect the humane thoughts.  We don’t know.  It scares us.  I am sure the Renassiance was scary.  The Industrial Revolution was shattering.  But not as momentous as THE ICE AGE!  I am an optimist… in geologic time.  To be specific  ART IS NOT HOMEWORK.  Do Not look for a good grade from society.  Things that are expressed  with intention resonate.  Shit!  What do I know?  Is there a new story to tell.  It seems to me we live in our own science fiction  novel.  On the other hand things evolve in flashes.  Where is the next Cubism?  Find it and buy it cheap. Now is the time.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

About the interviewer:

Michael Foldes is founder and managing editor of Ragazine.CC. You can read more about him in About Us.

This interview was conducted by email in March and April 2014.