Pushed out to sea by circumstance and choice, a man makes his way with paint and an almost impossibly authentic song in his heart…
You might not know the songs, but you surely should know the man, if you consider yourself in any way an aficionado of cult fandoms.
John Lurie is no stranger to the underground, although he might not have planned to end up in its hallowed quarters.
He is an artist who has always remained true to his own vision, pursuing it in a strange and beautiful manner that reveals much of his own nature: instinctive, intuitive, attuned to his own natural setting as much as to the world in turmoil around him, developing his gorgeously simplistic and sensual style with many doses of humour.
Towards the end she would sit on the porch and see things that might not be there. watercolor on paper, 24″x18″, 2014
No Matter Where You Go, There Is Always A Crazy Neighbor. watercolor, oil pastel and ink on paper, 14″X10″, 2012
I have moved to a bucket inside a cave. Do not visit. Thanks, watercolor on paper, 20″x14″, 2015
Do not presume he’s a simple man; he has shown himself complex and intelligent in many ways through his various artistic expressions. Yet let us look at his artwork. He is not afraid to welcome in the common man, and show him Here. Look. See?
I might say the same for much of his work, however his pronouncing HI, I play JAZZ is frankly an intimidating thing to declare to any random stranger.
And saying HI, I Portray Realistic Characters is also a bit intimidating to people who are afraid of indie cinema.
It’s almost as if he had to finally say Hey, Hi. I PAINT Stuff You Might Enjoy is the best he could hope for from an audience who had not previously appreciated his realness.
But he is very much real in all things he has endeavoured, and that is why his paintings make sense to me, and make me feel frankly grateful a soul such as his endures in the midst of so much fabricated celebrity-themed nonsense.
Glancing through the works of Canadian-born, NZ-based contemporary artist, Micheline Robinson, I was instantly struck with a serious case of the feels.
Here is work that speaks both to outer and inner landscapes, of cities and country spaces, giving voice to those things which are often silently understood yet deeply experienced: In short, the at-times bleak yet powerfully-charged jaggedness of survival.
“This recent series of works is called “Of jagged black rocks, sea, wind and branches” and is part of a larger series of monochromatic pieces where I have been trying to evoke space and time. I have always been fascinated with the jagged black rocks on the coast up State Highway 1. They were the first landmarks to our recent arrival to NZ 3 years ago where I was struck with the rawness of the landscape and could feel a sense of danger, of urgency. I had wanted to capture that somehow and the switching to monochrome allowed this thought to be communicated more easily. I tried to reduce the whole power of the coast where I live to a bundle, as if the whole was caught in a small tornado and thrown together onto the middle of the canvas. Only black ink and egg varnish were used and each piece created instinctively in one sitting without retouch. They are also a nod to modern black and white photography where some elements are frozen and some capture movement.
The works are a step away from my detail filled and colourful pieces of my other recent ink works but are in line with the thought process. As a friend said to me, “The land vibrates with energy” and I am trying to recreate this. I still feel my experience here in NZ as surreal. Some days I forget and focus on the normal human day to day and then other times, it hits me. Especially when I walk at night and see the Milky Way (something I witnessed only once before). I feel much more connected to earth living here. Earth in the sense of nature but also of its place in our universe. Most of my works are now glass-like worlds, replicating amalgamations of patterns in nature, whilst playing with our perceptions of light and space. My intuitive mind creating illusions of three dimensional landscapes that the subconscious has rendered into thickets, vineyards and other images that were collected whilst tramping through the countryside. By depicting geographical space at its most simple form, I believe the essence of the image transcends geopolitical boundaries of our world and allows the viewer to connect, regardless of experiences.
My works are ever evolving and am continually trying to express myself more effectively whilst trying to push forward the language of paint. They also record my journey and experiences and are more or less large visual diaries. Because of this, I find working in series suits rather than sticking to a particular style. Once I have thoroughly exhausted a subject, I will move on to the next one. My approach to a series will also vary in medium and size as the ultimate aim is to express an idea or a feeling as effectively as I can. Therefore over the years I have created works that have gone from large hyper-realistic portraits in oils to small loose watercolour abstracts.”
In which I chat via twitter DM with a long time mutual follow, indie artist Siw, who occasionally and graciously shares her work via twitter.
BS: I love the Neil Gaiman piece. Has he been an inspiration for much of your work, vicariously or otherwise? And are there particular people or fictional characters that inspire you?
Siw: As a person, he has been an inspiration. He says a lot of things that can be very relatable, but genuine. A mish-mash of things inspire me. Most comes from music or interactions or going out and observing people, really. But my father and my children are an inspiration for sure. And other artistic friends, too. And simply… The nature I am lucky enough to be in the middle of.
I am also inspired by folklore, myths and legends. I love that shit.
BS: Do you have an Etsy where people can buy your work, or have you considered that?
Siw: I don’t. I have sold some pieces through Twitter, some through my Facebook:o
Mostly I am really picky about buyers so I want to be able to deny them. I get a bit protective of my babies. For an online citizen I am bad at that kind of stuff… it feels so static. Maybe I should create an Instagram for my art or something. I can send you a variety of styles; I’ve got portraits and pointlessness side by side…And stuff like this… which I don’t typically tweet:
BS: ooooh i love that!
Siw: I like doing that kind of pen work but tweeting it is like asking for perverts.
BS: Man that sucks, it would make an awesome tatt. As a fellow female artist, I couldn’t help but notice a recent tweet in which you jokingly stated something to the effect of, “Days without receiving an unsolicited dick pic: 0”. Darkly humorous as that might be, what do you do when you encounter a twitter perv – block or attempt tolerance?
Siw: I… reprimand. There are a few on my list that started out asking for nudes and now are perfect gentlemen.
BS: Right on. I’m not super patient with that stuff myself;p
Siw: Oh, I will block if it doesn’t work… but an “aww, sweetie, I am sorry but you have gotten lost. You’re not in porn Twitter anymore, darling.” is surprisingly effective, often.
Mocking, but with kindness and a motherly tone is kind of my way about it.
BS:*laughs* That totally works. You mentioned a while back you were playing around with coffee – do you have a favourite medium to work in? Including any materials you enjoy (type of paper even)…
Siw: I like… different mediums for different moods, really. What I want to work with depends on my mood. But I am very very fond of pens. Quite simple black ink pens, (but with good ink, and an even flow) on thick paper. It creates a more “whole” look to the drawing where filled in lines don’t just become “scratching” (as seen on the one I sent you, “Broken”.)
BS: What do you consider the function of creative endeavours in your life to be? Have you/do you wish to study arts, or do you find it more to be serving an outlet from life as a mom etc., not something to ‘study’ but rather to ‘perform’ at will?
Siw: I find it an outlet yes. Not so much from life as a mom, but for someone with depression and anxiety… I find it meditative, as well as the fact that I see progress in my work and changes in my style… I am the “learn by doing” type person and I find the evolution of my own art interesting.
BS: Yes! I so agree. Anything one can do to alleviate otherwise unpleasantness – medical or otherwise – that doesn’t involve medication to me is something to be so grateful for.
Siw: Agreed. I don’t take medication, so I need other outlets. For me… Creating things, be it drawing, painting, writing, running around the country side with my camera to find the perfect light, angle, composition… Even singing (although I myself think I am so horrible at that I rarely share those results) helps me keep my mind somewhat together.
BS: That’s awesome. And hey, no one said it had to be perfect, whatever “perfection” even is. It’s about the joy in it, the Play! Thank you for sharing some of your work, Siw, and keep enjoying your creative play on your own terms:)
Oh don’t mind me, I’m just digging these ideas…google “living wall” and you’ll find plenty of DIY garden solutions if you’re cramped for space or just want to add dimension to your existing garden space.
Upcycle pallets and reclaimed wood into ruggedly handsome rustic frames.
I’m not complaining but it’s feeling fairly autumnal for a mid June in BC…hence I give you this throwback from The Snipe September 29, 2012 (see link for full piece and further links).
West Coastal autumn art buzz
– by Beatrice Smartt
It’s a wistfully beautiful time of year. Generally I feel more inclined to explore culture when autumn hits. I love fall. I’m game to go to the VAG or do some sort of artistic “thing”.
While it’s gorgeously warm out, No One Cares. But things go crisp and you toss on a favourite sweater, and it’s all Righteous.
I’m more a fan of underground or less-celebrated work; I like it’s non-pretense. Artists on the high wire, those who veer daringly between stardom and disaster, who walk that tightrope.
And then sometimes there are those who positively bounce from the creative trampoline upon you.
While the tattoo-styled pioneering works by the likes of Angelique Houtkamp and local Holly Ruth Andersonportraying mournfully savvy cartoon-pinups are a more rare breed, two West Coast artists have recently captivated my imagination: