22 January 2017

Women's March for Social Justice: Saint Petersburg, Florida!

This is a mostly image only post. I thought I would share some of the pictures I shot from yesterday's glorious Women's March event!

The above quote is from Coretta Scott King. I posted this image--borrowed from the @womensmarch's IG-- yesterday morning, as I was preparing for the march. This quote moved me to tears and invigorated myself/my soul for this experience. I marched in Saint Petersburg, Florida with two friends of mine; one of them, part of my graduate school cohort at MICA (you can see our picture a few knots below). 20,000 people showed up to Demens Landing in St. Pete. It was the largest activist gathering in that little beach town's history. What an incredible community happening to be a part of! 

The last image on this post is from my friend, Reggie Black. On occasion he posts musings via sticky notes. I thought this one was particularly topical for this weekend. Check out his sticky inspiration here.

The second to last image is an arial shot of the march in Saint Petersburg taken by a local real estate guy named Hal Freedman from a condo above. He posted the image on FB, and it went viral . . .  

I have also posted Aziz Ansari's monologue from the opening of last night's Saturday Night Live. I feel like he says so eloquently what a lot of us are thinking about.

Enjoy these pictures! Let's keep the energy going!!


02 January 2017

Artist Interview Series: Featuring Brian Michael Flue . . .

Before anything else happens in our collective lives, I want to send a shout-out and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my boyfriend, Josh. He is an awesome human and the luckiest person to have his birthday fall on the first day of the year! Yay! Happiest first week of the year to Josh!

*  *  *

I found the following image yesterday on Pussy Hat Project's Instagram and I instantly reposted it.

2017 is set to be an interesting year, if for nothing else (which there is actually plenty else happening in the world), impending leadership of the United States. This is why artists and makers and doers are creating some of the best work of their careers, now, in this time of uncertainty and disillusion.

Making and looking at art is one of the greatest ways to gain perspective and take a look at the bigger picture. Making artwork can give you a "voice" where maybe you didn't think you had one to begin with. It can help to pose questions, open up conversation, engage communities at large, and bring about awareness and change.

That's why I have decided to devote a good portion of my blogging in 2017 to interviews with fellow artists.

To start off this Artist Interview Series, I have chosen to interview someone I have only recently had the pleasure of meeting. His name is Brian, and he lives in Georgia. Brian is Josh's brother. In early December, I went to Atlanta for a conference. And, I stayed with Josh's parents and got to meet Brian. I was only there for roughly 24 hours, but I was able to view some of his work and it was incredible, and--quite frankly--mind-blowing. The amount of detail and time put into each piece was hard for me to comprehend. And, it was all materials that I am not used to looking at. I know very little about wood, paper, leather, and paint. The way that Brian puts everything together is absolutely contemporary and magical, beautiful and cosmic. He has trained himself in his artistic practice, not by a formal education path, but by perseverance and dedication to his craft. He is extremely prolific. I think I ended up viewing close to 100 or 150 pieces made over the course of several years. 

The goal now is to get this work shown, either in galleries or alternative spaces. Seeing all of his work together, as one collection, is truly striking and would wow even the most reserved viewer. This past weekend, he brought me close to 30 pieces (wood, paper, and walking sticks) to show around to a variety of galleries in the Southeastern region of the United States. I'm thinking of starting with Asheville, Savannah, St. Petersburg, and Nashville. And of course, a website is coming soon! Please contact me with any suggestions, though. Brian is excited and eager to make things happen!

While I was in Atlanta, I took a few snapshots of the work presented to me. And over the last few weeks, I sent him a list of questions via email. Here are his responses. Enjoy! 

LB: Please tell me your full name.

BF: My name is Brian Michael Flue, and I work as a sterile processor for Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

LB: How long have you been making artwork?

BF: I started to draw around the age of 8. When I was younger, I found that that I was interested in abstract art. And the way that form, style, and color were all subjective to different interpretations. (See below, beyond Brian's walking sticks, an oil pastel of a fish that his mother said he made when he was in 1st grade.)

My favorite artist is Wassily KandinskyI started to draw like him before I even knew who he was. I felt--in a way--I was channeling his spirit. (See the similarities below: top is Wassily Kandinsky and the bottom is Brian's work.)

LB: Since you work full time at a job other than making artwork, when do you devote time to making your art?
BF: Working on my art while holding down a 9 to 5 job does not coexist well. My artwork demands my full attention. So, weekends and vacations are my real chances to connect with it. 


LB: I have never been a woodworker, but I quite enjoy the look of wood. Especially when it's smoothed out and filled with color. There is something so celebratory about your work and using wood as your chief material. Have you always enjoyed working with wood? How did you first come to using wood as a platform for your designs and colors?
BF: My 2 main mediums are wood and paper. Wood is my preferred medium. Wood seemed an unusual material for abstract art. 
I want to show that heavy abstract themes could be displayed on it. Wood is durable and strong. I wanted something that would last for generations. Wood is natural and organic, while my style is brutally symbolic. Graining in the wood will sometimes trip me up. Sometimes I have to be spontaneous and change direction. You must be willing to make changes as you go. That is the fun of working with wood. 

My main tools are a rotary tool, flat sanders, and a wood burner. My paints are acrylic. I use drafting instruments and freehand. Also, walking sticks are important to me. Walking sticks take us places, and I like to put my journeys into them. 

LB: I know that you also have a lot of drawings on paper. In fact you are quite prolific. I think I thumbed through hundreds of drawings in your collection. I presumed these were preliminary plans for wood pieces. But do you consider these drawings to be artworks that stand on their own? Finished pieces?
BF: I always sign and date my works. If it does not get signed or dated it is just doodling.
I do not think I have hundreds of pieces. Thanks for the compliment. I think my work contains a depth and intricacy that makes the viewer feel as if he or she is experiencing more than is actually there.

LB: As I look at the pieces you’ve made that I have photographed, I see hints of tribal patterning, Blue Ridge and Appalachian-style woodworking, technological symbolism, science fiction, religion, history, and imagination. Can you tell me more about how you come up with your surface decorations? How do you decide what shapes go where? How do you decide if a shape or pattern is working, or if it is not. And how do you decide when enough is enough, and the artwork is finished?
BF: I grew up in Arizona. There was always a lot of Native American art around me. While my work is not Native American, it uses similar themes. Structure and spiritualism runs through many of my pieces. When I am creating, I feel more connected with the earth. I am an intuitive artist. I rarely measure my designs.
There must be a randomness in the placing of my shapes and ideas. It's great when i just start drawing and it flows out of me. My work has its quirks, though. But that is what makes it mine. I believe a piece that has a hand drawn look is more pleasing. While I could use a computer to design my work. I believe it lacks the human touch.

My work also has an architectural quality. I like to think of some of my designs like a topographical map looking down on a building or place. Again, I feel like my work provides an escape from the normal.

LB: What kinds of things do you look at for inspiration? Tell me more about the movies you like to watch, the music you listen to, and the books you read. Are you inspired by the nature surrounding your home?
BF: I guess I could be considered an geek when it comes to movies and music. I love science fiction, thrillers, and any blood-pumping films. As far as music goes, I like everything from Phil Collins to heavy metal.  

LB: I see all of your art making that is stashed away in your home with you, and I think, “My goodness! This work could fill the walls of a small museum in New York City!!” How do you see your work being viewed by the public? Do you see it someday being viewed in a gallery or museum? Or do you want to make work that goes straight from you, the maker, to the buyer, art collector, or a family friend?
BF: It is true that I have stockpiled most of my work. I have made some work for friends and family. It would be a lifelong dream to have my work displayed so that people could enjoy it. To have my work shown to the public would be a creative catalyst for me. 
Lindsey, you are the first artist to have seen my work and wished to share it with others. Thank you. I have a lifetime of art experiences, but no exposure. To one day be able to live off of my art would be bliss. To share and improve my technique while being nourished by other creative souls would be a tremendous gift.

LB: How important is it to you that your artwork be used? I am thinking primarily of the walking sticks, now. Do you see these pieces as being an active part of the buyer’s life? Do you design them with their specific use in mind? 

BF: My walking sticks are made to be be used. However some of my more detailed sticks could be hung and displayed. It would be a shame if they were dropped and damaged, though.  

LB: Tell me about your studio space. What kinds of tools do you use? What does your set up look like? Where do you scavenge for wood? How do you know if a piece of wood will be good to use as a walking stick? Do you whittle or laser cut your wood pieces? Or do you just use the burning tool that you mentioned before? What about the additional materials that you use? In a few of your walking sticks, I noticed leather straps. In some of your wood wall hangings, I noticed sequin or metallic looking pieces. These are quite unlike the wood, especially the metallic pieces. How do you incorporate these types of materials into your work? What is your decision making process like?
BF: For the time being I work out of my garage. Its not fancy. I have made some of my better wood projects down there. My last piece contains different elements than I have used before. I have been experimenting with different planes of wood to create a more 3D appearance. 
One tip if you are going to harvest wood for walking sticks: pick a spring sapling, then strip it with a good sharp blade while it's green. Then, let it cure in a dry place for 6 to 8 months. Then, when it's dried, sand it until it is smooth. I am particular about smoothness, and it gives my sticks a slick look

My metal materials are upholstery tacks and foils. I use leather strapping for grips. My paper works are done with pencil and ink.

LB: Finally, let’s talk about color. Color is very near and dear to my heart. I look at color as a form of celebration, showing honor, and beautifying an object. How do you look at color as it relates to your artwork? Some of your walking sticks have less color on them then the others do . . . Some of your drawings are far more colorful than the wood pieces. What are your favorite colors? How do you see the role of color in your art making?
BF: Black and white art works well on its own merits, but my art can not live without color. Artwork on paper is more detailed then most of my wood simply due to my experience. 
Color is a personal experience. Sometimes it is not being transmitted in words, but is more emotional. I prefer vibrant and expressive color, something that can catch the eye from far off. 

I always hope that somehow we could get a whole new set of colors introduced to humanity.

I have been enjoying your work and do see that color is a large part of your style. I am impressed how you use it along with motion. It makes your work feel alive and full. 

Above is a drawing that Brian brought me this past weekend. He said that it is about travel, with bird wings and mapping. I absolutely love it. A huge thank you to Brian and his family for sharing his work with me and if you have any remarks or questions for him, please leave them in the comments section below . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! WAHOO!