Harryson Photo Recap: Ugly Orange Presents FayRoy albuM reLeasE ParTy

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Not long ago I met Harryson Thevenin. He introduced himself and told me he would be around shooting pics at the events. In the few times I've seen him since then he's always been rocking his camera and digitally capturing the lives of those creatives living and working around Orlando as well as those who come out to support the scene; one time he was shooting a music video. Now there's an event on our calendar labeled Crock Pot taking place April 7th hosted by... you guessed it Harryson in collaboration with Halsi and SR50 magazine. For more info on that check out the FB event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1181617835284494/

This morning he sent in some great photos of Ugly Orange's FayRoy event last Friday and since sharing is caring, here's a jam from FayRoy's new album to set your Monday right and some of the pics in case you missed the times.

FayRoy's on the road for the month, you can find them here:

3/11 - St. Pete @ The Iberian Rooster
3/13 - PCB FL @ Mosey's Downtown
3/14 - Beaumont TX @ Texas Rose Saloon
3/15 - Oskar Blues Brewery Austin SXSW Kickoff Party % 
3/16 - Austin TX - DMNDR in-studio Performance %
3/17-19 TBA Austin TX
3/20 - NOLA TBA
3/21 - Pensacola
3/23 - St. Augustine Shanghai Nobby's NOBFEST
3/24 - Ybor City @ New World Brewery
3/25 - St. Petersburg @ Don't Stop St Pete %
3/31 - Tampa @ Rock Brothers Brewing Company
4/1 - The Bricks Ybor %
% = w/ Someday River

-JH

P.S. show some love and buy their fresh, NEW album Heaven at Twenty Seven for only $7 right here:

https://fayroy.bandcamp.com/

Artist Interview: Greyson Charnock (Someday River/ FayRoy)

Artist Interview: Greyson Charnock (Someday River/ FayRoy)

 

If you have stuck around Orlando’s music scene long enough, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the name Someday River headlining several shows in the city. It’s no surprise that they’ve been able to contribute to the growing indie music scene. The band’s tone transforms spaces into mellow soundscapes that allow for the effortless lyrics of Greyson Charnock to reverberate within the minds of people like you and I.

Though he does play as front man for Someday River, Greyson spends a great deal of time jamming and producing music with other bands that he’s come to know as friends. Among them are FayRoy, a grim surf rock band from St. Pete, Sonic Graffiti, a true-to-the-roots rock band also from St. Pete, as well as Orlando bands, Day Joy (Michael Serrin), and Case Work (Chandler Strang).

Curious about the artist behind the music, Jose Henao and I went to visit Greyson at his home studio. The second we arrived, we could hear the amplified sounds of guitars seeping through the walls. The windows were pretty much vibrating with life. As we later found out, Greyson and his buddy Drew (Sonic Graffiti) were taking a few days to produce the bare bones of an upcoming album for Sonic Graffiti. One musician helping out another – a pretty essential comradery given the hardships of this music industry.

After chatting and being introduced to the studio, we went out to the back patio where I got to sit down with Greyson and pick his brain for a bit. He was really open about his venture into music, his band’s process of crafting their unique sound, and what to expect from both Someday River and FayRoy this year.

 

Alberto Santos: In 10 seconds, can you tell me who Greyson is?

Greyson Charnock: Oh man, that’s a big one. Well, I’m Greyson. I like to work on music and art, I guess. That’s the main thing that I like to do. I work at a couple of different art galleries and record with a few different bands and play live as much as I can.

 

AS: You work at art galleries. What do you do there?

GC: I work at Cornell Fine Arts Museum and the UCF Art Gallery. I’m an art handler, basically a preparator. We essentially hang pictures, but in a much grander way than just hanging pictures. Sometimes it’s expensive stuff, sometimes it’s a sculptural piece.

 

AS: Did you go to school for art?

GC: I got my degree in drawing and print-making. So that was my, I guess, stepping stone. Then I got my gig at the UCF Gallery, which was cool. It’s part-time. So I kind of picked up more and more work at a couple different museums through the process of just working at one, and then meeting people.

 

AS: Was this your stepping stone into the creative world of both art and music?

GC: Kind of both. I’ve always liked to draw and paint, but I never wanted to go to school for it, because I was like “Oh, I already do that why should I go to school for it?” But that was almost exactly why you should go to school for it, I guess. Just to further that. Instead of the other mindset like “do something new, do something fresh…” as opposed to doing something that isn’t a part of your life with the goal of a career or something like that.

 

AS: So what’s your take on getting into music and getting into art?

GC: You have to go fully into it, which is what I’m trying to do now. That’s exactly what I’m dealing with now. It’s not like there’s a figuring out point – I have none of it figured out at all. It’s one foot in front of the other type of thing. You try not to miss opportunities. You kind of have to be all in. There’s a lot of failure involved. I mean, paying the bills is something that you have to do. That’s why I feel lucky to work with other artists, because making money on music is near impossible.

 

AS: How did you get into music?

GC: I started playing guitar when I was in 5th grade. I think I was like 9 or 10. And it was always kind of this background thing, because I lived near the beach. I surfed, skimmed, skateboarded all the time, and that was like my whole deal. I wanted to hang out at the beach, and that’s what we did. So music wasn’t pressing. It wasn’t something that needed to happen right then – until I moved to Orlando, which was like 10 years ago in 2007. I wasn’t so able to be at the beach all the time, you know, in a very direct way. So I started picking up my guitar in a more serious way.

 

AS: Being away from that coastal atmosphere and moving inland to Orlando, would you say that’s what it took to make you a musician?

GC: Maybe, yeah. It was just this pivotal sort of timing where I moved out on my own, started going to school and meeting new people, and not having access to my day-to-day thing. Which was literally, I mean, everyday – I was at the beach. Which was cool. My friend Zack – his grandma has a place on the beach where we would spend a lot of time at his place, you know. You could walk up and down from the sand and come and go as you please. And that’s such like a content thing to do is chill at the beach. You don’t need more than that when you’re doing that, right? It’s like a vacation or whatever. So yeah, it’s easy to get sucked into that and stay there forever. So literally – I don’t know if it’s Orlando or it could’ve been anywhere – but just getting away from that sort of homeostasis, static beach-world bubble helped.

 

AS: I want to transition over to your sound in Someday River. You describe it as “experimental folk rock,” while others classify it as indie, funk rock, fuzz rock, even psychedelia. Where do you stand on that?

GC: It’s a rabbit hole, but I think that’s the truth for a lot of bands and a lot of new stuff that comes out. And that’s kind of this thing that’s starting to happen just because of how much influence there is constantly and how accessible different things are. I feel like there was a moment where people had like a favorite song or favorite band and that was their thing. They stuck with that, because those were the records they had and those were the CD’s they bought, or that’s the radio station they listened to. Now’s it’s this constant barrage of there’s so much coming at you. It’s easy to hear it, digest it or not, or move past it. Lots of bands that are coming out have a mixed genre thing going on. I suppose it can be confusing, but it’s also really interesting for the industry or the standard of what music is in general.

There’s still something to be said about consistency, and that is something that I have a lot of trouble with actually. I end up writing different types of genres and from different standpoints; if you jam with the band you make music that’s like this and when you write a song when you’re alone, then it sounds like this. And then, how do you bring that song that you made into the band setting when it was written on the acoustic guitar or something like that. So that’s something that’s always a push and pull for me, is the songs that we write as a group and the songs that I write as a solo artist, and then combining the two and trying not to have this distinct separation.

 

AS: I can imagine that it’s hard when everyone is bringing different inspirations along with them to the band.

GC: Exactly. It’s really cool. I mean, Sean and Kyle are awesome. They’re so reliable. And they always come through. If we don’t have time to practice or something like that, we just wing it and they’re always on it. So I have to say I like that. And a lot of the songs that we play that are the band-oriented songs, I can’t perform them alone. The rhythm isn’t there. The songs don’t exist without the band.

If I’m kind of like bundled up in the house recording for a record, it doesn’t come to life until I get Sean in on the drums and then Kyle to reiterate some bass lines and there’s something like that. So the songs are much more stagnant until it goes into that setting, if I’m turning it into a full song with drum and bass.

 

AS: So would you say your songs start ambiguously and take shape over time with the band?

GC: Mhmm. A lot of times in the demoing process and building the structure of a song, I’ll just throw a bunch of different parts to the song that don’t necessarily have their place in order of the song yet. So I’ll just record them and then I can just move them around and find out what kind of structure I want to deal with.

Having all that time to toy around with how the song “should be” or “shouldn’t be”… it’s a good and a bad thing, because you get hung up on things that aren’t important. You’re trying to solve problems that aren’t actually problems. You’ve just heard it so many times, that you’re like “is that the way it should be?” Sometimes those are questions you should be asking, but sometimes you know, it’s all about developing, growing.

 

AS: Maybe a fresh ear needs to come in?

GC: Exactly, exactly. That’s one thing about working with other people. Having your friends to be in the studio, having the extra set of ears. It changes the way you listen to what you’re working on, absolutely. Not getting hung up on the one song or the one album. You want it to be worthwhile and significant in it’s own right, but the main part of it, for me, is trying to be as prolific as you can be.

 

AS: Do you worry about your own interpretation of songs or is there room for audience interpretation?

GC: Both. You don’t want to record and think, “what are people going to think of this song?” You want it to be as pure as you can, of a creative process. At the same time, in the process of recording a song, you can’t help but think “what ARE people going to think when they play a song?” Again, it’s gotta be a balance of both. You don’t wanna get bogged up on one thing or another. That’s a question you can’t answer. That’s the whole game.

 

AS: I read your interpretation of Someday River’s song “Cave,” where you play with literal and abstract concepts, and you’re able to make the song digestible to an audience while maintaining your artistry.

GC: I’ve never had the chance to write about a song (before that), and the meaning of a song. So that’s one of those things, like “Do you even go there and talk about what the song is about?” It’s a cool opportunity, because I actually found out more about the song writing about it than I knew before at all. I didn’t even realize all the things about the song until I had to write about it on paper.

 

AS: When you’re playing with words like that, how do you pair it with the gear that you use? How do you navigate both of those factors when making music?

GC: That’s kind of what we’re working on in there, the tone of the song. Once you record a song and hear it in a certain way, then people agree that’s the song. But really, there’s a million ways it could have been. When you play it live, there’s a million factors [that effect the song] in space – the sound guy, the room, like literally what’s the floor made of, the ceiling, the walls. I think of the gear as an extension of me. It’s whatever I can get my hands on, or whatever I’ve collected over a long period of time. What resources am I bound to in a way, or what can I afford? That’s a factor. But also, the sound that I’ve come about through all of that. It’s everything that I’ve liked and combined up until this point. For me, it’s all fun. The pedals, the reverbs, the tones. That’s all for fun to jazz up the process and make it interesting for me as the one playing it. The pedals are just an extension. That’s why I would call it experimental. What happens when you combine these two things together and letting there be this “out of control” thing that happens.

 

AS: The space itself lends a helping hand? Can you talk more about that?

GC: Yeah, so that’s the fun thing about playing other places or out of town. Every venue is so distinctly different. If there’s a venue out of town, bands will go “Oh I know that venue, it’s so fun to play there because of this” or “That place sucks because of this.” I mean, it’s never super cut-and-dry like that, but there’s definitely memorable venues or spaces that are set up properly.

 

AS: What are some of your most memorable venues?

GC: There’s this place called The Loft in Columbus, Georgia, that is incredible. It’s this tiered wide, low stage. It’s upstairs in this old building. Kind of like a listening room. There’s a place called the Hideaway Café in St. Petersburg. I personally think the sound at Will’s Pub is fantastic in Orlando. The Social is too, but it’s very dependent on where you’re standing. Sometimes you stand in front of the stage it sounds perfect, but if you around the side of the stage and you’re not in front of the monitors then the whole mix is different. So that’s one thing. Will’s Pub is set up so nice, so shout out to Will’s Pub. Their setup is dope.

CATCH FAYROY AT IBERIAN ROOSTER in ST. PETE (FREE SHOW!) 9PM SATURDAY 03|11|2017

Shot on Indian Rocks Beach Florida. Directed by Michael Joseph Azcui www.michaeljosephazcui.com "Life and Follow FAYROY: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FayRoy/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fayroyboys/ Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/fayroy Bandcamp: https://fayroy.bandcamp.com/

 

AS: I’d like to talk about a side project you’ve helped with, FayRoy, which has more of a cryptic surf rock feel. Can you tell us more about that?

GC: The main guys who are the contributing songwriters are Zack Hoag and my buddy Kyle Fournier. Kyle is actually the bassist for Someday River. Him and Zack have been playing together for a long time. They’re based out of St. Pete. They moved to San Francisco for four years and did their thing, and now they’re back here. Basically we have a cool group of dudes; all of us are really close friends. That’s the best part about it and that’s why we’re having so much fun with it. I love the songs they’re writing so I’m happy to be involved. We’re playing at the Henao Contemporary Center on the 10th for their album release show.

 

AS: What else can we look forward to from you and the bands you’re in?

GC: So FayRoy is releasing an album. They’re gonna do several shows in Florida. We’re gonna do Panama City Beach, New Orleans, Austin, Pensacola, St. Augustine, and then back to St. Pete. Maybe a Gainesville in there, I’m not sure. So FayRoy is touring out to SXSW, and basically there’s already two of three members of Someday River in that group so we’re flying Sean (drummer of Someday River) out to Austin and we’re playing SXSW as well. It’s really exciting. I’ve never done anything like that and I’m totally so excited for it and that’s just a couple of weeks away. And with Drew (Sonic Graffiti), we’re tracking a record this weekend. We’re going to slam like ten songs in the next three days. Which I’ve never done anything like that before. It’s totally off-the-cuff rock and roll music so I’m interested to see how it goes. March is a busy month. Someday River is playing Ringling Underground, we’re doing this thing called Don’t Stop St. Pete as well, and we have a couple of shows in Orlando and Tampa as well.

 

For more updates, check out Someday River here: http://www.somedayriver.com/

and FayRoy here:

©HENAO Contemporary Center LLC  & Alberto Santos

Orlando Art: Value it. Honor it. Experience it.

Art by definition is the expression of one's creativity or imagination, perfected, and appreciated for its beauty or emotional value. It's the difference between looking at a picture, and seeing a moment captured in time. The difference between listening to an actor recite lines, and watching a performance artist captivate an audience. The difference between a musician playing notes and chords, and an artist becoming the music. It's intangible. The elements within fleeting moments, artists possess the great ability to document. The capacity to pull us into their experience, as told through their lens and medium. Visual Arts are no exception. 

It's why we can look at a Vasya Kandinsky or Lillian Verkins painting and feel our pulse quicken, or a wave of calm wash over us. 

It's the very vivid nostalgia I experience when taking in a Matthew Cornell piece. "Shine," a small painting we recently acquired, takes me back to 11-12 years old. The days when myself and other neighborhood kids had to be home when the street lights came on. "Shine" evokes an independence. A rebellion. It's summer time. The Florida air is sticky; it smells like wet grass, and the sound of crickets fills the quiet street.  I'm out later than I am supposed to be. The street lights have just come on, and night has begun to blanket the neighborhood. Quiet yards set against houses with life shining through their windows seem to magnify the stillness of the street. I'm on my way home, albeit not in a hurry, and I am savoring the freedom. 

It's the feeling of that first taste of freedom that I experience every time  I stop and appreciate "Shine." There are days when I prolong it, just to get lost in it for a moment longer. A lover of fiction, "Shine" is every bit as engrossing as a well-written novel.  Cornell is also a master of technique. His accolades include being the only artist, ever in 55 years, to win the Winter Park Art Festival's top award - three times. In addition to taking home best in show in 2003 and 2013. And concerning detail, his photorealistic style rivals many photographs. 

Orlando as a growing city, may not yet boast a large amount of truly talented authentic artists. We do, however, have incredible, genuine artists who call Orlando home. Artists who inspire, enthrall and transport viewers with their craft.  At Henao Contemporary Center we not only celebrate these artists but we bring them together. 

© Meagan Westerberg Henao & HENAO Contemporary Center

I passed 15,000 likes on my artist page, Matthew W. Cornell - Artist.  Thank you for your support.  Here is something I did last fall that I think is one of my best.

I passed 15,000 likes on my artist page, Matthew W. Cornell - Artist
Thank you for your support. 
Here is something I did last fall that I think is one of my best.

*From Orlando artist Matthew Cornell's FB page.

THE CASE FOR BOREDOM

The Case for Boredom

© Meagan Westerberg Henao and Henao Contemporary Center

I tagged along on one of Jose's recent business trips – a quick (think: less than 24 hours) jaunt down to Coral Springs to meet with an artist. While a little rushed, it was a delightful break from the, sometimes monotonous, routine of life with two small kids. After Jose finished his meeting and blessed with beautiful weather, we spent a few hours eating and drinking our way around Downtown Boca - an area that despite my time living in South Florida, I had not spent much time exploring. The day ended with a chance opportunity to view a collection of Andy Warhol's acclaimed work in person, at the Boca Museum of Art. The trip had far exceeded the, almost non-existent, expectations I had of it, and I found myself feeling full with gratitude as we headed home.  

Interestingly enough, what has stuck with me most about this experience was not the food, the great company of my husband, or gaining a new appreciation for Warhol's meticulous work, but was a comment that was made by the artist. Remember, meeting with an artist was the sole reason for this adventure. It's important also that I clarify that the artist we were meeting was not just any artist. We were meeting with Steven Assael. A man who, if you were to do a quick Google search of, would bring up statements like: "An American painter recognized nationally as one of the leading representational figurative artists of his generation" (Wikipedia). In addition to praises of his work: "…Assael's canvases radiate mastery and authenticity of purpose" (Huffington Post). To say that he is talented is an insult to his talent, and even more so he is incredibly easy to talk to and down to earth. 

We met for breakfast and  were able to chat a bit. I knew that he had started drawing before the age of 10, and was curious as to what motivated a boy of such a young age to pursue drawing. Steven shared with me that he was from a typical working class family, his mother a seamstress, and his father a merchant. He would go to work with his father, who had a fruit stand, and would watch the people as they made their way through the market. Quite simply, Steven was bored. So, he drew them. 

I am not sure what I was expecting him to say. I was just curious, mostly, yet I was surprised by his answer and its simplicity. He was a kid, who was bored, so he began drawing. I wondered if Steven had been at that fruit stand, now in 2016, would he have picked up the pencil? Would he have even noticed the people, let alone been intrigued enough by them to draw them? Would he, instead, have had his face buried in a movie, a game of Minecraft, or in some educational program on a tablet of sorts? We are so quick to squelch the boredom that might plague our children today, and of course, we all know what happens with idle hands. But, at what cost? 

Like most parents, I grapple with the pros and cons of screen time or the effects of media on our children's lives. We do the best we can to ensure our children live balanced lives. I am intrigued, however, by what our kids are capable of when we leave them with idle minds. I urge us not hear the statement "I am bored" as a problem for us as parents to fix, but as a possibility of what they can do in the face of their boredom. Next time we hear the phrase "I'm bored," I challenge us to bestow some Betty Draper Wisdom on our entertainment challenged offspring: "Only boring people are bored" – Betty Draper.

EN POINTE

En Pointe

© Meagan Westerberg Henao and Henao Contemporary Center

Carriage, lines, extensions; Emanating from the long, lean, Principal Ballerina. She is the juxtaposition of soft fluidity and a chiseled frame, more sculpture than human. The monochromatic combination of her pale pink tights and matching pointe shoes creates an almost endless movement that is liable to take your breath away.  The experience of this effect is not an accident. The traditional pink tights and shoe pairing is, by design, intended to create the artistic appearance of a long, leg line; expressly the long leg line of a tall, thin, white female. 

Until recently, not only did dancers of color not see themselves represented on stage, but they did not even have options for proper costuming should they courageously pioneer the art form. When American Ballet Theater Principal Ballerina Misty Copeland, also notably the first African American Principal Ballerina, began dancing at age 13 she was blessed to train in a studio where her artistic director valued and understood the importance of this visual impact.  She honored the craft of ballet and empowered her dancers by dying tights and shoes for her dancers of color. She painted shades of Amber, Sienna, Sandalwood, Mahogany, and Espresso, lyrically and dynamically, across the stage - all the way to the American Ballet Theater. 

Misty's role is equally significant. At a remarkably petite, and muscular 5'2", and an authentic artist, she counters everything that ballet has been and brings it exactly where it's supposed to be; where the artistry stems from within while adding a new depth and complexity to a feast for the eyes. That is ballet.

- Meagan Westerberg Henao

Artist Interview: Peter Forster

1.    What have you been up to? Do you have anything coming up you want to talk about?  I do, but I cannot talk about it right now.

2.    How did you get involved with art? I was born into it, my father was a painter and professor of art.  And my mother was a museum director.

3.    What do you say when people ask you “what do you do?” I try to avoid telling people that I do art.  When I do, I usually throw out a few test questions to see what level of engagement they are on.

4.    From where do you derive your inspiration?  For me it is sometimes a distillation process, other times it hits my like a baseball bat across the head.  Sometimes it is just out of grasp, and teases me.  The best way for me is to practice the fundamentals, anatomy study, composition study, drapery study then ideas start to float.  I learn more about composition from musicians than from other visual artists.

5.    What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?  They don’t think it is a way to make a living, as if just getting by or going on is all there is.  Art affirms our humanity, and insures our future as a species.

6.    What's something that continues to interest you about your work? I like to examine ancient art, like that of the Greeks.  There is no longer any Greek Temples to witness what things were like, so I go to the Hindu Temples and see the similarities.  The Greeks must have put Garlands on the Gods, and feed them as the Hindus do.  There is an active buzz in the Temple as people scurry about giving offerings and lighting incense.  It had to be very similar in the Peloponnese and Macedonia.  

7.    What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art? I hope not to offend, but modern art is all there is right now.  It is no longer cutting edge, and is the main curriculum and focus of all Universities and Museums.  There does not remain any true sculpture masters to teach young people these days.  So I ask, who is going to build tomorrows monuments?  The Chinese did ML King, no professor in the USA can teach this any more.  The eye has to be trained with rigor, and that is what is being lost.  

8.    What's an emerging trend that you have reserves about?  I see great young talent emerging, truly gifted people with boundless energy.  


9.    Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.  I was groomed to be an artist, my dad took my drawings from (me) when I was ten to college, to show college students.  I wrote my first university curriculum at seventeen. An introduction to art, and Why man Creates. I believe that was 1973.  I worked with an old master sculptor for ten years starting in 1969.  

10.    What artistic accomplishments are you most proud of?  My next project.

11.    What is your state of mind when you are creating?  Despair, pain, elation, fear, confidence doubt.  

12.     Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?  For my work, expressing a political view is not my job.  I Defer to the Vedic text the Arthashastra , by Chanakya, on how to be a complete ruler of men.  Reading the Arthashastra you realize that the biggest criminals are those who are always in charge.  It has always been that way, and will continue.  But some of these criminals have been my best clients.  Raphael “We pimp beauty to the highest bidder.”

13.     Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?  No, but I continually address my own issues.    

14.     What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?  To be an artist, you have to truly live by faith.  Sometimes there are long gaps between commissions, and you just have to go to your studio every day and work.  GK Chesterton put it best when he said, to live a life of faith, you have to be prepared to be a fool.  

15.     Do you have any experience in the Orlando art scene? What have you seen or heard?  The Ballet is barely funded, there is no Opera, and what happened to the Symphony?  There is no more classical music on WMFE.  But the reverse is happening in the Visual Arts.  I think the Orlando visual art scene is really starting to get some traction.  I sense a huge surge coming to Orlando.  I say why not, the tide has been out long enough.  The energy is here.

16.    What advice would you give a young person considering a career as an artist?  Run away as fast as possible, get a good job have a happy life.  

17.     If you could go back to when you started creating art and give yourself some advice, what would it be? Don’t listen to anyone else but yourself.  Don’t trust anyone but yourself.  Doubt everyone, but never yourself!  

Artist Interview: Mindy Colton

What have you been up to? Do you have anything coming up you want to talk about?
 I had sculptures in some wonderful exhibits this summer. Near Seattle, in the Washington State Thoroughbred Foundation “Horses for Art” Fundraiser, one of my equine sculptures was chosen to be awarded next year in the Horses in Art Race. It will be displayed in the exclusive Club House for a year. This is the third time in twelve years I've had this honor. Emerald Downs also has two of my sculptures in their permanent collection. They invited me to attend again as a special race steward and help present the trophy in the Winner’s Circle. It's a thrilling experience! A large pair of mixed media horses, “Walk in the Woods,” found a new home at the Art Center Sarasota Florida Flavor Exhibit. I was also juried into and won an award in the St. Augustine Art Association Nature & Wildlife exhibit (which receives hundreds of entries from all over the U.S. and abroad). A number of my sculptures were also juried into shows around Florida and Colorado. A busy summer for sure!
 I'm very excited to be invited again to an invitation-only equine exhibit in the Palm Beach area during the exclusive show season at Wellington. I'm included in  a group exhibit at the Harris House at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and I'm creating more work for Plum Art Gallery in St. Augustine. 

How did you get involved with art?
 I had classical training in art from a young age. It seemed I showed a natural aptitude when I was four! My parents loved art and were collectors. They started taking me to art events when I was around seven. Living on the upper east side of Manhattan I was also within walking distance to all of the major museums. Many of my parents' friends were gallery owners and artists. Some of my first youth art classes were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I studied painting for many years and went to the Art Students League on weekends. I was accepted into the High      
 
What do you say when people ask you “what do you do?” 
I am artist. My passion for the last 15 years has been sculpture.
 
From where do you derive your inspiration? 
I get my inspiration from nature, traveling, and my lifetime involvement with and love of horses.
 
What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?
Art is a passion that is inside of you. A muse that drives you to create. People don't know how much time and dedication creating sculpture takes. 
It's a life journey for me.

 
What's something that continues to interest you about your work?
The variety of media I can work with. I began as a bronze sculptor. Then I started working in many different mediums. It's challenging to see how creative I can get with mediums not often used for the kind of sculptures I create.
 
What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?
I think computers and the ease of sharing images have had the biggest effect. More and more people will soon have 3-D printers to experiment with, too.
 
What's an emerging trend that you have reserves about?
I and many artists have reservations about how easy it is to reproduce and copy art. Especially for painters.  
 
Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.    
I majored in Stage Design and minored in Graphic Design at the High School of  Music & Art. I was drawn more to three-dimensional art and was always building things. Stage Design was my first love (having grown up seeing so much live theater in N.Y.), but I began to realize what a difficult field it was to get into.
Parson’s School of Design had an amazing Industrial Design program that accepted me. It was the most influential part of my education and experience to this day. I met Buckminster Fuller, who gave a number of lectures, critiques, and life offerings. A real eye opener. The group projects and exposure to real world problems were literally out of this world. 
 Finding available jobs not that attractive and wanting to have a traditional campus experience, I transferred to Washington University in St. Louis and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and a minor in photography. Along the way I worked in stage design for fun, and later in community theater. After a long, successful career as an graphic artist, art director, and illustrator, I decided to focus on my fine art. I had been creating and exhibiting in the little free time available. In 2002 I made the leap and began to focus full time on sculpture.

 
What artistic accomplishments are you most proud of?
 My monumental sculptures are some of the works I'm most proud of. I love having large pieces in public places for people to see and enjoy. Being accepted into major museum exhibits with both my smaller and larger works gives me a lot of encouragement. I'm proud of the six grants I have received. They helped me along my artistic path. I've won more than 150 awards, but when someone falls in love with a sculpture and adds it their home, that is very special!
 
What is your state of mind when you are creating?
I am totally focused on the piece.
 
Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?
My work is a total escape from those issues. 
 
Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?
No, I create for myself and put all my passion and love into my pieces. I think that is what makes a piece of art a success. If the work resonates with another person it's wonderful. A huge bonus! And if someone describes what is drawing them to the piece and it's what I was feeling too, that's great. They “get it.”
What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?
The love of horses. Each sculpture is unique. I'm always excited to see how they turn out.
 
Do you have any experience in the Orlando art scene? What have you seen or heard?
I've lived here more than thirty years and have exhibited in Orlando for almost twenty years. I began by showing 2-D works. There used to be many good, professional galleries but they're gone. In other Florida cities the art scenes and opportunities have grown with much more vigor since the recession. Smaller cities have added dozens of excellent venues for local and Florida artists. We need more galleries here in Orlando as well as ways to reach people wanting original local art in their homes. I hear these sentiments expressed often.
 
What advice would you give a young person considering a career as an artist?
I had dozens of art students and interns working for me at a number of university and ad agency.postions. I also taught classes. I told all of them to travel and to continue their art education outside Florida. I advised some about excellent art schools, grants, etc.; and many successfully moved on. When you're young is the best time to experiment, get out there, and do things. Visit as many museums and galleries as you can. Don’t limit your world view. Don’t limit your mediums. Try all kinds of art. Don’t get stuck on one thing. Always strive to grow. Don’t compromise your vision for others.
 
If you could go back to when you started creating art and give yourself some advice, what would it be? 
Avoid outside pressures and societal influences, and make the leap into a full time fine art career as soon as possible!

Artist Interview: John Baker

1.  What do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?'

I say, "For money, or..?" I'm a private investigator working as an artist, or visa versa.

2.  How did you get involved with art?

My mom bought me a coloring book, Easter, 1968. After a tour in the US Army and a couple changes-of-major in college, I landed upon art as my final course of study.

3.  Where do you derive your inspiration from?

I derive my inspiration from my surroundings. Whether it be material, or topical.

4.   What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?

What people don't (want to) understand about my field is that it's not as exciting as television's version.

5.  What's something that continues to interest you about your work?

The thing that continues to interest me about being a working artist is the auspicious potential. Whether it be that people get the idea, or the humor, or, in the alternate, ponder on the ambiguity without disdain. That is interest, and success combined.

6.  What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?

A new idea or innovation having the most significant impact on how people think about art, to me, would be in a word, acceptance. There seems to be general acceptance by the public that what is being put out on view is a serious attempt. Smirks and guffaws have morphed into nods and brow-wrinkled chin-holders.

7.  What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the art world?

An emerging trend that will shake the art world? Everybody's doing it.

 8. Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.

I graduated from UCF in 1996 with concentrations in Photography and Sculpture. Since then I have continued to weld, and create photographs using the age-old methods with liquid chemistry. I've taken post-grad classes as well as experimented with different processes. But doing the work does the most to perpetuate a transitioning, while retaining a core signature to my work.

9.     What artistic accomplishments are you most proud of?

The artistic accomplishment I'm most proud of to date would be the Best of the Best award received from the Orlando Museum of Art for the 2014 season of 1st Thursdays shows.

10.  What is your state of mind when you are creating?

My state of mind while I'm creating is to concentrate on where the piece wants to go. Most often I have a general direction, or message to convey, but the work itself guides me.

11.  Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?

The sociopolitical climate definitely has an impact on my work because it is part of my surroundings, but perhaps more in mood than message.

12.  Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?

 I think our jobs as artists is to evoke the viewers' emotion.

13.  What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?

There is not one emotion I can pin to my work as a whole. It varies upon the day and the piece.

14.  Do you have any experience in the Orlando art scene? What have you seen or heard?

In the Orlando art scene I've met some people and participated in various (and few) shows thus far. I hope to get a handle on a more structured way of staying involved, with artists, calls and events.

15.   What advice would you give a young person considering a career as an artist?

My advice to a young artist would be to do the work. Create a portfolio/series or style, and document it. Create an inventory and submit to as many shows as possible. Market, Self-Market, and Market some more. Burn yourself with chemicals and flame, or learn the taste of leaded oils by color because you can't put down the brush. Forget about a social life until you've honed something that looks like what a cello sounds when Mstislav Rostropovich draws his bow across the strings.

Artist Interview: Patrick McGrath Muniz

1.     What do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?'
Im a full time artist, I live from my art.
2.     How did you get involved with art?
I got involved in art since an early age and at school, contributing every way I could always with education in mind. as I grew up and further developed my drawing skills and supported by my family I knew this would be my path.
3.     Where do you derive your inspiration from?
My inspiration derives mainly from nature, world history, mythology and religious iconography.
4.     What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?
I think people rarely think of an artist as an intellectual who is as much involved with ideas as with the aesthetic byproduct. It takes time to study, research and creatively re-interpret a subject and most people don't even get to see that part of the process.
5.     What's something that continues to interest you about your work?
I constantly find new unintended connections within the pantheon of symbols and Icons I appropriate for my work. This re-contextualization adds more symbolic insight and semantic layeringto the narrative.

6.     What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?
Information technology specially with social media is having a profound impact in the way we appreciate and shareart. Historical revisions in contemporary art when seen through the lens of social media open up new ways of understanding our present global predicament.
7.     What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the art world?
I have little interest in trends. The problem with trends in art is that even though they may shake up the art world for a while, they have no enduring or transcendental consequences for the rest of the world.  I believe art should not be about trends and all about the world, not just the "art world".
8.     Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.
I did a B.F.A. with a concentration on painting at The school of Fine Arts in San Juan, Puerto Rico and soon after that a M.F.A. at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. The former proved to be a decisive factor in leaving the island and the latter refined my ideas and helped me develop the current visual language I incorporate in my paintings. Ten years after graduating from SCAD I feel there is still much to be learned in art and art school was just the tip of the iceberg. The real learning comes with experience in the real world.
9.     What artistic accomplishments are you most proud of?
More than any particular award, recognition or prize, the evolution and growth of the work itself is what makes me most proud of.  The hard work and many hours dedicated to painting reward me with the deepest satisfaction I can imagine.
10.    What is your state of mind when you are creating?
Interesting question. I often paint while being distracted by the very things that inspire me to paint in the first place. It is hard to describe this state of mind but it would be a sublime yet exciting and dreamlike state like when you are child listening to a wonderful mythic story of gods and heroes.

11.     Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?
Very,  very much indeed. The politics of my time as experienced through the mass media circus not only inform my work, they inspire it with their propaganda strategies and sensationalism. It is nearly impossible for me to separate politics from the corporate agenda driven media. My paintings respond directly to our consumerist society with its distractions, indifference and denial to the larger environmental perils of our age.
12.    Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?
When I create my work, the use of materials, formats and sizes are a conscious choice for me. These choices will influence the viewers experience and response to the work . The use of religious iconography in relatively small painting formats point towards an intimate religious response. The subtle insertion of contemporary pop culture elements disrupts momentarily this experience in order to bring back into context the image and iconographic relationships I wish to evoke
13.    What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?
Emotions will depend on each viewer and their political and religious background. Curiosity would perhaps play the biggest role in my work.
14.   Do you have any experience in the Orlando art scene? What have you seen or heard?
In 2008 and 2009 I lived in Orlando and did a few shows there by that time.  The response was surprisingly positive given the politics at the time. I still keep a close connection to Central Florida as part of my family and friends live there and I hear the art scene has been improving in recent years.
15.   What advice would you give a young person considering a career as an artist?
The best advice I can think of for a young person considering art as a career is first of all don't follow advice from artists you do not wish to become like, follow primarily your own inner voice and study your subject of interest with relentless devotion. Art schools are good but an artist studio is even better.
The art world can be very deceiving, choose your allies wisely and learn only from the best.

16.  If you could go back to when you started creating art and give yourself some advice, what would it be?
Great question! First of all, work hard, save money and travel even more. Study something else besides art, like history or marketing and study art the old fashioned way, as an apprentice in a professional artist studio. 

Artist Statement: Carlos Barberena

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Art is a powerful form of communication that I employ to reflect on and question the issues that we encounter in a consumer society.
Lead by corporation-friendly governments, we are often indifferent to environmental pollution and socio-political injustices. In this series of prints I appropriate and re-contextualize masterpieces, borrowing their compositional strategies and sometimes their titles, but inserting contemporary imagery with sarcasm and satire to create new works.
These pieces take a critical view on different greedy corporations that are using GMO’s in their products. They condemn the way policies that favor these corporations are affecting our natural resources, health and labor rights, provoking a catastrophe in our contemporary society. I am trying to challenge the status quo in this “fast food society” making satirical relief prints that emphasize both concept and craft. 

Poet Interview: Ryler Dustin

Interview: RYLER DUSTIN

1.    What have you been up to? Do you have anything coming up you want to talk about?
I’ve mostly written poetry in the past. I have a book of poems published with a press called Write Bloody, and there are some videos of me online. Right now, I’m excited about the novel I’m working on as the resident of the Jack Kerouac House here in Orlando.
2.    How did you get involved with writing and poetry?
I first fell in love with poetry because of a poetry open mic in my hometown of Bellingham, a little north of Seattle. It was the first time poetry wasn’t presented as a puzzle to be solved or a sort of metaphorical “code.” Instead, I saw real people being vulnerable in a courageous way. Because of that, I started reading contemporary poetry. I still have to sift through a lot of it, to be honest, before I find work that I really like—but when I do, it’s worth it.
3.    What do you say when people ask you “what do you do?”
I tell them I’m a writer; at that point, a person will often ask me what I mean, like, “Are you a journalist? Are you like Tom Clancy?” If I say that I’m a poet they become even more confused. But once I explain how I fell in love with poetry, and that there is plenty of poetry written today that doesn’t necessarily sound like Shakespeare, they are usually pretty interested. Yesterday an Uber driver asked, “So, poetry is like… when you are a man and you write something for a woman, right?” All I could think to say was, “Yeah, I do that sometimes.” Haha.
4.    Where do you derive your inspiration from?
I think, like most writers, it comes primarily from reading writing that I love. Before I work on the novel, I’ll usually read a page or two from an author whose voice heightens my sense of what language can do—someone likes James Salter or Ursula K. le Guin.
I am also deeply inspired by science—not necessarily how it is coopted or demonized politically, but the actual undertaking of this wildly humble endeavor, this radically humble attempt to simply learn what the universe is and how it behaves.
Finally I’d say that I often think about someone I love and imagine writing to them—this novel, The Horsemender, began as a story I’d tell my niece, who loves horses. With poetry I imagine saying to someone, using the best words I can, something important and meaningful, something to briefly stay the current of our lives.

5.    What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?
I think, again, most people are taught that poetry is a riddle. And if they aren’t taught that, they’re still only exposed to poetry that was written a long time ago. Even Robert Frost, for example, wrote a little different than we would in this decade—if you imitate him, you sound a bit artificial. So people have this idea that precisely this kind of artificial, anachronistic language is “poetic.”
And then, even if a person is exposed to contemporary work and taught to engage it openly, not like they need some kind of decoder ring, they are often turned off because they pick up a book or literary journal that doesn’t suit their taste. Literary journals, in fact, almost never actually say what their aesthetic is. A journal that likes very experimental, fractured work doesn’t say that, they just say they like work that is “interesting.” A journal that likes more direct or conversational work, the kind of work I tend to write, will just say that it looks for “the best work from new and established writers” or something. It’s like a bizarre pact. Only writers even know which journals publish what.
So there is this incredible range in poetry—in what it can do, in what it can care about, in how it can say. It’d be like someone saying, “Oh, I don’t know what to read, I’ll take a shot at fiction today.” Does that mean Romance novels, regional literary works, historical naval fiction, post-apocalyptic sci-fi, etc.? What if they needed to read The Road and got Infinite Jest?

6.    What's something that continues to interest you about your work?
Wow, what a wonderful question. I should ask myself this more often; I should ask it of my students.
I continue to be interested in musical speech—not just sonically rich language but the sort of speech that can open a space in a room or across a kitchen table, the sort of language that has the momentum of sincerity.
I’m also very interested in ecological writing—that’s what I’m doing in this novel. I’m writing about communities and insects and trees and other forms of life in a world that has evolved to the stresses of manmade change.
At the same time, the novel is about what I’d call the ecology of knowledge. Knowledge, like life, “evolves.” For example, in the margins of a veterinary manual in my novel, the protagonist’s forebears have inscribed treatments for various diseases. The history of the world can be seen there: the treatments changed as technology declined and then as certain herbs went extinct; the notes, which had originally contained information about the lore of herbs or the cultures from which various treatments arose, became more to-the-point and shorthand as space in the margins grew limited; the handwriting became worse because writing became so rare. Much of the novel explores myths and stories—the names and myths surrounding herbs that the protagonist is taught to recognize—names which like the plants have mutated over time. There are various splinter religions and theories about what happened to our society, and they all have little alleles of truth in them, which go on changing and taking on lives of their own.
We see this process even today, in our extremely “low pressure” ecology of knowledge—by “low pressure” I mean that we are currently very good at preserving information. For example, Shakespeare is only changing a little right now—we have Kurosawa adaptations, and “Spark Notes” versions, etc. Shakespeare probably changed a great deal in the decades during and after Shakespeare’s lifetime, when the plays were transmitted through word-of-mouth, and when devastating plagues and war made the ecology of knowledge more volatile, highly selected (like, what did people remember?) and therefore prone to mutation.

7.    What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about writers or poets?
I think slam poetry is having a profound impact. I love slam. I also have some real reservations about it. But it is exerting pressure on the entire poetic community in the sense that poets must now realize what they seem to constantly forget, at least in relatively stable historical periods, ones without obvious and immediate crises: that people without advanced literary degrees actually need poetry in their lives.
8.    What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the literary world?
I’d stand by the above.
9.    Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.
The first recognition I received was in slam because that is the most open format, in that literally anyone can sign up, and there are no bios read or “networks” that can be cultivated. I didn’t know anyone with a poetry degree; I didn’t know what that was. In slam, none of that matters: it’s just you, three minutes, and a roomful of people (often drunk). That’s a pretty ideal audience if you want to become good at certain elements of poetry. It forces you to really care about what you’re saying, at least if you’re humble in the sense that you don’t want to waste people’s time. From there I read poetry and continued to fall in love with poems. A professor, the poet Bruce Beasley, told me that you could actually go to school for poetry, and teach, and have your school paid for if you were lucky. So I quit taking Dental Hygiene prerequisites and started down the path of teaching writing, which is what I’m doing now and how I will probably support myself in the future as I continue to write. 
10.    What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I’m most proud after I finish a good poem; then a period of doubt sets in; then if the poem is affirmed by someone I respect, or the sincere enthusiasm of a random person, I feel proud again. Then it sort of dwindles and I have to find another reason to call myself a writer.
11.    What is your state of mind when you are creating?
At best, there’s a moment of real stillness before I write. It’s the most sacred feeling. It’s hard to describe and I don’t find it all that often because my life is currently very busy. It’s usually around 5 or 6 PM. The world seems pardoned in that time. The anxieties of motion seem to fall away and I feel visited by what I’d call perspective. I mean this in a very literal way—I simply see how things truly are. The basics. We are on a hunk of cooling rock. People suffer terribly because we can’t fathom the concept of interconnection. I will die. I share that truth with all others. This life is not something to “make,” just as the idea that we have to “make something of ourselves” is absurd and trespasses on the profound gift we’re given here, now, no strings attached. If that makes sense. It’s just that my capacity to notice things wakes up. I notice what something tastes like. I notice the sadness in the face of someone I’m walking past.

12.     Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?
It does—I mean the above statement is quite radical in its implications. I lived in Spain a couple of years ago and they would say, “The Spanish work to live. Americans live to work.” That’s probably a gross generalization but the point is that I’m studying poetry right now at a university, and I feel such intense pressure from all sides—training protocols, community engagement projects, my teaching work, my course work, the need to develop a strong curriculum vitae by going to conferences, etc. I constantly fall out of touch with the idea of “space” or “silence.” I feel really privileged and grateful to be where I’m at. But I’m also sort of looking around and thinking, “I am getting a degree in poetry. This is literally school for the art of noticing things. What must be happening to normal people going for, say, business or agriculture or working to support their kids? How in the hell are we supposed to make healthy political decisions? To reflect on ourselves and our country? To think about the way we talk to others? To think about the anxieties we have and how we’re letting them shape us into people who commit violence, directly or indirectly?”

Artist Interview: Fay Samimi

1.    What do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?'

I am a ceramic artist, I play with clay.

2.    How did you get involved with art?

I started taking ceramic classes when I was in graduate school for engineering. I fell in love with clay, and it has been part of my life ever since. 

3.    Where do you derive your inspiration from?

The interaction of technology, science, and art.

4.    What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?

That making a ceramic sculpture is a long process. Typically, it is more time consuming to make a sculpture than it is to complete a painting.

5.    What's something that continues to interest you about your work?

Incorporating found objects in my sculpture to communicate the narrative in each work, and challenging myself to use material and techniques that I haven't used before in my pieces. 

6.    What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?

Buying art as an asset and using art as a status symbol.

7.    What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the art world?

This is the most frequently asked question when I talk to people. For me, it's about "what if?" When I am listening to the radio, and I hear a story about feminist or environmental issues, I think "what if these subjects could become a human feature in an animal?" or "what if an animal could be morphed into a human expressing my views?" For example, I found a shell and tried to hear the ocean from it. Then I thought "how many ways we could listen? Can we listen with our eyes?" I made a piece called LISTEN and added a shell on a human head. I also added a bird to this same sculpture as it represents one of the most pleasant ways we can listen to nature.

8.    Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.

I have been taking classes and workshops from the artists that I admire to learn and to improve. You can say that I am a self thought artist. Working with clay has been my hobby while I took care of my family and worked as an engineer in the microelectronic industry.

When we moved to Florida 8 years ago, I retired as an engineer and devoted my time to my passion for art.  I used to make mostly funky, functional ceramic vessels, but in recent years, I have gravitated towards making sculptures.

9.    What is your state of mind when you are creating?

It feels like meditation, the outside world does not exist. I am often told that I must be enjoying it so much because I am smiling at the work in front of me.

10. Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?

Yes, of course. You can see the influence of feminism and environmental issues, particularly my concern about the influence of humans over animals and nature.

11. Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?

While I am designing my pieces, I don't think about how the viewer will perceive my art. I concentrate on my story. But, when a piece is finished, I am very interested to know how the viewer interprets my story from his/her perspective and how they finishe my story.

12. What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?

Spiritual.

Artist Interview: Lillian Verkins

Award winning abstract painter Lillian Verkins gives us some insight on her life as an Orlando Artist.
 

1. Lillian what do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?’          

I say I’m an artist.

2. How did you get involved with art?

After my husband died I went back to college, where I took a photojournalist class for an easy A never anticipating that I would fall in love with the process.  But it took 20 more years for me to fall in love with painting.

3. What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?          

They don’t understand that inspiration isn’t there every day. That  the muse is sometimes elusive.

4. What's something that continues to interest you about your work? 

Since I have no end image in mind it’s great to see what my hands and my mind will create. It’s always different.

5. What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?          

I think digitally created images and giclees are having a significant impact on original oil and acrylic paintings, because of the drastic difference in the price points.

6. What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the art world?

I think the biggest trend now is the ability of each artist to show and sell their works on line via many different sites or their own web site. Also there are many sites offering to make prints of original art work, allowing the artist to sell at different price points.

7. Where do you derive your inspiration from?                                                                

My latest inspiration is from the Hubble space craft images.  I  wanted to create my own spaces of meditations and travels on the canvas fields infront of me.  

8. Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.        

 This could take a while. I received a BFA from UCF in 1987 in Photography/Printmaking.  I’ll focus in on the painting aspect of my life. In 2004 I saw an exhibit of Oriental Brush Paintings that inspired me.  So I started taking classes in that. Since I have bilateral CT, the use of small brushes and small images became uncomfortable and I needed to expand both. Experimentation led me to acrylics and the large canvases.  I transitioned from flower-landscapes-figurative-abstract.  

9. What is your state of mind when you are creating?          

Meditative, always is the present moment of the development.

10. Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?  

No, I don’t think so.

11. Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?

No.  Not when I am creating it.  When I finally finish a piece I will sit and reflect upon it.

12. What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?            

I think its contentment.  But perhaps that is my own feeling which I am assigning to the painting when it’s finalized. 

Artist Interview: Heather Torres

1.    What do you say when people ask you, 'What do you do?'
I wear many hats so I suppose it depends on the situation I’m in.  I am a watercolor an acrylic painter, teacher, Program Manger at Full Sail University, marketer, entrepreneur, wife and mother.  I take all of these jobs very seriously and love all aspects of my crazy life and what I “do.”
 2.    What new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on how people think about art?
In my opinion, technology and the Internet has made the most significant impact on how people think about art today.  It gives the vast majority of people immediate access to art, all types of art.  Technology is used to make new art in a world where anything goes. 
 3.    What's something that most people just don't understand about your field?
I think most artists have a general understanding of the artistic process and the time and energy that goes into creating and marketing a piece of work, where non-artists find this tougher to grasp.  Some just see art as a hobby, however, in order for an artist to be successful, it takes more than talent and skill, it takes business savvy, persistence, and creativity.
 4.    What's something that continues to interest you about your work?
Exploration – I love trying new things. I’m still learning about the nuances of watercolor and how to control a medium that I thought at one time was nearly impossible to control.  I love trying new techniques and with consistent daily practice, I’ve acquired new skills that have helped me take my technique to the next level.
 5.    What's an emerging trend that you think will shake up the art world?
Mobile apps and gaming are trends that are shaping our world right now and developers need artists to help bring their visions to life.  The way we consume art has changed so much in recent years.  While we still have tangible art experiences, more and more is happening in a digital space and that trend will continue to grow in the future.
 6.    How did you get involved with art?
I’ve been interested in art as long as I can remember.  When I was 6 years old, I won my first art contest for a Bicycle Safety event at my school.  I realized I had some skill compared to other kids my age - I won a bike and after that I was hooked.  I put my artistic touch on everything I could.  I painted furniture, filled sketchbooks, and spent a lot of time making pottery and sculpture.  I ended up being awarded an art scholarship when I graduated from high school and pursued an art degree my first two years of college at the University of Central Florida.  I ended up getting a job working in marketing and promotions and switched my major to Marketing.  I took a 10-year detour from art but overtime; I found I couldn’t live without art in my life.  In recent years, I’ve studied painting and paint daily.  Now, I feel like I can’t live without my daily painting release.
 7.    Where do you derive your inspiration from?
My primary inspiration is nature.  I love the outdoors and natural wonders.  If you take a look at my work, it’s clear – the beach, plants, animals, and people are the primary subjects of my work.
8.    Please tell us about your training and how you transitioned to where you are today.
I have two and a half years of formal art training for the University of Central Florida.  I’ve also studied under accomplished Central Florida based watercolor master, Ken Austin, and internationally known and award-winning watercolor artist, Carol Carter.  I consider both of them to be wonderful mentors and an inspiration.  Over the years, I’ve built my skills and have been fortunate enough to be accepted in many juried shows, including the National Watercolor Society.  I’ve had solo exhibitions, won awards, been the poster artist for local art festivals, and have art in collections around the world.  I feel very fortunate to have found success doing something I love. 
9.    What is your state of mind when you are creating?
Painting is an escape for me.  I put on music and get lost in my work.  It’s easy to zone out and lose track of time.  I find it therapeutic.
10. Does your social and political climate impact your artistic expression?
Not really.  I’m more interested in getting lost in the natural world around me and try to avoid social and political views.  While I enjoy studying other works that make a statement, my work is focused more on the relationship between human and nature.
11. Are you thinking about the viewer’s psychology of experiencing your art when you create?
My goal is to transport the viewer into my state of mind.  I hope they find my work relaxing and soothing.
12. What emotion would you say plays the biggest role in your art?
I think love is the emotion that plays the biggest role in my art – a love of nature, space, and time; living in the moment and not taking life for granted.