As all great artists tend to do, I've added clouds to the rotation--I could spend the rest of my life studying and painting these big, dynamic beauties. The sky and clouds hold so much information about what is happening that I rarely get board of watching them roll by. There are several more layers of underpainting left and some additional palette knife work with accent guilding to be applied in the studio this week before this transitional piece heads to its new owner.
With his feet to the street and has heart to the stars, artist Maha John paints streamlined, complex, and iconic works of art that strike the viewer with their bold sense of composition and use of color. John Grunwell chats it up with Big Social on life, art and all things celestial.Read More
Text by: Robin E. S. Kovzelove & Gregg Deal
Big Social: Why do you create art? What got you started? Really level with my readers about your creative fire and the reasons that fuel you to continue.
Gregg: Creating is really the only thing I feel that I have. The only thing I have full control over, and the only thing that edifies me in a way that little else can. It is something that I’ve always done, and always felt important. When I was a young adult and people start telling me that I need to get a job, go to college and such, there is less importance placed on these things. That somehow making things, being creative is not practical. A dreamer. There is nothing that says a dreamer can’t be a finisher, and someone who pushes the envelope of concept, critical thinking, and social ideas. That is the crux of my drive as I have gotten older. I represent a small minority of people in this country, and have some ideas and concepts that are good content for my work. My drive is ultimately my work coupled with my life, making it work that reflects my life, something that I think enriches art as a whole, giving it meaning and purpose beyond process.
Big Social: It is obvious from your instagram that you are a family man. You've got an amazing family. Can you talk with me about raising children in a modern society while keeping them historically empowered to their roots.
Gregg Deal: My family is my family. They’re just a regular part of my life, and just as my previous statement, my work and family, and life are all intertwined. As far as raising my children in a modern society, it’s not something I work out with an actual game plan, it’s something I just do. We are members of our tribe, we have certain things that reside within our family and we do what we can to sustain those things, and correct them where needed. I don’t think it’s any different than any other family trying to instill traditions, ideas, concepts and education within their homes or in their families. It’s not something special to me, it’s just our home.
Big Social: Racism apparently is alive and kicking. Personally I feel that racism is a dying cultural breed but could you elaborate on your experiences both good and bad concerning the mascot and name change issue.
Gregg Deal: I wish I could share your optimism about those that harbor racism as a dying breed. There is more information, it’s true, thus creating a greater sense of accountability, but the philosophies of racial superiority are ongoing. Hell, we belong to a culture and government that was built upon racial and class superiority, and quick and deliberate change with a foundation like that won’t come easy at all. The bridge that needs to be built in things like the mascot issue are ones of education. The uphill battle is that we have generations and generations of Americans being taught things that counter ideas that Indigenous people are 1) still here, 2) not a relic, 3) human beings 4) diverse and vast and 5) not as sensitive as people think we are. The damage that is brought upon Indigenous people just in this one simple argument is one that we are not allowed to own our identity, that our identity is owned and consumed by American culture, and that we have no say in what is appropriate or not appropriate in such matters. It means we are not considered equal, and therefore have no right to appeal to the masses that what they perceive as being Indigenous and an honor is not appropriate. We are beholden to a canonized idea of what Indigenaity is, essentially that we must look, talk, act, dress and present ourselves as the stereotype in order to be Indigenous. There is no wavering from the presentation of what America believes is Indigenous, therefore giving no thought for our diversity. There are over 566 different tribes in the United States alone, wither 300 different languages amounting to about 5.6 Million people. You can not expect Indigenous citizens, peoplee who belong to their tribal communities and are citizens of America to all look exactly the same. American culture would say otherwise. But the inequality really rears it’s head when you consider that if a sports team mascot had a racist stereotype or epitaph or both to represent their team for the black community, it wouldn’t last long. In fact, all of those things were done away with because they are dehumanizing in nature. That is ultimately what it comes down to, dehumanization. But we don’t really count, and people refer to us as nothing more than overtly PC and too sensitive. After everything Indigenous people have been through, and are still going through, I am not sure that sensitivity is an attribute you can pin on to us. We are the great middle children of America, and there is little that can be done until it’s done.
As far as experiences, I’ve seen it all. I’ve been threatened with my life, I’ve been dismissed, I’ve been thanked for bringing light to an otherwise dark subject. It really runs the gamut.
Big Social: I have always been aware of the great beauty and reverence of indigenous peoples and their cultures. Moving forward what are your hopes and dreams for the remaining tribes in North America?
Gregg Deal: Admittedly this is an odd question to me. I am just one person. I would not assume to push my hopes and dreams on to any tribes, particularly ones I am not a part of. Perhaps the freedom to conduct themselves as sovereign nations. The complexities of being Indigenous in and out of Indian Country is too much to place a blanket statement over outside of that I think.
Big Social: Your art is just kick ass. I'm a big fan. What are your personal goals for the rest of this year? Is there anything up your sleeve that you are especially stoked about?
Gregg Deal: Thank you. That kind of thing humbles me, really. It’s overwhelming to me when people like my work, and I appreciate it. Art life hasn’t changed much from the beginnings. You hustle to get opportunities, seize the opportunities when they show up, and make the best of it, and do my best to make a living to provide for my family. So before anyone thinks that the hustle ends, I am under the distinct impression that it never really does.
That said, I am looking forward to a short residency in Baltimore in July that I am really looking forward to. It’s a residency that will enable me to do whatever I want to do, and make a mark on a city I secretly love. After that I am looking at a three month residency at the Denver Art Museum. Much like Baltimore, it is a chance for me to make some art, to push the boundaries and be enable to do what I want to do as an artist. I am pretty stoked about it all.
Editor's note: I too secretly love Baltimore. I used to live in an artist warehouse on Oliver St across from the gothic Greenmount Cemetery back in the late 90's.
Big Social: Please name names. What artists have truly inspired you. I mean stopped you dead in your tracks and got you thinking?
Gerard Richter, Odd Nerdrum, Matthew Barney, and even the audaciousness of Damien Hirst. I was, am and still am inspired by Indigenous performance artist, painter and installation artist James Luna. Shepard Fairey’s work intrigues me, his processes are inspiring, and his design work is virtually spotless. There are a few Latino artists I love like Ernesto Yerena and Zeke Pena. My good friend Cheyenne Randall is making moves, and I do love his work and stylings. I have enormous respect for Nani Chacon, and incredible painter as well as Jaque Fragua, both indigenous, both with strong voices and processes. Within my performance work, I am moved by poets and especially moved by them in terms of performance art and poetry. I am very inspired and moved by R. Vincent Moniz Jr.. I always come back to all of these guys, and am thinking about their work, their process, subject and voice.
Big Social: If there is one thing you want people to take away from your art what would that one concept be?
I’m not sure. This is something that I have difficulty in. I am open to the ways people look at art, and in particular, my art. I don’t care about preconceived notions, prejudices or upsets when someone looks at my work. I want people to take from it whatever they will, and to me, that is the work at large. The way viewers see it, internalize it, judge it, feel about it, reject it or accept is, all of that is part of the process of the work. I suppose in my moral or social subjected work I hope it contributes to the conversation, but I also hold no preconceived notions that I do anything of worth, do anything that isn’t of worth. If it speaks, it speaks. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I will ultimately move on to the next thing and keep creating work. That is my life.
Big Social: What's your dream artistic project? I mean just dream it up for me.
Gregg Deal: I think continued and enabled opportunity. I want to do things where money isn’t a factor and I can push the work farther than I could without that one factor holding me back. I want to make work that is decidedly indigenous while breaking through the barrier of pigeon holing my work to only exist in the realm of Indigenous art. I want my work to be art, and to be work with value for my voice, my process, subject, styling and such, not a commodity because of who I am, or where I come from. I may be asking for too much though. LOL.
Big Social: What kinda music do you listen too?
Gregg Deal: Man, everything. It really depends on the work I am working on, and the mood I’m in. I have been listening to hip-hop a lot lately, but I also love Beck and Radiohead right now. My musical tastes are pretty vast and diverse. Johnny Cash, Beastie Boys, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Beck, Tribe Called Quest, Action Bronson, Classical music, whatever.
Big Social: In your opinion if there was a captive audience what could indigenous people teach the world?
Gregg Deal: I think the world needs to let go of the romanticism of Indigenous people before they hear anything that they would take to heart. We’re human beings, but everyone wants us to talk like a damn medicine man all the time. It’s not really like that.
Big Social: What is your favorite brand of spray paint, and what is your favorite artistic technique?
Gregg Deal: I use Montana Gold a lot because I know the colors really well. All the MTN, Montana stuff works well. My favorite artistic technique, forever and always is a brush to canvas.
Be sure to visit Gregg's website https://squareup.com/market/gregg-deal
My drawing is going to etched on the surface of the moon! Yes the real moon.Read More
It's spring now and you may have thought "When is this artist person gonna make a new blog post?" and if you've thought it rightfully so. Most of the artist's that I've invited to be featured on this site haven't returned their interview questions. So I'm beginning to think that they got lost in the cloud over the Bermuda Triangle. Or maybe the dog ate it. Or maybe they sent it via carrier pigeon. Or stuffed their responses in a bottle and tossed it into the ocean.. I don't know but no worries right? Fail fast and often and you're bound to find success sooner or later. But the good news is that in all my down time I've started four new large scale paintings that I'm really excited about and am happy to report that I'm out of my creative rut! Hooray it's a great day!
Steeped in the classic Italian renaissance style Priscilla Treacy has continued to create works of art that captivate and inspire her viewers. For over 30 years she has refined her profession and it shows! Priscilla's work is found in local and international collections. Read on as she answers some of my questions and get to know this incredible artist.Read More
Currently I am on hiatus from blogging so that I can enjoy some much deserved down time. But don't fret because after the New Year I'll begin publishing interviews from the areas most intriguing artists. Here is a picture of a cat with laser eyes to tide you over.
In a vast silence there is much to learn. In the company of many there is a need for social connection, non-judgement and a genuine ear. Why so afraid? There is inspiration in everything so why are you so bored and uninspired? Because...you are not listening. It's that simple. Could you find allure in the murk and fog, in the twisting vine and in the blades of grass in these fields? The land is telling me the story. What will you hear?
Rania Peet loves wine, monster and power tools. Read on to discover where Rania's plans will lead her on the road to a 2015 pro haunt.Read More
Vintage Reproduction of a Circus PosterRead More
The morning air is crisp and cool... incredibly clean. Autumn's edge flows into the windows tracing floorboards with a chill. There is sugar and cream and all the minimal simplicities. With an overwhelming sense of gratitude a person pours coffee from a french press into two white cups.
People tell me I'm a real couch potato, that this is where my best work is done...procrastinating..my life away taking cat naps on the couch. It may seem like a cake walk to some but there's a lot of technique going on! Dreaming is a art, a skill and it's of no use unless you've got a few minutes to spare...which I do. And I will. Asleep, now lucid, in dream a deep cavern appears, filled sounds of trickling waters are here and the path is vast and still leading to a stream beneath a town. There are steps leading up and out towards the surface. Above, in the town, there are many needs of repair and below... the ground by the riverbed is bare and the water is low. Filtered light streams down to highlight the waters path Where it has been and where it is going. Awake, ready for adventure I pause, reach towards my notebook and draw an oval.
So I started a blog. So what. This is really about me growing as an artist, that's the goal. What can you, the reader expect from me? Content in some form, here at this URL every Monday. Inspiration fills your sails and you just never know where it's going to take you. This week it all started with a red pen, a ruler and a Nikon.