Becoming the Student, #13: Kevin Stark

Way back on St Patrick’s Day Kevin Stark and I sat down to share some Guinness and make a portrait. After a long while I’m finally posting it. It’s one of my favorites of the Becoming the Student series, and I am very happy I documented its creation in a video. See that video at the bottom of this post.

2014-03-18 17_17_11Kevin Stark. Digital drawing created with Adonit Jot Touch 4 in Sketchbook Pro on iPad Air, 2014. Click for enlargement.

On Shared Experiences

“I try to be present. I don’t like it when I’m not. That’s why I’ve been doing this game night thing. The games themselves are a blast – I love the strategy and going for the win and all – but I really love the way that games reveal things about people and you get to know them. I’ve always been big on shared experiences. I derive quite a bit of joy from knowing and being with people. Like, I’m not so interested in going to see a movie with someone. But, for instance, going to the True/False festival with someone – doing something you have to journey through together – is something I love. You’re participating in it together, sharing it together, and every connection between you is growing. Those are the kind of things I’m big on.”

On His Rebellious Childhood

“Everything that I’m into now I said I hated as a kid, like Star Wars, the Red Socks, and The Beatles. My dad tried to introduce me to each one of them and I was like, ‘NOO!’ I’m glad I grew out of that ‘cause they’re pretty awesome.”

On Mellowing Out

“I’m more OK with people mellowing out. I used to be annoyed that this concept of a ‘restless youth’ thing was just a youth thing. The idea that people sometimes become confortable with things… I guess I’m mellowing out about mellowing out.”

On Music

“I’m really into discovering new music right now. There’s too much. Too much. I really like Daytrotter. It’s a download website where a bunch of bands from around the world share four song sets and they get posted.”

“And Destroyer. You ever heard Destroyer? Oh, man – it’s great! Get into Destroyer. He has two albums that have affected me greatly.”

“I’m annoyed at how much I’m a sucker for long songs.”

On His Portrait

“Thanks for not making me make a stanky face for two hours.”

Digital painting of my friend Kevin Stark. Two hours.

Advertisements

Becoming the Student, #0: Geo the Woodworker

I first met Geo when my wife and I lived up in Evanston, IL. He was iconic on our street, his long gray hair always a sight to see. He and his family own several of my artworks, and I have always enjoyed my conversations with the man. He is a gentleman and a scholar, and given to grand gestures and deep sincerity. Once, back in 2009, he drove 8 hours (one way!) to see an exhibition of mine and take me out to dinner. He’s a really unique soul and I’m glad to know him.

In late 2013 I had the opportunity to draw Geo at a pastel workshop I was giving at the Evanston Art Center (in conjunction with an exhibition I was in there). I was glad that Geo was willing to sit for me; I’d always though him a man possessing a regal bearing, similar to a Founding Father or deity.

DSC_0412Geo the Woodworker, Pastel on toned paper, 24 by 18 inches. 2013.

After I began working on my Becoming the Student series, I realized that my drawing of Geo was, perhaps, the true initiation of the project. So, in the spirit of Becoming the Student, I asked Geo to tackle a few questions for me, and his answers are below. After reading through them, be sure to check out his website to see his fantastic work!

On How Long He Has Been a Woodworker

“I started in with wood even before I knew it.  Then in college I had the opportunity to study with a real master carver and through that experience I just knew… it seemed to be in my blood. That was back in 1975, so at least that long.”

On What Life Lessons and/or Epiphanies Working With Wood Has Given Him

“I guess I’ve learned that it – the work, regardless of subject or use – is all the same. Here’s the bottom line: it is not what you do but HOW YOU DO IT. Every stroke of the chisel counts, whether you are carving The Baby Jesus, the Presidential Shield, or just making a Push Stick to use on that big table saw. You must come to know that everything counts forever or nothing matters at all. I would suggest that you move toward the light in all things.”

On The Most Beautiful Work of Art He Has Seen or Heard

“First, a poem: Maud Muller, by John Greenleaf Whittier.  Second: my Foo Dogs. My wife gave them to me for my 50th birthday and they are as good as good gets!”

On How His Creativity Had Changed Over The Years

“I believe it has gotten thicker, not just longer or with greater elasticity. This is a blessing to be sure. But all things considered I’d have to say it’s thicker, yeah. More thick.”

On What Values Motivate Him as a Man, Dad, and Artist

“OTHERS! All my life, it has been the ability I have to help others, to inspire others, to challenge them. That’s what I love.”

On How To Recharge Creativity

“Go outside. OPEN your eyes. Read a book. Take in a beach, a mountain, a river. Go to the Wailing Wall. SEE and BE. Remember: hard work is hard work. The ‘best you can do’ is rarely the easiest answer.”

On His Earliest Art Experience

“I’m not sure how old I was, but I have clear early memories of my aunt sitting in a kitchen somewhere knitting. I asked what she was making and she said, “Another sweater, just like the one your uncle is wearing.” Well that seemed hard to believe: ‘YOU made THAT??’ Sure enough. At the time I didn’t know yet that my mom and her sisters could knit like that: an Irish fisherman’s sweater with those rope patterns up the front. How could a person do that? It was impossible for me to imagine how it was done. It’s like at the Consecration, but even better. I mean, you get to WEAR the sweater. Yes, I was raised Catholic; I always thought that catholic meant, ‘closer to the real Art’.”

On How Being a Dad Has Changed His Work

“My son is here to remind me that we are all but links in an endless chain. As the old poem (Thanatopsis, by William Cullen Bryant) goes:

‘The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes

In the full strength of years, matron and maid,

The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man

Shall one by one be gathered to thy side

By those who in their turn shall follow them.’

The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man–Shall one by one be gathered to thy sideBy those who in their turn shall follow them.
Read more at http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/thanatopsis.html#I2Z2Tok0sel6VB3M.99

SO LIVE!”

~

imageGeo’s self portrait before the portrait demo I made. Epic!

~

Thanks, Geo, for your friendship and exuberance over the years!

Two Shows Going Up Soon!

I’m involved with two really great group shows based on the landscape right now. One is at the Deines Cultural Center in Russell, KS and the other is at IMAGO in Columbia, MO. The IMAGO show – Landscape: Idea and Ideal – is the inaugural exhibition for this new downtown gallery space. It’s really beautiful and I’m honored to show with a group of friends and former students Eric Norby, Matt Rahner, Megan Schaffer, and David Spear.

imagoimageA panorama of the Imago interior – it’s a beaut! Click for enlargement.

The group show at the Deines – called Finding Balance – is also about landscape. Curated by Joel T Dugan, the show features 15 artists from around the country and the catalog for the show looks really sweet. Norby and Schaffer are also in this exhibition, as is my good friend and former student Jacob Maurice Crook, who just recently earned his MFA from Syracuse University. Glory all around!

findingbalanceNice to see Norby’s work on the cover of the catalog – Click to download it!

Becoming the Student, #12: Luke Freeperson

One of the great joys of my life has been to know and be known by Luke Freeman. He and his wonderful wife Natalie, now of Freckled Hen Farm in Arkansas, were a part of our community in Columbia, Missouri for many years. We watched them fall in love, be transformed, serve others, get married, explore their passions, graduate from university, and move into the world to make it a better place.

lukeLuke Freeperson, gouache on paper, 12 by 11 inches. May 2009.

Luke’s grace as a friend and husband, gentle heart of faith and service, and hardworking spirit as a sustainable farmer and agricultural scholar have been huge influences on so many people. I think of Luke’s example often, and hope I can grow to manifest a tenth of his kind acceptance and quiet joy.

In working through the Becoming the Student project, this is the sort of contemplation I want to have – to take a few minutes, an hour, a day – to consider and pay attention to the real presence of others. The painting above was done in a quintessential Luke moment: cutting up vegetables for a meal we’d be taking to a local food pantry to feed 30 or 40 homeless and low-income people. It’s exactly the sort of thing you’ll find Luke and Natalie doing all the time. I’ve had this painting for years and just felt like it fit into the overall theme and structure of Becoming the Student, so I decided to include it.

I love following Luke and Natalie on Instagram (Natalie) (Luke) and keeping up with them via Natalie’s various blogging ventures (natalie creates and tend collective) and shop. You should check them out. And for a profile of their life and work, see this nice article about their photographic endeavors.

Thank you for your example, Luke. I know I’m not alone in appreciating it.

Becoming The Student #11: Allison Jacqueline Reinhart

Allison Reinhart (go to her website here) is a former student of mine who has been pretty instrumental in my growth as an educator over the last few years. We’ve worked together on a number of projects, each one more beneficial than the last. Her last solo exhibition was fantastic, and I was able to write about it for neotericART (click here to read the piece). Allison, as a student leader and presence on campus here at Mizzou, has had a deep impact for educational accessibility, universal design, and inclusiveness in our community (you can read about some of that here).

IMG_9291The Gaze of Allison Jacqueline Reinhart, pastel on paper mounted on panel, reclaimed oak. 18 by 18 inches, 2014. (Click for enlargement)

This portrait of Allison is one of my favorite works in a long time. Not only do I feel that it captures something of her take no BS attitude and strength, I also think the drawing has a clarity and directness that Allison also possesses. The reclaimed oak frame was something I built from a very old drawing desk that had been thrown out. When I saw the desk in the dumpster I knew I could make something substantial and beautiful from it. I think the frame really completes the piece, giving it a sense of solidity and authority.

I don’t want to go on and on, but Allison (as well as Gina Ceylan, who will be a forthcoming Becoming The Student subject) has been important in helping me to grasp the reality that affording access as broadly as possible – be that educational, social, or political – is not to be an afterthought for civilized societies. It should be front and center. It is not a special service or add-on benefit to accommodate the access and needs of my students; it should be a primary focus of my work as an educator. I’m thankful for the many conversations Allison and I have had about these issues.

On Neil deGrasse Tyson Explaining Things

“Listening to Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining things makes you realize how cool things are and could be, but also how shitty things actually are… and then I get sad. I mean, we understand all these great things about the universe but can’t even make health care affordable and universal. Makes me want to just go back to bed.”

On Her Portrait:

“Where’s my ermine?”

“That’s how I roll. This is my sitting up posture. It’s also my laying down posture.”

On the Becoming The Student Project:

“You sure know a lot of hairy men!”

On Awkwardness:

“I wish everyone understood that we’re all fucking awkward. Just go with it, people.”

To hear more from Allison – as well as other who have worked toward a better, more inclusive environment at Mizzou, watch this short film.

~