Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mini Interview with BayVAN artist Steven Barich

BayVAN artist Steven Barich has an exhibition titled Zen with a Kickstand and Other Work at Branch Gallery.

Artist Reception: Friday, May 27, 6pm-9pm
May 6 - July 1, 2011
First Friday receptions: May 6, June 3, July 1, 6pm-9pm

We took a minute to ask him some questions to get a little insight into his work, artmaking process and life.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I live and work in Oakland, CA. I pretty much grew up here, studied here…but I feel that I really cut my teeth as an artist by living in Europe for nearly five years in the mid-2000s. Currently, there is a strong and supportive community of artists in Oakland—and the SF Bay Area in general—and it makes me stick around. The thing about a good community is, as a member, you have to actively nourish it, grow it…so besides participating as an exhibiting artist, I started as well as curate shows now and then.

Tell us a bit about the works featured in the Zen with a Kickstand exhibit, back-stories on where/how the work was made.
The actual piece Zen with a Kickstand came out of the working process: I was working on another drawing in my studio, totally fixated on the work-at-hand and blasting music in my studio while trying out names for this upcoming exhibition at the Branch Gallery/BayVAN, when I just came up with an idea of a new stone shape in the form/action of a Zen circle (the Zen circle being a supposedly perfect moment/movement of drawing a circle in one single ink stroke). However, a Zen circle made of my mosaic patterns couldn’t just “stand” there on it’s own, nor would it be perfectly drawn in one single movement of the brush…so, I thought it would need a supportive kickstand! Voila! Zen with a Kickstand. And then of course, I had to draw the new piece right away.

Two important things related to the above comment: the working process of the artist—how being active in action and thought in the studio creates new ideas, new work—and how the title ‘Zen with a Kickstand’ really represents my current work: drawn objects that reflect our desire for perfect things, images and devices…but all require a certain help, assistance or “propping up” to be perfect. So much of what is thought as perfect from nature is often remade by Mankind’s own hand to be even better. I think this is both such an amazing and disturbing process in our collective human history…this idea is connected to why if I’ve been incorporating the idea of Chinese Scholar’s Rocks into my most recent body of work. Also, ‘Zen with a Kickstand’ is like a Koan…it doesn’t make any sense…but now I’ve drawn it and it exists on paper, so how amazing is that?!?

When/ how did you get into making art?
I wish I could remember that far back! But seriously, I think I was predetermined to make art: my mother was/is a huge influence on me, as she is an artist and I grew up in and around art schools for a majority of my youth…that creative/DIY spirit is just what I know.

What is your favorite media to use?
My true favorite media is pastels. Very immediate, with amazingly rich creamy color, and it requires skill and patience and gives back so much beauty. Just thinking about it makes me want to go make a drawing in pastel.

You are working on a limited edition print with fellow BayVAN artist Tallulah Terryll for BayVAN's new Print Registry, tell us a bit about the process and how this differs from your normal work.
Well, I’ve desired to make an intaglio print in the vein of my Logic Stones body of work for some time now…but I know first hand how challenging printmaking can be if you don’t keep the practice up, and it has been many years since I’ve worked on a plate. Working with Tallulah is great. I’m taking full use of her extensive knowledge, and I’m excited to get the end result: a hard ground/aquatint/spit bite combo image!

For me, this print really needs to have a high investment in terms of the hand-of-the-artist and the printmaking process itself, just as much time/energy investment as my drawings in the Logic Stones series. In this way, nothing is different from my normal way of working. However, because the print will be an edition, I’m not focusing on it as a true unique object per se…and the print image itself is an alternative take on the large Zen with a Kickstand drawing I’ve made for this exhibition at BayVAN. I decided to tie together the large drawing, the limited edition print and the title of the exhibition…something completely new overall. I like the idea of a tone of an exhibition being created from a single major work, and then giving the rest of the works space to feedback off that primary piece.

Tell us about
Artopic is a side-project in my artistic practice where I’ve tried to create a format where artists can reflect on their own practice or the practice of colleagues, and their artwork. The online blog-portal format is simple and effective, and has a far reach. I’ve managed to interview a number of great local/international artists about their artistic practice over the years, and I’ve kept up that activity in contributing to Artopic with interviews situated in the Bay Area. It is important to note that I am not the only contributor, that other artists and colleagues have given their time and energy to Artopic to really make it shine—Artopic is a great collection of essays, poems, videos that collectively create a recent history of artistic thought. And, Artopic is always open to new contributors who want to reflect on their own practice or find interest in documenting their local scene.

What is next for you?
Besides looking forward to exhibiting all this new work at the Branch gallery during the spring/summer, I have a small work in a CCA Alumni exhibition at the San Pablo Art Gallery in May, as well as having a nice work in the Southern Exposure MEGA MEGA MEGA auction on May 7th in San Francisco. This year so far has been a very busy and exciting time for me artistically. For the rest of the year I plan on focusing on different mediums that I think will expand my focus with the Logic Stones, taking a look at further abstraction of the current images as well as breaking out into subtle three-dimensional wall works. I could also mention those few videos and other collaborative projects I’m going to be working on, but then I’d have to tell you a secret…wait, I just did!!