Saturday, May 11, 2019

Amenda Tate, Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 20th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Amenda Tate who is a super unique and great artist. My Dad and I saw her show at Artistry in Bloomington and we loved it. I watched the video about how she makes her paintings many times! You can watch the video and many more at I think Amenda's answers to my questions are fascinating and I think you will too. I hope you enjoy the interview! Thank you for reading!

Jackson: How did you come up with the idea to use a motion-controlled paintbot to make your paintings? Your video in your Artistry show was so cool.

Amenda: I had never attended a ballet performance until adulthood. I had a preconceived notion that it "wouldn't be for me." The experience was transformational in my ways of seeing. I didn't know I needed it until I had experienced it, and I didn't want it to end. 

After that, I wanted to work with the ballet to create artwork. I wanted to capture the essence of what was happening, not just be inspired by it.

I came up with the robot, Manibus, by modifying an electronics project that my kids and I had done together. I had no idea if it would work or not initially. It was all an exercise in curiosity and experimentation. Once I had a working prototype, I proposed my project to the professional dance company, Ballet Des Moines. We spent six weeks creating together and refining the process. 

Jackson: How old were you when you first became interested in art? Did something specific happen? 

Amenda: I have always been interested in "how things work." From a young age, I put things together and took things apart; I repaired things and made things. I have always been creative and curious. I wrote, I drew, I learned calligraphy, I did theater. At my small rural school, art classes were limited and basic and did not hold my interest. As a result, I did not take art classes in high school. 

I did half of a Mechanical Engineering degree in college and came to realize that I needed a discipline with more aesthetic and creative freedom. I took a jewelry & metalsmithing class and found what I was seeking. I could use science (chemistry, metallurgy) and create something that wasn't strictly functional --something that had the power to connect people and convey emotion or meaning by visual means. I suppose that was the point at which I truly turned my focus completely to making art.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be and why?

Amenda: That is really a tough question! Do I have to choose only one? Aaah!

My top 3:

Eva Hesse
I would love to have had the opportunity to chat with her regarding her innovative choices in materials. She was experimental using new materials and mediums. She challenged expectations in art-making. I feel a kinship to her process of discovery.

Louise Bourgeois
I am inspired by how bold and confident she was in her resolve and her creative choices. I would enjoy spending a day with her asking how to awaken such a sense of confidence within myself.

Yayoi Kusama
While I do admire her current work, I would time travel to participate in her happenings in the 60's. I would ask her how can an artist do this type of work and still make a living? Having her current art world and art market knowledge, would she go back and do anything differently?

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Mandy Madsen, Artist and co-owner of Frameworks Gallery

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 19th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Mandy Madsen who is a great person, a great artist, and co-owner of Frameworks Gallery with Sydney Hintz. Frameworks has been nice enough to show my paintings twice. I really liked Mandy's answers and I think you will too. I hope you enjoy the interview! Thank you for reading!

Jackson: You are co-owner of a really great gallery. Has that changed the way you make art? 

Mandy: Thank you for thinking our gallery is great; I love co-owning it and having the chance to enjoy art at work. I love the connections it brings and giving artists a chance to display their work brings great joy to my heart (you're a great example!). The gallery has certainly exposed me to different styles and mediums, so I'm sure it has influenced my own creations (although I haven't thought consciously about that until you asked!). I grew up drawing and didn't start painting until my 20's; it was new to me, so I wanted to just feel the paint and enjoy the process without worrying about what it would look like. It resulted in a lot of abstract work. I currently am more into representational painting, especially places or subjects that I love. I think they still show the enjoyment and feeling behind the process, but it is more intentional in what I'm trying to portray. This shift could be in part from what I see through the gallery, and in part from being less fearful to try and create something that is recognizable. I recently started experimenting with watercolor, and that's definitely because of observing two artists whose styles of work I love - Susan Solomon and Andy Evansen.  I'm going to be taking a watercolor class from Andy in Hastings this spring and am excited to see where that will take my art.    

One other thought about the influence co-owning the gallery has on my art is that I have a limited amount of time on my hands. I not only create pretty quickly, but I think I cherish it even more than I used to. Whether it's stealing some time alone in my art room at midnight after the household is in bed, or asking my two kids to paint with me, I really savor the moments.  Oh and painting with my kids... one of the best things in life. They have no inhibitions, which is refreshing.  

Jackson: How did you first become interested in art? Did something specific happen?

Mandy: I have always enjoyed working with my hands and creating, whether crafts or fine art. I was the only Kindergartner in my school to have a piece in an art show - a sculpture of a bird. I remember feeling so excited for parents night and the reveal of the work. We lived in England from when I was in first through third grade (side note: I learned to read there and had a British accent, which you'd never guess now!). I remember sitting in my first grade class, looking at a photo of an eagle, drawing it with pencil and all of my classmates making a big deal about how realistic it looked. It really inspired me to keep trying to replicate what I saw through the use of graphite. My folks took that pencil sketch to a custom framer, had it framed and we entered it into an art contest that was going on in that shop. I was the youngest participant, won 4th place and remember feeling such a joy out of the experience. I was a quiet child and found drawing to be a place of peace and comfort. I mostly drew animals and portraits, but as I grew, I used my sketch book as an outlet. 

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be and why?

Mandy: My family is from Terre Haute, Indiana, and if I could sit down and have a long conversation with one artist, it would be with an artist named D. Omer "Salty" Seamon, a man from that area. I love his story and my grandparents knew him, so I think that makes it extra personal. He grew up sketching, worked some jobs like window trimming for department stores, and in 1929 moved to Minneapolis for a span to paint theater posters for Paramount.  He served in the military and after WWII decided to become a full-time freelance artist back in Indiana. He created artwork for local companies, including the Terre Haute Savings Bank where my grandmother was Vice President. I love his style of work and that he just went for it. He has passed now, but I actually did meet him as a child. I grew up singing with my mom and siblings; my mom played guitar and the four of us would sing for people at nursing homes, banquets, shut-ins and for family/friends. Because of the connection to my grandparents, we went out to his studio once and sang to him. As an adult involved in the arts for a career, I would love to have the chance to hear about his experiences and even draw or paint next to himI try to honor his memory each Christmas by reading a children's book he illustrated about a Christmas tree. My kids love it and seeing the illustrations takes me back to my childhood and the fond memories that surround it.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lisa Bergh, Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 18th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. I have a too cold day off from school so I am publishing this during the week! This time I interviewed Lisa Bergh who is a super creative artist whose art I am lucky enough to see every day on the walls at my home. My Dad and I have really loved her art any time we have seen it. I hope you enjoy the interview! Thank you very much for reading!

Jackson: How do you get your ideas? Your art is different from anything else I have seen.

Lisa: I am always looking at and thinking visually about the world around me, the mundane visual poetics of the day to day are often a formal source for my creative output, but rarely the direct content. For example, the installation you enjoyed titled “Unfurled” was queued visually by watching my young daughter flying a kite, but the piece has nothing to do with that experience, me, or my daughter. The piece is ultimately about moving through landscape, engaging the architecture of the specific gallery it was created for, the language of painting and sculpture, visual gestures, beauty, movement, engaging the audience in a way that questions who the real actor is – is it the sculpture that is walked in and around, or, is it the viewer moving around the work? I also allow the objects and ideas I am experimenting with in my studio to organically inform and lead me to the next project or point of inquiry. There is a list of ideas/concerns/goals I am continually working to dissect/ contemplate/achieve in my studio practice:

objects which are simultaneously presented as drawings/paintings and sculptures

abstraction and conceptualism with figuration and narrative

tension and gesture – formal, intellectual, and emotional

beautiful and thoughtful moments and casual and residual artifacts

specific and vague experiences

intimacy and aloofness

I am trying to connect all these dots in the most visually direct way I can.

Jackson: How old were you when you first became interested in art? Did something happen that made you think wow? 

Lisa: I was not a child who plugged into the arts beyond the basic art classes in school. I drew and wrote stories, but I did not have a kind of overt affinity for picture making that when children showcase it, adults immediately nurture it, until it becomes natural for a child. Instead, I was given real access to the arts in college when I was working towards a degree in Cultural Anthropology and was required to take a Basic Design Course. I loved the process of making and thinking about ways to articulate the principles of design for the class assignments – learning a new language. After that first class I signed up for a photography course. The next thing you know I had a BFA in printmaking and photography, and soon after, an MFA in spatial arts. My visual language was developed and nurtured through the practice of photography and I still feel a strong aesthetic alignment to the works of Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, and Edward Weston – photographers I deeply admired as a beginning art student. My work may seem quite different than theirs, but the foundation of my art ABC’s was constructed by studying these artists.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be?

Lisa: I would relish a conversation about art, aesthetic experiences, materiality, New York City, politics, and the 80’s with Felix Gonzalez Torres. I have long admired his work. While I am not driven to create art rooted in political activism, I am deeply drawn to his aesthetic, his ability to charge mundane materials with intense poetry and intimacy, and of course, the theatrical nature of his work. While he has long ago passed away, when I have the opportunity to experience his objects in a museum space they feel incredibly alive and present. It is always exciting for me to stand in front of his artwork. I marvel how he masterfully achieved many of the objectives I strive to reach in my studio practice. His works are tools for experience and contemplation; curious and mysterious while being incredibly direct and intimate. I can’t think of an art work by Felix that is not a slam dunk. He died so young … I wonder what he would be interested in making/expressing if he were still here.

Oh and I would love to time travel to 1927 to spend a long weekend in New York City with Dorothy Parker – that would be a real education.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Megan Hoogland, Tattoo Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 17th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. I have a snow day so I am publishing this during the week! This time I interviewed a great tattoo artist named Megan Hoogland. I met her and her family at the Project Bike documentary premiere in Minneapolis and they were all very nice. I liked them a lot. I hope you enjoy the interview. Thank you very much for reading!

Jackson: How did you decide to use your art skills to give people tattoos?

MeganIt wasn't my idea!  When a shop opened up in the town I was living in, a friend of mine told me I should ask for an apprenticeship, and I did...

Jackson: How old were you when you became interested in art? Was there a specific event?

MeganGrade school?  I just remember winning ALL of the elementary coloring contests!

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be?

MeganI was just able to meet Guido Van Helton! ( He is going to be painting the silos in Mankato this fall!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Dana Sikkila Murphy, Gallery Director, Artist, Teacher, Biker

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 16th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Dana Sikkila Murphy, who is a gallery director, teacher, great artist and much more! I am lucky enough to be in her Project Bike documentary which premieres in Minneapolis on October 20th. Dana is great! I think you will agree! Thank you very much for reading!

Jackson: How did you get the idea for Project Bike? It is such a great idea.

Dana: I got the idea for Project Bike in 2013, I had just taken over being Director of the 410 Project and was looking at myself as a leader and trying to figure out what I could do different than others but still be true to myself. So I took my two passions, biking and art making and combined them together. Why couldn't I bike around the state and meet with artists in their studios or homes? Seemed like a really simple idea and I wanted to make it happen, even though I had never toured on my bike more than two days at a time. In 2015 I received some grant funding for the project which gave me the kick in the butt to do it. So in 2015 I set out for 14 days, biked about 470 miles, and met with 10 artists. Since it was my first year it was really hard for me to convince artists to meet with me and then pack up their art works and allow me to take it on my bike. But with this being the 4th year of Project Bike, it is gained momentum and a great following but it took many years of hard work and trial and error.

Jackson: How did you know you wanted to be an artist? How old were you?

Dana: grew up in a very small town and there was not very much exposure to arts and culture. When I was young I never knew being an artist or working in the creative field was a actual thing. I did not have a very good high school experience and ended up barely graduating. One thing I did learn about myself in high school was that I learned best from using my hands, building things, making things work through construction. I was lucky enough to be accepted to MNSU for college. After attending one semester my eyes had completely opened up to what art was and that being an "adult" and being an artist was a thing. I had found my group of people and it all took off from there. 

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be?

Dana: Billie Holiday. Even with many personal struggles she used her music and voice as a platform. She stayed true to who she was and what her voice meant and what it could stand for. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Susan Solomon, Artist

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 15th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Susan Solomon who is a great artist and has been very helpful to me. She is great and very nice. I think you will agree! Thanks for reading!

Jackson: How old were you when you first became interested in art and what made you interested?

Susan: I remember always loving the big box of crayons, especially periwinkle, and would play with the crayons like they were alive. I grew up in Queens, New York. Once in 3rd grade we had a school contest where we had to draw a garbage can. I actually HAD a favorite garbage can; it looked like metal mesh. I drew that, won the contest and had my drawing posted on the bulletin board. That was a proud moment! It made what I loved to do the most seem important.

Jackson: What are you thinking about when you make your art? Do you try to clear your brain first?

Susan: This is a great question and oh so much better than the “what is your process” question! When I make art, there is only that on my mind. Sometimes I’ll catch myself actually saying out loud the tube of color I need to grab. Sometimes I sort of sculpt into the paint with a paper towel, as if entering the space. Entrance and layers of color and light are important. Angles are key. I don’t really need to clear my brain. On its own, it clicks into art mode and everything else disappears. Many, many times I will think about what I want to paint long before I do it, so the actual painting session is the final step after all the initial thinking.

Jackson: If you could meet any artist living or dead, who would it be?

Susan: I would spend time with a former teacher who died a few years ago. His name was Murray Dessner, and he was the kindest and most gentle man you’d ever want to meet. I took drawing classes from him at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, where I graduated from. Murray was an abstract expressionist painter, and he taught about the elements of art and how you find the same basic structures in all kinds of painting. He spoke about light and layers and composition, entering a painting and how that knowledge applies to every piece. He said things like, “think about how every corner of the canvas is painted.” And then in his drawing classes, he’d have us draw so fast that a kind of intuitive art possession took over. He always, always, stressed foreground, middle ground, background, and the art of making marks. I would meet him again for sure if I could meet any artist. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Bridget Kranz, Artist and Writer

Hello everyone! This is Jackson and welcome to the 14th interview for my blog, 3 Art Questions With Jackson. This time I interviewed Bridget Kranz. Bridget interviewed me and my Dad for and she did a really good job! I think she is a really special person and a great artist and writer. Thank you for reading! 

Jackson: How did you know you wanted to be an artist? How old were you?

Bridget: I never really thought, “I want to be an artist,” I just kind of fell into it. When I was 16, I tore my ACL, and applied for the Access/Print Program at Highpoint as a way to pass the time. When I applied, I didn’t know the emotional impact that making art would have on me. It gave me an outlet to express the disjointedness I felt at the time - I was finishing high school in Saint Paul, having just come back from a year in France, and my mom had recently moved to Southern California. It was so powerful to be able to combine these different worlds through my prints, and to envision ultimately what I wanted my life to look like. That was when I knew that I wanted art to be a large part of my life, as a way for me to express, shape, and commemorate my experiences. 

Jackson: You did such a good job interviewing me and my Dad. Do you see yourself doing both writing and art?

Bridget: Yes, I would love to continue to write and to make art! For me, the desire to write and the desire to make art come from the same place. Namely, that I love to document things! Through writing for an online art magazine, I’m lucky that I get to meet new people, hear their stories, and help document them.  

Jackson: If you could meet one artist living or dead, who would it be and why?

Bridget: Right now, it would be Lois Dodd. Going to school in Maine, her style of painting was so influential for me, along with Fairfield Porter and Alex Katz. There’s this whole group of 20th century painters who began migrating up the East Coast and spending a significant amount of time in Maine. Specifically, I love the way Dodd zooms in; she crops and distills mundane scenes into these recognizable fragments. It would also be important to me to meet an artist who’s a woman. I’d like to hear about her specific journey and the ways in which her experiences as a woman have shaped her painting (if they have!).