MEET ::.. John Wentz - San Francisco, CA
“I feel bad for kids today. Too many gadgets and the internet is killing their creativity. Log out and pick up a comic book for pete’s sake!”
Wow! The new light works you are doing are so different then the paintings I have seen in the previous past… Tell me about that.
All the light works are experiments I’ve been doing for an upcoming
group show at 111 Minna Gallery. The title of the show as of now is
"Moment" and it will be up in March. It’s a collaboration between 15
artists and one photographer, Kelly Nicolaisen. She’s an amazing
photographer and I was so stoked to be included in the project. Other
artists in the show include Micah Lebrun, David Choong Lee, Mars 1 and
Henry Lewis. It’s going to be amazing! We are using long exposure
photography and whatever lights and light contraptions you can come up
with. So I started brainstorming for a week or so, coming up with
techniques, tools and contraptions. All of those works are products of
what I came up with.
I plan on doing a lot more of it in the future. It’s such an interesting
and challenging medium.
I met you at the academy of art as a model, I have had a great time getting to know you! How do you find being an instructor at the academy of art influences you? I am always surprised to see the REAL work that teachers produce outside of academy walls.
Thanks! It’s been awesome working with and getting to know you. One of
my favorite models for sure. Man, that’s influenced me in so many ways.
The first is that it constantly pushes me. Some of those students are just
simply amazing. On one hand it’s so great to see them progress, but on the
other you’re thinking…man, I gotta keep it up or they’re gonna crush me.
So I have no time to get lazy.
I also love to constantly be in the mindset and environment of art. It’s
all I really do 24/7. I was just thinking the other day that I am so lucky
because I am pretty much doing exactly what I wanted since I was a kid. So
I am constantly in a wonderful dialogue with students and peers all of the
time about so many facets of art.
So, in short..I have to keep on my toes and it’s made it so that I view
everything everyday in terms of art.
I am always surprised, too. Sometimes it’s exactly what they do and in
some cases it is SO different. In my case it is very different and I love
that. I constantly get to go back to “roots” of painting and also show my
students that painting an apple and cup is no different than painting kids
in gas masks and superheroes. LOL
Awh John, thanks for saying that. I love modeling in your classes, you always have a great music selection too! Do the works that your students produce have an effect on the works you are creating?
That’s a great question. Maybe not the works themselves, but HOW they
produce them. I think that teaching is 50% selfishness. That is, I think
that if you are open, you will learn just as much-if not more- than you
give. In my case, I feel that I learn more. I see students find different
approaches to the same “idea” and it opens my mind to what and how
painting can be. I am also fortunate to have the opportunity to bring in
my own experiences to my teaching. If I have new ideas or approaches, I
can run them by students and get their feedback or see how they respond.
It’s something I really enjoy. It’s a symbiotic relationship for sure.
There is a great balance between super heros and more “normal” (whatever that really means) people I have seen in your previous works. It give a feeling of inspiration to some degree… Maybe we are all secretly super heros? What is your idea behind those pieces?
Thanks! I agree, we are all superheroes in a sense. I love the
archetype of the hero and superhero…I think it’s part and parcel to the
human condition. I like Carl Jung’s idea that it represents the greatest
potential of what is inside us all. Superheroes inspire us, help us to
escape from the mundane and shape us in terms of values, morals, etc. And
when I say “superheroes” it’s not just Batman and Spiderman. The hero is
such a common archetype. Jesus was a superhero as was the Buddha and so on.
So the idea behind those pieces was an exploration of the hero figure in
contemporary times. My youth was immersed in comic books and those
superheroes totally had an effect on every part of me…as well as
teaching me to draw. I would copy every panel of every comic book I had.
But getting older and seeing the rise of technology and the world wide web
it seems as if that archetype is falling by the wayside.
So the different styles, as you pointed out, represent those different
times and mindsets. They are intentionally disparate and at war with each
other. I feel bad for kids today. Too many gadgets and the internet is
killing their creativity. Log out and pick up a comic book for pete’s sake!
I think you can really see the craving for superheroes in the rise in
popularity of all the comic book movies. The majority of movies being made
started as comic books or graphic novels. There is something in that
medium that captures the human mind and spirit. I don’t think it’ll ever
take the place though. I think the problem is that the hero needs to be
autonomous in a sense. When you read “Batman” there is no known “face” to
that hero so you can put yourself in that place. It reaches deep into your
psyche. But when you watch Christian Bale play Batman it can only go so
far because in the end you’re like…oh, yeah that’s Christian Bale. Then
you hear bout him being a douche to people on set and what not and it
kills the power of that archetype.
What is coming up for you in 2011? What are you most excited about in this brand new year??
2011 holds a boat load of work for me. I have a couple of shows lined
up, but I am looking for more and I plan to be working my butt off in the
studio as well as teaching. I’m also getting back into mural painting,
which I put off for a couple of years. I just moved back to SF in June so
I am also enjoying hanging out with friends in the community and want to
work more with other artists. My main concentration is my solo show at 111
Minna Gallery scheduled for May 2012. I am beyond excited.
I’m excited too as are many of your fans, John. 2011 is gonna rock!
For more on the awesome John Wentz check him here :: http://wentzart.net/