ArtBeat Nation, Season 2 Episode 27
ArtBeat Nation, Season 2 Episode 27


>>>And now an eight special presentation.>>This week on “Artbeat Nation.” Ballerinas capture an era of tragedy.>>My point of view is that light should be used as a way to talk about contemporary issues.>>Artist every tile mirrors a piece of nature.>>That’s where I go to photograph and capture something that doesn’t have the traces of man.>>A renaissance man explores the art of meditation.>>It’s important to me to make a difference in the world.>>And the clock artist turns trash into treasures.>>I like finding some little gadget that doesn’t work anymore and then finding out what’s inside it.>>It’s all ahead on this edition of “Artbeat Nation.”>>>Funding for “Artbeat Nation” is made possible by contributions to eight from viewers like you. Thank you.>>>We start with the Colorado ballet, a troupe endeavoring to portray one of the darkest — “Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project,” combines contemporary ballet with Holocaust education. MM>>My point of view is that light should be used as a way to talk about contemporary issues, using the Holocaust as a jumping off point. “Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project” came out of a long discussion that I was having with myself after the events of 9/11, as an artist. And that sent me on a search, and it led me to a survivor of the Holocaust named Naomi Warren, and from my discussions with Naomi, came this project. I took it upon myself to illustrate the fact that the issues of the Holocaust are present with us today. Issues of human rights, bigotry, hate –>>Standing in Auschwitz — the hundreds of thousands of people murdered on this site. I said to myself, I didn’t come here to cry. I came here to learn, to do something.>>This project has impacted me very much. To just let go and be in the moment is really special.>>It’s a performance where we as dancers don’t have to think about dance steps. We don’t have to think about technique or turning out or pointing, which we always have to think about when we’re performing. We can let that go and just concentrate on the story and how to tell this journey of these people that had to suffer through so much.>>Pop up — needs to give you enough energy that you just –>>There is a metaphoric period of loud sirens that for me indicates this disruption of being put on these cars and transported for days to places unknown, just — [sirens]>>The siren pushing them, pushing them, and the audience as well. People stepping on to that circle, and then people stepping off the circle of life until there is one survivor left, and that’s Naomi. Working on a project like this is — is very profound. It’s life-changing. It has been life-changing for me.>>It has really taught me a lot about people, about human connections, about being strong.>>I think the most important thing about doing a work like this is to think about how it’s relevant in your own life.>>I’ve been touched by how people can come out of it and still be hopeful and still have love and, you know, still want to — I mean, it’s — these stories that I’ve read are heart-breaking, and what’s so inspiring is that they’ve taken these horrible experiences and just turned around and lived these long, beautiful lives. MM>>You were in the presence of someone sharing that sort of personal information with you, it’s — it’s the most amazing gift that could ever be given to you. Sometimes when you learn something metaphorically, it reaches you more deeply than — than knowing it intellectually, because you know it spiritually. MM>>Art certainly is a way to — I think also art has the potential to teach.>>To learn more, visit ColoradoBallet.org.>>>In Texas, artist Dixie Friend Gay is making the airport a calmer place. One mosaic at a time. Here is a look.>>When I was in graduate school, I was studying roots of religion, and I traveled a lot in Europe and I was just blown away by the mosaics. They could be 2,000 years old and still be as vibrant. And when I turned 40, okay, this is what I’m doing. I want to make big, big work, really large work, and I want to work with the mosaic.>>I’m interested in preserving that parts of nature that are still left. Little pieces of land that we have that is original. That’s where I go to photograph and document and try to capture something that doesn’t have the traces of man. When I was working on the Houston bayou, I was down in the bayous and kayaking. I started doing sketches, did preliminary thumbnail work, did small little paintings, and then I did the large painting, which is, I think, about 20 feet long, and I used the fabricators in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I took my painting down there and we actually drew it off on large sheets of paper and cut the paper up and then they look at my painting and interpret it in glass. This dragon fly has 24 karat gold in it. It was a lot of fun to work on getting the fabrication just right on that. Why mosaics work so well in a public space, because from a distance, they can appear to be a painting or an image that you can see and as you walk up to it, it becomes almost like confetti. And it breaks up and becomes very abstract. When I did the port of Miami, it’s called ephemeral everglades, and I spent weeks boating, kayaking, all through the everglades. I spent a month, a certain time of the year — and really being intimate with it, understand the shape of the plants and the birds at that particular time of year. The Dallas airport I just finished in March. It is 18 feet high, and 64 feet wide, and it’s of the prairie in the spring time. So it has all of the native flowers in bloom. And it has a lot of handmade ceramic in it and it also has something new that I hadn’t done before is we have — some of the flowers, they’re three-dimensional. All of my newest work has handmade clay tiles in it. The first piece that I did with my own ceramic pieces was called strata, and it is in the woodlands. The next piece I did was for Texas A&M, and we did the — all here in my studio. My process on the smaller pieces were — it’s kind of going back to the surrealist, where they would do a print, and then they would find the message in the print. And I knew I wanted to work on the cellular level, the atomic level. I played around with that organic shape and those colors and working on these small pieces really changed the color of my pallet. It became much brighter. The hours of solitude, in placing the tile and stuff was so Zen, which is addictive. It’s wonderful place to go.>>To learn more, visit DixieFriendGay.com.>>>Dougie Padilla has been a mainstay of the twin cities art scene for over 25 years, painter, printmaker, installation artist and more. Up next, we learn how this renaissance man finds his inspiration and inner peace. MM>>It’s important to me to make a difference in the world because I came out of the ’60s. I don’t think its Utopianism. When the Beatles sang “we can change the world” I bought it. I meditate so I have the experience of one pointedness. But I also let myself drift. A combination of focus and giving of control at the same time, and it’s about the ability to walk between worlds, and there is a lot of different worlds to walk between. And this is sort of having one foot in this world and one foot in some other place, and I’m trying to sort of stretch between those two things. And doing it with my hands by creating things. I am primarily a painter. I do a lot of drawings. 85 journal/artbooks. I do printmaking. I do installations of ofrendas and shrines, I do sculpture. I do a little bit of performance, but it’s mostly for the gods. Why would I be working with a non-human audience? Well, gratitude. You know, it’s also a little more like gardening, where you are acknowledging that you’re only part of the process. Nobody goes into a garden and goes, look at that tomato plant. I did that. But yet we get to the art world, and artists have rather large ego. I did that. Well, maybe. You did part of it. I’m self-taught. I have never taken an art class. Unless you count the one in 7th grade where we learned to make enamelled tie clips. A lot of what I do comes out of working in the building trades, carpentry, house painting. I went to welding school and learned how to use my hands. And I love technical art. But that’s just not my mode. I made a decision long ago that I just didn’t want technique to stand between me and what I was up to. I have an iconology that I work with a lot. There is fish over and over again in my work. I grew up fishing. It’s Minnesota. I have dreams about fish. I mean, why do we — why do we live in a world surrounding by cars but we still dream about fish? I don’t dream about cars. I dream about fish. I have skulls, but they’re — they’re not like goth skulls or heavy metal skulls. They’re pink and lime green. Also because I’m getting older, mortality is an issue for me, and it has been since I had my first heart failure at 20. It’s an old, old tradition in Buddhism to meditate in the graveyards. So, the whole dance with death, or whether you choose to not dance with death is part of what determines your relationship with life. So, working with the skull icon and what happens if it is pink with polka dots on it? Does that allow me to face my mortality more? I’m not sure, but something is going on. Something is going on inside me where — heck dieing isn’t the hard part. Living is more difficult. I’ve come close enough a number of times. MM>>I was raised in St. Louis park with the Norwegian Lutheran side of the family. My father was half Mexican and half cowboy. All of the choir training I had — my mother was a music teacher. I didn’t like it at the time because all I wanted to do was play center field like Willie mays. I went away to college for a short illustrious career where I seemed to major in fighting against the war in Vietnam, civil rights. Fall of ’66, I went to where Allen Ginsburg was reading, and up until that time I thought the beats were phonies. Allen Ginsburg blew my mind. Eventually came back to Minnesota where I studied with the Zen master here in town. Somewhere along the line when I was 30, I had always been involved in music and writing and it shifted and I woke up one day and I was a visual artist. That’s kind of how I got here. I helped found and was on the board of art world. I — the Minnesota men’s retreat, the — the Latino artist group that I cofounded with Javier Tovera. I have been thinking a lot about starting a museum. Why not?>>Meditating. Some days are horrible. You just — your mind is filled with junk. You sit there and watch the junk. And other days you sit down and you just fail, and, you know, it is the same way in here. I counted 37 projects that were laid out in the studio, but that didn’t include the things in my notebooks and lists. I literally have written down projects for the next 30 years of my life. You know. They’re all different. The ideas are so seductive, I try to write them all down and then just let go, because it’s — you just can’t keep up with them. The thing that is hard for me, there is always new things to start. I’m trying to create a place where the soul feels nurtured and where our sense of enchantment comes back to life so that you walk in, look at the paintings, look at the work, you’re in this place and you feel that once again, that the world is, in fact, a magical place.>>To learn more, visit Dougiepadilla.com.>>>Artist Richard Birkett has been making fantasy clocks for almost 30 years. Having showcased his work in over 80 galleries around the world, Birkett says he spends most of his time turning trash into treasures. Take a look.>>Hi, I’m Richard Birkett, fantasy clocks. I’m the master of the universe, ruler of this time space continuum.>>I basically start — just a hair over 29 years ago, and I had been working as a — I was a painter, sculptor down in New York City. I saw on one of the moving jobs this clock. And I go over to pick it up, and it was a tall thing, and I pick it up and — I looked at the wood, and I asked the woman — she said I went to a thing where I paid the guy $100, and he gave us all of the materials, and the movements, and we made these clocks. And this was a few years before I started. I sort of filed that away as anybody can make a clock.>>When my wife and I decided to have kids, I decided that I should have to — we should move out of the city. So, I started making clocks, and they were much different-looking than they are now, but at the same time they were considered extremely strange looking for the time. Most people didn’t even know they were clocks. They looked more like three dimensional paintings or Mondrian, off the wall. First 10 years of doing them, it was mostly galleries and museums and stuff like that that were buying them. And I would do some little shows in the — well, they weren’t that little, in Manhattan, and it took off right away. Some of the people, you know, they bring me things like this woman who has one of my clocks from 1985, and she has a couple of other clocks, and she brought me a whole shopping bag full of 19 Blackberries. And, boy, am I having fun with those. It is one of those things where — I enjoy taking things apart. I like finding some little gadget that doesn’t work anymore and then finding out what is inside. Sometimes there is nothing in there. I always have liked the looks of clocks, and the idea of time is fascinating. I just don’t know as — I don’t always put the two together. It’s kind of like time is an interesting concept, but there is probably something out there better to replace it. I just haven’t found it yet. Basically the reason I make clocks is I really have very little interest in time. Actually my company motto is time is irrelevant. It’s clocks that are important. And, you know, it’s basically they just — you know, it is the practicality of them. If you don’t have one of my clocks, when the mother ship comes back, it is the ticket. So, clocks are good. Fantasy clocks are even better. So, we’ll see you in the future.>>To learn more, visit fantasyclock.com. For more arts and culture, visit azpbs.org/artbeat where you will find feature videos and information on the Arizona arts scene. Funding for “Artbeat Nation” was made possible by contributions to eight from viewers like you. Thank you.

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