Monday, August 16, 2010

Interview series continues with artist Jonathan Stein

Our interview series continues with conceptual artist Jonathan Stein

1. When did you begin to define yourself as an artist? I can remember back to when I was a child. The only real happiness I derived back then came from being immersed in art. As a smaller-sized individual in this world, I think it’s typical to hide and seek refuge somewhere where your physical proportions don’t matter and you can be judged on what comes from within versus what’s on the outside. I nurtured that love as a child and would call myself an artist even as young as 8 years old.

2. Is there one specific piece or series of work that altered or defined what type of work you would make? My art career has been sliced in half. I still walk a tight rope between socially driven art and that of commercial Pop Art that seems to be what most people are willing to support and purchase these days. With reference to socially conscious raising art, I created a very poignant work called “The Repeal”. This crocheted yarn installation illustrated a back alley abortion and addressed the inherent threat posed to a women’s body that resulted and would result again from Roe vs. Wade being repealed.

3. Are there any artists in particular that have influenced you and your work? The list is endless but if I had to name a few: Andy Warhol, Vik Munoz, Barbara Krueger, Dorethea Lange, Sandy Skoglund, Diane Arrieta, Edward Kienholz, Jenny Holzer, David LaChapelle, Andres Serrano and currently Spunk and The Orange Kittens.

4. What motivates you to continue making such socially provocative works? We live in a world where social injustice is a constant. After a while we as a society become complacent, for we have the power to simply ignore the television reports or turn a blind eye to newsprint. For me as an artist, should there come a point in my lifetime when social intolerance and inequality is no longer in existence; (snickering) then maybe I would direct my creative focus on photos of oversized water lilies or extra-large friendly oil paintings of dogs running on the beach.

5. Personally, I see a trend toward a more conservative attitude in the contemporary art world in the United States. Do you agree? I think our society is becoming further politically and socially polarized. In the art world, I think money influences and drives what most artists create and or have the privilege to display in galleries or art fairs. I know there are artists, operating outside the mainstream; who are trying to radically challenge this attitude but so few get the validation they need and that upsets me.

6. Do you find that your geographical location helps or hinders your ability to show the type of work you want to? Why? Living in South Florida offers benefits and setbacks. We are a cultural melting pot brimming with diversity but sadly that doesn’t always guarantee an acceptance of imagery or concepts that demand more from an audience. I have been a victim of senseless censorship and saw the lengths institutions down here will go to not support activist art. I have also found spaces that try to nurture art that is not merely “valuable” for it’s aesthetics. While I do overall see NY,LA, San Francisco and Europe as a more receptive platform for my work; nonetheless, I wish to be a strong visual force here in South Florida that may one day change the opinions of the masses.

7. You use a wide variety of mediums from photography to sculpture. How do you choose and do you prefer one over the other? I always say, “the concept dictates the medium”. I love being tactile and diving in with my hands to fabricate whatever I am doing. It isn’t enough to take a photo; I love building sets, fumbling to construct a costume from scratch or spend hours studying body scarification and prosthetic cosmetics in order to simulate abuse on one of my subjects. No matter the medium, as long as I have an intelligent reason for my work, I am happy to learn and express myself even if I have never worked in a medium like crotchet when I did my “The Repeal”piece.

8. What do you want to accomplish as an artist? I want to leave behind a legacy or work that touches people and proves I was here. Often I take photos of the most important moments in my life or other’s around me. More often than not I am not in any of the pictures subsequently muting out my visibility in the process. I wish to change the world through art and then one day fashion a foundation to support other artists who are fighting to stay alive without abandoning their love of art as well. That to me is concrete proof not only of my art but who I am and who I was.

9. This series, It’s just make-up, is very powerful. Is there anything else we should know about it that hasn’t been discussed? I am always more fascinated about other people’s responses and explanations of the work versus my own. I have clear intentions and motivations for everything I do artistically, but feel the viewer should come to the work and experience it without subsequent inflections from me to guide them in their experience.

10. Where else can we see your work- galleries, online, etc.?,, and to name a few places.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Season opens with Jonathan Stein and Birds are nice

The new gallery season opens with two solo shows.
Exploring Gender with Jonathan Stein and Introducing Birds are Nice with Miami artist Birds are nice. August 20 - October 15, 2010.

Jonathan exhibits a series of photographs that explore gender and violence.

Urban artist Birds are nice is showing light hearted- mixed media on cardboard.
An exhibition catalog was made for the Jonathan Stein exhibition.

For more information on both artists see links below
Jonathan Stein

Birds are nice

All exhibitions are free and open to the public.
Call for more information 561. 799.8530