Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Artist of the Week


Brian Raszka

Man's place in nature is a subject that just seems to keep coming up around here, and that is mainly due to it's importance and it's common misuse. How does man interact with nature? Can the two coexist? As a society we are increasingly losing touch with nature as we develop our strip malls and parking lots, and it has become a case of convenience vs. nature as opposed to just man vs. nature. The idea of conveying this concept through art is not a new one, but one that is vital to art and consistently being reinvented.

One artist who is applying his personal touches to the idea of man vs. nature, is Nevada resident Brian Raszka. In his work, Brian examines man's relationship to nature while maintaining the freedom to create an alternate world where interactions are completely different. He blends many influences and themes, and has developed a style of his own.

Brian is currently involved in two shows,"Ballyhoo" at the Bear and Bird Gallery in Lauderhill, Fl and, "3 feet high-2nd annual skatedeck show" at Maxwell's Bar and Restaurant in Hoboken, NJ(put on by Fortunately, he was still able to find some time to discuss his work with us, and here are the results.


Orange Alert (OA): How would you define your style of painting?
Brian Raszka (BR): I'd like to think that it defies categorization. I am inspired by so many different types of work in so many different genres and eras they all end up in my work in some form. I found early on that I wanted to incorporate many media and styles in my work to leave it flexible for future change. I like the work of Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Michel Basquait because of the collage style of work. I like it when styles and media mix and overlap each other. It is much like gaining knowledge and our experience in the world; it all adds up overlapping on the last bit, layer upon layer.

OA: I've noticed a couple recurring themes in your work, birds and the human profile. What can you tell us about those themes, are there any others, and how do they relate to your work as a whole?

BR: Birds are symbols for nature and the silhouette or profile of a human is a symbol for man. I will alter them depending on their position in the piece. They can have some dimension or detail at times. They usually share equal space in a piece signifying that we humans share space with animals. I use symbols quite a bit in my work. This allows me to set up a space much like a theater stage and have my symbols play upon that stage. You'll notice that there is no representation of real space in my work. This allows me to play fast a loose with my subject matter. I don't what to be tied down to physics or gravity. I am creating new worlds in each of my paintings.

Animals play a big role in my work. I use them to speak to the fact that we, as a society are losing our connection with the natural world and in our race to progress are trampling over it.


OA: Who are some of your biggest influences artistically?
BR: As I mentioned earlier; Rauschenberg and Basquiat. I also love: Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Leonard Baskin, Kiki Smith, the Clayton Brothers, Sue Coe, Kathe Kollwitz, August Sanders, Folk Art, Outsider Art and on and on. There is so much good art out there to look at. I love art where the artist's hand is evident.

OA: Do you listen to music while you create? Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to while creating and in general?
BR: I always work with music. It keeps the flow going. I love all types of music. I listen to a lot of jazz: Miles Davis, Monk, Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, the Jazz Messengers, Herbie Hancock-all the greats. I am also listening to new stuff: Andrew Bird, the Black Keys, Sparklehorse, Arcade Fire, the Hold Steady, Jay Farrar and many more. Old rock faves: Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, the Jayhawks, etc.

OA: What is your typical starting point for a new piece and how long does it take to complete that piece?
BR: A piece usually starts in the sketchbook either as a very rough scribble, separate thoughts or a more complete sketch. I don't like to take it too far in the sketchbook before I start the piece. The fun part is working out the piece on board or canvas.

My pat answer to the second part of the question is: All my life; I put all my experiences and skills that I have worked on into every piece. More specifically, a piece can be as quick as a day or could evolve over several weeks. It just depends on the piece.

OA: What's next for Brian Raszka?
BR: I am in a show coming up here in Reno at Never Ender Gallery called: "Cordially Invited 2" in July. I am currently in 2 shows: "Ballyhoo" at the Bear and Bird Gallery in Lauderhill, Fl and, "3 feet high-2nd annual skatedeck show" at Maxwell's Bar and Restaurant in Hoboken, NJ(put on by

I am always seeking new venues to show my art and will be looking at galleries to show in.


Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
BR: Coffee, big yes. At home the wife and I enjoy Trader Joe's Coffee. For a coffee spot I go to Bibo's Coffee here in Reno.

OA: What was the last great book that you read?
BR: Just got done with Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Good book. I am currently working on Moby Dick. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond was very good. I'm a bit of a history buff.

For more information on Brian Raszka visit his website. All of the work on his website is for sale unless marked otherwise. Feel free to email him for pricing or a catalog (pdf). Also check out his Flickr page or blog for the latest information.

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