The eXTra finGer

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Interview with Michael Kerbow

Q) So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some background info, etc?

A)Michael Kerbow. 42 years. Born and raised in typical suburban fashion on the east coast of the US. Attended college in Richmond, Virginia. Received my MFA from Pratt Institute in NYC. I lived in NY for a number of years and began exhibiting my art there in a few group shows.. In 1993 a job offer brought me to San Francisco where I have lived ever since. Still trying to keep the art thing happening.

Q) How did you get started making art?

A)I'm told I would smash my peas into a green paste and smear it around on my high chair as a baby. It's been downhill ever since.

Q)How would you describe your art?

A)Beautifully repulsive.

Q) Where do you get the inspiration for your art?

A)Everywhere, all the time. I just experience the world I am immersed in.

Q) What are you working on now?

A)I often work on several projects simultaneously. Right now I probably have over a dozen works going on simultaneously. The main theme tends to be about the environment and man's impact upon it.

Q) How do you approach the creation of a new piece... how does everything come together?

A)A majority of the time I sketch ideas in my journal. Sometimes the ideas come to me in dreams. The finished artwork rarely resembles these original sketches however. I find it is wiser to allow the artwork the freedom to evolve during the creative process. I just wait for the moment when I feel ready to attack the painting and jump right in working. Every once in a while stepping back to see what is going on and study what it is trying to tell me.

Q)What's your favorite medium to work in, and why?

A)I like drawing with pencil or charcoal but it doesn't always satisfy me. It tends to be too facile. I like the challenge of painting with oils and watercolor. I really have to struggle to make the medium do what I want so that when I succeed I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Q) Do you collect anything?

A)Books. I tend to buy a lot of art books. And I have a modest library of old medical books.

Q) Is your work all hand done? Or do you use any computer tools to help out?

A)All by hand. I use the computer exclusively for my day job which is photo-retouching & illustration for print advertising. When it comes to making art I prefer to work with tactile media that I can hold and manipulate with my hands. It allows for a more visceral experience.

Q) What, in your opinion, are the best and worst places to exhibit artwork?

A)If the point of creating art is to share it with the world then I suppose any opportunity to show one's work is good. It helps if it is a place where people are going to be receptive to looking at art.

Q) What are your artistic influences?

A)I am fascinated by things that can be beautiful and repulsive at the same time. There is an interesting dynamic created when something can draw you in and simultaneously push you away.
Rot, decay, patina, meat, nature, organic forms.

Q) How are the reactions on your work in general?

A)My work tends to have a "dark" sensibility which some people may shy away from. But those who enjoy my work are often drawn to its dark humor and the imagery. If I'm able to create an emotional reaction in the viewer, whether positive or negative, then I've accomplished something.

Q) What are you doing when you are not creating art?

A)Nothing exciting. Either sleeping, eating, or at my job.

Q)What are some of the greatest challenges that you think artists face today?

A)I think they would be almost universally financial in nature. Probably the toughest challenge any artist faces is figuring out a way to support his or herself in a way that allows the greatest amount of time and energy to make art.

Q) What is freedom to you as an artist?

A)Having the physical means and the motivation to create.

Q) Are there any particular works you've done that stand out as your favorites?

A)On average my favorite work is usually the one I have just completed.

Q) What it the coolest thing you have seen recently while wandering the streets?

A)I'm partial to when I come across places where Mother Nature tries to keep her toehold in our manmade world, like when a tiny flower grows from the crack in the side of a large building.

Q) Do you carry a notebook? Do you draw in public?

A)I try to keep a journal near by at all times. Or at least I try to have something handy to write on should I be struck with an idea.
As for drawing in public, yes I do this occasionally but I can become distracted by the people around me. I don't mean irritated by them but rather I become engaged in a conversation with someone or I simply become immersed in people-watching.

Q) Who are your favourite artists & Your favourite galleries?

A)With respect to favorite artists, I couldn't mention them all.
What comes to mind right now: Da Vinci, Velazquez, Francis Bacon, JP Witkin, HR Giger
I haven't any favorite galleries. I respond more to the exhibits I see than the spaces they are shown in.

Q) Do you get emotionally attached to your work and do you miss your work when it is sold?

A)As I pointed out in question 16 I do get attached to my work. This can be dangerous during the creative process as you become less apt to take risks making changes to the work for fear of ruining it. The best thing is to be relentless with it until it just feels right and then stop. I find it hard to sell something immediately after finishing it. If I have the opportunity to live with a finished work for a period of time then it isn't so hard to let it go by selling it as by then I've moved on to other things.

Q)Your contacts….E-mail…links



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