Michael Dopp was born in Bloomington, Indiana in 1978. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and attended the New York Studio Program in 2005. He received his MFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of California Los Angeles in 2009. His most recent work is included in the show In the Making currently on view at Roberts & Tilton in Los Angeles. Dopp lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
How did your interest in art begin?It really began in my hometown of Bloomington, Indiana. The Chicago Imagist painter Robert Barnes lived down the street, and he represented a sort of freedom and eccentricity that cast a spell on me. He and his wife Nancy Barnes taught painting at Indiana University, and at their urging I started studying with them when I was 16 and I haven’t stopped painting since. I was also deeply affected by my parents’ neighbor, Miriam Gottfried. She had spent a good deal of her life traveling, and had collected books and art from all over the world. She had an incredible collection of prints. From the time I was very young I would go over to help her with chores, and would inevitably spend most of my time contemplating the ukiyo-e wood block prints she acquired in Japan and listening to her stories about traveling through Afghanistan (I think that my own desire to travel was seeded then as well). I have a 1st state etching of a Piranesi view of Rome that Miriam gave me when I moved to Los Angeles that I look at everyday.
What are some current projects you are working on? I currently am putting together a line of leather goods with some friends. We are making belts, wallets, and bracelets. It all began when my friend David Korty brought back this raw hide from a fishing trip in Montana, we started figuring out how to stamp it, and the next thing we knew we were hooked. Staying up all night tooling and dying and punching leather, watching ehow videos and visiting all the local leather shops and distributors.
How long have you lived in Los Angeles and what brought you there? I moved to Los Angeles in the fall of 2006 to attend UCLA for graduate school. I came thinking I was going to move back to NYC as soon as I finished, alas I am still here.
How has living in Los Angeles affected your art practice? Los Angeles has a strange effect on my work, its almost ghostly, or barley there. Whereas other places I have lived, Chicago & New York, the city insists itself on the work, Los Angeles’s effect is transparent, like a windshield. There is a certain neutrality here, underscored by the horizontality, the constant blue sky, a sort of prozac-ian hum. This shifts my attention away from place, inward. In a sense LA is a deeply psychological city for me, and that is perhaps the effect on the paintings I make. A material search for encounter. The term ‘process’ is being bandied about a lot these days; its back in the zeitgeist of painting. Certainly those ideas are not LA centric. But perhaps my own relationship to process in painting is in part a result of being here.
What’s your favorite thing about Los Angeles? My favorite thing about LA right now is Guisados Tacos in Boyle Heights. It is a revelation. Apparently part of the secret is that the maize is milled freshly next door every night for the tortillas.
If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? I would like to think that I’d be a wandering mendicant poet, kicking about the streets in some romantic city. But I would probably be working at a book store in southern Indiana.
Top 3 most visited websites and why? Huffington Post, New York Times, BBC News; because I enjoy being aware of events outside my vision and beyond my control.
What are you really excited about right now? I am excited about the people I know and what they are accomplishing. Los Angeles is a place where artists have a great sense of agency. I am continually inspired to see what is happening here. I’m excited about my buddy Mark’s project, and Matt’s blog, Korty’s paintings and Laura’s books, Whitney’s photos, my friends Davida and Mieke’s gallery, Lauren’s publications, Geoff’s blog, Victoria’s work and the up coming Nudes Painting Show!
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? I’d go back to Berlin in August at sunrise after another night of one too many. Because its beautiful to eat dinner at that hour and watch the city slowly waken as you drift to sleep.
Josh Reames is an artist based in Chicago. He received his BFA from the University of North Texas and is currently finishing up his MFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is also the director of Manifest Exhibitions, a gallery located in a Logan Square basement, and a Chicago correspondent for New American Paintings’ blog.
How did your interest in art begin? Just like every other artist, I liked to draw as a kid. But it wasn’t until undergrad at the University of North Texas that I had any idea of the “art world”. After finishing my BFA I worked a soul-sucking corporate job for a couple of years. While I was there I realized how most working people have this huge life/work dichotomy, almost like a split personality; I never liked that. I realized that as an artist there is no difference between art, work, socializing, interests, etc. - it’s all rolled into one thing. This is incredibly appealing; there are very few lifestyles that are like this. Also, the level of criticality that exists in the art world is exciting; everything is constantly being questioned and re-evaluated - then given some sort of visual form. I’ve always thought of working as the thing you hate to do but have to just muscle your way through it, so the prospect of having a social-role that involves looking, thinking, making things, and drinking beer - I can’t imagine pursuing anything else!
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Tropical sunsets, the ideal vacation, perfect brush-marks, dry humor, bad taste, escapism
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? Lately I’ve been making paintings using a sort of collage-aesthetic that I’m pretty sure came from my background as a printmaker. It is a shallow surface but with the illusion of depth - almost like a pile of photographs all taken with different levels of focus spread out on a desk. When I first started painting I was making medium to large abstractions that were super labored and layered—they were very fussy. The stuff I’m doing now reflects on bits of the old paintings, except in an indirect way. So instead of painting a line, I am squeezing it out of the tube; instead of loading a brush and dragging it across the canvas for a brushstroke, I am meticulously masking the shape of the drippy brushstroke and palette-knifing the paint onto the surface. Or, instead of putting brush to canvas to make gestural marks, I’m using an airbrush to simulate that. It’s all about making a painting with a level of distance, or filter, between myself and the marks. Also, I recently started adding pieces of acrylic-transfered images into the paintings. It’s another spatial element getting thrown in the mix that I think is working pretty well.
What are your thoughts about the art scene in Chicago? Chicago has a great alternative-gallery scene; there are so many of them! I think the city is very dialogue-driven, instead of being driven by the market. This is a double-edged sword; on one hand it gives a lot of freedom for artists and spaces to get creative and ambitious, but on the other hand it makes it nearly impossible to make a living as an artist.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?Joshua Abelow at Devening Projects + Editions. I’m constantly blown away by Joshua’s paintings; his surfaces, color choices, the sense of humor and self-reflexivity, etc. Also, Andrew Falkowski’s solo show at Andrew Rafacz gallery was amazing.
What are your plans for the next year? Finish up with grad school, then hopefully move out to New York or Los Angeles…. we’ll see how that pans out.
If you had one wish what would it be? I wish bananas would stay in the perfect state of ripeness.
Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I have a few coming up. This summer I’m going to have a piece in a show in San Diego that Ryan Travis Christian is curating, then in September I have a solo show at Autumn Space as well as some work in a group show at Peregrine Program.
If you hadn’t become an artist, what do you think you’d be doing? Working as a physicist in some remote part of the world, looking through a giant telescope. On the weekends I’d play poker with Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke.
Daniel Hojnacki recently received his BA in photography from Columbia College. He lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. His work is currently on view in the group show Limits of Photography at the Museum of Contemporary Photography until March 25th.
If you had to explain your work to a stranger what would you say? Mixed-media photography-based work that incorporates a lot of painterly elements, and “I print on a lot of tape.”
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like?I use an obscene amount of tape that is digitally printed upon with the photographic process. With the masking tape I can use the image as a giant sticker pasting it to any surface. I can rework the ink while it sits on the plastic surface, using polyurethane and other spray mediums to print the image multiple times in variations of tonal ranges on multiple layers of scotch tape. Then being able to peel away the layers again to reveal what happens underneath. It becomes a very tedious process that has a lot of exciting elements to it that I’m still developing control of while relying a lot on chance and wishful pondering to push the work further.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now?I’ve been reading about and looking at a lot of abstract painting, sublime, monochrome works of Robert Ryman and Kazamiri Malevich, almost an opposite or distraction from photography. Right now the aspects of time are really influencing things right now. How things natural/unnatural decay, grow and can subtlety un-noticeably change. The nature of illusion in art through materials, I’m most drawn to work that has a magic trick-like process to it. Also a recent obsession with clouds and the movement of light.
How did your interest in art begin? Maybe a photography class in high school, and the books of Dan Eldon and David Hockney, but I can’t be all too sure where the interests began. Seems more like it came in many different forms through poetry, painting and music.
How has your work developed within the past year?It’s been a frustrating and exciting year figuring out my materials and why I find them so fascinating. My workflow is carried by one accident or happening which leads to another and another. Things that I want to try and control and it’s been that way for the last year or so. Taking it one step at a time in efforts to continue the development of some kind of body of work.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? Probably the most satisfying thing is “How the hell is he doing that?” I love creating the illusion of what is physical and what is not. Also to give the viewer a sense of temporality in my work through the materials I choose to use. That the photographic process doesn’t need to be so permanent or fixed, and how that responds to my choice of imagery.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on?I am currently exploring a variety of new ways to work with my materials through experiments with the digital printing process of photography and painting. My latest works in progress are tending to maneuver away from the actual photographic image, into abstraction and formal studies of my materials. Also, continuing a project never posted on my website or anywhere outside of a botany class in college, I will be working with the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Tennessee this June to continue a documentary project on invasive plants and species I started in 2010.
What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you?First thing that comes to mind was a large exhibition held for still life painter Giorgio Morandi I saw in Italy visiting my brother in February. He has a legacy in Italy, and I’d never saw his work before. It was an enormous collection of beautiful pieces, and it just made me realize how much I’ve yet to see and learn.
What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?My favorite thing about Chicago is the possibilities for artists here, and the large number of such eclectic arts organizations, big and small, that are willing to and want to promote, teach, and exhibit in the arts community at any level of their career.
What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? It’s usually a process of making snapshots, then visibly changing them in Photoshop. The final product can be a print as well as a digital image on the screen.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? Tumblr imagery, vernacular photography and video, homemade porn. I’m super interested in being a viewer nowadays.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Currently I’m working on my Color Pickers series and I’m also at the stage of conceptualizing my next project, which will include a video documentation of stones thrown into water.
How has your work developed within the past year? It all started from overlaying Rainbows on photographs and then moved to Color pickers. In some sense, it’s an exploration of using a cliché and a banal object to make a conventional photographic series.
What do you do when you’re not working on art? Tumblr, reading about Russian politics, being a forester, gardening, cooking, working out and biking. Currently I’m into looking for/finding a nice decorative waterfall or a mist maker
What are your plans for the next year? Buy a fridge, skiis and probably an electric oven. Move to Helsinki. Get more into video art/art theory (last half of the year I was rather out of conventional art subjects). Thinking about making a photo-book but still deciding if it shall only be an iPad version or printed as well. Maybe I will start working with gifs.
If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why? I’m longing to go to pretty much any warm place on the earth, especially to near ocean and nature. Finnish winters make me feel a bit sick.
If you hadn’t become an artist, what do you think you’d be doing? Doing something in psychology (since I have a degree in it), maybe teaching and/or tutoring Holotropic Breathwork sessions.
Favorite music? My usual playlist includes a mixture of some avant-garde / classical / pop / minimal / electronic / house music. But it depends, sometimes I listen only to Bach for several weeks.