One of First Friday's biggest draws, for me, is the opportunity to engage with the artists whose works hang in our local galleries and shops. I'm especially excited to meet some of the talented young high schoolers whose art is on display this month at Red Chair Gallery's "Emerging Artists" show.
For one, their work is insanely good; never mind the fact it was all created by a group of kids so young they can barely drive. I also look forward letting some of their enthusiasm for art rub off on me. It can be inspiring to hang out with people who are both 1) young, creative types 2) super excited about they do. Just read my interviews with artists Chloe Baker and Nichole Bitterlich if you don't believe me:
Source Weekly: Can you describe the piece(s) you will be showing at Red Chair Gallery?
Nicole Bitterlich: I'm showing two different pieces in the art show, one is a portrait of a friend of mine titled "Not so Great." I would say the person depicted appears rather gloomy or possibly bored and is extremely realistic, I did the background with ink and the portrait itself was done entirely with colored pencils. The other art piece that was selected was an attempt at a self-portrait made entirely with chalk pastels.
Chloe Baker: The piece I will be showing at Red Chair is a piece called "All Eyes on Me" that won a Scholastic Gold Key and an American Visions Award this winter. Only five people per several hundred entries wins the American Visions Award. It is a "fractured self-portrait," which means I took multiple photos of myself, cropped them to fit together in an interesting way and used my cropped work as a guide for my finished piece.
NB: I don't have any specific influences, I mostly just get inspired by things that I see from time to time, or whatever emotions I am feeling when I sit down with my sketchbook. I can't say I like a specific medium, I work with just about every one that you could imagine whether it's based in drawing, painting, or sculpting. I also do ceramics and photography.
CB: Some of the biggest influences on my art is my family, friends and Mrs. Erickson, the Mountain View High School art teacher. They don't influence what I create directly unless it is constructive criticism (which I am always open to) but they support me, I support them, and it really keeps me going. I work in a multitude of media, but gouache paint, Prismacolor colored pencils, and ink are where I am most practiced.
SW: Is this your first time being represented by a gallery or having your art for sale in a retail space?
NB: This is not my first time being represented by Red Chair, although it is the only gallery that has represented me. I have been juried in Scholastic Art & Writing Awards where my art was judged on a national level, and I have also had art entered into a number of silent auctions where the money is donated to charity, so I have a pretty good idea already of where my artwork is valued. Going through the process with the women who work in the gallery and selecting art from Mountain View gives me plenty of insight on what it is that they look for in the art that they bring in, which I'm sure will be very helpful in the future.
CB: This is not the first time I have been represented by a gallery; last year, Red Chair chose another piece of mine to showcase. It feels a bit unreal to have a piece you've worked so hard on to actually be appreciated by an audience or be lucky enough to have a buyer. I know that part of Red Chair Gallery's intention in this collaboration with the local high schools is to bring support to blooming artists through our community, and in the end, it helps us support one another— something that I can really stand behind.
SW: Why is it important for young artists to have the experience of working with a gallery in setting prices, hanging their art, and learning about art retail?
NB: If you're planning on being an artist as a side job or as a career rather than a hobby, it's extremely helpful if you can get you nose in the business when you're young. I learned my mistake last year about over pricing things. It's also nice to see students framing their own work which really saves you some money. I've been matting and framing my own work since I was in seventh grade which really gives me an upper hand. But I would have to say, after framing your own work and knowing the price tag that comes with the framing, it's... extremely easy to overprice yourself. Sometimes, as students, we get cocky and try to overprice our work.
CB: I think this type of experience is an integral part of being a well-rounded artist. It is good to be pushed out of our comfort zone of our family, friends, and classroom because it enables us to grow and become stronger artists and humans.
SW: Do you plan to attend art school or pursue a career in the arts?
NB: I don't plan at all on having a career in the arts, there's not enough money in it to sustain yourself. I'm pursuing a career in the Air Force, but I plan and doing some art on the side, as a hobby if nothing else.
CB: The "starving artist" idea that comes with going to an art school will not be me. I plan on getting a degree that can utilize my creativity skills whether I go to an art school or not. Art will always be in my life.