Another Pilot Down: The Artwork of George Gonzalez

Friday, June 26, 2009

Artist Profile: Robyn O'Neil

Alright, I’m going to do something new here. Periodically, I’m going to make an “Artist Profile” entry on some various living (sometimes local) artists whom have caught my attention. I’ll include links, my thoughts, and information about them so you can all check them out.

For the first “Artist Profile” I am putting the spotlight on Robyn O’Neil.

Robyn was born in Omaha Nebraska and currently resides in Houston Texas. She has had various shows all across the country and around the globe. The bulk of her work is all primarily drawings. Straightforward, pencil drawings. Which in the artwork is tough to break into since most art shows cater to mixed media and paintings (and they tend to place drawings to the side). Below is one of her pieces:

"Everything that stands will be at odds with its neighbor, and everything that falls will perish without grace"

Yesterday, I had the fine pleasure of meeting her when she made a visit to UNT’s College of Visual Design and gave a talk about her artwork. As I sat in attendance listening to her describe and explain some of her work I couldn’t help be floored at what she was saying. Mostly all her pieces are all very personal and her series is one continuous storyline. Her work has reoccurring characters, places, and attitudes. The figures she depicts are destructive, sometimes caring, sometimes delusional drone men. Women are never present and a few of the animals that do appear are used as cautionary figures of what could or shouldn’t happen.

She uses only a mechanical pencil and starts her drawings from top to bottom. In order to avoid smearing the pencil lead, she puts a piece of glass on her hand while she draws away. I haven’t mentioned how some of these drawings are extremely HUGE! Some of her pieces are so big, she has to lie down on the floor with the paper on top of her just to continue them. Her artwork below, titled “These final hours embrace at last; this is our ending, this is our past” is 83 x 166.8 inches! A size that I don’t think I can ever pull off.

Robyn is also the very definition of dedicated. In her talk she admitted to taking up to 4 to 5 months finishing pieces (and by 4 months, I mean 4 months). She typically spends 12 to 15 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week working on her drawings in her Houston home. She doesn’t have much of a social life and every time she is away from her studio she doesn’t feel as comfortable.

When asked about why she uses only a mechanical pencil, O’Neil said that she is able to capture lines caused by her anxiety that would otherwise be overlooked if she had used a graphite stick or charcoal. That is something I can respect and identify with. Something else that caught my attention was when she said, “I like to think of my artwork as a sentence to a novel.” Meaning, despite that each drawing says something different about her, they are all essential to each other and tell a much bigger story. As if you all don’t already know by now, my work is the very same in that respect. For years I’ve tried to describe it and say what I really mean, and when I heard it back to me yesterday.. it all made sense.

After her lecture, I talked to her about that and that I really admired what she has done. I can really relate to her work and after you see some of the pieces she has done, you can see a lot of elements that I use in my own drawings.

I recommend ya’ll check her stuff out.

"The Disruption"

Robyn O'Neil's Website
The Believer - Interview with Robyn O'Neil
Arts Journal Article

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heroes & Cons

So just like that, my little red house is gone. The monsters and vampires that once plagued my dreams have all disappeared. Suddenly the sunrise no longer burns as much. I think I’m free.

Finally free.

I am well aware that I haven’t really been writing as much here as I used to. I apologize dearly, cause I’m just so fortunate that any of ya’ll even read or care of what I have to say. But as I’ve stated in my previous entry, I’m just too happy. Life is being very kind to me and I can’t sit still and ramble about things because I’m just going to end up repeating myself or sounding silly after awhile.

One small unfortunate circumstance of my happiness is that I don‘t really have much of a drive to create or finish any art at the moment. Ideas and concepts that have been in the works for several years have been placed on hold yet again. While, I have been writing some poetry, much of that material has also been shelved for the time being. I suppose my passion for art and enthusiasm for expression is the causality to my joy.

Though despite enjoying my days and nights with the Jamester, Fausto, Alison, and Jesus.. There have been a few late night moments in which life tries to test my moral codes and own resistance, and I have to say that I handle it well. As I play the game, I physically feel as if my second half of my being is being separated only to further distance itself from hurting my deeper self. It feels as if I no longer need to defend anything, because I don’t have anything to defend.

Since I stopped playing hero a few months ago, the weight has been lifted. Even if I care so much about you, I know I can’t or shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do. While it was so scary to let that part of me go, it was the right thing to do. To not “be a hero” has, and will forever be, the best advice I have ever received. So maybe it’s time for somebody else to take up the mantel cause I’m tried of it.

I’m becoming unphased by these images of the Iraq Revolution, articles about cruelty towards animals, or even how badly the entire economic system seems to be crumbling all around us. I honestly don’t care. Infact I just smile. I smile, suck on a cigarette, and just look at my friends and realize how luck I am. There is nobody in the world quite like them and that makes all the difference.

I was raised in the era of heroes and cons, and I’m happy to report that I’m neither.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace

..maybe it's the high of accomplishment or how the universe around me has been acting this entire month, but I feel that I am the happiest person in the world. I have thought about this for some weeks now, but my life at the moment seems to be headed in all the right directions. I've told a few people this, but I feel like sharing anyway; I think I have reached the end of it all. If I were to die tomorrow or years later, I would want you all to know that I have accomplished everything I ever set out to do in my life. To quote Bill Murry in Ghostbusters; "we came, we saw, we kicked it's ass!" Though this ain't about ghosts, this is straight from my heart. ;)

Since my heart attack a year and half ago, I have now become much more healthier and stable. Shit, I will even go as far and say that I am much more healither now than I have been all my life! I can withstand more, walk faster, and I am hardly as tired. For such a long time I felt I wouldn't have been able to recover or correct all that was wrong with my health and life. I was in such a deep state of both anger and depression that I did not think all would ever be well. One a big casuality in this was my relationship with my mom. For such a long time since the incident, I resented her and she knew it all too well. In drunken fits of rage, I made it no secret to anybody around me how much I was angry at her. I was also angry at myself and if you take a look at the artwork done throughout 2008, you'd see a lot of that aggression depicted. For such a long time, there was a bitter taste and I knew she felt equally like shit for everything that had happened.

It took awhile and a lot of talking throughout the year(s) to really fix things between us. Which fills me with relief to tell you all that things couldn't be more perfect between us. She is somebody who has supported me throughout my life and, while we both have made our fair share of mistakes, it doesn't matter anymore. She is my biggest fan and I want it to remain that way. I'm thankful and glad to have the family that I have, because that is rare in this day and age.

At the same time, it is also no suprise to anyone of my friends or relatives that my friendships were either damaged or just destroyed during that time period. Yet, as I recovered throughout the months after the emergency operation I tried my best to fix my friendships. I know I have made mistakes, but after trying to rebuild and fix things internal and external, I find myself with a strong sense of accomplishment. All is well in my Gotham City. I have some of the best friends that would make everybody else in the whole planet jealous. I value them all in my life and I don't take them for granted.

School in Denton has also been a fantastic experience. It's so challengeing and rewarding. I love the workload, the tension, and the all-night study sessions! I know it's crazy and I honestly thought I would never in my most fucked up of dreams ever say something like that, but I can't help it. I love what I do and I try very hard for my grades. I have met some really neat and cool people up in D-town, and I enjoy their company very much. It's such a liberal, open-minded, and artistic community that it honestly makes me want to just live there forever!

I love going to concerts and I do it more often now. I have seen many of my favorite bands and artists. Hung out and became friends with some of them. Their music touches me in ways that can never be explained and I love that just fine! I have even seen my heroes on stage and I met Dexter Holland, my hero for more than half of my life. As I said, I can honestly stop everything now, and be satisfied with my life.

Insignificant things are no longer sad or distressing. I turn on the TV and see a crisis on the news. I see the president I elected making a mockary of what I stood for.. but I can tell you with a smile on my face that I don't care at all. Things that used to bother me don't matter anymore. That kid who bothered me doesn't matter anymore.

You see, I have achieved my consolation prize and I am thankful for that. I don't think there is anybody in the world who can say that. Hell, I don't think there is anybody who actually say that with a straight and honest face.

But I can. I have done it all now.

I got my "simple kind of life."