Rawness of Reality

Emotionally In Tuned Artist - Shawn Watrous #006

March 22, 2019 Kevin Stalker Season 1 Episode 6
Emotionally In Tuned Artist - Shawn Watrous #006
Rawness of Reality
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Rawness of Reality
Emotionally In Tuned Artist - Shawn Watrous #006
Mar 22, 2019 Season 1 Episode 6
Kevin Stalker

In today's episode, we sat down with local Pittsburgh Artist, Sean Watrous. Sean spent his early life living in sunny California. He has been heavily influenced by art throughout his childhood, spending his time sketching out ideas and admiring abstract artists of the time.
Please listen as we explore where inspiration comes from, how the past is a lens for our future, and why some memories can be stronger than others.

Shawn Watrous:
Website: Shawnwatrous.com
Palms at BoxHeart Gallery In Pittsburgh. 
4523 Liberty Avenue 

When: Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays, 1-5 p.m. Continues through April 5 ////

Host: Kevin Stalker / @kstalker9 /

Production Manager: Mike Kampas / @kampasm

Beats: Joe Cal / @josephj_callahan

Don't forget to subscribe, follow us on Instagram @_rawnessofreality, Snapchat @Rawnessreality, and Twitter @rawreality_

Remember, Stay Raw with Reality

Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, we sat down with local Pittsburgh Artist, Sean Watrous. Sean spent his early life living in sunny California. He has been heavily influenced by art throughout his childhood, spending his time sketching out ideas and admiring abstract artists of the time.
Please listen as we explore where inspiration comes from, how the past is a lens for our future, and why some memories can be stronger than others.

Shawn Watrous:
Website: Shawnwatrous.com
Palms at BoxHeart Gallery In Pittsburgh. 
4523 Liberty Avenue 

When: Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays, 1-5 p.m. Continues through April 5 ////

Host: Kevin Stalker / @kstalker9 /

Production Manager: Mike Kampas / @kampasm

Beats: Joe Cal / @josephj_callahan

Don't forget to subscribe, follow us on Instagram @_rawnessofreality, Snapchat @Rawnessreality, and Twitter @rawreality_

Remember, Stay Raw with Reality

spk_1:   0:00

spk_0:   0:00
think it's the idea. I think it's a great phrase. I think it's the idea that in the single experience of the moment, that moment can be, you know, quiet blank room. That moment could be in the loudest, fully filled stadium. You can imagine that moment can be anywhere but in singular experience of a moment. There could be a awareness of yourself as a single being taking in that reality.

spk_1:   0:40
Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of Iran. ISS of reality On my campus. Your production manager were hosted by Kevin. Soccer and beets have been provided by Joe Cow. Today we're interviewing Sean Watrous. Where do we get our inspiration? How does our past influence our present? What can we learn about ourselves through art without further ado here, Sean, when you were 13 it was roughly 1990. What was it like growing up in that time? Wow. Different than

spk_0:   1:21
now for sure. Less distraction, different distractions, maybe not less distraction. Growing up where I grew up, I was right between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. This is the flooding of the tech industry was certainly happening in 1990. Hung at the mall a lot. I didn't have a computer think that was here. My parents got us a typewriter so we could write our paper assignments for school. So it just kind of put you in a perspective that we might have gotten our 1st 1st push button phone up until that time, we had a dial phone. So

spk_1:   1:57
technology was around us and

spk_0:   1:58
growing. But it was not something that was directly in my life. I was growing up in a quiet suburban neighborhood, very much disconnected from both the sort of budding tech industry as well as the very creative moment that was happening in San Francisco. And it was really coming to an end very much because of what the tech industry was gonna bring and how that was going to change the environment in that region.

spk_1:   2:30
And you hit on the point of there were different distractions. Uh, yeah. You know, I rode my bike a lot. I certainly played video games, so it wasn't

spk_0:   2:42
like without the screen. It was a big fan of the Nintendo. I played a little Mario in Metroid and stuff like that,

spk_1:   2:49
you know, I was really in the movies and comic books. Obviously, the movies were on VHS tapes. Often they were taped off of television. So including commercials,

spk_0:   2:58
which I'd love to get my hands on some of those tapes just so I could watch the commercials. But, uh,

spk_1:   3:04
yeah, there wasn't that sense of being constantly

spk_0:   3:09
tapped into the feet that existed, remember? Sure. So? So that would be, you know, if I could If I could see there was a main major difference. It was certainly that there's also just the fact that I was 13. Yeah, and my awareness of what reality was limited to a place that I existed. The neighborhood I grew up in was a lower middle class working class, you know, small two and three bedroom bungalow, stucco mall, small square yard, kind of neighborhood. You had your eye on

spk_1:   3:44
the block. You had the mailman and the carpenter, Quite literally. I'm running down the line

spk_0:   3:49
of who kind of live there. You know, the guy that was a construction engineer, that that, you know, did pretty well because he bought a crane. You know, he's probably on the more successful people in the black. You had a guy that in the body shop. I think the first round 19 91st BMW or showed up on the street and it was the wife of a guy that under auto detailer shop that opened a second location. So, you know, you

spk_1:   4:15
had a little little handsome

spk_0:   4:16
of people doing well. But for the most part it was like the guy that lived across the street had a 19 late fifties Ford pickup truck that was beautifully rusted. And it was It was, you know, that kind of experience.

spk_1:   4:35
Would you Would you prefer toe have that time period back now and in the life in the age you are Now? I don't know if I like in my country if I could be, if you could 41 years old, drop myself in that time period. Family included your family. Take that pleasure. I mean, I feel like

spk_0:   4:56
like it's cliche, but to say that things felt simpler. I think that

spk_1:   5:01
this seems simply from well, and I think we live in

spk_0:   5:03
a really interesting time coming. You know, the 20th century was a time of massive change in terms of culture in terms of people's sense of purpose. What the average person expected their life to be. That change has been continuous. And I think that that growth there was a promise that seemed to exist coming into the 21st century of things, we're gonna resolve themselves that there would be a kind of positive shift in culture. Onda tech industry is really part of that narrative, you know, thinking back toe. I actually worked for Xerox at their main research lab.

spk_1:   5:47
Your first insulation are your first yes, solo exhibition mission yet? Connections

spk_0:   5:53
I had There was a few years that later, but yeah, I worked. I worked at the site of the invention of the personal computer that was, you know, the facility where it's sort of all happened. And then, you know, Xerox didn't get on board with it. And, you know, IBM and Apple happened, and the rest is history. We're living. But but part of that narrative in the early years of tack in the late 20th century was that. But the advent of the Internet is going to bring us together as as a world that was gonna provide a kind of free access to information. And through that information, we were going to have a better sense of each other. And though you could make the argument that there's a kernel of truth in that I think we all can safely say right now, we aren't really seeing that as the main truth coming out of things like social media. I don't think we look at social media and say, Oh, wow, we really feel like we understand and a proven appreciate of each other's lifestyles and have a better sense of humanity because of it. Strangely enough, I think you know, we're living in the sort of pushback period where all of that we've discovered was probably just a lot of B s we wanted to believe in if we even bother to in the first place. So

spk_1:   7:19
there was that sense,

spk_0:   7:20
though, that that somehow I hope there was a hole. And so I think maybe when you ask the question what I want to be in that time period, I think that part of why I would want to be there is that one. It certainly seemed simpler, you know, it seems like it probably was but two. I think there was that sense of hope in the future, hoping technology hope in a life where this thing called the American dream existed. And, you know, it would provide for us a better future than we currently saw our parents living.

spk_1:   7:57
Would you say that the, uh, that the time period framed the way that you approached art today? Oh,

spk_0:   8:06
absolutely. Absolutely. 1991. I went toe museum shows. My my friend's dad took us. We're on summer break between freshman itself, My urine. Up to that point, I, um you know, my primary interest in art was his comic books. You know, I was drawing from the time I was two years old, constantly drawing. I've always done this. It is it is just something I have to do on a regular basis. And so that idea of making things is just is just inherent in what I do. But but, you know, my my idea of what art Waas really was rooted in drawing superheroes and those kind of narratives and thinking about my own characters that I would come up with stuff like that, you know, it was it was in that world. I was taken to this museum, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, My friend's dad took us. There was a retrospective of Richard Diebenkorn, and he was very painter who had moved down to Southern California, I think, in the 19 seventies, and he did a body of work called the Ocean Park Siri's much of it's based on the view, looking out of the studio window at the rooftops in, I Believe Santa Monica. And they're these abstract paintings, really beautiful, informed by the colors he was seeing through the window, informed by the shapes that he was seeing, and I was completely and totally confused. Their titles are Ocean Park Number 230 Ocean Park number 450. They're just a series of paintings rooted in a place, and there wasn't really at least I don't recall a representation off his more figured of paintings and paintings that air base in in kind of realism, which he did due in part of his career. These were all the sort of abstract geometrical forms, and I was just uncertain as to what ever seen as so why they all had the same name as to what this even meant. But I knew that I loved it, and it was familiar. I had seen posters of his work at the mall poster shop. I'd seen posters of work specifically up my dentist Are you know, I was like, Oh, this guy. Yeah, I knew this is And that single experience has actually shaped the course of of my art. Absolutely. He was rooted in 20th century American painting. His primary interest was Hopper, who has a big influence on me right now as well on Dhe. He really wanted to make pains like Hopper did. Which were these scenes of American life? These air scenes of a kind of, um, isolated America on these Go back to the 19 forties fifties. We have a few at the Carnegie Museum, but so so even court came out of that. But he was also informed by what's happening in New York in the forties and fifties, and that's Abstract Expressionism. And so, you know, that abstract expression is probably the other biggest influence on what I thought painting Waas, You know, these protect people like, well, executing in Jackson Pollock. I love Yeah, yeah, yeah. So absolutely 20 mid 20 century painting especially shaped the way I saw painting. And that demon corn show. You know, shit from my idea of what painting could be. And, you know, it's TV Court directly informs the work. So do you. Do

spk_1:   11:43
you see painting then? As you don't see what I'm what I'm gaining gathering from this is you don't see just one painting as the painting itself. You see the title and the paintings that following the ones before It's all part of, like, over Jane. Yeah, Yeah, they're all like, yeah, right. Right now we've got the San

spk_0:   12:03
Matteo Siri's, which you saw a little Snip it off. Yeah, in the Palm Show.

spk_1:   12:07
How many individual paintings are a part of the sand? Metalious? I

spk_0:   12:11
think I'm up to 97

spk_1:   12:12
97. Yes, I did see him. Very

spk_0:   12:16
s o I. You know, I think like, we'll see how long I do it. But I knew when I started it that there was going to be like part of it was the accumulation of the image is part of it was continually looking too. That theme again and again on returning to it with the idea that each individual work would present its own. Perhaps set of problems would be one way to describe it. But but no, it. Each individual work has its own kind of identity, even though they're all this continuous Siri's of 70 helping paintings from the primarily than the neighborhood I grew up in

spk_1:   13:00
in San Mateo, California San Mateo,

spk_0:   13:02
California and Salmon Tail Village in Cemetery, California in San Mateo County. So I conceived the project. I thought, All right, you know, Let's just call it cemetery. Let's let's simplify it there. Let's limit the image sources from From the Boundary of Cemetery County. And that includes this lovely little stuccoed area that I corrupted Thio the foothills of Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Coast, you know, up, up to just the edge of San Francisco and out, down to just the edge of what would be Silicon Valley. So it's out, out to the base. You have marsh lands, you have wooded areas. You have lots of lots of expensive house. So so

spk_1:   13:48
when you pain what specifically look at the San Matteo Siri's. So when you paint one of those, do you have an image in your head? Are you in San Matteo or is there a picture? Oh, I have photographs you have traveled

spk_0:   14:03
there. I was lucky enough over the last five years to make a number of trips back home. When the photographs started with some of the earlier pieces you were talking about seeing on the website, this collage pieces where I was really interested in in bringing in photographic elements directly into painting. So I was I was doing both drawn Mark making expressionistic, gestural mark making with paint. And then and then Clausing in transparency is with printed photographs. And that's that was the impetus for for bringing the photographs and, um, and at a certain point, after working on that body for a couple of years, it made sense to shift to the kind of painting I'm making now. I would say part of it was a simplification that was needed. Part of it was a clarity that was needed, but I had at that point you know, something like 1200 photographs from this region. Enzo organized them. I edited done Mycroft Plus with computer got them to a point that I felt like there would be a good jumping off point to make paintings from

spk_1:   15:18
what kind of camera did you use a single

spk_0:   15:21
lens reflex. I forget what it is. Uh, e p, um, can an e p to believe. And then my phone. I almost argue. The last few trips I took that the iPhone took almost almost just as good of pictures. So you know that there's that I said to my wife. We were We were in California, maybe maybe four years ago or five years ago when I said tour. You know, if we lived here, I feel like I would just get travel easily, go out into the world and make paintings of this place, you know? And I thought, Well, isn't that kind of a delightfully quaint way of thinking about what painting is? I mean, that's like 18 95. That would have made sense,

spk_1:   16:04
right? Way live in our in our present reality of very busy lives. I work in a 40 hour week. I have two Children. I have a busy life. Don't live anywhere in your California. Yeah, you know, I think of the the photographs as in a sense of sketches. I mean,

spk_0:   16:23
there were a way of gathering the information, a way of finding us a version of that information when I paint. I'm not trying to emulate the photograph. I'm not training painters. Photograph is trying to copy the photograph. I'm using that as as the basis for the composition promise. And having having the photo is something I can play with, you know, and add it on the computer is very handy because I can think about you know what I can crop out. I can think about how the forms can change a little bit and uniforms what that rectangle or square panels gonna be before I start painting. No, I'm bringing in one of the one of the main things that I'm bringing in color from the past often, you know, like I said, I was. I was there in the eighties and nineties, particularly in the eighties, when I think back to the neighborhood and my earliest memories. It was still bright pastel colors, olive greens, bright yellows, salmon, pinks, steel blue with a with a quarrel trim. Everything's tan, beige, gray, white. This point, certainly there is that aspect I think about How can I? How might I change the colors that I'm seeing to better reflect the memory that I'm having? But then. And I think the more important thing is the question of emotional expression, which, which is something that I really think drives my work idea that painting is a form of expression. That part is a form of expression and that paintings can tell aversion off an individual's emotional experience. It can share something of that. It doesn't necessarily mean that that the painting is embedded with the emotion or that that emotion is clearly translated to the viewer. But I do believe my understanding off my own reality. My understanding of my past of memory isn't formed by my emotional connection to that those memories and those emotions that inform how I go about making the painting. The paintings, as you saw the show, aren't uniform in how they're painted. Some of them are looser. Some of them are tighter. Some of them are layered. Some of them have sort of dark under coat takes place. First color gets built on top of that so that mom's rich dark layer comes through the whole painting. But all of that, I think, helps to take the viewer in the direction of what my emotional experience Waas, for instance, is It is a small painting in this show. It's just a single palm. There's no hint of rooftop or house visible, like so many other paintings are just a single pump. With this blue sky background, people have said to me, Oh, I love how windy that painting is. I I love that because there's there's actually no wind taking place in the photograph that it's from. There certainly is something within my experience in my childhood that is turbulent. It certainly has, Ah, place in my own personal narrative. And so I think that that turbulence from my childhood does exists in some of those paintings. Mom and I love the idea that people see that as wind. I think that that's that's certainly

spk_1:   20:02
that's like you. One thing I noticed about San Matteo pieces that I really enjoy. It was your use of purple. Yeah, that one particular one. Yeah, and the palm trees. It really was cool. And then the like like you were hitting on about the blues, that the way you just blew it. It just It's so common. It really is. It calms me down, and it makes me think going onto the emotional how the emotion is like within your paintings. But it's not exactly the emotion you may have been feeling as the the emotion you feel while you paint paintings. Does that change how that painting will then turn out?

spk_0:   20:48
Absolutely, Absolutely No. And I think I come. I come to the paintings, You know that their first of all there done in one go. Really? Paintings are done. I sit down, I make the painting.

spk_1:   21:00
You never go back. And I

spk_0:   21:01
I might do a little fuss here. For the most part, part of part of this is comes out of the need of being a a father of two small Children. My, my studio practice, which used to be multiple pieces and things worked on for weeks at a time. You know where you look and look and then come back and do something and then give it a few weeks and come back to it again. That doesn't work so well with my current reality job. Mike, my daughter is just turned three. My son is about to be six.

spk_1:   21:34
Okay, so it's very, very lively. Time period? Yes. So,

spk_0:   21:40
um, part of of the need tiptoe, simplify my studio practice came out of that reality. I don't have a lot of time that I could just get into the studio on hold the same thought or hold the same idea. Hold same emotion, if that's what the form of the work. So okay with these, you know, when I started them, I was intrigued by the idea that I could sit down and accomplish the painting. You know, in an hour, tow three hours, especially with some of the small ones. Really like a little 12 inch by 12 inch paintings. Do

spk_1:   22:15
you enjoy the smaller ones in the larger ones? More?

spk_0:   22:17
Well, I have painted up to, like, eight feet by four feet. Or is this sorry? 15 feet by four feet is the largest. Better have made. So all of these are very small in that in that world. But there is something really freeing about doing something that's like, just like 12 inches by 12 inches. Yeah, I mean, you know, just a quick movement of the wrist and you're already across the whole surface, you know, just in terms of what feeling the actual surface with information that that happens very quickly. So Yeah, there's a certain thrill in that when it comes to coming to each painting on having, uh, you know that that one go with the emotion behind it. I think part of it is how I'm feeling about life in general, certainly. But there's a lot I have to work with with the subject of California with the subject of my own personal narrative, which certainly inform thing, but also the subject of what has happened to the place itself. I mentioned it was it was a lower middle class neighborhood. The house next to my dad's house sold for $1.2 million. Last year, 40,000 people moved to the San Francisco Bay area. And I think in 2017 um, So how we are talking about a massive population influx happening constantly. You're talking about a lack of available property, but then you're talking about rampant increases in rent and real estate value over the last five years. Does

spk_1:   24:00
that kind of hurt? Oh, yeah. This is the opposite

spk_0:   24:03
of like, I think what happened in the, you know, in the 20th century, late 20 century, you had you had small towns, industrial America falling apart, right? You had you had an economy that was spiraling downward. You had you had this, the bottom falling out of places that people called home. And so you had this economic downturn that lead t change in the place that people lived. Right now, at least in places like the Bear. You're seeing this opposite thing happening where you have this booming. You have more money coming into that area than you could imagine. And that, too, has changed the state of things for sure. Has the landscape itself changed? Yes. Absolutely, absolutely. The landscape is his changing. Particularly. There's a main through Fare Street that runs almost from San Jose all the way to San Francisco. El Camino Real and I have a few works. I don't think there's anything in that's not true. There are a couple pieces in the Palm shows that feature El Camino Real, but El Camino really is a street that because it's a corridor that runs through various towns along the peninsula, it's a spot where you do see the change more. Obviously, there was a painting I made a couple of years ago where there's ah, line of trees and shops, buildings on this on this. How come you know, being dragged and there's ah, structure of concrete that is a carwash probably built in, I would say, the 19 sixties, early sixties or late 19 fifties. It almost has, like a sort of Jetson's futurism kind of aesthetic to it, Um, in the salt poured concrete carwash, still operational. This is something that the last time I was there, I discovered that that has been torn down and is now, you know, a three story on a condom eating.

spk_1:   26:12
That's what's happening to him. That's what Dante. And so I said, Sure,

spk_0:   26:16
Florida, you're gonna You're gonna run into a lot of that. It's really sad. Yeah, And so, you know, obviously part of the thing. Looking back on my childhood, my early memories thinking back to before Silicon Valley really blossomed into the tech industry when it was just, you know, a few few companies IBM, apple, there were fruit orchards, tickly down near San Jose that they're all they've all disappeared. They all became, you know, by the probably before even 2000 they were mostly torn down and turned into buildings to be used for more concrete measures for their, I believe Citrus. I'm not sure you ever go. I never picked anything. I remember one that was I remember seeing them from the highways and self. And, you know, this is thinking back to being like a four year old. You know, these early memories like, but I do remember Park. That's not far from where Apple's main headquarters is. That there was a new orchard there that that was defunct. It was just sort of this abandoned orchard behind the park. But at that you thinking back to when my stories. My grandfather told me he grew up in San Francisco and, you know, we're talking like the 19 twenties where I grew up. That was just farmland. He thought of it. He called it the country. He said, Don't come down in the country to visit you guys. It

spk_1:   27:35
was in the country at all. It's completely the

spk_0:   27:38
suburbs. It was completely urban, but so you talk about change. You know, I do have to remember that as I'm watching the change happen now to a place that that, you know, defines a lot of my my aren't making that that place has gone through rampant change for last 150 years. What

spk_1:   27:59
brought you? Let's break out all places. My

spk_0:   28:02
wife, Your wife? No. My dad is actually from State College. So there's a Pennsylvania connection, and my wife is from Pittsburgh. She's an artist. Is while we met, she moved out Emeryville, which is right? Right between Oakland and Berkeley. Do

spk_1:   28:16
you enjoy her? Do you like her? You enjoy. Yeah. I love the way

spk_0:   28:23
we've been together for, like, 16 years. 17 years is a long, long enough that I'm not even sure how long it's been that way.

spk_1:   28:33
I'm sure she Yeah. Yeah, sure. So, Yeah, she She was from

spk_0:   28:41
here, and she, uh, you know, she wanted to come back. Her parents were still alive on this was almost 15 years ago that we first moved here. It was a different city. You know, I think part of my my argument for making a bunch of work about California and change I'm living in Pittsburgh is that Pittsburgh is changing. We lived way. I moved from Berkeley, California till melville Mill veil was not a place that had breweries. When I moved in Melville, Melville was it was not considered in anyway. Hip place I had just by chance I found an apartment. There's we lived there for a bit, and then we moved to Lawrenceville on Lived in an apartment in Lawrenceville, just just off of bother Street. And this goes back almost 13 years ago. Now Pittsburgh's fascinating to me because it is a city, at least at that time, had a definite bohemian underbelly. There existed creative scene here that pretty much if you wanted Toa make work and show it there were venues for that. I think that's still true. To some degree, though, I think for a bohemian to exist when I use that term, things have to be a bit impoverished in a bit in expense. I think that just shift happening here with the economy, certainly with the cost of real estate with what people pay for rent. Things have gone up a lot in the last 56 years. What you don't see here is a massive population increase your people moving in from all over the country as faras. The population has been pretty stagnant since so much of it was elderly. When we moved here, Pittsburgh was on the fringe of declaring bankruptcy downtown Penn Avenue was a ghost town. You know what it was? A couple of years went by and then, you know, the restaurant started popping up

spk_1:   30:36
every day in the restaurant. Yeah, I mean, it's hard to keep up with it, you know, like we come up with places we want

spk_0:   30:43
to go to eat a couple years, go by, you realize that they're already closed on new things coming. So Pittsburgh's. I don't think all of the changes in Pittsburgh are positive. Lawrenceville. Like I said, having lived there, you could buy a house in Lawrenceville for $35,000. You will now spend $350,000. Adding an extra zero is adding a lot the things that made Pittsburgh quote unquote, you know, best city to live in America. I don't know that those things air sustainable as the city's changing. I don't look it at California as a place that we should emulate. I don't think we should see companies Google as saviors, and certainly you remember. I think, from most people I talked to the very idea that Amazon might have come here was seeing as nothing but the worst possible scenario. I was like New York. Yeah, that went down. You know, I think that it's certainly, you know, would be nice to have good paying jobs in this town. I get that. You know, I do think that the tech industry isn't all bad or anything.

spk_1:   31:59
You're Neal. Let let. But you're kind of one night when I think of your Euro Virgin story you want through one tech industry Now, Ray, you are again. You find yourself in Pittsburgh, right? And we're hitting another type. Well, here you are. Yeah, I would say that some of what's happening here is this is Google

spk_0:   32:18
effect. They're saying, Like Like I've heard that term thrown around Google Google Effect, the kugel effect. You know what? It's why. Why? Rents are more expensive. And it's like Google brother Last 7000 jobs, like, how does that has him that way? Justify, you know, a massive increase in rental property value. It's it's a strange thing. It certainly makes me nervous for the future of this town. And I certainly think that for

spk_1:   32:45
getting back to color For what? Second to the balloons air so calming the painting. Well, the blues, this

spk_0:   32:51
guy, it is the one constant right? It is one thing that in the that my my personal history of that place, it has stayed the same, no matter what changes you know. And I think that it's important to look for those constants in our lives to look with thing that we can rely on to simply be there. It might be something as simple as this guy. I do think we have to be conscious of how the world is shifting around us. We have to be wary and and concerned as to why and how, how and whom it benefits.

spk_1:   33:27
Yeah, that's that's like that perspective and and the one thing I can think of when you talk about the Pittsburgh sky and it being blue is how great it also canceled. Absolutely, absolutely. That's I mean, part of I think why this guy is such

spk_0:   33:41
a part of my California paintings is realizing going back realizing like it literally is a difference guy as light is different and I've travelled a bit and I will say, you know, I've spent some time in Greece. I've been to Ireland, a pinto toe Paris. The sky's always a little bit different. The light is always a bit different, you know, and understanding. As a painter, I mean, you're so attracted to the light. As a painter, you're drawn to how light impacts color. You know, I'm thinking about the way color was used for domestic spaces for industrial spaces for commercial spaces. In my childhood that heavily informs the kind of color I'm attracted to using in my painting. I absolutely have ideas about doing paintings that are informed by visual reality of Pittsburgh and the visual reality of other places I've been right now I'm so caught up in these colors from my past that I don't really have the language to track paint back present, you know, so I have ideas about it. I have studies and things I've done, but but certainly I'm sort of caught in this idea of my past right now. It seems to be the thing that drives in my studio practice.

spk_1:   35:06
People love people, love your work. At the gallery at Box Art Gallery, you could just hear people talking about how they love the colors you're using, and I would say it just like you keep doing it. Your makeup with beautiful stuff. But I don't live like a couple more questions after you got to get back to your three year old hero. Yeah. So I want to do a little experiment. Okay. So close your eyes, okay? And I'll close one, too. But I won't be thinking what you're thinking. So close your eyes and I want you to visualize yourself in room. And in this room, there are three people, um, thes three people. Who are they?

spk_0:   35:54
My, My wife, Alex. My son, Joe. My daughter, Maria.

spk_1:   35:58
Okay. All right. Awesome. And, uh, closer. Yeah, yeah, yes. I always like to do experiments on people. I never actually get an answer that I ever expect, which is awesome. So Oh, what about palm trees excites you? I mean, the house is not directly

spk_0:   36:23
across the street, but just just to the left of directly across the street from where I grew up, the house had a palm tree that was one of the biggest bomb trees I've ever seen in my life. Right in the front yard. You know, it seemed looking back, I don't know how tall it actually was. as a kid, it seemed like it was, you know, 60 feet tall. It was. It was cut down, probably in the late 19 nineties. So so you know, very much. So my visual reality is a child looking out of this large, single pane picture window in this house. The house was built in the fifties. There was that classic American suburban bungalow type home with a big window in the living room. Looking out that window, you know, I saw the tree in our front yard. I saw the tree in the neighbor's front yard, but towering over all of that. I saw this giant palm tree, you know, with the neighborhood. I grew up in a palm trees everywhere. They were part of that part of what defines that space and definitely what lax and and a place like Pittsburgh, Uh, you know, I also lived in Ohio. I think over time the palm has come to represents specifically my childhood. To me, I like also the idea that the Paul for everyone seems to be associated with either Vacation for Paradise is two words. Vacation of paradise, kind of fascinating associations. I was in Hawaii about God probably 13 years ago on Guy did have that experience of sitting under a palm tree, like on the white sand, looking out of the Pacific Ocean. I get it. I get that that association. So I like the idea that in these paintings there's this a little image that people have that sort of association with, I think perhaps a way to draw people in to set people on a course of thinking with that said, I really like the way that that plays when the work is informed by darker aspects, by grief, by pain, by some of the more troubling experiences I had in my childhood. When you put those two things together, you get a certain tension that really, I think, draws people to the work. One of the things that was said about my work, some people that visited the show just ahead of the opening, the young man said, You know, I feel like some of these scenes could be scenes in a horror movie.

spk_1:   38:59
Hey, picking up on something that a lot of people don't don't go that far

spk_0:   39:04
with it. They say how it's windy, but I like the idea that he really? He got the idea that there's a starkness to these, and that's I'm drawing some of that from Edward Hopper for sure that an idea of the isolated experience. But you probably noticed there's no cars. There's no people. You're never inside these houses. You're only ever outside. You're always dis distanced from the thing you're looking at, your disconnected, it's fragmented. You're allowed to look at, but not into this world you're allowed to pass through but not engage in this world. Seemingly no one is there. And if there are, they want nothing to do with you. So the Palm Fee. I think putting that in that mix is particularly fun because people want to be where the palm tree is. They get drawn in there. Is that bit of jarring experience that gonna happen with some of those paintings where, you know, as they began to investigate the painting, they find himself not really quite allowed in which I think, as I've described, what's happened to the area, kind of makes

spk_1:   40:17
it does and uh okay, so for the final question, we've made it. What does rawness of reality mean to

spk_0:   40:26
you? Grown iss of reality. I think it's the idea. I think it's a great phrase. I think it's the idea that in the single experience of the moment, that moment can be, you know, quiet, blank room. That moment could be in the loudest, fully filled stadium. You can imagine that moment can be anywhere but in singular experience of a moment. There could be a awareness of yourself as a single being taking in that reality and awareness of yourself in this very real world that we existed. It reminds me of, you know, a time in my youth where I was out in the field at night in Northern California and I looked up at the night sky. I'm very little light around. So's deep, deep black knights. Guy stars everywhere. And I became completely overwhelmed by the idea that I was a single person sitting on the side of this round rock spinning in space, and I felt really, really tiny. And I think that that rawness of realities is something of that being aware of how you fit a giant cosmos existed,

spk_1:   42:04
that's like what it is. Yeah, yeah, I love that. Okay. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you for coming they have a problem today. I really enjoyed listening to you. Just chatting it up. Eyes there. Anything you want to talk Thio, say to our listeners before you go work, go to the museum,

spk_0:   42:21
go to the galleries. Got a whole bunch of stuff going on in the city. That's amazing right now, So stay in touch with it. Be aware of it.

spk_1:   42:29
All right? To make you all right, We'll see you. Awesome. We feel so lucky that Sean was able to come out and have this wonderful conversation with us. We wish the best for him and his family and their artful endeavors. And we hope that we can have him back on the show someday. Thank you again for listening to another episode of rawness of reality. My name is Mike, campus production manager. We are hosted by Kevin Stocker, and beats are provided by Joe Cow. We have new episodes every Monday and Friday. So please join us back again for another discussion with another artist. And remember, keep it raw with reality.