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Phantom Interview _ Matthew Bailey Seigel

The next subject in our series of interviews with San Jose artists is Matthew Bailey Seigel an active exhibiting artist with KALEID Gallery. Matthew was recently one of two featured exhibits for the month of August (the other artist was Janett Peace) entitled TANGLE wandering off trail which turned out to be much more of a collaboration between two talented artists in their own right and mediums.

How long have you lived in San Jose Matthew?

Almost 4 years, before that, North Beach, and before that, back East, in Maryland.

Have you always been a practicing artist?

Yes, and no: my mother was always artsy—she still teaches watercolor classes in the house I grew up in—and my father is a serious amateur potter. Together they influenced my sister and I into doing lots of artsy-craftsy stuff. I would cut up toilet paper tubes to makes sharks. Or build refrigerator box space ships: with one person inside as the astronaut, another outside as mission control, passing in peanut butter sandwiches through a slot. Those sorts of things.

I remember hanging out with a friend, doing what we called "ink draw," which meant sitting around after school drawing with ink. We made strange little recordings, also.

Then somewhere along the line, I stopped. I never officially decided to be an "artist" or anything, so I didn't. I studied electrical engineering, then computer science, then design—not art: design.

Then I moved West (which is a big deal if you come from the East - all of you who grew up here, should leave and move East; it'll be good for you), to do design work for tech clients. No art going on.

Then one day on one of my regular visits to the Paul Thiebaud Gallery in North Beach (in 2004), I saw the work of Ed Musante. Beautiful little paintings of birds on vintage cigar boxes and thought, "hey, I could do that."

So got myself blue, red and yellow acrylic, and started teaching myself to paint tomatoes. It was far more complex than I thought, but I was hooked (again).

Matthew's contribution to the "Peace in Darfur" exhibit

Jump to the present.... your feature exhibit at KALEID is quite different from your signature small drawings you regularly exhibit there, how did the 5' long scroll paintings come about?

Well, I've done (and do) bigger drawings, but smaller drawings let me get ideas down and out of my head faster.

However, I've been meaning to paint larger than en plein air size, so last year when I entered Art Ark Gallery's "Peace in Darfur" show, I took the opportunity to do just that, on paper, 3 feet by 8 feet. The text part was composed beforehand, and I started the painting by carefully measuring where to place the letterforms, much as a sign painter would. But when my brush hit the paper, and I made some mistakes, I just started editing on the go. It was the look I wanted: thoughtful, but unconstrained. As continued with the brush, the text's emotional tone began to vary the style of my writing: slow and careful, HUGE and moving.

So when the opportunity came for a duo show at KALEID, I wanted to make use of the gallery's substantial wall space and considered more of these writing paintings. But I was unsure of what I wanted to say in that way. I wanted to find a way to integrate, in feeling and mental approach, the landscape and still life paintings I did earlier, but with my outed quirkiness as exhibited in Pellet's "Melt Yo' Face Off!" show. (They are strange, written works, with odd little explorations of texture, figures, etc.) To take all of these influences and just go large.

Midway painting these pieces, I remembered I used to draw on cast off reams of computer output paper—they were scroll like. I guess I just keep going back to what I liked to do as a kid.

installation view of Matthew's scroll paintings, and Janett's art glass work

detail of Janett's glass art works in "TANGLE"

For this feature exhibit at KALEID, you worked with Janett Peace, a distinguished glass artist in San Jose, how did the idea of glass representations of your paintings come about?

Since we were scheduled to have a KALEID show for the same month, and we were both interested in similar subject matter—Janett creates accurate glass representations of fruits and vegetables, and I am known for my cigar box paintings of them—we decided it would be good to do something together. But what? We both got busy doing our own thing for several months. I'd started full-time on my scrolls. Then when met again, Janett was inspired by them and asked if she could work from them. Well, I thought that was awesome, so I left her with a few scrolls.

When she showed me her first glass piece from one of them, I was blown away. I'm not a big fan of kiln glass, to me it often has a certain prosaic look, but this piece was completely different. Janett captured the strange smudge, marks, drips of my various styles and media, perfectly in glass—and not as a photo copy, but her loose interpretation.

From there I continued to email her photos of new scroll paintings as I completed them, and Janett just kept going, in various new directions. Taking my paintings into blown glass, dripped/pulled glass, then beyond my work, into the overall theme of our show called "TANGLE"

"TANGLE" installation view

Having created such an impressive body of work, and successfully collaborating with another artist of a different medium, where do you think you'll go from here?

Thank you! I will continue with this format and substrate as just begun with them. And what to paint—that is my current question. These initial paintings explored a wide range of visual directions and technique.

I'm interested in expanding the ideas discovered in just a few of them, the ones, which to me, were most successful. Paintings where I was unsure at every step of where to go next; where there was never a clear path to making it "work," on the edge of disaster. So it follows that there is no obvious path to making more of them, right? They cannot be "replicated" by default, this is what needs solving.

I have no idea where this will take me - it will fun.

Please visit:
Matthew Seigel at: http://mbseigel.blogspot.com
Janett Peace at: http://sjgaa.org/


This page contains a single entry from August 31, 2009 4:22 PM.

The previous post in this blog was In case you missed it - TWO BUCK Tuesdays August 18th.

The next post in this blog is Palo Alto Ice Cream Social with Geri McGilvray.

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