Art NouNew and Mousie Clark are Making a Comeback!

Mousie Clark and her art have been a fixture in and around Jackson Square in the French Quarter since 1977. She has had a successful career drawing portraits, caricatures, and watercolors as well as creating beautiful Mardi Gras posters. Her style has a strong Art Nouveau influence which she has  christened Art NouNew.

Several years ago, Mousie had hip injuries which were the result of over thirty years of dancing ballet.  She was forced to suspend her work in Jackson Square and was confined to a wheelchair until she was able to receive double hip replacement surgery this past Spring. Now that  Mousie has her new hips, she is well on her way to recovery and planning her comeback to Jackson Square.

 

NCM: Are you originally from New Orleans?

Mousie: I was born in Austin, Texas, but I grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. During the school year, I lived in Lake Charles. In the Summers, I was sent to Austin to spend time with my maternal grandmother and great aunt. My paternal grandmother lived in New Orleans and I also came over here a lot to visit. I finally moved here  permanently in 1977.

La Muse w Emmy

NCM: Did you formally study art or are you self taught?

Mousie: My great aunt that I stayed with in the summertime was a wonderful artist. She was my first art teacher and inspiration. One summer she sent me to a workshop at Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin that was being taught by professors from the University of Texas Art Department.

After graduating high school, I went to McNeese State in Lake Charles and flunked out of art. I ended up changing my major to English Education because I found out that my dad was going to try to force me to major in Business, which would have been a disaster.

I also went to the Dallas Art Institute for about two years and learned a lot there. My first husband, Thomas, was also a student there.

NCM: What made you become a professional artist? Especially after you had that unfortunate experience at McNeese State.

Mousie: My experience with the professor at McNeese was very traumatizing. I actually made a D, so technically I didn’t flunk out. But I was so traumatized that I didn’t even sketch anything for about four years. My whole art career can be traced back to a moment in Dallas, Texas in 1972. I was a window trimmer there.

One day I took a break from trimming windows and looked down to see a magazine with an ad that said Levi’s Jeans was having a decorated jeans contest. In the early 1970’s I loved to decorate my jeans. That day I went home and told my sister about it and we decided to enter the contest together.

We were very serious about the contest and even got a professional photographer to take pictures of the jeans. The photographer was so impressed with our designs that he asked us to work in an art show at the Automobile Building in the State Fairgrounds.

Piano Annie

While we were sitting at our booth in the Automobile Building, a man came up to us and offered us a job drawing portraits at Six Flags Over Texas. So we went ended up drawing portraits out at Six Flags Over Texas with stacks of white paper and black magic markers.

By the end of the first day at Six Flags, I had drawn 98 caricatures and got 60 cents for each of them, which meant I had made close to $60 in one day. My other job only paid $35 a week. That was the day I became a professional artist.

My sister and I worked at Six Flags all summer. After that we started working in other shows. We mostly worked at art shows and smaller fairs. Then one day I came to visit my mother in New Orleans who encouraged me to go visit Jackson Square. The square had recently been redone and turned into the pedestrian mall that it is today.

Thomas and I immediately decided to move to New Orleans. I drew and painted caricatures, true portraits, and watercolor paintings out there on the square.

“Got to Admit It’s Getting Better”

Then in 1989, I built a covered wagon out of a trailer and ended up traveling the country for a few years with a crazy old piano player from New Orleans. We made our way around the country for about three years, just going from bar to bar. I would draw caricatures in the bars. Sometimes I would walk into a bar with $3 and walk out with $200 from drawing caricatures. I ended up leaving the crazy piano player and moving back to New Orleans.

I met my husband Fritz after I moved back to New Orleans. Fritz inspired me to do my first Mardi Gras poster.  The first year I made three posters, which were supposed to be displayed as a triptych. They were images of a man, woman, and child because I wanted to illustrate that Mardi Gras was a holiday for the whole family.

“La Vie en Rose”

NCM: What type of art are you going to be selling in Jackson Square this Fall.

Mousie: I will sell my my remarque prints. There are 60 of them in a limited edition print, which are on nice Arches watercolor paper and hand embellished with different glitters, holographic and iridescent inks. Those are for sale for $250. Each one is a little bit different because they are hand embellished. And I do all of my own printing.

Another important aspect of my prints is that I always put a quote on them. I usually design the artwork and find the quote to go with it afterwards. For my next print, I actually found the quote before I started the piece, which is titled “Music at the Gates of Dawn”.

” A death is not the extinguishing of a lights, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come.”

Ballet was also very important in my life. You can see how important dance is to me in my work. I often draw the women in my art in graceful positions similar to that of a ballerina’s pose.

NCM: What genre would you say that you work in ?

Mousie: I call my art Art NouNew! Because I am a hundred years too late to be part of the Art Nouveau movement.

NCM: Whose work in spires you the most?

Mousie: My main inspiration was definitely Alphonse Mucha. He was the Polish artist who established Art Nouveau. However, he refused to use the term Art Nouveau. Instead he said that art was eternal and can’t possibly be new. I absorbed everything I could find that he had done. His work went into my heart and comes out through my fingers. 

I once met Alphonse Mucha’s great nephew in Tujague’s. That day I had one of my prints with me in the bar. He stopped and looked at it for a very long time. Then he introduced himself and told me that it reminded him of his great uncle’s work. I took that as a supreme compliment. 

NCM: What makes you choose to do these watercolors and these prints over other mediums? For example, have you ever worked with oil or acrylic? 

Mousie: I have so many years of experience with watercolor. My original Mardi Gras prints were only done in pencil, but people started to demand color. After a few years I started making small editions with watercolor. My goal was to create a look similar to an old black and white photograph that has been tinted a little bit. 

Over the years, I started adding a little bit more color, but I like the design quality of the negative spaces that are representing solid forms. Forms that don’t have any shading or any watercolor on them speak to me. There’s a lot of negative space in my work. If you get far enough away from it, my work just disintegrates altogether. 

NCM: Do you have a favorite brand of watercolor? 

Mousie: I like Windsor-Newton because they have very strong pigments, but Liquitex makes a much nicer Hooker’s Green. I also use a lot of Maimeri Blue Artist’s watercolors. 

NCM: What do you wish you knew before becoming a professional artist? 

Mousie: I wish I had known not to be so intimidated by everything. Initially I was afraid to put my work out there. I wish I had not been so insecure. 

NCM: How do you deal with negative criticism? 

Mousie: I haven’t really gotten much negative criticism. If someone thinks they can create something better, then my response is that they should go try to make it. This is my work and I am proud of it. 

NCM: Where can people find more of your work? 

Mousie: They can find my work at my website www.mousie.com or come see me in Jackson Square this Fall.

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Randy Jackson Discusses his Passion for Working with Artists and Collectors

Randy Lewis Jackson is a Fine Art Consultant based at Creason’s Gallery in New Orleans who focuses on representing Southern artists as well as building dynamic art collections for his clients. He has over fifteen years of experience  as an Art Dealer, Gallery Director, and Director of Corporate Client Development. Most importantly, Randy has a reputation among local artists as an honest and hard working art agent. He is the caliber of agent that the art community really needs in New Orleans.

(This article includes images by some of the artists that Randy Jackson currently represents)

Opposing Sides by John Swincinski
Encaustic on Wood 36″x36″

Originally from Atlanta, Randy graduated from Ole Miss with a Bachelors in Journalism and a double minor in  English Literature and Marketing. Eventually he moved to New Orleans where his career as a sales professional took off.

“I first lived in New Orleans from 1989 to 1991 and worked for George Bass in the Place St. Charles building. Ralph Lauren Corporation recruited me from George Bass and I was transferred first to Dallas and then New York. I worked for Ralph Lauren for 13 of the 16 years that I was in the fashion industry.

I moved back to New Orleans with the intention of starting a home accessories store. But before I was able to really get started building that business, I was contacted by Scott Novick and Jack Sutton. They owned the French Art Network, which, at the time, encompassed seven art galleries.

Untitled by Dianne Georgy
Acrylic on Canvas 48″x36″

I have been selling fine art for approximately 19 years. For almost 15 of those years, I worked for the French Art Network where the focus was primarily on heavily published and collected French painters.

I was the Director of Corporate Client Development at French Art Network for almost two years.I was very lucky to start my career in art sales with the French Art Network. They had a great group of clients and really took care of their artists.

Royal Tendency by Greg Creason
Acrylic, blown glass pieces, foil & resin on board mounted canvas
36″ x 36″

I didn’t really start working with artists until I met Jack Sutton from the French Art Network. My business experience was primarily in the fashion world. Since then I have been able to build up a huge client base as well as work with many amazing artists.

Expection by Vassilen Vassevski
Oil on Canvas 18″x24″

Several years ago, I left French Art Network because I wanted to go in a different direction. I had been very successful there, but I decided I wanted to refocus my efforts on promoting Mississippi and Louisiana artists. So I formed my own company, Randy Lewis Jackson Art Consultant.

New Orleans Dream by Maianne Canu
Oil on Canvas 24″x36″

The bottom line is that I am an art dealer. I work with corporate clients, private collectors, and interior designers by showing them the work of the the artists that I represent. I believe in developing long term relationships with clients because it creates repeat business and referral business.”

LIFE IS YOUR OYSTER by Julie SIlvers
Acrylic on wood panel
30 x 30 inches

Randy currently represents an exciting group of artists that he has carefully selected based on his own research and discerning eye. Another reason he is so popular among local artists is the fact that he is willing to accept living and emerging artists into his roster. Randy is the perfect liaison between artists and collectors.

All God’s People Said Amen by Amy Sartin Carlisle.  Mixed Media on Wood Panel. 40″x30″

“The real focus for me is the artists I represent. Of course, I need the artists to create the work so I can sell it to my clients. But I love working with artists. My company is truly about developing artists. I have made some important and lasting friendships in the art community and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Artists should always be honored and celebrated in every way.”

Enduring Allure by Steve Martin
Acrylic on Canvas 72″x 48″

Randy uses proactive sales techniques and social media to promote each of his artists’ work. He also has relationships with three galleries here in New Orleans, which gives him the ability to sell what is on their floor.

Sometimes artists are a little shy about reaching out to Randy to ask him to look at their work. But the artists that I spoke to prior to interviewing him said that they were thankful to have him as a resource and adviser. There were even several that I spoke with, who aren’t represented by Randy, but said that he gave them valuable advice about marketing and selling their work.

Autumn Waits by Geza Brunnow
Gouache and Watercolor on Paper
15 1/2″ x 19 1/2″

” Every artist should know that they need to have a contract when working with a gallery or art dealer. An artist should have something in writing that outlines exactly where your work’s going, what’s going on with it, and what it’s being sold for.  This contract should also describe what the list price will be as well as the offering price. Furthermore, the contract also needs to describe an inventory of what the gallery or dealer is agreeing to sell and should stipulate the time frame that an artist should expect to be paid and how they are going to be promoted.

I am amazed at how many artists just hand their work to a gallery and have no record of it. ”

You can find Randy Jackson inside Creason’s Gallery in the French Quarter. Randy’s website can be found at  http://rljartconsultant.com or contact him directly at randy@rljartconsultant.com.

 

 

 

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The Patient Observer

Street Photography is a challenging genre of because it requires the photographer to be spontaneous while simultaneously controlling variables like color, lighting, and overall composition. Documenting people in their everyday environment also requires patience and bravery because many people don’t want to be photographed by a stranger. For all of these reasons, well executed street photography requires exceptional talent.

Thomas Cole is a street photographer who moved to New Orleans several years ago and started documenting life as he experienced it in the city. He grew up in California, but honed his talent for observation when he started traveling throughout the world. Eventually Thomas’s passion for travel helped him make a living as an art dealer and expert in Asian textiles. Photography was a hobby of his throughout his adult life, but lately it has become his passion.

NCM: When did you first feel compelled to shoot photos?

Thomas: I traveled to Afghanistan in the early 1970s and took along a Pentax 7 to document my trip. It wasn’t a very expensive camera, but it took decent photos. It was a favorite of photo journalists because it wouldn’t really set you back financially if you accidentally lost it.

NCM: How did you develop the film?

Thomas: I would just give it to a shop out there or I brought it back to the States and had it developed. I still have some of those prints lying around at home.

The Cat Bird Seat

NCM: What made you choose Afghanistan?

Thomas: In 1969 my brother introduced me to a friend of his at Berkeley who had just come back from Asia. I was very interested in all of his stories about the Seychelles, India, and Nepal. The art he brought back from Nepal intrigued me and I wanted to see these strange cultures for myself.

The late sixties were a very polarizing time in America and especially in California. So I decided to escape to Asia. I wanted to live a different reality.  Afghanistan was especially fascinating because it seemed so medieval. All of Asia was very different at that time.

Dancin in the Streets

NCM: What skills did you develop in Asia that helped you become a good photographer?

Thomas: I was a practiced observer who kept my eyes and ears open and observed everything around me. I’ve translated that skill to photography.

When I started taking photos, I wasn’t serious about photography as an art form. My goal wasn’t to publish a book or anything like that. I was mainly looking to document my personal experiences. And some of the photographs I took in those early days were good shots. From my perspective as an artist today, I’m proud of those early photographs.

Behind Bars

NCM: So what made you decide to become an art dealer?

Thomas: That career just sort of evolved for me. Between 1970 and 1990, I spent 16 out of those 20 years on the road in Asia. I came back to the States with my family in 1998 and continued to make a living with my art business, which involved periodic travel to Asia.

In 2010, I decided to return to India with a real camera and pursue photography more seriously. For the next four springs I returned to India to wander for four to six weeks at a time and take photographs. Then I would return to the States and have exhibitions of my work. I actually sold quite a number of those photographs.

NCM: When did you come to New Orleans.

Thomas: In 2015 my daughter invited me to New Orleans. She had moved here for work and wanted to be closer to me. I found that New Orleans was fertile ground for me as a photographer. New Orleans is a community that I enjoy being a part of.

NCM: Did you ever get any formal education as a photographer or are you completely self-taught?

Thomas:  I have absolutely no formal education. I’m completely self-taught.

NCM: Do you think it is harder for photographers to stay relevant with digital technology?

Gimme A Break

Thomas: I have heard the debate over whether or not it’s killing photography. Digital is great if you are out in the field taking photographs because you don’t have to carry tons of rolls of film. It makes the job of a photographer so much easier in many ways.

NCM: Do you think it hurts your  profession now that everyone has a digital camera built into their smartphone?

Thomas: A smartphone camera is not as good as real photographer’s camera. They are point and shoot cameras. A real photographer knows how to control everything with their camera.

NCM: Do you upgrade your camera and equipment very often?

Thomas: Not at all. I am using a Canon 6D with a Tamron 28300 lens.  I like being able to strap my camera to my wrist and walk around with it. Constantly changing my lenses destroys the spontaneity of the shot. The eye of the photographer is more important than fancy equipment.

NCM: If you could shoot whatever you want and not have to worry about your bank account, what would be your dream?

Thomas: I’m doing it. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing what I’m doing right now.

Thomas Cole by Thomas Cole

NCM:  Where do you think photography will be in the next 25 years? Do you think it’s a dying art?

Thomas: I don’t think that professional photography is a dying art form because there are more photographs available now than ever. What is changing is the public’s appreciation for it as an art form.

I’m lucky because I don’t have to focus on selling my photography to make a living. Photography is something that I am passionate about and my satisfaction comes from people enjoying my work.

NCM: Do you have any advice for someone who is just starting out as a photographer?

Thomas: Just keep shooting. Don’t constantly second guess yourself. Sometimes you will be surprised by what comes out of your camera.

You can see more of Thomas Cole’s photography in his book Standing in the Shadows: New Orleans in Focus.

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I Wish I Could Paint Like Aron Belka

Untitled 2017
Oil on Canvas 50″x 50″

I wish I could paint like Aron Belka. There, I said it.  At some point every artist  wishes they could achieve what another artist has mastered.  When I first saw Aron’s work several years ago at LeMieux Gallery, it grabbed my attention from across the room. The painting was Market Woman and I remember thinking that this enormous painting of an Asian woman wearing a coolie hat was an interesting choice of subject matter for a New Orleans art gallery. More importantly I was blown away by the beautiful application of paint. The painting had both realistic and abstract qualities to it.

Aron Belka is a painter whose work has focused on a wide range of subjects. He has a talent for painting figures, landscapes and abstracts. It is hard to classify his work in any one category because he is a master at creating beautiful works no matter what he chooses to paint. Our team was incredibly blessed to spend an hour in Aron’s studio to discuss his work and artistic process.

Untitled 2013 Oil on Canvas 48″x 60″

NCM: Where are you originally from?

Aron: I’m originally from Salt Lake City.

NCM: What brought you to New Orleans?

Aron: I met my wife at Utah State University and we both wanted to get out of Utah. Utah is a beautiful place, but we wanted to see the world. First, we moved to Portland, Oregon for about 3 1/2 years. My wife works in Public Health and her career also took us to Albany, NY for a few years.

In 2004 we moved to New Orleans when my wife got her Masters in Public Health from Tulane. Eventually she also earned a PhD from Tulane in Public Health and teaches there now.

Gentilly Turn

NCM: So you got your Bachelor’s degree in Painting from Utah State?

Aron:  Yes, even though they aren’t really known for their art program at Utah State. I was actually a Fish and Wildlife major for awhile and ended up rushing through the Fine Art program in order to finish. The leaps and bounds that I have made as a painter actually happened after I left school. There has been a lot of self discovery for me as a painter.

NCM: How old were you when you started showing an interest in art?

Aron: My dad is an Architect and my mom is a music teacher. They are both creative people. My dad noticed that I was interested in drawing at a young age and taught me how to draw horses. That was one reason I chose to do a show focused on horses because of that early childhood experience with my father.

Gray Ghost

The show Call to Post ended up being about racehorses because I had a friend whose family owned a couple of racehorses. He allowed me to accompany him to the track.

NCM: Do you have any artistic heroes?

Aron: Jenny Saville was a huge influence. When I first saw her show, it blew my mind. She paints really thick and loose. When I look at her paintings, they just vibrate through me. Jenny Saville really inspired me to paint larger paintings.

Lou’s Delta Blues

I was finally able to paint some really large paintings once I got my studio in the Bywater in about 2014. LeMieux became my gallery not long after that. They have been very good about consistently selling my work. Not every collector has the space to really display larger paintings. But if I had my way, I would always be painting huge pieces.

The Lightning Thief

NCM: What draws you to painting such huge pieces?

Aron: Part of it is just the way I paint, which is very gestural. I want to be loose, gestural, and sort of spontaneous. It’s hard to stay loose on a smaller scale. It’s easier to paint with more emotion on a larger scale.

I also want to make an impact and want people to notice my work as soon as they walk into a room. My goal is for people to have a hard time walking past my work without noticing it.

Market Woman 2015

I especially want this to happen with my portraits because I am interested in working class people, which is a demographic that is often overlooked.

For example, my wife has done a lot of work in Sierra Leone in West Africa with the Ebola outbreak. So I have done a lot of paintings of people my wife encountered through her work.

NCM: How do you select exactly who you are going to paint.

Aron: It depends. When I painted the Working the Wetlands series, which was about the Louisiana fishing industry, I was hanging out in public places like the Vietnamese Seafood Market in New Orleans East. I would just take tons of photos with my camera. When I was taking the photos, I had no idea who was going to be in the paintings and who was not. These Vietnamese women were among those many photos and I decided to paint them.

I’m trying to put more abstract elements into my next show, which will be a landscape show. I’m very interested in the landscape between Golden Meadow and Grand Isle. It’s very flat with a lot of water and patches of land. Most of the pieces are going to be very panoramic.

NCM: Do you prefer a specific type or brand of paint?

Aron: I use a mix of different types of oil paint. A lot of the paint I use is made by Rembrandt, but it isn’t my exclusive paint. I prefer oil to acrylic because acrylic dries too fast. I usually paint wet on wet so that I can manipulate it.

NCM: I noticed that most of the portraits from “Represent” have a cooler palette. How did you decide which palette to use?

Timothy Cavner by Aron Belk
Oil on Canvas 48″x48″

Aron: Well, initially I started to use reds. But the more I experimented with the reds, I just realized it wasn’t working. The background in each of those portraits is the same greenish blue. And the cooler flesh tones just worked in these portraits. Jenny Saville’s influence on me really comes across in these portraits.

When I first moved to New Orleans, I was actually only painting abstract art using palette knives. I wasn’t using brushes at all. All of those abstracts were very warm. They were based on aerial satellite photos  of farmland.

N29496009W

NCM: How do you deal with negative criticism?

Aron: I haven’t received a lot of negative criticism. But I do think it is important to get honest critiques and criticism because it keeps you sharp. The way that someone perceives your art is always very subjective. Everyone looks at art differently. I don’t take offense if someone doesn’t like it because I am going to continue the path that interests me. I need to create the art that I am most passionate about.

Gathering

It is important for me to mix up the subject matter of my paintings or else I am going to get bored. That’s why I switch between portraits, abstracts, horses, landscapes, etc. I have fun experimenting and trying new things.

NCM: Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a professional artist?

Aron:  I wish I had a better business sense. And I think most artists feel that way. I’m very lucky to have LeMieux Gallery representing me. They definitely earn their commissions from selling my work. Christy and Jordan work incredibly hard for all of the artists that they represent. It is important for an artist to be represented by a professional and honest gallery.

Parading the Paddock

When most galleries are considering bringing on an artist, they will try out one piece in a group show. That is how LeMieux started working with me. Initially my work had been very abstract and they weren’t really interested in bringing on an abstract artist at that time. Jordan approached me and asked me to consider painting something that wasn’t abstract. So Jordan actually prompted me to step away from abstract and re-enter representation.

Miro Hoffman
Oil on Canvas 48″x48″

But if you look at my work, there are still all of these abstract elements within the paintings that I am creating now. I’m a painter and I am always going to be a painter. Painting is what I am passionate about.

Aron is primarily represented by Le Mieux Gallery here in New Orleans. You can also visit his website at http://www.aronbelka.com/

 

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The Weird Wonderful Art of Molly McGuire

Molly McGuire is a multi-talented musician and visual artist who has achieved international fame for her work in both disciplines. As a musician Molly was a member of several of her own bands in addition to playing with other notable acts like Queens of the Stone Age and Frank Black. The subject matter of Molly’s visual art, which she sells under the name Magwire,  primarily focuses on contemporary folklore and mythology in a traditional circus banner format. Most notably her circus banners were featured in the TV Show, “American Horror Story” during season 4’s “Freakshow.”

In person, Molly McGuire radiates an artistic free spirit. This is immediately apparent in the way that she carries on a conversation. I was lucky enough to have lunch with Molly one afternoon in the Bywater.

NCM: What brought you to New Orleans?

Molly: In 1995 I moved to New Orleans to study Jazz. I was a bass player, but instead of playing Jazz, I ended up becoming immersed in the Alternative Music Scene. The Mermaid Lounge was kind of our home bass. I painted all the signage there and helped build the stage and the bar.

During that time I played with a bunch of different alternative bands. Then I ended up spending about seven years in Los Angeles to pursue a career in music. But in 2008, I decided to move back to New Orleans and basically became a visual artist.

NCM: Did you have a personal crisis? What made you decided to make such a huge shift?

Molly: It became apparent to me that I was on the wrong path. The bands I was in kept breaking up. But as soon as I made the decision to move back to New Orleans, everything seemed to align. I immediately landed a job as the property manager at the Bywater Art Lofts. The job came with a free apartment and it was the first time I had ever had a steady job in my life. It gave me a chance to focus on what I was going to do with my future. That was when I decided to focus on painting.

NCM: Did you have any training in the visual arts?

Molly: I’m mostly a self-taught artist. I did have some formal training as a sign painter. I went to sign painting school for two years in Toronto. My parents are both artists and they met at art school. So, when I was a kid, I always knew that I was going to be an artist when I grew up.

However, my parents didn’t want me to have to take out a student loan to go to art school. I was devastated about not being able to go to art school, so I just basically ran away and became a musician.

I ended up running away to New Orleans for Jazz. In 1990, I came to New Orleans for my first Jazz Fest. I was so blown away by New Orleans. In the 1990s . You could rent a beautiful shotgun house for $200 a month and live however you wanted. Luckily I got to experience that amazing time in New Orleans when it was dirt cheap and you could live well. We played music, we made art, and we thrived. New Orleans has always been attractive to artists.

NCM: What genre would you say that you work in?

Molly: Most of my art is focused on contemporary folklore and mythology in a circus banner format. I do some circus content, but for the most part it is just whatever is going on in my mind. My training as a sign painter helps in the way that I execute my paintings. That is where I get my typography. And many years ago, sign painters were the ones who painted circus banners.

NCM: Do you use sign paint to paint them or do you use something else?

Molly: I don’t use One Shot, which is what a lot of sign painters use. I only work in recycled materials. I began doing this in Los Angeles when I worked on movie sets. Because, once a movie production ends, they throw out a lot of perfectly good art supplies. I would find the canvas drop cloths from a movie set and use them to paint on. So I use almost 100% recycled materials. I usually use latex house paint which I custom pigment. The process I use gives me a similar flow to One Shot paint, but it is also less toxic.

NCM: Whose work inspires you the most?

Molly: Nieman Eisman is my favorite circus banner painter. I mimicked his style when I did the banners for American Horror Story. But I haven’t watched the show though because I’m not into Horror movies.

NCM: How did you get that gig?

Molly: I had been trying to get on their radar when they were filming down here. I even visited Second Line Productions and tried to get them to talk to me, but had really hit a brick wall and pretty much given up.

The production company had hired someone in Los Angeles to do the circus banners, but, luckily for me, they just weren’t nailing it. My friend, David Kelsey, let them know that I painted circus banners and the production company contacted me. They explained that they needed them immediately because they were already starting production.

The first painting for the show was literally done overnight and sent to Ryan Murphy, the creator of American Horror Story. He said it was perfect and they hired me to do all of the circus banners. I ended up painting 15 of them, which I had to paint at the rate of two a day. I was also still working at the Art Lofts too.

NCM: Do you feel that American Horror Story really established you as a visual artist?

Molly: Yes and no. The show didn’t put my name in the credits. And that happens a lot in productions. Especially when it comes to Art Departments. But my work in the show is recognizable. People can see it on my website and I have a catalog that I put out when I am vending which showcases the work.

NCM: I first saw your work hanging in a restaurant. It was the Dressed Oyster PoBoy Pinup. And I remember thinking that I wish I had thought of painting that myself.

Molly: I’m not from New Orleans, but I love everything about it. A lot of the themes that New Orleans is famous for have been beaten to death as subjects in art. So I’m trying to come up with fresh ways to portray those themes without being boring or cliché. The subject matter is endless when it comes to things that you can paint down here.

NCM: How do you deal with negative criticism? Do you ever get it?

Molly: So far I haven’t gotten any negative criticism, but I guess that is coming. Artists usually get raked over the coals when they become too popular. It will probably be a good sign when it happens because that will mean I have really made it.

NCM: What do you wish you knew about being a visual artist before you got started?

Molly: There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish that I went to art school. I’m finally starting to get over it though. I have become comfortable with my own naivete’ about painting. I’m replacing knowledge with passion. Sometimes I do try to train myself with online tutorials.

NCM: If you had to pick one favorite out of all of your work, would you be able to do it?

Molly: Not really because I have done over 400 circus banners at this point. I do remember that in one of my first shows I did a piece called Suicidal Clowns, which I loved. I have a dark deviant sense of humor that comes out in my work. That piece was a good example of it.

NCM: Do you ever get tired of painting circus paintings?

Molly: No, it’s a format that I have strategically chosen for myself so that I will not get bored. There are actually several different subcategories of my circus banners. While some are circus or sideshow themed banners, others have a contemporary mythology or folklore theme to them. I also paint a lot of New Orleans musicians and marching band kids. I am very excited about having a lifetime of painting ahead of me.

NCM: Where can people see more of your work?

Molly: I’m represented by Galerie Vinsantos located at 811 Royal Street in New Orleans. You can also see my work on my website at www.magwireart.com

 

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An Interview with Famous French Quarter Surrealist Danny DeLancey

Danny DeLancey can be found painting outside on Royal Street Street in the French Quarter almost every day. He has become popular for his Surreal depictions of a Bunnyman in a suit holding red balloons. Each painting places the Bunnyman with his back turned to the audience as he looks out onto different dreamlike landscapes. Some of the landscapes are bright and cheerful while others appear stormy and dangerous for the Bunny.

These are unusual paintings for a painter sitting out by the fence near St. Louis Cathedral. Most art in this area of French Quarter is painted to target tourists who want something reminiscent of New Orleans. But Danny’s art is unique to his own imagination and he has become famous for it.

NCM: Where are you originally from?

Danny: I’m originally from Houma, Louisiana.

NCM: What brought you to New Orleans?

Danny: I started visiting the city when I was a kid. As I got into my teens, I would drive up here with my friends. I would imagine what it must have been like to live in the French Quarter in the past. Eventually I decided that this was the best place for me to pursue the life of an artist.

NCM: What led you to become a professional artist as opposed to just having art as a hobby?

Danny: My grandmother used to draw in the margins of our TV Guides and I enjoyed flipping through them to see what she had drawn. My father also drew images and put them in our baby books. I remember drawing as a young child and even entered my first art contest when I was in Kindergarten.

When I was 15 years old, my uncle introduced me to a guy who owned a graphic design studio and I worked for him. I would go to High School until noon every day and then I would design safety posters  at Saia Moda Freight line from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Then at 6:00 pm, I would go to the graphic design studio where I learned to screen print t-shirts, custom paint cars, and paint billboards. By the time I was 17 years old, I had already done designs for Paul Mitchell, United Way, and Walk America. I did a design on an 8 1/2″x 17″ piece of paper that earned $17,500 when I was only 17 years old.

NCM: Have you had any formal artistic training?

Danny: When I got to high school, I chose art as an elective. I had taken art for two years when my art teacher recommended me for a distributive education program. I had reached the limits of what they could teach me. I was ready to go and grow on my own. So I worked at Saia half the day and then worked with the graphic design studio into the night for seven years.

NCM: What genre do you work in?

Danny:  For the most part, I’ve been painting a lot of Surrealism. I work with acrylic paint on canvas. I have worked with oils in the past, but I focus primarily on acrylic and Surrealism.

For the past seven years I have been painting the Stroll series. In this series, I have the versatility to put a character in many different situations and compositions in order to portray a message. Each painting conveys a positive message for all the viewers to see and hopefully understand.

These images are more like mental landscapes. Each image is
something that may pertain to who I am inside or what I think people are inside. Every day who are visiting New Orleans from around the world stop and talk to me.  I get ideas about the different cultures and backgrounds of people from different places around the world. And I utilize all of those ideas when it comes to creating the paintings because my market is pretty wide open right now. I have collectors in 76 countries.

NCM: What is the significance of the Bunny Man? Are these paintings autobiographical?

Danny: I wanted to paint something that had a message versus just a painting of a historical building or some jazz musicians standing on a corner under a lamp post.

At the time, my youngest daughter was stuck in Brazil.  I had just moved back from Brazil and there were problems with immigration. My two older daughters were here and my youngest was in Brazil. I was upset because I couldn’t be in two places at once. So one day I decided I was going to paint a man walking through a forest because I guess that’s how I felt. Instead of painting the head of a man, I decided to paint a rabbit head because it seemed less serious. I wanted something more whimsical and humorous.

The first day I had that first painting for sale, a guy walked by and said, ” I want to purchase that for my son!”

The next day a woman walked up and said, “What happened to that piece you were working on yesterday?”

I said, “I sold it already.”

And she said, “Oh my God! I was going to ask if you could put a splash of color and I was going to buy it from you.”

I said, “Well, I was going to paint three red balloons, but I didn’t even get to that point before the other guy bought it.”

And she said, “If you could paint one like that for me, I’ll give you $500!”

That happened seven years ago. Since then the demand for these paintings has snowballed. These paintings are now in 76 different countries as well as every state in the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska.

The Stroll series is essentially about being positive, having a sense of humor, and holding onto the the things that are dear to you as you follow your path in life.

The cane in the images represents something that ails you. So the message is  about not letting whatever ails you or hurts you hold you back. The tuxedo represents feeling positive about yourself and trying to attract other positive things in your life. And the rabbit’s head represents being whimsical and having a sense of humor. The three red balloons represent my three daughters. And I now have an additional fourth balloon that is normally floating around because, when my oldest daughter told me she was pregnant I added a balloon for the grand baby. I never moved the fourth balloon down to the Bunny’s hand because most collectors look for odd numbered items in a composition.

NCM: How long does it take you to complete a painting?

Danny: The longest I’ve worked on a painting is two weeks and the shortest amount of time I’ve ever done a painting is probably in an hour and 45 minutes. It depends on what I’m painting. If it’s a black and white piece, it takes less time than color pieces. Sometimes I can do a large black and white painting in half a day. Abstract paintings also don’t take me quite as long

NCM: Do you find that it is easier to paint a figurative painting than an abstract painting?

Danny: I like to plan what I am going to paint on a particular day, the day before. In my mind I know if I plan to do an abstract or figurative painting and what color palette I want to use. If it is a commission, I pretty much know what the client is expecting from me. In the graphic design studio I learned that you need to have deadlines and meet your customer’s expectations.

NCM: What made you decide to paint in public?

Danny: When I am painting on the sidewalk, I get more foot traffic in one day than most galleries get in a month. The cost of working out here is much better. I don’t have to pay 50% to a gallery. Yes, it gets hot and I have to worry about bad weather. But it is a much better trade off.

NCM: Whose work inspires you the most? Do you have any artistic heroes?

Danny: When I was younger I was intrigued by Salvador Dali and Michelangelo because I was introduced to their work in high school. More recently I have enjoyed contemporary artists like Jeremy Mann.

There has been a certain evolution in the products and materials that artists have available to them. There is also a big shift in the mindset and perspective of artists today versus the artists of the past. Today we have so many distractions with computers, cell phones, TV,  and radio. When if you go back 300 years when none of these things existed and artists could focus in on their work.

The number one aspect of being a good artist is having patience. Another critical trait is being able to focus on your work in spite of all of the chaos that is happening around you.

NCM: What do you wish you knew about painting versus other mediums before you got started?

Danny: I used to sketch with pencil because it gave me the ability to create graduated shading and certain three dimensional aspects. But I wish I had known much earlier on that paint was so easy to manipulate and use. Paint can give you so much depth and emotion just from the choice of color palette.

I think it hit me once I started painting seven days a week and once you do it in public. For example, I get reactions when I use certain colors. People will stop and watch me and have positive reactions as I make my color choices. Everyone can identify with a green field, a blue sky, or a red balloon. It has some subconscious connection.

NCM: How tough is it to live the life of an artist?

Danny: It is a lifestyle. There is no guaranteed paycheck. I don’t have a boss paying my health insurance. When you have kids, that adds another layer of responsibility as well. Every material that I use also has to be paid for. So, when I sell a painting, my prices are going to reflect all of those variables.

NCM: How do you come up with a profitable pricing structure for your art?

Danny: When I first started selling the Stroll Series seven years ago. The paintings sold for $300. Those paintings now sell for around $3,000 because the demand and my cost of living has gone up. At this point, I am looking at branding the series and possibly creating merchandise around it.

NCM: How do you deal with negative criticism?

Danny: I have never heard any negative criticism, but I know how I feel about my work. I’m very confident in it and even if I heard negative criticism, I wouldn’t let it knock me down.

NCM: Where can people find your work?

Danny: Most days, I am usually out here painting on Royal Street. In the evenings, when I am done for the day, my paintings are at the Carriage Way Gallery on 711 Royal Street. And I also post my paintings on my Facebook page. I have two pages on Instagram: DeLancey Art and the Stroll Series. Bruno and Company Auction House will sometimes auction paintings for me.

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Letter from the Editor Fall 2019

Welcome to New Orleans Canvas Magazine Fall of 2019!  This issue is special because it marks our 2nd Anniversary. Within it you will find profiles of five exceptionally talented artists as well a dynamic art dealer. All of whom live and work here in New Orleans.

Our Photo Editor, Pamela Reed, has once again proven herself to be invaluable to our team. Pamela provided the portraits for four of our artist’s profiles. We would also like to thank photographers Thomas Cole and Tyler Timian for providing portraits. Thomas graciously accepted the challenge of providing a self-portrait and Tyler gave us permission to use his beautiful black and white photos of Danny Delancey.

Our cover artist this Fall is Aron Belka. In the last five years,  Aron has become well known for his oil paintings of figures, landscapes and abstracts.  Aron’s talent guarantees his art career will continue to shine for many years to come.

Molly McGuire’s art adds an wonderfully fun and edgy article to this issue. We were blown away by the diversity of her talent as both a fine artist and world class musician.

We have also profiled two very important French Quarter artists in this issue: Danny Delancey and Mousie Clark. Both of whom have made successful careers by working outdoors in the French Quarter, yet work in completely different genres.

Thomas Cole is our only professional photographer featured in this issue. His work as a street photographer documenting contemporary New Orleans is creating quite a buzz.

We conclude this issue concludes with an insightful interview with art consultant, Randy Jackson. Randy is beloved in the New Orleans art scene by both artists and collectors, primarily because he focuses on promoting and selling the work of artists here in Louisiana and Mississippi.

We hope you enjoy the 2nd Anniversary Issue of New Orleans Canvas Magazine! Check the website often for coming new features over the next months.  With our expansive community of artists here in New Orleans, there should be no shortage of enlightening subjects for profiles. As always, we welcome your input as well on our “Friends Of” Facebook page.

Artfully yours,

Erin McNutt

Editor

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