Stokes of Genius

More than a dozen blocks in Little Italy will close to vehicular traffic April 30 and May 1, making way for foot-traffic to the nth degree, as the 32nd annual Mission Federal ArtWalk fills the streets with hundreds of artists and thousands of art lovers and buyers.

In advance of the event, ArtWalk's eight featured artists - selected from a roster of nearly 400 - spoke with PacificSD about their work and creative approaches. One of these artists, Desarae Lee, created an original work for the cover of this magazine, offering a tangible glimpse into one of the city's cultural rites of spring.

artwalksandiego.org

Desarae Lee

Birthplace: Whittier, California
Place of residence: Salt Lake City, Utah
DesaraeLee.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
People tell me my art is whimsical and dark. I think of it as surrealist, meaning I try to keep my conscious mind out of what I'm creating. I guess if it comes across as whimsical and dark, those are the things that are lurking inside of my subconscious.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
I've been doing the Mission Federal ArtWalk San Diego for a number of years and I've always loved my experience there. The people who come to this show are knowledgeable and thoughtful about art. Being a featured artist means that I might get the chance to talk to more people and to share what I'm about with a wider audience. It is also flattering to be acknowledged by an organization that I respect.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
Picasso is the artist I would most want to meet. Whatever that "it" is that separates the genius from the rest of us, he had "it" in abundance. I would love the chance to learn from him.

Dave Ness

Birthplace: San Diego
Place of residence: Point Loma
DaveNessPhotography.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
If I say "photography," most people already think they know what it will look like: crisp, accurate representations of a beautiful scene. And, yes, I do have some of those, but my style for the past few years has been more impressionistic. I find scenes that have a calming voice and then I think about how I could capture the scene, not in a perfectly representative fashion, but in a way that captures the mood and feeling. Sometimes that means I move the camera while it's capturing the scene, creating blur and resulting in an impressionistic image. Other times, I choose a time with soft light and use a long shutter speed to blur moving items, creating a painterly feeling. My work is definitely not typical photography. The number one comment I get from people viewing my work is, "These look like paintings; are they really photographs?" And to clarify, the techniques I use are all in the camera and the way in which I capture the image, not by using post-processing software.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?

Well, of course, it's an honor to be featured. It is particularly special because the Mission Federal ArtWalk was my first big show, in 2010. So, to have started at this show and to now be featured feels like a nice milestone. My first time showing, I had a 10-foot-by- 10-foot booth and I was positioned next to a featured artist. He was a nice guy and was patient enough to answer any question I had. I remember being in awe of the pieces he was selling and how he had developed his artistic skills. I think about him often as I've worked to develop my artistic skills.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
I think it would be a painter who is successful in creating similarly calming and beautiful snippets of nature, then understand why they paint it the way they do. I'd want to know how they select the colors and how they use light. You see, we photographers must work with what is really in the scene.

Deanna Rae Cummins

Birthplace: Southern California
Place of residence: Alta Loma, California
TheRaeCollection.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
I express through a realism style, although I do not prefer a hyper-realistic finish with every last intricate detail filled out to render a 3D photograph. My focus is on those parts of the animal that help tell an emotional story. By using e?corche?, an age-old technique for studying anatomy, I find my work expresses a tangible complexity gone unnoticed when viewing the living creature. Accuracy is important, although emotion and storytelling would never be sacrificed to render what already exists.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
It is always an honor to be a featured artist, as the Mission Federal ArtWalk seeks to connect communities, cultivate new artistic talent and create a better quality of life for all through cultural enrichment through art. I find it an inspirational opportunity to be part of an organization that seeks such riches in culture.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
I have an affinity for our great masters - Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Degas, et cetera - who continue to offer great opportunities of study through the work they have left for our enjoyment.

 

Irina Negulescu

Birthplace: Constanta, Romania
Place of residence: College Area
Negulescu.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
While I focus mainly on the female figure, my work is less realism than it is expressionism. I like to create my own idea of an enhancement of an image or scene -through technique, perspective and color - in order to embellish the moment captured. Even when painting other subjects [including] seascapes and children, I like to try to capture more of my own emotion about the scene than true-to- life accuracy. It just feels much more liberating.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
I have been part of the Mission Federal ArtWalk many times, and there is certainly a bit more excitement to being chosen as one of the featured artists. It challenges the artist a bit more than usual, as you certainly want to represent the event well, putting your best foot forward, if you will. The increased exposure is certainly appreciated, and the Mission Federal ArtWalk staff has always been wonderful, so the chance to work more directly with them is always a delight.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
I have many favorite artists, and with years they multiply, but a particular one that stuck with me is Renoir. He celebrated beauty and light in his art, as well as in his life. Of all the impressionists, he was the only one interested in painting people and their emotion. Probably because of him, I do not use black on my palette. He believed that shadows were reflections of the objects surrounding them, therefore black was non-existent.

Some years back, while I was working on an important, large commissioned piece, I had a Rollerblade accident, and my hand was in a cast for a few months. I remembered the story of how Renoir strapped his brush to his arthritic, paralyzed fingers and continued his work. I did the same and it worked. I would have loved to meet and learn from him in person.

Leslie Pierce

Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Residence: Golden Hill
ArtistLesliePierce.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
I am an inventive, original, contemporary artist who enjoys blurring the distinctions between abstract and figurative, and adventuring in merging media.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
Being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk 2016 is an honor and it gives me the fantastic opportunity to reach more people. I never tire from talking about art or creating new art, so come by and chat for a spell. I also will be doing live painting demos during the fair.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
Robert Rauschenberg, because he was and is still the most inventive and pure 100-percent-artist who painted, created performance art, was one of the very first to use multiple image silk-screening in his art, invented the combine and never let being broke discourage or stop him from painting. He was a creative genius who crossed over bounds, deeply cared about things and who was very approachable, generous, humble and lived the definition of "life is art" and "art is life."

 

Lynden St. Victor

Birthplace: Tucson, Arizona
Place of residence: Carlsbad
StVictorDiaries.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
I have no idea. Surrealist, I guess. I just start working on a piece with a story in mind and stand back and look at the result and say, "Oh, that's what it's going to look like."

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
It's both an honor and a responsibility. I'm sure I'm not the only artist to feel this - there is pressure to present the best of your work and to create something especially unique, while at the same time acting like you deserve this recognition.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
Mark Ryden, because he's alive. Dead ones don't talk much... or eat much, for that matter, so I guess I could pay for the lunch.

Theresa Kwong

Birthplace: Hong Kong, China
Place of residence: San Mateo, California
TKMetalArts.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
My jewelry work is sculptural and dimensional, composed of light and airy curves, with visual movement. Anticlastic raising is a metal-forming technique based on the hyperbolic paraboloid, like a saddle or Pringles potato chip. I use various hammers to slowly coax thin sheets of metal into strong but delicate-looking organic forms. I prefer working directly with metal to form and construct my jewelry, ensuring their uniqueness. My work is available as very limited production or one-of-a-kind pieces, all handmade by myself in my home studio.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
It is a tremendous honor to be selected as a Mission Federal ArtWalk featured artist, and to have an opportunity to share my aesthetics with others is a privilege. It is an approval of my work and an encouragement for me to continue in doing what I love.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
I am lucky to have learned anticlastic raising from the esteemed goldsmith Michael Good. It would be equally enlightening to learn from the architect Fe?lix Candela, whose buildings are also based on the hyperbolic parabola.

 

Sarah Stieber

Birthplace: San Diego
Place of residence: North Park
AdelmanFineArt.com

How do you describe your art and/or genre?
I call my vibrant figurative painting style "Electric Realism." I aim for my work to show an amplified and electric depiction of human experience. Consistent themes I explore in my paintings are mindfulness, resilience and personal transformation.

What does being a featured artist in the Mission Federal ArtWalk mean to you?
I am honored to have been chosen as a featured artist for Mission Federal ArtWalk. Being a featured artist has opened the door to exciting new opportunities for artistic expression and collaboration. I'm so excited to premier at Mission Federal ArtWalk the first ever #ElectricRainProject performance piece on the main stage, which will be a collaboration with PGK dance company. I am also thrilled that my painting "Fish Out of Water" will be featured on the event poster. This support has encouraged me to revisit my fascination with water and create a new body of water-themed paintings.

If you could meet and learn from any artist, living or dead, who would you choose?
Beyonce?. I'm so inspired by how she has tapped into so many art forms - music, film, set design, dance - and how she bravely expresses emotional vulnerability and fierceness in her art. I also respect how she has creatively championed feminism and racial equality while maintaining mass appeal.

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