Tuesday, July 7, 2009
PDX Art: brand new Interview with Chris Habermann
23 Sandy is pleased to present Wonderland featuring paintings illustrating the classic Alice in Wonderland by Portland artist Chris Haberman. Wonderland will be on display July 3-August 1, 2009.
Special showing/party July 10 6 PM till 9 PM
Interview with Chris Haberman about his fresh new show" Alice In Wonderland"
It's been awhile since we talked Art & its back story. Can you give me a
a synopsis about your experiences as a rising Star in the PDX Art scene
over the past year like its pro's and cons?
Its been a pretty great year since we chatted about all this. Its been fun. I'm just constantly working. I don't think I'm a star, but I know that my art life, relationships and perception of art seems to change every year. Gladly, I feel I am changing with it. I am slowly not having as many shows as years past, trying to not be a production artist as much, but rather, fully thinking about themed shows, perfecting my craft, extending my audience, showing outside of Oregon and working in other media like sculpture and really large works. The cons are a negative. Art is hard enough without exposing the negative. Art should be positive, and working as an artist and surviving a recession is something I appreciate every day. I'm about to be featured on OPB Art Beat in September, put a couple books, work on the biggest group show of the year (Manor of Art, Milepost 5, August 14-24). Life is busy, but good. My only true "con" would be that I wish I could afford to employ an assistant, or that the National Endowment of the Arts would see the work I do as an artist and arts activist and give me a bunch of money.
This is your second show at 23 Sandy last time it was very sculptor
this time around its illustrative what's the difference in preparation?
Laura Russell, owner/operator of 23Sandy Gallery approached me with last year with an idea of a 2nd show with her and we talked about an illustrative show - something that could be graphic plates to accompany text in a book. We talked about several ideas for a book - mostly reprinting an older story - and the Alice In Wonderland idea put a gleam in both our eyes. I love sculptural art and reuse material, but I really wanted to work on an illustrative series like this - even though I still painted on recycled sheets of wood. It was different to work this way, because 90% of the work is the same size and I framed it all - two things that are not really my style, but it was great to ready this show and to prove that I am able to work within specific creative parameters.
"Alice in Wonderland" I am not that familiar with it but can you site an example how it influenced your childhood reading it and about its impact on a young persons psyche? And is that why you picked it for this show?
I can't believe you don't know this story - the thing is, you probably already do, because the idea has been used hundreds of times. AIW was picked because it is truly a classic tale, full of colorful creatures and Carroll's linguistical twists of languages and references. His style and imagery are very much a fitting and inspiring element to the puzzles and word chains I create in my own work. My mother first read AIW to me when I was in grade school. Of course, I remember the Disney cartoon as well, and I loved them both. The idea of having this magical world all to yourself is pretty amazing and a very typical theme in children's literature after the publication of AIW. My mother helped enrich my creativeness as a child, as a constant daydreamer, hoping their was a secret ladder in my closet or creatures smiling and talking to me in the grooves of the 70's wood paneling. I have always loved fantasy, comic books, mythology and I think that anything fantastical helps to enrich the imagination while further cementing what is real and what is not real. But that seperation and the introduction to these worlds came first from my mother, who taught me the difference and importance of both.
Are Fairy tales good for children or are they invoking nightmares which follow us into adulthood?
I really don't mind any of the nightmares I had as a child following me into adulthood, I think everything I've experienced in literature, film and pop culture during my life have helped shape me as a creative.
I've always loved Fairy Tales and I think they are wonderful stories and learning tools for kids. As part of the oral tradition, stories like Grimm's Fairy Tales, are still part of our teaching process with children, although today we may have glazed over some of the grittier parts of these original stories, we have also introduced real life lessons and situations as well.
Every story has a lesson, from David and Goliath to Spiderman to SpongeBob.
Why do you think you are a good fit to reinterpret this story and what value can we can from being
reintroduced to Lewis Carrol, story?
I learned a lot of new things reading the story again. I also bought the annotated version and learned how much hidden references that Carroll introduced - much in the vain of Irish author James Joyce does, in building a multi-layer structure that can be read in many different ways. I knew there was a lot in the story, from pure creation of "foolish" language, to political themes - which again, is why it is a classic. Carroll's construction (as with many books of this time) are great to revisit because of its surrealistic nature and timelessness. Alice will always exist, because we have all wanted to climb down the rabbit hole.
Have you ever fallen into the Rabbit Hole and if you could have your own Rabbit Hole who would live there?
(warning this is a trick question)
That's rad. I don't know if I really fell down, or carefully planned an exhibition with friends, beers and a barbecue one night. Ha ha ha. I think I've tried to explore my imagination as far as possible during my life, and my rabbit hole has been pretty busy. I would probably fill my rabbit hole with writers and painters and my relatives (Bukowski, Joyce, Hemingway, Picasso, Basquiat, Frida, Rivera, Burroughs, Tom Waits, etc. - all the icons of my life, and my Mom of course). Seriously, I am very much a dreamer and I am a true believer in keeping a child's mind active in an adult. I think I hold fast to my own world in my head, as I believe everyone should. I also played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons as a kid (and young adult-super nerd), so I have always loved the make-belive. I haven't done a ton of drugs either (some of course), but that special part of all of our minds is accessible without that.
You are mentoring under-served Youth in Portland. What are the things the public should be more aware of in regard to future generations?
They are smarter than we are. But also I think the world moves much quicker for them, so their attention span may not be like ours. It doesn't mean its bad...its just fast, you have to keep up, focus attention and make sure they hold interest. You have to think quicker than the internet and prove to them that sources beyond a computer or a television are still important tools in the world. Books are still printed, paintings are still painted - the world isn't totally reliant on animation and websites yet - other media is still active and the basis for everything else. The only advice I have for the public is to love your kids, take interest in them, covet their feelings and to never shun their thoughts or creativity.
When can we expect the reprint to be available and what format is it going to be?
Well, I was going to publish this book through the gallery prior to the show, but I didn't have the works ready in time for printing. Now, I am going to publish this book through a non-profit arts group I helped found (www.portlandcityart.org), to keep costs down for publication and distribution. I would love to make a pop up book, but this is my first solo book venture, so I just want to put it out. I think its extraordinary that someday I may read AIW with my illustrations to my own kids. Kinda crazy.
What kind of political system would you put in place if you could have your own Wonderland ?
Wow...that's a great question. Well, Wonderland is basically a Monarchy, ran by a Queen, so I probably wouldn't do that. I would probably like to put the workers in charge, The Gardener, The Lizard, the simpler blue collar folks of Wonderland - or I just may import Winnie The Pooh and make him the king he has always deserved....that would be more fun. :)
Thank you Richard. You are wonderful!