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How often does a garage sale totally rock your world? Hmmm, pretty much never. But when a Bay Area artist I admire announced a moving sale I knew I had to drag my butt to Berkeley.
Michael Cutlip, a popular collage artist, combines paint and paper to create bold, colorful work that often includes unexpected elements that make his work unique. His email said he was moving to Hawaii so the sale promised to be a major purge of studio goodies.
I was not disappointed. Immediately, I was drawn to the far corner of the garage where jumbo plastic baggies were packed with paper scraps, random ephemera, vintage dress patterns, blueprints, and even huge sheets of paper printed with bingo cards. Score! I couldn't wait to get back to the studio.
Hours later, lost in a pile of scraps, I had glued and painted my way to a whole new creative direction; a new color palette and a style that embraces more open space. Once again, I am reminded that inspiration can happen at any moment.
Seriously, Havana made my head explode. The colors, the textures, the music and of course the warm, friendly people make Cuba my new favorite destination.
I couldn't possibly design a movie set better than the streets of Old Havana. And for adventurous travelers, the Centro neighborhood offers a more gritty version of the city. Free of tourists, I got a genuine sense of Cuban life, punctuated with odd moments like a whole chicken (minus its head) thrown into the street and watching a restaurant patron toss unwanted tomatoes from his sandwich out a window and unto the sidewalk.
Without a doubt Cuba has already seeped into my work. Sensory overload of visual elements and sound are central themes of work I've created since my return. I want to combine textures, colors and shapes in ways that seem unlikely and surprise the viewer with its spontaneity. More to come. In the meantime check out what I've doing lately.
I tore a big hole in my favorite jeans today. These aren't just any pants. These are my go-to studio jeans—the ones I dry my brushes on and where I wipe my paint covered hands when I get messy, which is often. This new hole reveals a little too much skin in a place that rarely sees the light of day, so it might be a deal killer and it makes me sad.
Yeah, these jeans are pretty special. They are perfectly stretched in all the right places, with worn areas on the knees from working on the floor and covered in speckles of paint from every art project I've worked on over the past year. But what I love the most are the great reactions I get when I wear them.
Strangers stop me to chat, curious about what kind of art I make. "I bet I can guess what you do for a living," said a man in passing. Or, sometimes, I just get a nod and a smile and that just makes me very, very happy. After all, isn't that what art is about—connection. Constantly reaching for that emotional connection with the viewer is what drives my work, but viewers and collectors don't always get to express that connection with me. With the jeans, I hear it all the time and the reactions are face-to-face, immediate and completely genuine. Yup, I'm going to miss these jeans. Sigh...Do you know anyone who sews?