Where were you born and where do you currently reside?
JL: I was born in Brazil, in a small and backwards rural town, but it was there that I was lucky to absorb a love of nature because of my upbringing and spending a lot of time with my maternal grandparents' farm. I currently reside in San Francisco, the city that pulls me back when I try to spread my wings... I don't fully understand this love affair we have, me and this city, but I honor it.
How long have you been a practicing artist?
JL: I've always felt creative and curious and in awe of art and artists, and always wrote little poems in Portuguese and dreamed I'd be a writer. But, as far as visual arts, it became more powerful once when I studio sat for a friend (an artist named Kyle Glenn) and began painting, making abstracts shapes and stories in his studio, and boom! My heart, my soul literally melted within me... I was gripped with passion. de Kooning is also one of my favorite artists: his work and Matisse - for starters - move me beyond words. Two distinct talents, and I like that. A lot of artists and their work can be moving to me on a daily basis.
What are your preferred mediums?
JL: My first love affair with art making, because that is how it felt, came through oil paintings on canvas, as well as pencil/oil/or ink on vellum. Now I love mixing it all. I make use of text rather frequently in my work, and I often mix oil and ink and tapes of different colors and shapes to create new work. I'm very interested in texture and what the lines and raised added elements convey within the image. I like breathing new landscapes (in differing mediums) throughout my work.
Who or what were your initial inspirations/influences?
JL: My friend Kyle Glenn was an early adulthood influence, but before him: Picasso, Matisse, de Kooning, Elsworth Kelly, Richard Serra. All of these fantastic artists inspire me, move me... Oh, yes, and Louise Bourgeoius, I can't leave her out because her work is big inspiration to me, her message, her courage, her expansiveness and her honesty all inspire me.
When did you know you were “called” to be an artist?
JL: Maybe the first time I saw a beautiful stone and saw beautiful shapes in it... and when I began to observe in nature all these amazing works of art, pure and naturally made, intricately made quite often, and moving. This started early on in my childhood, I can't quite place an age but if I had to guess, around 5-6. I think it's tricky, though, to call myself an artist, and I still ponder about this. I am a creative being, it is important for me to create, to give life to something, to alter something, to play with it, twist it.
Do you have formal training?
JL: Officially, no, I don't. But I took a semester of drawing and painting at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, and also a drawing marathon at the Studio School. But, like *Elsworth Kelly, I don't think drawing is my thing. I don't think I draw well, and I'm not as interested in figurative work as I am by abstraction or plain and pure playfulness creatively. I'm ultimately more interested in shapes and colors and movements and something new or hidden that you discover or take hold of because I "was there." I came to that piece of paper, or fashion magazine page or canvas or book cover, and I moved it, I changed it, I gave it new life. So, in this sense, I am glad not to have formal training because I think I'm braver with my work and there's more honesty, perhaps even, but I also recognize it (a formal education) opens doors and helps, so it's something I've questioned. * (I attended a work meeting with Mr. Kelly years ago while I lived in NY, where he alluded to disliking his drawing quite strongly; he admitted even to having destroyed many of his earlier drawings. I felt a huge relief.)
How has your process developed over the years?
JL: I think that my creative process changes as I age, and learn new things, and meet new people and become more passionate about certain issues. It's a constant movement, because although there are sometimes elements that appear or are part of my work in a recognizable way, I also don't want to draw or paint the same thing a million times over, I am pulled to make works that differ in some way depending on what is happening in my personal life, what influences I feel from the "cosmos" and my level of personal joy, blah, or sadness or loneliness. My mood is a constant affector of my work... thus, my work becomes, is, in fact my poetry, my place of expression.
What “day/odd” jobs have you done that you care to share?
JL: Oh dear, I've done them all. I am focusing on not returning to a recurring job, so, let us let lying dogs lie peacefully, undisturbed. (smiles)
Tell us about your current body of work.
JL: My latest works consist of finding images from fashion magazines (in particular, books and interesting posters, and painting over it, adding my own spices to the mix and recreating/ creating a new visual image. This work has been further developing these past 6-8 months and it has charged me with new inspiration, with new ideas and desires. I'm also eager for it to be seen by others in a proper gallery setting in an installation mode that shows how the work is infused with my creative energy and what it transmits to others, and to myself as its viewer.
I recently donated to ArtSpan.org for their annual juried fundraiser benefit one of these new pieces titled "Long is Love, Kate" which sold at the auction. The appreciation by the buyer energizes me and gives me a momentum to carry forward other desires and goals. It is clear, by some of the confessions I make here, that any sense of deep loss becomes food for new inspiration. But so is poetry, and music and nature and beauty and all the arts. Film in particular (indie and documentary films at their best) can be incredible vehicles toward a pure kind of inspiration, as can be new music or a musician I love and follow passionately. There are moments or phases of nothingness, and I also consider those very valuable and not to be dismissed as laziness or wasteful. I am zen, and I am a mess, and as I grow older, it has become important to accept this about myself and my "process," which is an overused, overemphasized demand. Sometimes there is no process, there is creating above all.
Where/when do you like to create art (studio, kitchen table, etc.)?
JL: I am and most likely will always be a night owl. I think now that this may have to do with my love for owls! Hah, I knew it. So, I create in the wee hours, and I wish sleep was but a luxury because nighttime brings me fires and stories and movements and prayers and desires, and it is there, mostly, that I hunger to create. As far as where: I love the floor, and I love a table surface that I can mess with, so these two places are my favorites. I currently work out of my studio apartment, and haven't had the luxury of a personal studio since I moved back from NY to SF. I am in need of a dedicated space as we speak.
Any gallery/exhibition experiences you’d like to share?
JL: Wow, yeah, I think I can remember some. It's such a rush to be in a show, even a group show at some dinky little unknown gallery, because your work is up there. You are essentially naked in front of your friends and of total strangers who look at 'you' and either respond or not to you... it's like marriage or no marriage; you're either the man of someone's dreams or you're not there or something is missing about you. So, long story short, it's thrilling and it's nerve-wracking to show and you want your work to look amazing, you want people to feel the love all around the works, and the ambiance, so the whole thing (for me) becomes a choreography of a new piece and there's a lot of last minute pieces to fit and things break, time passes too fast, things just plain go wrong, hours before an opening.
Back in 2000, I rented a beautiful large gallery at Fort Mason and put up my first official exhibit "Unbound". I was overjoyed and feeling a lot of love from my friends, from people who'd seen and bought my work... so one of my favorite experiences was this burst of energy and help I got from my close friends who all came to help me hang and place the paintings just so, so that the final gathering of works looked illuminated. It worked. And the beauty of this story is all the hard labor, and the sweat and the joy and sense of accomplishment that my friends and I shared.
You left SF for NYC for a few years, can you talk about that time?
JL: Yes, I moved away from San Francisco in early 2002, right after my father passed away in Brazil in July 2001 and then 9/11 happened. I came back to the US through JFK on 9/10 so my life was literally a target on that fateful flight. We were force landed in St. Louis on 9/11 without being told what was actually happening and the deep sense of loss I felt (losing my father, the most important person in my life), combined with 9/11 and all that terror; I just couldn't live life "normally" any longer. I had to flee. I had to fly, I had to move. I tend to move when the world is falling apart around me if I cannot myself concretely fix it… my therapist pointed this out to me. It was an escape, but it wasn't a typical escape: it was an escape from deep loss, it was an escape from the horrors of humanity and from myself living in a world I couldn't clean up-- I needed something new to wash away all that pain. New York came calling. A place that experienced such deep pain called me with all my deep pain. I abided. It was a time of creating, and loneliness and desolation. it was a time of self discovery, and of more loss, too: my friend Ernie, my closest friend at that time died suddenly of a heart attack, and again, I fell to the ground. And I created new works, and I escaped on short trips, and I was healed by the kindness of strangers. New York lives in my heart. I left it because I again needed some to find and gain a sense of calm and peacefulness I couldn't ultimately find there at that time. Still, New York lives in me and had an incredible impact in who I am today.
Any advice to aspiring artists?
JL: Create. Hope for nothing and hope for everything. And, accept criticism that moves you forward, but don't let anyone belittle your passion, your need to create and the sheer power you have within.
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