Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Interview with Folk Artist Eric Luplow

A while ago, I heard someone say that it made him or her angry that each person nowadays can think that he or she is an artist. Like it was a bad thing. It was really a turning point for me to hear someone say that - I think it was someone in a high position in some corporate music company thing and it infuriated me, but at another level it made me really happy. When I hear people say things like that I hear a trickle of jealousy or maybe even intimidation behind the words. Maybe even the thought "why can't I do that?" It's a destructive cycle of thought in my opinion both on oneself and those around. But the notion of being intimidated by people who are unintimidated is really awesome. It's like the myth of sisyphus. To a certain extent, everything is pretty pointless, but if you're going to shove a rock up a ramp only to have it come back down, you might as well make it a really pretty rock.

Art for me serves the purpose of knowing oneself and others. It's an expression of the human condition. In my opinion, the more artists there are, regardless of medium, the more creative lenses there are through which to see humanity.

That's how I got interested with Folk Art. I'll go into thrift shops or hole in the wall places just to see the art that people throw out. There is art everywhere.

One of my obsessions is MARY THE ELEPHANT. It's one of the few examples of an animal being executed - except it was an elephant so big that not guns, nor electrocution could stop it. The animal was bigger than most means to destroy it, which is a fascinating idea to itself. There are a lot of other people who have given reverence to Mary, and many folk artists use her as a means of expression. It was while looking through Southern artists that I stumbled upon Eric Luplow surprisingly, since Eric is not from the South.

Eric practices something called sur-folk watercolor, a phrase of his own that combines surrealism, folk art, and watercolor. His paintings take on a sort of mystical presence. There are many religious implications in his work, as well as a worship for the natural world. He combines these and other ideas from worlds long gone to create his artistry. Here's his WEBSITE.

I shot him an e-mail to buy some of his work and asked if there were any chance that he would be interested in an interview. He was super prompt and got back to me. This is what he said.

Jordan: When did you first start making visual art? How did you know that you
wanted to?

Eric Luplow: I started as a very young child, even before I started school. I think the reason for the visual art, drawing and painting is because it was a place I could escape to ---it was like all mine - being as I had a speech impediment and learning problem -I took comfort and joy in my art

J: Have you always made art in the same medium?

EL: I’ve been working in watercolor medium for over 40 years -- from High school - it picked me. It was an easy medium for me to grasp

J: You call your style of art sur-folk. Which parts are surreal and which parts are folk?

EL: My technique is more folk art and the images are surreal.

J: Do any artists or ideas inform your art in particular?

EL: Yes. Just recently for example I picked up a box of Dylan CD's which inspired the painting of Dylan titled “Columbia," which is on my website.  The changing of the seasons changes my color palette.

EL: Artists that  inspire me are Schiele, Jim Vogel, Picasso, Scholder's native images, Miro - this list could go on forever. Dali, of course, but especially some artists like Guy Clark and Terry Allen and Nathan Hamilton.  These are musicians whose songs inspire a vision that helps me paint; I listen to music the whole time I paint - like always.  I do a lot of paintings of musicians.

J: How would you define folk art? What do you see as the appeal behind folk
art? Do you see it as having any shortcomings?

EL: Folk art is "art of the people" - with little or no formal art school training. The rawness of the individual who created the work is the appeal. There are no more shortcomings than any other art.

J: It seems that there's a lot of art happening in different areas and the internet allows people to get to see more obscure stuff. What do you think about that ability to showcase your art to people who may not get to see it?

EL: I think more people get to see it but I don't think it is a lasting impression because it's too easy and I think people don't take the time to really look at it. It's fleeting

J: What sorts of ideas do you try and tackle in terms in your art?

EL: There’s always a story behind every painting; so my painting is considered narrative work but this story line  may be as simple as a line drawn on a page in my sketchbook that inspires me to paint from it. It may also be complicated as being somewhere around me. Things going on around me, like the people, events, night or day, changes of the seasons. I try to convey what's happening to me or around me.

J: Tell me a little bit about where you come from and where you live now. Does geographic location affect your work? If so, how?

EL: I was raised in western New York - a little place called Batavia, NY. Now I live in Northern New Mexico on "The High Road,” a Spanish land grant village called Truchas; in the mountains at 8,300 ft elevation. A land of beautiful sunsets, though isolated to some. It shows a lot of beauty to me in the colors of it and the solitude.

EL: Yes, my geographic location affects my work a lot, especially when you sweat; it doesn't work good with watercolors!  The colors that you see in this desert area - the Spring with all the new colors, new grass green to the colors of the Aspen trees in the fall. All these things, these colors show up in my work.  Even the starkness of the winter.  One year we had a lot of rain up here and after some months I looked back and realized that I had done three paintings with corn in them. The crop of corn was really plentiful that year and it showed up in my work.  Then there was a painting inspired by the drought and our waiting for the monsoon rains to come in. Recently I finished a piece, "We Three Kings" that was totally inspired by the drought and the fall colors here in Truchas. The reds and yellows of the sunsets come into my work and of course that often comes from wildfires that fire up the skies. The folklore of the area that I am in also comes through my work; I have painted in South Texas, Mexico, Italy and all over. The mural, "Dias de los Muertos" that I painted in South Texas really illustrates that.  It's reproduced on the opening page of my website.  I do a lot of skeleton paintings andlots of paintings with musicians; I guess I'm really best known for these subjects - and my buffalo paintings.

J: Do you get to have exhibitions ever?

EL: Yes, most recently was a museum show at the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Harlingen, Texas

J: How often do you get to create art?

EL: I’m creating art everyday - creating doesn't mean that you are actually painting - creating to me means getting the thought so I'm creating all the time. I try to paint every day, even when I am on the road because it's like any other professional; you have to do it so you don't lose your skill, your stroke, and because it's watercolor it's easier to paint every day. You can start and stop more easily due to the cleanup - it's so much easier

J: Do you have a day job you need to support your art?

EL: No - my art is my day job.  Many years ago I was an industrial electrician - that was my day job, but that was over 20 years ago.

J: What all is in the future for you?

EL: Enjoying life with my wife, family and friends - seeing our grandkids grow up and being a good person and doing my art

J: Anything else you'd like to say?

EL:….and to be open enough to be influenced by all of this  and just to make someone think - really think - that's a beautiful thing

1 comment:

  1. What is the app. value of the painting "the guitar"?