FEATURED ARTIST: James Melcher
The best thing about judging the $2 Art Contest is getting to play “I wonder.” As in, I wonder what this artist is really like. I generally look at an artist’s work first. I don’t want anything else to interfere with my opinion of the work. And although we are taught as children that you can’t judge a book by its cover, we are also taught ”If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck and looks like a duck, it is probably a duck.” And, more often than not, I can figure out an artist’s philosophy from their work alone. Sometimes I am surprised. But what I always remember in the end…there are no two alike…all lovely little odd ducklings. This month was no different.
And the winner is…
The entries I receive each month for the $2 Art Contest are incredibly varied. I see work from every imaginable media, from artists at every level of their careers–some polished and PR savvy, some more vulnerable, but honest. This month, the winner is happy and optimistic, and since we are all headed into sometimes stressful and often melodramatic holidays… I thought we could all use some sunshine.
The Featured Artist chosen from October entries is James Melcher. Melcher’s work has a carefully chosen randomness to it that both makes me wonder and makes me smile. I would own his work. That is one of the many tests for any artist, wouldn’t you say?
James Melcher was born in Cleveland, Ohio where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in ceramics from the Cleveland Institute of Art. After graduating, James spent a decade first in Southeast Asia, then Italy, and finally New York City before moving to Canada in 1996. Vancouver, British Columbia is now his home, and Melcher claims the spectacular mountainous landscape and glimmering glass towers as his daily inspiration.
While I am drawn to the Melcher’s line drawings. I simply could not avoid the elephant in the room–the mosaic paintings. I was not shocked to find out that the mosaic paintings began as an happy accident:
“This whole thing began when I unrolled old polka dot, acrylic on canvas paintings and started cutting them up. I was in a kind of creative block and really didn’t know what I was doing. I cut out circles and then cut them in half and like a kid started playing with fitting the pieces together. I ended up gluing these down to small canvases and called them cut-outs.” (pictured above left)
“The mosaic paintings began kind of by accident – A pile of strips, left over from all the trimming of the cut-out pieces, was collecting dust and I was going to throw it out. Instead I started playfully laying them together in rows – ‘April Mosaic’ (pictured right) is the culmination of that “Strips” series. This led to delving more into pattern and to more purposeful decisions about color combinations.”
“I continued to cut up old works on canvas to make new mosaic paintings until I ran out of old work! Now there is more of a conscious plan and design although I also let the work “speak” to me and go where it tells me to go! There is still the occasional coming together of pieces on the studio floor and that’s where new ideas are born.” –James Melcher
After studying the work & the process,
I went to the food for the real scoop…
Premium cut steak and potatoes
with an occasionally guilty binge of Doritos.
No deep, dark happiness issues there.
And what of his favorite artists?
The inspirational mentors?
Matisse, Mondrian, Warhol, Gehry.
Not a particularly optimistic lot,
but I can see the stylistic/artistic inspiration.
I was certain he was hiding something.
How does he classify his own work?
Modernism, Color Field, Pattern painting.
What makes this artist tick?
Where is the quirk?
Where is the secret?
And then I got to the final quiz question…What is your next big project? And then I found my answer within his: “I have Four! The Artist Project in Toronto – March 3-6, 2011 is a BIG Project that I am in the full swing of producing and getting prepared for…Getting my book “Memory Mosaic” published…Moving to Europe…And, I would love to complete a large-scale art installation somewhere!”
Eureka! The king of random pattern is fueled by frenzy. This artist does not suffer from the motivational anorexia of which I warn. His life will not pass him by. He is caught up in his own whirlwind of pattern and placement. Lookout world James Melcher’s headed your way.
Learn more about James Melcher online!
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