Interview with Denver based Artist Michael Ortiz
The Knew Conscious Gallery welcomes their first artist exhibition of 2012—Michael Ortiz: Artist Proof. Sensible Reason’s Meghan LeClair sat down with the Colorado native to discuss the collection, his creative influences and ‘street art.’
Your new series is entitled “Artist Proof.” Why did you choose such a potent phrase and what does it mean to you?
The phrase Artist Proof means a proof that has been approved by the artist, and then it’s taken to press. It is kind of a general phrase when you’re talking to artists and they’re doing prints; artist proof is slang for “ready to go.” The name ‘Artist Proof’ is a prolific and edgier art show name, but with the preparation for the show on a short schedule to get it all done, I was proving to myself that I was ready to go. That’s where the idea for the title came from.
I know you’ve been fervently working on this collection over the last few weeks. Is there any piece in particular that you are especially excited to unveil at the exhibition?
The funny thing about that question is that the whole series is collectively one piece. There are a few of the pieces that I favor, for sure, but at the same time it was all done within a very short period of time…so, in my mind, it’s like one communal piece. Individually, it’s a collection of twelve pieces, but they were all derived from the same concept, so to favor just one of them would not be respectful of the others. I see them all from the same perspective, not on various levels. When it all came down to it, Kurt Redeker (owner of Knew Conscious Gallery) had an open month for exhibition, and I figured I’d take advantage of it. I had all of the equipment to build a series, and I thought to myself, “Well, I could paint ten at one time, if I really want to. So, within a short period of time, I put together a series on panels. I actually built all of them based on the gallery and my ideas for the show. Now, when I look at them I can see that they come from one distinctive thought process, and that was the point of what I was attempting to do with the collection.
Much of your body of work can be describe as ‘street art.’ Would you, please, explain what that means for our readers, in your own words?
Well, street art has been around for centuries. Basically it is art that has been created in public spaces, it developed ‘in the streets.’ Some people consider graffiti vandalism, but I view it as art. It’s illegal, but it happens. I believe that anything that is applied to a surface is good, so I don’t have any judgment on it. However, I do think people should be conscious of what they’re tagging or bombing on. If you live in an overpopulated city, that’s just taken over by people…street art happens. I believe it’s human nature to want to put our own personal mark on things.
As an appreciative observer, I find myself gravitating toward your work that has a slightly subversive quality to it. Are there any political, anti-establishment, aggressive undertones in your expression as an artist?
Aggression? There is definitely that aspect. The thing with art is, to me, it’s life. I look at the human experience, as a whole, when creating art. And yeah, there are definitely feelings of aggression about a lot of things. The thing is, a lot of the times you’re not able to express that, but you have what you can do. I really recommend that, for anybody. I hope that everybody can find that ability, within themselves, to express all of their emotions. Whether is doing something athletic, or artistic…it’s kind of the same rush, the same feeling, when you can put it out there. It’s easy for people build up steam, especially considering state of the world that we live in, but at the same time you have to channel it. You have to find the means to get that out. I enjoy finding that path through art, and it’s not necessarily geared towards political means, or any sort of extreme statement, but the same time, it kind of is. There is that aggression. There’s that passion to do it, as opposed to not doing it, or even just thinking about it. The drive to fill something within one’s self…that’s what it’s all about.
I am aware that you began creating art at a very young age. Who or what were some of the early influences in expressing your creativity?
At a young age, you are most influenced by your parents, of course. My dad was a really good artist, but at the same time had to take care of a family. So he had to find the ability to express himself in his own way, like, he was a really good mechanic. First and foremost, my father showed me some extremely technical things about drawing and art—that was my foundation. My parents and my teachers, those were my early influences. When I was in kindergarten, I was told that I was good at what I did, and that was creating visual art. I feel that it’s extremely important to show the youth that there is a creative aspect to life. There should be that type of education in schools; it should be mandatory.
Your work has been featured on Roswell Snowboards. How did that relationship develop?
The owner of Roswell Snowboards, Seth Ringstad, is a good friend of mine. One day he contacted me, and let me know he was forming a startup snowboard company, and he needed an artist. It was a collaborative effort; he had some ideas, and I had some ideas…and we meshed them together to create a few concepts, and put them on a board. He’s produced a few boards now, and but he’s progressing. They are pressed through Never Summer, so they’re legit boards. Everything is proper.
Running a business with a friend and a fellow artist is awesome. I couldn’t ask for anything better! We are both natural artists, and really compliment each other’s talents and creativity. Aside from being artists for hire, we offer consulting services, graphic design, fine art printing, giclee printing and more.
At Like Minded (located in the office space directly above the Knew Conscious Gallery) we operate as a hub for artists to come in, talk about their craft, and get creative. In some sense it’s kind of geeky—dorkin’ out on things that your everyday person doesn’t talk or think about—but it’s a great way to develop our creative community. There are so many aspects to what we do, and we are open to allowing anyone to come in and ask us questions or talk to us about what they’re doing. We’re here to learn, just as much as anybody else is, and I think that keeps us driven to accomplish more. We inspire each other to push our boundaries and try new things. On any given day, people are experimenting, trying out original ideas and sharing their process with one another. And that’s the crazy thing about this whole space—when you’re here, something interesting always arises. There’s so much energy and creativity flowing through this place. It’s really great.
Michael Ortiz: Artist Proof @ Knew Conscious Gallery
Opening Reception Saturday, January 14 8—11pm