FREAK OUT!!! John Walker
Tell us about your current series.
After spending most of my time painting figurative work, a lot of single figure on a background type pieces, I’ve changed gears and am currently working on two main series. One is a series of faux antiquities generated from an imagined narrative. These are primarily paintings, some mixed media, a little sculpting, and I am custom building the frames as well. The other is primarily a series of drawings that have me reconnecting with some concepts that I’d drifted away from over the years. I’m still working as a realist, that’s my nature, and I’m still doing portraits and figurative work, but the pieces in both new series have much more of an imaginative aspect than many of those painted previously.
Do you remember the 1970’s and if so what are three highlights of that time frame for you?
I was in college and art school during the height of the disco era. I was never much for disco but you can’t dispute the fact that it had an impact on music and culture to the point where it crept its way into the output of a lot of non dance music artists at the time.
Tell us about the artwork you are submitting for the exhibition.
“Unexpected Rhythms” depicts an old worn record cover, from an imaginary band’s latest album. It’s in part a tip of the hat to the lost era of album cover art, which was at it’s zenith during those same disco years. Most all of my work has a strong narrative behind it, often a story that I create that winds up playing itself out in one way or another on the canvas. With “Unexpected Rhythms” I imagined a scenario in which a decidedly non disco band released their latest album containing a lot of disco influenced tracks. Hence the title. The disco influence is suggested by the creeping moonflower vines overtaking and transforming the blissed out girl as she listens to the music through headphones, the band by the floating skull shapes behind her. How did the fans react to the new sound? Well, the album cover’s condition suggests it was played often, it shows a wear ring and was repaired with tape at some point. Maybe it was a hit, although I understand the band broke up right after their supporting tour.
Do you use photography as a reference for your artwork?
Yes and no, it depends on the project. I’m using less photo reference in my new work but there are times when you need the information a good photo can supply. “Unexpected Rhythms” was developed primarily from a sketchbook drawing.
Do you listen to music while you work?
I do, and you can often tell where I’m at with a painting by the sounds coming from the studio. Classical is my thinking music, hard rock for when things are progressing quickly. There’s a lot of classic rock in the rotation, always room for some Pink Floyd, but I also listen to a few podcasts and news shows too.
How do you see the current state of the art market in response to your body of work? (Is there a demand and is it selling?)
My new work has been very well received with participation in recent west coast group shows. I sell more small pieces than large and I would guess that’s reflective of the market in general.
Have you experienced a eureka moment while working on the artwork for Freak Out?
Realizing that I needed to paint album cover artwork that is also the album cover itself.
What collections would you like your work to end up in?
Hmm, The Art Institute would be cool. But any collection in which the owner is truly passionate about art would be a collection I would be happy to be a part of.