Monday, May 10, 2010

Eight Minutes with Artist Steve Derrickson

The second half of my junior year at Ohio University in 1973 I shared an apartment with two very generous guys, an art major and a poet/writer. They opened their place to me when I was down and out, and I’ve been forever grateful that someone noticed me when I was pretty much consumed with myself after a broken relationship. Ah, youth.

The artist was Steve Derrickson, and two decades later, thanks to the internet, I located him one evening in the mid-1990’s. We had each gone our separate ways, so the brief reconnection was out of the blue. Actually, I played a bad prank by pretending to be with the IRS and needing to speak with him about discrepancies in his paperwork. (Sorry, Steve) I’d heard from mutual friends that he’d gone to get his Masters in Fine Arts (MFA) and taught for several years, then went to the Big Apple.

It is now fifteen years later and, thanks to Facebook, we connected again. His skills were strong even then, and I remember well the large Gorkyesque canvas that hung in our living room at that time. We both had a mystical strain and he had nicknamed me Slow-Fast Eddie.

On Facebook, he describes himself like this: Post pop artist semiotician, Dad, Shambhala Buddhist, cinephile, plasterer and painter, reader and observer. Here’s a quick snapshot of where Steve’s journey has taken him to this point in his life...

Ennyman: Very briefly, summarize your art career after O.U. Masters at Tyler... then teaching....
Steve D: Taught at Univ. of Texas for 7 years, showing regionally. Then moved to NYC, where I was an art mover, showing in alternative spaces, group shows in NYC, shows in LA and San Fransisco galleries. Curated a couple shows; CINEMAOBJECT, in '86 in NYC, Insect Politics at Hallwalls, Buffalo in 1990. This is my shortest resume ever!

Enny: Who were the artists and painters whom you found inspiring during that period in your life?
SD: As a student; Gorky, Duchamp. Later; German painting; Richter, Polk, Neo Rausch.

E: When you paint, who is your target audience?
SD: I am my target audience.

E: What advice would you give to college art students today?
SD: Change majors! If not, don't mess around, promote thyself!

E: How did your connection (or re-connection) with your spiritual self influence your work?
SD: My path has changed the way I think of my own work, and speak about it. Dharma is everyday life.

E: Have you read Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word? Any comments on his analysis of where art went wrong?
SD: I haven't thought about that book since I read it 30 years ago. I rarely read art criticism any more. Art is constantly 'going wrong', it’s what makes it exciting.

E: For a while you did paintings with a UFO theme. What other themes have been dominant in your work over the past 30 years?
SD: I made a decision to work with themes that interested me as a teenager; UFO's, pin-up girls, and garage bands. Movie imagery as pulp-fiction preoccupied me in the 90's. Lurid mass psychology.

E: I checked out your “girls and guns” paintings. How does this subject matter play to womenfolk?
SD: Women seem to get the satire as well as the obvious lust which I embrace unapologetically.
I did a body of work in 90's called Eye Flower, drawn diptics of eyes and vulva's. Surrealist erotica one could say. Women related to those. They were delicately drawn.

E: Thanks for this space in time, Steve. Good luck in your ultimate quest.

To see a few of Steve's more current paintings, visit his Facebook gallery titled Guns and Girls Again.

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