Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eight Minutes with Muralist Samuel Homan

When I was in Carlton, MN a few weeks ago, I noticed an art project taking place at the 3rd Base Bar near the center of town. Having my camera on hand I decided to stop and see what they were up to. Once I saw all the paints, brushes and accessories, I knew these weren't just a couple guys with paint cans decorating a bus. I introduced myself and learned they were from the Twin Cities, had come up specifically to paint the bus and the van to promote the 3rd Base. I grabbed their cards, mentioned the possibility of following up. Here is the exchange I had with Samuel Homan, leader of the team with associate Barry Newman. Even though he doesn't define himself as a graffiti artist per se, their use of spray cans was with a skill on par with the best of them.

Ennyman: How did you first get interested art?

Samuel Homan: I first became interested in art as a child, with coloring books, cartoons, and comic books. As I grew older, I discovered a lot of art through the skateboarding / rollerblading industry, artwork on different albums, and posters. Although I've always doodled, I didn't become serious about art until college, when I took an introductory drawing course and hung out with a lot of different artists. Well, even at that point I wouldn't consider myself "serious" about my own art. But I did start drawing and painting with some regularity at that point.

E: Who were your earliest influences?

SH: One of my earliest influences was definitely M.C. Escher. My parents had a few Escher books and it definitely had a big impact on me. I liked maze books, and Escher naturally tapped into that interest. In addition, Salvador Dali was another artist I encountered early on. My dad used to wear a t-shirt of the "melting clocks" painting, and I loved to study that image. Besides these childhood influences, I don't remember too many from growing up. Once I was in college, though, I became a sponge.

E: Do you have a name for your style? Is it part of the "graffiti" art movement?

SH: I'm not sure if I have a name for my style, or if I have even found my "style" yet, because I tend to switch it up in my work. Also, I believe that classifying yourself into one definite style is somewhat limiting and categories/classifications are arbitrary; they don't really define or capture the totality of any artist. For instance, Dali is always referred to as a "surrealist" painter, but so much of his work is based on his mastery of still life and figure painting. I don't think such labels do the artist justice.

Now, moving to the second part of your question... I don''t think I can just be called a "graffiti artist" but I definitely am part of that movement. Graffiti is part of the hip hop movement, a wider cultural renaissance that includes music, poetry, and dance. I believe it is the greatest cultural movement of the 20th century. Yes, I said that!

E: Do you make a living doing murals and large scale painting?

SH: Nope. I definitely don't. I am a teacher by profession--the murals and paintings are a necessary outlet for my creative energy. This is the first summer that I've decided to really push the sign painting/murals. During the school year, I teach English at Mayo High School in Rochester, MN. What's up Spartans!?!?

E: Do you also do "fine art" or "wall art" that you sell? If yes, do you have a website I can direct people to?

SH: Yes, I do. Lately, the majority of my fine art consists of watercolors--landscapes, that kind of thing. I currently have artwork showing at Hard Times Cafe in Minneapolis, MN. The address is 1821 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN. It will be on display until August 15th. Also featured are a few great friends of mine--Ryan Rockwilder, Barry Newman, Louis LaPierre, and Sean Watt. All of them are amazing artists and I'm fortunate to call them my friends.

As of now, I do not have a website. I've played around with the idea of a blog of sorts, but I've been too busy. I am on Facebook, though! I try to hide from my students, so I'm not sure if I even show up in searches. Ha.

E: Where do you live and what is the furthest you have traveled to do a mural or project?

SH: During the summer, I call Minneapolis my home. During the school year, I live in Rochester, MN. The furthest I have traveled? Hmmm... I think only a few hours, to the exotic oasis known as Carlton, MN. Ha. So, probably only two hours.

E: Any advice for others who want to paint murals and do exterior wall art?

SH: Not really, but I'd take some advice! Ha. Really, I guess I would just like to say that art deserves to be in public. So if you have the opportunity to paint a mural, get it done and do it right! Art is really exciting to see in the public space, and it really transforms people. While I was painting the bus, there were tons of neighborhood kids hanging around, asking questions, and giving me recommendations ("Put a coconut in the tree!! Put a monkey there, too!!"). I really felt like they were transformed by it, in a way. They were amazed we painted it in just two days. One girl even ran home and asked her parents if she could paint something, so they gave her some paper and some watercolors and she painted a tree, the sky, and the sun. That's what it’s all about!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

well said mr.ho.man.

your speech class