Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Five Minutes with Local Artist Eric Dubnicka

I'm not sure when I first noticed Eric Dubnicka's art, but I remember well when I first noticed the strength of his work in a show at the Duluth Art Institute titled In Cahoots, a collection of collaborative pieces in conjunction with Jeremy Schock. At the time, fall 2012, he was laying down some stimulating images.

Dubnicka has played an active role in the local Twin Ports arts community, formerly associated with the Washington Studios and now affiliated with the Tweed Museum.

Instinct Gallery in Minneapolis started its new year with Still the Sky on Saturday January 25, running until March 15 and featuring 8 artists including the Tweed’s own Eric Dubnicka. Dubnicka took time to explain in more detail the ideas behind his art.

EN: So, what is Eric Dubnicka’s art all about?

Eric Dubnicka: I'm an easily distracted problem solver by nature, so making problems to solve with the tools that are in front of me in the moment is the backbone of my creative process. I enjoy experimenting with new processes. It is also why I tend to work serially. I'll set up parameters such as, I have fifty pieces of blue matboard, a few supplies and an hour. Go! Or, I'll manipulate a lens so that I have to determine the best way to use it so that I may get the aesthetically strongest work from it. Or even the act of working reductively in whatever sculptural medium is an enjoyable challenge, deconstructively building a form to achieve some unknown aesthetic goal. I'm always thinking or tinkering and wondering, "how can I make this medium work for me?" The reality is 99% of that effort is never seen, as there are failures around every corner, but I believe as a maker of things I'm better off working in a quantity over quality model, allowing the stronger works to percolate to the top. I'm not an artist to be efficient, I'm an artist because I have a need to create. Nothing is sacred.

EN: What is it about “ugliness” that interests you (as an artist) and why?

ED: The human condition harbors unending content, particularly the ugliness in us that stems from greed, jealousy and societal pressure. It intrigues me the length to which we harm ourselves and those around us with selfish intentions, subconscious or otherwise, and I can't help but to observe it on a daily basis. I find drawing this pain, making a mockery of situations I've witnessed, brings a dark humor to it and makes it a little less depressing. My challenge then through mark-making is to get the viewer's attention with the initial impact of a piece then draw them in so they will begin to see the marks, the paint strokes, pouring and the interaction of materials which all can really be quite stunning.

EN: What did the College of Visual Arts teach you that would be absent in your life had you never had that experience?

ED: First, the loss of the College of Visual Arts in St.Paul, MN last year will have an unending negative impact on Minnesota arts and culture, and sadly its closing was avoidable. As a school it created a home where creative misfits of society could find comfort and acceptance. With a strong adjunct faculty of working artists and wide cross-section of humanity attending, nothing was out of bounds. I could make a realistic graphite drawing of an apple in one class and the next use deer intestines to make a landscape. Besides acceptance and giving relevance of any and all artwork, what they taught was: learn the rules first, then break them. Because of that, strong aesthetics, using the basics such as color, composition, etc. run through my work. And finally, I learned the importance of critique and how to accept critique. It's critical to any artist who wants to be looked at as a professional in any media to be able to articulate their work as well as give and receive input.

EN: Tell us about your current show.

Dubnicka's Studio
ED: John Schuerman, artist and curator, opened the Instinct Gallery in downtown Minneapolis last fall. He has shown a number of group exhibitions since then and I was asked to be involved in this show Still the Sky which opened January 25th. I have a selection of small figurative works in the show that's best described in John's words: For us city-dwellers there is still the sky, we just look up and there it is. We can easily forget the vastness of the universe and get caught up in our human accoutrements which seem vast and perhaps consumptive of the natural environment. This “Big Sky/Little Man” exhibition recalibrates the natural/human-made lens through which we see the world. Here, sweeping skies above plains of the earth and vast environments are tugged upon by the many, minute people.

EN: What’s your role at the Tweed and what impact has it made on your development as an artist.

ED: Though wide and varied, my primary role is as Preparator. I prep for and install the exhibitions as well as oversee collection care. Besides being privileged to see the many art objects behind the scenes, I've had an opportunity to gain appreciation for artworks that I never would have thought to seek out. Additionally, I've met many artists and art-types and it's reassuring to meet these folks who also quietly slog away in the studio. It's funny, we tend to have an immediate rapport, regardless of age or background. I've met many kindred spirits and fellow dreamers.

Follow this link to see more work by Eric Dubnicka.

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