When you are bartering for art supplies and everyone gets what they want, all is fair. Gold for Paper. Absolutely. It's the high desert, availability changes the terms. We had just made our negotiations when Squire and I past the inner windows of Brasserie.
Knocking to point, Squire said, “that, is a pretty good painting.” I picked my eyes up. I considered the painting. With abstraction in its shadows, the subject matter is two old outdoor chairs, aluminum with woven colored strips and nostalgia for the past, the beach, sitting in garages, watching the world pass by. These chairs, hold splinters when the plastic deteriorates. They held grandparents. They were exceedingly light. They held the weight of Americana. They had arm rests. Anyone could sit in them, hierarchy was adult, not class or race. They held the 1960’s, 1970’s. The painting holds the place for two people’s memories not one. A lot of things could happen in those chairs, silence and shared secrets.
Let me tell you, I have only seen the painting once. I am sitting on the other-side of the country this morning. Here where the cicada’s are singing, where summer is a rare and glorious thing, where sitting in one of those chairs is both pedestrian and an honor. So who is this painter? For some, Matthew Pierce is the squirt gun guy. Yes- that is right, the one who painted squirt guns for his Art Walla 6 x 6 entries. For others, he is a painting professor at Walla Walla University. Admittedly I have not seen the rest of the show, as the gate was locked. So I sent him the questions.
How long have you been in the Walla Walla Valley?
Actually, this is my 3rd tour of duty in the Walla Walla valley. The first was in 1983 for 7 years then again in 1992 and finally in 2016
What does the pursuit of Authenticity look like?
Sometimes an artist just has to close Instagram, stop Googling, close the art books and put away the reference photos and just do YOUR work.
When you make your work, when do you think about its presentation?
I learned a lot as a graphic designer that I keep and carry into my work. But there was one thing that I’m still trying to shed because it can be debilitating creatively. That’s the idea of a ‘client’ or the presentation to an audience. The tendency is to make work that appeals to the ‘client’ and not necessarily to me. I hate that. It makes it difficult to fully explore if I have an imaginary client. I’m still trying to separate from that mindset and this is why I don’t take on commissions. It feels too much like my old career.
Childhood game that feels pertinent to your work now?
With a single working mom, we didn’t have much money so it wasn’t like my sister and I had a lot of toys. So we made our own games and toys. The experience of dreaming something up and then formulating a plan to create really stayed with us. I’m really grateful for the experience.
Do you draw?
Absolutely, I draw. I consider it one of my strengths.
How do you handle rejection?
I was a pretty confident youth and as a graphic designer you tend to get your work critiqued harshly. But I never took it personally.
Is your art: your work or your hobby?
It’s work. ...or maybe more accurately, it’s my life.... or addiction. take your pick.
Talk about a connecting thread that spans throughout your work
I’m a sucker for good composition and that’s what I’m attempting. You wouldn’t know it from the portraits since I plop the subject dead center. But I think on a deeper level the composition is still there, its just more subtle.
Describe an another artist that you would like people to learn about.
I love Diebenkorn. He’s fairly well known to artists but I don’t think the general public is aware or understands his work.
What is your favorite tool? How do you use it?
I have a number 6 flat brush and I can do almost anything with it. Also, expired gift cards.
Where are you going? How will you know when you have gotten there? What if you never arrive?
I’m on a creative walkabout and I don’t want to arrive. It’s the ‘going’ that’s the point. my goal is to drop dead in my studio at a ripe old age with an honest body of work being enjoyed by numerous wonderful people.