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Mark Warren Jacques

A week away from the closing of his solo show at White Walls (closing Jan 7th, 2012), we speak with Mark Warren Jacques about skateboarding, art, optimism, skateboarding... and skateboarding.

Chad Kouri: At the end of one of your recent videos you say "it's really excited to be at a point where I feel like art is the purpose of my life and life the purpose of my art." First off, damn that is beautiful. Secondly, would you like to expand of that? Did you ever feel like your life had another purpose other than art? Do you feel that the purpose could change over time?

Mark Warren Jaques: It's funny the strange things you say when a camera is pointed at you. I feel like I always sound so silly. but I think things are changing all the time. Even what I'm living for, you know? I'm like everyone else, just trying to be happy everyday, and live for love. But at that moment I was having a trip thinking about how art had become all I was living for. Like show after show, project after project, "arting" had become daily life, and so naturally every single moment in life becomes the inspiration for the art. There isn't time to sit and ponder "what" the next painting will be about, or even what life is about, it just comes out, it has to be made, even if you have to force it. Now this is a really beautiful way to live. I thrive on that energy to produce, but...

CK: You also talk briefly about the idea of art for money and how strange that is. Do you find that running a gallery and trying to create art is a bit overwhelming sometimes?

MWJ: ...it can get all fucked up for me when the money thing becomes such a part of it. I need to eat and support my family so I need to make art, and hustle super hard to make it just as a painter, and I love this lifestyle, but with that comes this thought like..i have to make some work that the people who buy my art will buy, and as soon as I have that thought I'm like "fuck this" and suddenly it somehow feels like work and shit gets tiring, or maybe it puts too much pressure on trying to be inspired all the time cause you need to pay rent or something. But that thought process is also just a phase. Things must always change, it is the way of everything to be changing forever. And so I say fuck the money, I will make what I'm inspired to make, and I will be honest about it, and do it for love, and out of sheer necessity to be happy. That's where I'm at right now. Life is good. Enjoying life and my family and the ability to be creative everyday.

CK: I see you have quite a few videos on vimeo. Was this something you were always doing while growing up and skateboarding or did you set out to do little artist profiles as videos first?

MWJ: Skateboarding for sure. You know how rad it is to see yourself on video pull off some bullshit you think is the bees knees? But I was always making art videos too. The Transworld and Toy Machine skate videos always had that rad arty style that I really loved. So I would make arty stuff like that to go along with the skate stuff. When I started skating 15 years ago there where not many skate parks, and skateboarding wasn't as accepted as it is today, so to skate we just made all our own ramps or skated whatever loading dock or curb we could get away with. That was the one thing skateboarding really taught me, it was like, lets just make shit, lets be creative with what we have, who cares if we have to edit by filming off the 13inch tv vcr combo. I still do that crap… just ghetto rig everything. I love that style.

CK: What's the most untraditional tool in your arsenal?

MWJ: Painting naked in the sunshine.

CK: Did you gravitate toward geometric-abstract work after you found that figurative work wasn’t very fulfilling?

MWJ: As a youngster I played with all kinds of stuff. I started making art from the skateboard graffiti angle so at the time I had no concept of those “art” terms, it was just like, take what you have and make something cool out of it. in most ways its still totally like that today. Over the years I have experimented with styles, and painting processes. I even enjoyed painting landscapes in oil for a couple of years, but i’ve always been drawn to make stuff in a graphic style, and find myself more stoked these days on the hard-edge abstracted work that I make. On the other hand as a viewer I often find myself most moved by expressionistic work like Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, late J.M.W. Turner, stuff like that. I think that style of work naturally has this ability to keep the energy of the maker in it, to sort of freeze that magic/emotion of the act of painting. thats not to say the hard edge stuff cant have emotion, but its a different type of emotion I think. It’s more like a story or a dialog as opposed to a gut reaction, it touches the brain in a more direct way.

CK: Do you get pissed when people say your stuff looks like someone else’s?

MWJ: We are all in this thing together so haters get out. I don’t want that shit. Besides, authenticity is transparent.

CK: Free Life Center was a really great project to follow. I find that, having a lot of friends that are artists, everyone comes up with grand ideas but a lot of time is spent talking about them and few are followed through on. How did you and Seth not only come to this idea but how did you actually follow through on it? Did you set up small deadlines to get to a big goal or was it very organic from start to finish? How did you fund it?

MWJ: Well at the time when we conceptualized it, Seth and I where sitting in the sunny back yard at our house in portland smoking weed a lot… we both are able to focus really well when we are stoned… ha ha, so we would sit in the backyard at the house and talk about this crazy idea and since we where stoned there seemed no limits to what “could” be done.

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Also, our golden friend Ayni Riamondi kept telling us we could get some money to fund it. She would help. So we said "well lets do everything we love– art, music, building, salvaged materials– and lets travel with it. And include "people locally everywhere" which is kind of the ethos behind the Together Gallery, and really the ethos behind our life style, you know? So from there it was just about making a bunch of lists of what had to be done and focusing time on it. It was a shit ton of work, believe me. Especially since neither Seth or I had ever really raised money or planned a project this big. But like I was saying earlier, its that skateboard mentality, like we can do it with what we have here, yeah lets do it. And people got behind us, tons of people. We raised a couple grand on kickstarter (we were one of the first 30 or so projects on that site). The rebuilding center in portland donated all the reclaimed materials, and Lifetime Collective gave us some dough for the tour, and of course all our new and old friends in every city came out and made it amazing.

CK: I can tell that music is a big part of your creative process as well. Do you prefer doing one more than the other or do you feel that they are kind of one in the same?

MWJ: Yeah, it's all just what comes out. The process for music is a lot different than painting, or building stuff. But the motivation and the inspiration is almost always exactly the same. I especially enjoy the performance aspect of music. I love going to shows and seeing the energy between the crowd and the performers, and that every live performance is a one time deal. The sound and energy created only exists for that moment at that show on that night, you know? Paintings on the other hand are very tangible frozen moments, and the dialog between the piece and the viewer is much more introverted.

CK: You also talk a lot about community. In a world of such competition and one-upmanship do you feel that working within a tight knit group of people becomes a hindrance? Do you find it hard to break out from your core group and get a new audience to see your work?

MWJ: Well first, there is no way in hell I would be where I'm at as a human or as a professional artist if it wasn't for my crew. The crew is family, always there, and with love. I feel fortunate enough to have learned early on that love is what its all about, and so the one-upmanship and all that competition doesn't mean much to me. Sure, I wanna make a killer exhibition that sells out, and an amazing record that has a million hits, and a moving film that becomes a cult classic, but not inspired by competition. I wanna make that stuff for love and happiness to share with my friends and everyone else. I'm not a competitor, however I give whole heartedly to every project.

CK: Do you find that showing your work can interfere with making it? What's more important?

MWJ: I think they are equally important. Personally I never want to be a closeted artist. I respect the Monk, but I make stuff for folks to see. To spread the love you know...and I get totally stoked to show people.

CK:When leaving one of your shows what kind of ideology do you hope people leave with?

MWJ: One of optimism and love. And hopefully with a piece under their arm!

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