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Home FEATURES Brian Willmont Interview

Brian Willmont Interview
Written by Trippe   
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 08:28
"Wasted youth, totally lost and really angry. I hung out downtown drinking beer, getting high, cheering on bum fights, and going to shows. I was probably one of the worst students in my high school but did great in art school, ha!"
This print making major from Boston and cofounder of the experimental publishing/printmaking project Apenest recently relocated to Santa Fe and wrapped up a 3 person show at NYC's 92Y Tribeca. He's also shown at Philly's Space 1026 and SF's Park Life. His paintings are simply distinct, unique, and refreshing. Brian has his own voice in an age when that always isn't common and a skill set that's beyond most. He's onto something that we're eager to follow. 25 years old and on a good path. We like this guy.

Silver Lining, Gouache and pencil, 28 x 22, 2009

Location? Artistic education?

My name is Brian Willmont. I am living in dusty Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'm from Boston and went to the Massachusetts College of Art, majoring in printmaking.

What was that like?

Majored in printmaking, which almost meant "the works on paper department" there, and anything that held up against critique up was ok to do. It was a super small and tight major and a lot of the work was really good, I met Cody Hoyt there and started Apenest. We had a hangar sized print shop with our studios in it, with free reign and lots of shit went down.

Fraggle Rock, Gouache, ink, gold leaf and glitter on paper, 2009

What were you like in high school?

Wasted youth, totally lost and really angry. I hung out downtown drinking beer, getting high, cheering on bum fights, and going to shows. I was probably one of the worst students in my high school but did great in art school, ha!

What's the art scene like in Santa Fe?

There is a whole lot of crap here, but also a couple good galleries and art spaces. My favorite things to see have been in the folk art museum and in meth heads yards along the highways. The people are tired or something, maybe it's the altitude

Secret Realm Devotion, Gouache and ink on paper, 40" x 30", 2009

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

I often have a couple of ideas of where a piece might go before I start. I write down a lot of my ideas in notebooks and usually make my sketches directly on the paper. I try to work on a couple of pieces simultaneously so that I can take some time making decisions on one piece while I work on another.

What materials do you normally work in?

Right now mostly gouache on paper, but I also make sculptures, bits and pieces, other kinds of painting, installation and whatever I think is awesome at the time.

Alka Seltzer, Gouache on paper, 21" x 15", 2009

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

A cyclical creation myth based on conquest, which plays as the primary creator and destroyer. Set off by and sucked into black ether thicker than mashed potatoes, I paint weirdo Americana choose your own adventure novels in acrid colors that bleed into one another, creating vividly patterned compositions bordering on decorative, which are designed to entrance the viewer (like a siren), disguising and distorting violence.

Awkward, loud, nasty, and a bit boisterous, I might call them "American Miniatures".

Cosmic Dancer, Gouache on paper, 30" x 44", 2009

Nice description. You just had the show "Invisible Somethings" at 92Y Tribeca in NYC. How'd it go?

Looking at it again, my space it feels like a show celebrating loss and revenge. It was great to go to New York and see lots of friends I haven't seen in a while.

It was a 3 person show curated by Ben Sisto with Eric Shaw and Denise Kupferschmidt, they're all good folks I know from Boston and have worked with each of them in the past.

How'd you end up in Sante Fe?

I came to the land of big skies, and turquoise a little over a year ago. I was looking to move somewhere cheaper than and totally different from Boston where I would have the space to breath and make art for a little while. The History of the west and all of the conflicts between American, Spanish, Mexican, and the many American Indian tribes is really interesting to me and integral to my understanding of our countries history, present and future. I've had family here ranching for 5 or so generations, so hearing my grandma's stories of the ranch and what it was like in the real wild west had intrigued me for a long time. Integrating these histories with my own is a way for me to personalize the American myth.

Yellow Brick Road, Gouache, ink and gold leaf on paper, 60" x 44", 2009

What kind of ranch are you living on?

Oh, I don't live on a ranch, I live in a fake adobe house.

The ranch I mentioned is my uncle Gilbert's, he has cattle, it's on a giant canyon with the Canadian river at the bottom. He is 86 and has had so many back surgeries he can't ride a horse anymore, so last time I was there he had just got this 4x4 with a roll cage and we were getting air off cacti and generally it up. I will be back there soon.

What do love most about Santa Fe?

Green Chile, the desert, my studio, it wasn't a state a hundred years ago, there are lizards in my yard, mountains that look like sleeping buffaloes outside of my window, outlaws, witches, cowboys + Indians, Old Man Gloom, Skin Walkers Etc.

Z, Gouache on paper, 15" x 15", 2008

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

We would probably go explore some ghost town or cave dwellings, swim in a canyon and go to El Santuario to collect sacred dirt. Pockets full of magic earth, we'd stop at El Parasol in Espanola, home of the low rider, for authentic New Mexican burritos for the drive to back to the city. Then we'd drink tequila and Q it up in the backyard and howl at the coyotes.

What you do for $$$?

I work at an art gallery. It's my first time sitting down at a job, I have a desk. I've learned a lot and am grateful for the experience.

Babel, Gouache and ink on paper, 30"x44", 2008

What are you really excited about right now?

Everything. This is a great time to be alive.

When are you the most productive?

Whenever I'm relaxed, anxiety is my productivity killer. I try to be in the studio most of the time that I am not working a day job, I work part time and usually get the most done on my days off when I can really get into it.

Northern Territory, Gouache and ink on paper, 30" x 22", 2008

Favorite trip taken?

I drove to LA and back alone in January, that was fun.

Music?

Recently Electric Wizard, T Rex, a little Modern Lovers when homesick, Annihilation Time, The Showcase Showdown, Orange Goblin, Neil Young, Big Youth, Beirut, Os Mutantes, The Stones etc.

Southern Territory, Gouache and ink on paper, 30" x 22", 2008

What's your routine like these days?

In the morning I deal with emails, run errands, and take care of Apenest tasks. Then I try to be in the studio until I cook dinner with my girlfriend and watch a show or movie, then I'm back into the studio till 1 or 2. If I went to the day job then the above schedule resumes at dinner. Sometimes I do something fun and call it "research".

Are you in shape?

Not especially, I ride my bike to work, but my job isn't nearly as physical as past ones.

Any pets?

I want a dog, but I think it's a bad idea for many more years.

Writhing Tree, Gouache and ink on paper, 30" x 22", 2008

Favorite breakfast?

Center Street Cafe in J.P., Boston, amazing food and you feel like family there. You always have to wait forever because it's tiny, but they give you coffee and pep talks when it's cold.

Do you like to get dressed up?

I pretty much wear a uniform of jeans and a hoodie with rotating t shirts made by me or someone I know, I don't like to think about it. I wear a button down at work now, It's kind of like being housebroken.

Perch, Gouache and ink on paper, 48" x 30", 2008

Upcoming projects and/ or upcoming shows, etc...?

Mike Nason and some other folks are going to come to town in July for a western we're making. I'm really excited about this. I'm about to get started making sets, props and costumes. I think it'll be a real charge.

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LINKS
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http://www.brianwillmont.com/
http://iceberger.tumblr.com/post/87731347/brianwillmont
http://beautifuldecay.com/2008/10/21/interview-brian-willmont/
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contact FF

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The Albatross and the Shipping Container

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