Derek Gores




TBT: 2013

Empty Kingdom Interview about the project: SXSW ReCREATE:ATX

The fourth and final artists that Empty Kingdom is proud to bring to SXSW ReCREATE:ATX will be Derek Gores.  The fantastic master of the collage will undoubtedly be putting something stunning and novel up on the walls in Austin Texas.  Derek understands that this is about community, encouraging anyone near the event to bring something for him to include, a bold offer from a man who knows what art is truly about.

Tell us about yourself, what part of New York are you from?  What did you miss most from New York when you left for RISD?  What do you miss most now that you are in Florida?

DG: Born in Westchester County… I don’t recall a thing! I shortly after moved to Massachusetts. New England roots, love of history, it’s all in there. I definitely missed the seasons, as most people say. And I noticed a harmony with nature up there. I remember my mom and dad putting in a slate rock walkway up to our house. Something about the moss growing around the stones… the colors, the textures, the right way for things to be.

In Florida, I initially despised all the stucco walls, and what I perceived as a lack of history. Of course now I love that our country is big enough to have pockets of characteristics. Physical stuff, weather, interests. Makes the place an endless adventure.

ReCREATE ATX is an event that will provide an opportunity to reframe the discussion of public art in a community setting.  It will be a humanizing experience for the community, allowing them to interact with artists and be given a window into the meaning of the pieces of art.  What obstacles do you see that lie in the way of public art becoming more accepted in this country?  What obstacles lie on the side of the artists?  What lie on the side of the community?  How can we reconcile these issues and make more public, more accessible art, so that our cities are more vibrant and beautiful?

DG: Any time we can give people a peek inside the process we get closer. I love that stuff. While I’m in Austin, I’d love for people to help out in the art. Feel free to bring a photo for me to add into the art.  Many cities are already doing a great job of letting public art, street art, be part of the beauty of the neighborhood. Some do it as part of documenting history, with key local moments depicted. Murals also have become a mainstream way of decorating, depicting activity and celebration as a way of fostering economic growth. And some have fully embraced the raw expression of artists, in the form of open walls. Some towns form an ‘outdoor Museum’ concept.  Obstacles have included going through the process of redefining rules for murals- which in many towns were lumped in with store signage rules – (typically like 10-30% of ONE wall of a building.)  The gauntlet a city makes you go through is worth the effort, and understandable to find that balance of free expression but also curated beauty.  But the times are clearly a-changin’… only 10 years ago this dialogue would have been about ‘vandalism’, whereas now the entire conversation has shifted to being called murals or public art.

How to do it? Form a mural committee in your area with a cross-section of the right folks. Artists, business and building owners. Gather stories and pictures and data of how it has worked to beautify (AND spark economy!) in other cities. Then, develop a vision for your own area. Get artists to submit portfolios. Show how it will be curated and managed, even sponsored. Develop the win/win. It takes a few people translating and being the glue between the artist and the city. The ultimate is to have a free wall or to be given trust. It can be done.

Enjoy the whole interview: Derek Gores: Empty Kingdom

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