Sunday, November 21, 2010

Joe Sorren Show and Lecture

Ok, I've been slightly overwhelmed by all the art events that have been taking place. I'll begin by telling you about the one that got the ball rolling - the opening reception of "Interruption", a solo show of Joe Sorren's work at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana.

I first heard about Sorren from my friend Jacob. We were studying at Laguna College of Art & Design, and one day in the tiny library Jacob showed me a little red book full of Sorren paintings. I immediately connected with the work, especially the color palette, bizarre figures, and imaginative scenes.

Now here we are a few years later, and Sorren is here in town having a solo show. I HAD to go and meet him, of course. Lately I've been working in acrylics, but when I walked into the gallery I freaked out by how beautiful his oil paintings looked. The layering technique of oils produces such depth and luminous color! I knew then and there that working in acrylics was a waste of time (at least when it comes to gallery work). I bought Sorren's book and had him sign it! Here's a documentation of the me meeting Joe (pictures courtesy of Jennifer Cheng).

If you are not able to see the Interruption Show in person, you can take a virtual tour at

OK. If meeting Joe Sorren wasn't awesome enough, he then came to Cal State Fullerton to give a lecture! I got to sit and chat with him about his process. Here's what I found out:

- He stopped doing illustration in 1999 and now just paints for galleries.
- He has a solo show about every 3 years.
- Two of his influences are JMW Turner and Seurat because they were risk-takers.
- His painting process is intuitive and subconcious. He doesn't sketch or plan. He gets a canvas out and begins pushing paint around, guided by an internal dialogue.
- He doesn't use reference because he prefers to see what his memory and imagination can invent.
- He prepares his canvases with 3 layers of gesso (sanding between coats) then puts a layer of Gamblin Galkyd to give a mirror-like smooth surface. He also uses Galkyd to "save" layers during the painting process.
- ADVICE: 1. Make the best piece you can at that moment in time. 2. Surprise yourself, keep the wonder and you will always stay fresh and inspired and in love with what you do as an artist. 3. Believe in what you are doing, and others will believe too.

What I loved most about Sorren's lecture was that he openly stated he is trying to be as true and sincere as possible. He said he enjoys keeping his work "Rated G" although his paintings deal with tough themes. He confessed that he is "dopey in his heart"and doesn't need to be "hard core" or all about the money. Instead it's his desire to make art that transcends and lasts.

I find myself relating to Sorren's philosophies and artistic practices. I recently went to a lecture by Gary Baseman (blog post on this coming soon) and was not inspired at all, rather disturbed. It's because my world view doesn't align with someone like Baseman, but I do find my aspirations taking similar shape as Sorren. Perhaps this is why I feel a strong connection to his work.


Alice Young said...

Thanks Katy! I loved the bit about identifying with the artist's world view. I am curious about what Gary Baseman said now. You must share soon.

empty jug said...

hey, thanks for sharing. You're so lucky to have heard Joe give a talk