This is the second installment of my new project, Fellow Artists.  I met Nick about two years ago and was immediately taken by his enthusiasm for anything to do with artmaking. A son of  Washington Heights, I knew his Q&A would turnout as colorful and fascinating as the depths of the world he invites you visit in his work.  

What was Nick’s Washington Heights Like?
Growing up on a dead end street atop the stairs on Pinehurst back in the 70’s was both wonderful and treacherous. As a kid all I wanted was to be outside either exploring the streets or in Bennett or Fort Tryon Park. My family was a small tribe of Cypriots living in and around the same building, my cousins all going to the Greek School St. Spyridon, back when teachers were allowed to hit you.  I enjoyed playing curb ball, stick ball, box ball and whatever we came up with using those wonderful little pink Spaldeens.
I loved making Super 8 movies with my cousins the first one was called The Hit Team. I played a kid who stumbled across the killers and gets kidnapped. Later on I get tossed out a window. I made the dummy, it was the first prop I ever made. Last week I made a prop soap dish for the movie “Irreplaceable You” with Christopher Walken and Kate.

Were you aware of Taki 183 growing up?
Yes, that’s a familiar tag from a time long ago. It was all over the place back then.

Who in particular was crucial in exposing you to your interest/love of marine life and imagery?
This one’s easy, my parents. Our summer vacations out in Montauk drifting among the sea life.  Snorkeling or holding my breath for as long as I can letting the water take me where it wanted, becoming a place for small fish to seek shelter all of us pretending to be one larger fish. It’s my happy place.


Who are the paper people?
They are anyone, they are us. Because of their simple shape they take on the characters of who is playing or looking at them. I started making them when I was Bartending in Soho Circa 2000, out of drink orders I didn’t have to make. My favorite would be to hold up one of the paper people and Fumiko, the dancer and waitresses would strike the pose. My regulars would get a kick out of how many I would make and they loved to play with them, putting them into all different scenarios. Now I make them from scraps of paper I find in my pocket at the end of the day.

Paper People

 

What specific cultures have influenced your work?
The tribes of the pacific North West have greatly influenced my work. The idea of combining the strengths of different animals into one totem animal is one of the techniques I’ve ingested from them then I’ve added west African Symbolism to further combine cultures, kind of like our city does.

What never seems to change in an ever changing NYC?
The noise defiantly the noise… and our resilience for all cultures to live together in one city.


Who is “Sloppy” Joe Ramsey?
Sloppy Joe is a character I played in an independent feature called The Deviants. A Film shot a long time ago on 35mm in the era of Clerks. Sloppy Joe was a deviant indeed, The film opens on Sloppy handcuffed to a bed in a brothel being whipped, read Shakespeare and barking like a dog all while making final prep for his wedding. Not a role model but a fun character to play.

Nick as Sloppy Joe Ramsey

 

Is nostalgia important?
I think nostalgia is an important piece of the whole. When I create I try to be in the now or the present, draw upon the nostalgic past and project into the future in a lucent, liquid state.

What was your worst art exhibit experience ever?
A show in Little Rock Arkansas hands down. Eight paintings stolen, two speeding tickets and had to stand between the door and a Mafia Hit Man who wanted to take care of a couple guys who just disrespected his daughter.

Do you have a daily ritual?
Coffee and create.

What is the role of the artist in today's world?
Artists are Shamen, poets and prophets. Artist through the ages have taken on one of these roles, in our respective tribes, since we’ve been drawing on cave walls.

What are you working on now?
I’ve got two deadlines I’m working on at the moment, April 1st and April 2nd. I’m part of the Sing For Hope Pianos Project, 50 working pianos, painted by 50 artists placed around all of New York’s 5 boroughs.  This is my 4th piano for SFH and it’s titled “Octopus Among Us”. The Octopus can form itself into a myriad of shapes and colors. It can become anything like the promise of our city.
     
The other deadline is for a show at Industry City in Sunset park Brooklyn. My painting “Whale School” will be auctioned and I will be doing an installation with the paper people called “Please Play” where people will be encouraged to play with them and place them in a sculpture we all create together:
2017 BROOKLYN ART SPRING EVENT (BASE), AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE AND AUCTION FEATURING WORKS BY OVER 100 ARTISTS, TAKES PLACE APRIL 1
AT INDUSTRY CITY ON THE SUNSET PARK WATERFRONT. Proceeds will support art education at PS 295, where over half of the families live below the poverty line.

 

Nick's website: http://nickstavrides.com/

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It was a trance

And you molded her to hate and forget. 

That crack on the thin ice still hurts like her birthday.

Baby monster, absent to consequence and fear and now with a growing tail from a temporary spell. 

Some do harm to harness love and market their passion with hatred.

You managed your vengeance well and did not care to sacrifice her candid heart, as long as mine would be broken.

Baby monster, instrument of despecho-pushed to open, lifted to handle blades and make emergency exits. 

That heart now pushes to survive and forgive you, baby monster.

A sluggish procedure because it needs so much self-repairing. 

But that heart believes in love elsewhere now.

In a kingdom of no more chances nor toxic revenue.

 

© 2012 Franck de las Mercedes


Ayer la mortalidad dio mucho en que pensar (           ).
No se ha de acabar esta jornada así incompleta, con menos páginas rayadas y un pendiente vacío.
Y pues entonces, entre voces inatentas al suave desliz de esta pluma, abro capitulo y recorro líneas, por tratar de dar aliento y nuevo ritmo a un corazón descubierto. 

© 2012 Franck de las Mercedes


A while back I mentioned creating a section here titled "Fellow Artists", in which hoped to feature the work of... well, fellow artists. This has evolved into an interview type format to share with you a little more than just the visual. I want to share the wisdom and art spirit of my peers, which I find so enriching when picking their brains at openings or other events upon meeting them. I hope you find these Q&As as insightful and motivational as I do.

We kick the series off with Vicky Barranguet, a brilliant artist from Uruguay living and working in NYC. I've been following her work for years and finally met her and her work in person last week. I think it's very appropriate to start with this powerful force of creativity on International Women's Day.

Vicky in her studio

 

How do you describe your body of work?

Ever changing. An expression of the moment that we live in and that we go through.  What I go through and what affects me. Each painting is different, and I try to respect whatever the moment inspires, new emotions and energy from different sources. I hardly repeat myself.

 

Who are your influences?

My kids, Lola and Simone, my husband Gustavo, through his music, and every artist, it always inspires me to see what other people have to say through their work. My teachers, Larry Poons, Frank O'Cain and especially William Scharf.  Kandinsky, de Kooning, Kline, Mitchell, Motherwell, Rothko, Twombly, Rauschenberg, Basquiat, El Anatsui, Cecily Brown, are some of my favorite artists.

"Smilie", acrylic on canvas, 36x48 inches, 2016​​

How did you arrive at the work you paint now?

I have been painting for 20 years, now. My painting went through many cycles, figure and abstract, monochromatic and full color, and it keeps changing. 

 

When did you decide this was a career path for you?

 Suddenly, I found myself doing more painting than anything else.  I started getting involved with galleries, artists, curators, and exhibitions and trying to promote my art in a more professional way. Today I am very happy to be a full-time artist. This is possible because of the recognition and support of many people, professionals, friends and family, that believe in my work and made me trust more in what I do. 

 

Your worst art exhibit experience ever?

I got invited to a one-day exhibit, they told me that the exhibit was up for four hours or so, and it seems like not too many people came, so they left early, other artists had picked up their paintings and when I got there 2 hours before it would close, only my painting was there. It was sad! 

"True Love", acrylic on canvas, 77x112 inches, 2015

What is the biggest misconception people have of female artists?

Let's ask the Guerrilla Girls...

 

What is the meaning of success for you?

To be able to work from love and passion, to keep creativity alive and be able to express your point of view and show your voice, in a sincere way, to be able to follow your intuition. To be able to stay focused, while having a family and being a parent. And of course to make a living from what you love to do, would be and is great! 

 

If you weren't an artist what profession or path would you have chosen?

For sure something creative, also I would love to do something related to helping people in need... which I try to do through my art whenever I find the opportunity.

 

What is the role of the artist in today's world?

The same as always.

 

What's next for you / what are you working on?

Getting ready for my next exhibit in London, end of March, at The Other Art Fair.

 

Vicky's website: http://www.vickybarranguet.com

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Reading this brilliant book titled Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson. It argues nothing really goes viral or becomes an overnight sensation. There's science, repetition, borrowing and bunch of other patterns and events involved. It's not a "how to" book, but it sheds light on how a lot pop culture hits, including art movements as impressionism became so famous. It also taught me that in politics, positive or negative, the tactics in using language are usually similar to be a hit.

Learning a lot from this book. I highly recommend it. 




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When she stabbed me

two things happened to me which

I found to be all the more tragic. 

Yesterdays became less important

    and most relationships disposable.

 

© 2014 Franck de las Mercedes


En un rincón En una lista más Tu cara hoy ya madura vuelve a aparecerse

Nuestra juventud, verdad que un sorbo fue
Sólo los recuerdos nos vuelven a querer

© 2009 Franck de las Mercedes


I can't believe it has been three years since the fire that destroyed my old studio,The Plank. There has been uncertainty and obstacles since, but I have had great achievements and I have learned great lessons that have transformed me as a person and artist. If there’s life and the support of other people, there is always hope. I didn't lose my dreams, and a few dreams dreams have even become reality for us. Not to mention we received the greatest gift in our lives which was the birth of our child the year after. We're still standing and thriving, and we will keep making art. It's good to be alive and my attitude continues to be of gratitude.  

Now for the free art! (This is for people not in my mailing list yet).

I just wrote down a number on my studio wall. Join my newsletter/send an email 

With a number from 1 to 500. If you guess or come the closest to the my winning number you will win an original work on paper! zfmq_16649374131521108185795343923473903

  I've said many times that the peace boxes have a life of their own. From New York to London, over 61 cities tweeted the mission and message of the #PeaceBoxes last week thanks to Social N Worldwide Online Network. The posters idea came about at the request of educators who felt the Peace Boxes should have an ongoing element that people can have access to and share. So we created a digital image you can download for free to print as posters and display on your wall, office, classroom or send them as postcards to friends and family. We need to spread a message of peace now more than ever and since the launch of the posters people have been responding and spreading the word online. Download & Print Here zfmq_20170301.png   Started work on my Sing for Hope Piano inspired on my palette knife flowers and animalito palette knife drawings. Please connect my instagram for updates and videos of my progress. zfmq_burd.jpg     Stay in touch! Best, Franck VISIT MY ONLINE SHOP zfmq_email.jpg   zfmq_5402052537146247322911748523618n.jp      

CONNECT: zfmq_FBfdlm_1.pngzfmq_twitter.pngzfmq_gfdlm.pngzfmq_franckstagram.png 

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