Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exclusive Interview with Edwin Ushiro

Edwin Ushiro is such a character; he is absolutely hilarious and always has something to say to lighten any mood or to spark up a conversation. Edwin was born and raised in Maui, Hawaii. Which is responsible for his relaxed attitude and calming presence. Edwin moved to Pasadena to attend the Arts Center College of design and from there he moved directly to Culver City. Calling it his home for the past 5 years, he happily states he lives just seven minutes walking distance to Project Gallery.

TZ: So Edwin, How did your path in arts start? When did you first start painting?
Edwin:My Mom taught me how to draw when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the process of using an abstract line and watching it converge to create a recognizable image. It was so unreal. Painting wise, I am a late bloomer. I started painting in art school. (right: Since time only meant we were growing up and falling apart together)

TZ: How do you feel here in La?
Edwin: I have lived in Culver city for 5 years and I still feel like I’m new here, mainly because the whole culture here is so different then in Maui, back home everyone is so chilled and relaxed and here everyone is really stressed and worried.

TZ: What fascinates you Edwin? What inspires you?
Edwin: I’m fascinated about possibilities, I have really bad vision and sometimes I look at something from far away and I’ll think its something else, and when I come close to it I realize it’s not what I thought I saw at all. My memory has to fill in those gaps because I can’t really figure out what it is, and it turns out looking like something more interesting than it is.

TZ: Can you give us an example?
Edwin: Like driving at night, I’ll pass some trees that are lined up on the street and if I drive by two fast, my eyes will see tall guys with like these rimed caps, all covering their faces. Realistically I know they are not there, but it’s a really cool image that my imagination has created. My mind just fills in the gaps.

My fascination is that the world is more interesting than you can see sometimes. Also childhood, all the memories you have from growing up, those really influence me.

TZ: How do you feel about the communication between yourself as an artist and the viewer? Do you paint to communication with your viewers?
Edwin: No, I don’t think so. It’s a weird intimate thing, painting is something really personal to me, but in the end I don’t give a shit what other people think.

TZ: So you truly are an artist that just expresses your own thoughts or memories, with out thinking about what the viewer might think?
Edwin: Well for me I’m almost trying to look back in time and take that picture I never got to take and put it on a canvas. Whatever the audience takes that’s their thing; because you as an artist already get what you want from the painting.

Communicating through my paintings is more like to explain something, It’s like when you are trying to express something in a conversation with someone, and you can’t get your point across so you sketch it out for them. and then there is this “oh Yeah” moment, “I get it”. That’s what I want to do with my work. This mutual understanding.
There is just so much left for interpretation.

TZ: Can you name three artists that have really inspired you, or influenced your work?
Edwin: umm…I got it, there are 3 people that helped me get to where I am today.
First is my high school art teacher, Janet Sato. Second is Dr. Glen Grant, we would win all these awards in high school and he would fly us out from Maui to Awahoo. We would go to see Dr. Glen Grant the night before the award ceremony; and he would give these ghost tours. He taught us about how much more we would understand the ghost stories if we researched them a bit, so I took that way of thinking, and now I go really deep in to things, and just dissect them. To get to the roots of it. I’m also fascinated by ghost stories. (Right:recorded with out any insecurity)

TZ: That’s two inspirations, anyone else?
Edwin: I don’t know, I guess it hasn’t happened yet.

TZ: How do you develop a piece, how does your creation start?
Edwin: It comes like a flash of light, I just get this feeling and I am compelled to pull that image I saw and bring it to this world. That’s how it starts, from the inside. I don’t know how it happens, I just see it. And it compels me enough to make it a standing vision in front of me.

TZ: Do have a hard time sleeping? Too many ideas going on in your head?
Edwin: Yeah, but what has helped me is I started sleeping with a sketch book by my bed, I don’t even look at the paper, ill just wake up and sketch it out. Right there in the dark. Just to get it out of my head.

TZ: So how did you get involved with the Project team and start working with Beau?
Edwin: I went to see Project gallery at the old space in Venice, but it wasn’t until Project moved to Culver city, till Beau asked me to be part of the 4 person show, called “Youthful Discretion.” After that show, I had a solo show at Nucleus and I guess that show did well enough that I could be a good investment for Project: Gallery, so I just did a solo show with Project last month.

(above left: gradually everything would sparkle from the sea to the stars)

TZ: How did your first solo show go? How does it feel to be doing solo shows?
Edwin:My first solo show went way better than the gallery owner and I ever expected. I just created drawings and paintings that I would love to hang in my room. Never really intending for people to buy them. They just happen to sell out. How does it feel doing solo shows? I’m not quite that experienced in it. But I can say that it’s pretty awesome to have a gallery that has enough faith in your artwork to dedicate a show just to you.

TZ: When is your most creative hour to paint?
Edwin: Anytime after midnight. Although, I am in a bit of a conundrum. I am a morning person too. Most of my ideas occur during sleep or just in daydreams. When painting, I do take more risks and run into happy accidents in the wee hours of the night.

TZ: Do you have a preference of a size to work on?
Edwin: For me I just get into the zone, and forget where I am and what I’m doing.. no.. I guess don’t really have a favorite size to paint.

TZ: What are you future objectives or personal goals?
Edwin: To just keep creating, looking for that next thing. I have always been more film oriented, so my personal life goals.. yeah they might not fit in this interview. But basically just to keep my eyes open and see what comes.

(left:No matter where she stood the light would brighten around her)

For more information on Edwin Ushiro please visit his website, keep your eyes peeled for more shows from Edwin, including his up and coming trips to Europe!!


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