“Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That”

Earlier this week I stopped by for a studio visit with Mitchell Confer, who was is the midst of preparing for this weekend’s Hunters Point Spring Open Studios.  Since he was working on one the pieces for a new series that he will be showing, I thought that it would be a good time to talk about “process”, and also to talk about some of the debates that swirl around the use of digital technology in art.

 confer-cityscapeMitchell attended college in Fullerton where he received a degree in Printing.  He then went on to formally study art at the Arts Center College of Design in Pasadena.  For the past 20 years, he has worked as a commercial illustrator, photographer, artist and teacher.  The marriage of art and technology in his work is no accident.  It was almost pre-destined.  His mother was an artist.  His father was an engineer.  He is the resolution of his left and right brain mixed heritage. 

 Mitchell approaches his work, as he puts it, “as a long running experiment, of sorts”.  We discussed some of the controversy surrounding the use of technology in art.  As he points out, most of the artists who utilize digitalconfer-wall-walking technology are not very transparent about it.  They seem to feel a little bit guilty that it was not all created with traditional drawing and painting techniques.  He is, on the other hand, unapologetic.  He fully embraces digital technology, which he combines much of the time with drawing, painting and photography.  For him, it is about “solving the problem”.  He talks about “happy accidents” – starting with an idea, exploring that idea, but also allowing “process” to take him in unexpected directions.  Because he has both an art and a technical background, he is constantly forging new ground in what is possible, particularly with his innovative printing techniques.  Watching him print multiple layers on a wood veneer is a really eye-opening experience.

 In the end, however, it is about artistic vision.  Picasso (or perhaps it was Matisse) said of Paul Cezanne that “he is the father of us all”.  Certainly there is a case to be made that much of modern art is taking the vocabulary thconfer-abstractat Cezanne gave us and finding new ways to use that vocabulary.  Cezanne intensely studied his subjects, more often than not landscapes.  He deconstructed the subjects and then reassembled them into planes of color.  You cannot help but to see that continuing conversation in Confer’s work.  He has a real sense of design, combined with a truly deft touch with an unconstrained color palette.  And, with almost missionary zeal, he is embracing modern technology and incorporating that into the conversation, as well. 

Mitchell Confer’s studio is at the Hunters Point Shipyard.  Don’t miss Spring Open Studios at the Shipyard and at Islais Creek, this weekend.  And, if you go to the Shipyard, be sure to visit Studio 2114 in Building 101.

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  1. […] “Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That” […]

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