Monday, June 13, 2011

Interview with David Oleski @ Wasabi

I sat with long time friend and artist David Oleski at Wasabi , a fairly new sushi restaurant tucked away in the Bradford Shopping Center. It is modestly designed with low lighting, maybe too intimate for old friends to get together. Once again, a key feature was BYOB. We sat down with a bottle of Gekkeikam Sake and the questions began.

I met David more than ten years ago at the Rittenhouse Art Fair in Philadelphia. It is one of the oldest outdoor art fairs. David’s career has taken him all over the US setting up shop in different towns, selling wonderfully painted still life’s, mostly apples. Our relationship has a good competitive edge, always pushing, questioning, and jabbing each other when the opportunity arises.  But we do agree on many things; good food, good art, and making the most out of life as an artist.

How did you get started making art?
Good question. I have always done art. My parents were artists so I was doing art as soon as I knew how to do anything.

Did you receive any formal art training? Where and what did you major in? 
Yes, I went to art school. I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. I started in general fine arts until I realized I should be more specific so I focused more on painting so my degree is in painting.

Describe your work in general for the readers?
Traditional still life with strong colors and bold brushwork.

What is the excitement in using oil paints?
You have plenty of time to work. You have days and days to work and rework a painting. Colors can evolve and become much more sophisticated over several days and there is a perceived value to certain materials.

Why do you paint so much produce?
Color!  It’s the most colorful thing there is. Other than a plate of sushi, I don’t know what else has such vivid colors as apples, vegetables, and fruits.

Why is the mark or brush stroke that you leave in your paintings important to you?
It’s the mark of the human hand. Its how we know a human did it. I don’t want to erase the mark that I was there; it’s like footprints.

“How do you decide when an artwork is done?"
Usually if the day is over, I am either finishing one session or committing to another session. Or I feel like I can’t go any further or I feel like I’ve learned enough and I am ok with how it will sit. 

What are your thoughts on perfection?
Its over rated. On one hand, there is no perfection and at the same time we are all perfect in our own way.

You have taken a unique approach to selling your art by doing outdoor exhibits? Why have you avoided the gallery system?
I am a control freak. I like meeting the client. I like making sure the client knows who I am. I like that connection. I believe galleries are building a different kind of professional connection than what I build with my clients.

There is a lot more freedom in your approach, what do you enjoy the most about it?
That’s assuming I enjoy anything. No part of it feels like work. The whole time I set things up because I think they’ll be interesting or fun. I finish them and move on to whatever I want to explore next. There is really no part of it that feels like work. 

Are you living the dream?
Yeah, I think so. 

Do you have any habits or morning routines you do before going to the easel?
There is a ritual of coffee, email, procrastinate as much as possible, look for other things to do, take a break, go for another walk. Spiral and spiral until I get closer to the easel. There is a sweet spot of the day. The sun turns a certain color once it passes noon. I only paint by natural light. In the morning the light is completely different. At a certain time everything lights up. Boom! Go!

What tip do you have for an artist reading this?
Do what you do, make mistakes, make corrections, have fun.

What is your favorite food?
All food is so great. Thai food of course, all Asian food, Greek food, Italian. It’s all great. There probably isn’t a food I don’t love.

What are you eating right now?
Sushi sashimi lunch special.

Why did you choose Chester County as your home?
To be a neighbor of Jeff Schaller. I saw where you live and said, this is awesome I should be your neighbor.

What was your mother right about?
People do like me. She didn’t make predictions. She just says she knows I will do well. Even if I fall on my face, I fell well.

Money is OK, but it isn’t what life is about. What is it about?
It’s about experiences. It’s about adding up to something, building something.

 If you were an apple what kind would you be?
At first I’d say Granny Smith because I’m sour, but then I’d have to say soft and crunchy like Royal Gala.

Have you seen the apple and annoying orange skits?
I have seen them but, I’ve never actually watched one.

We had kicked the bottle of sake over our lunch of sushi and sashimi. A reasonable price paid for the 6 pieces of sushi and 4 pieces of sashimi, even though a choice of soup or salad was offered before, I was still hungry. We added the green tea ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce to the bill. The novelty of Chinese cookies, a good fortune, and the check signaled the meal had come to an end. We cracked open the fortune cookies to see where we were headed. I got, “There is no glory unless you put yourself on the line.” David, well his was empty. I’m not sure who got the better deal.

Now for the speed round of questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment