107 Bowers Gallery & Art Space: Artist Conversation with Myles Collins

Myles Collins will be showing at 107 Bowers Gallery and Art Space

Opening: Saturday January 14th from 2-5pm

Show will run through the end of February

Who are you (Name) and where do you live?

Myles Collins and I have lived on Ogden Ave in Jersey City since 1963. My family moved from Manhattan to Jersey City during WWII in 1943. I recall the day we moved into Jersey City was a “practice blackout”; everyone had to turn off lights during the night. This was part wartime preparedness which would take place periodically. The bright light on shore acted as background to the benefit of Nazis submarines so they could see freighters heading to England, as I recall being the reason reported in newspapers. So our first night in Jersey City was difficult as we had no lights because of this black out.

 

Are you an artist for your full time work?  If not, what is your day job? 

I am retired. I was drafted during the Korean War and after getting out of the army I began working as a display artist. I worked full time as a display artist for RK International, Decorative Plant, and other display houses located in NYC. During my career, I contributed to displays that were in store windows and museums.  I made a kissing bug which is on display at the Museum of Natural History. I also made a replica of the Liberty Bell and a 6’ Statue of Liberty which were used in storefronts and entrance ways throughout New York City to attract passersbys and draw them into shops. Some of my creations are still on display in front of stores. 

 

One of my creations was for a large department store in Hawaii.  This creation was a turn of the century (early 1900’s) reproduction of a police officer. The uniform was authentic; I studied photos in great detail, specifically the head gear and uniform, in order to make an exact reproduction. This creation was stolen from the store and was thought to be permanently lost. Later, it was recovered by a keen-eyed police officer walking the streets. He saw the reproduction silhouetted through the second floor apartment window. The thief was arrested, and the reproduction was returned to store owner, as reported by the local paper.

 

What was your pivotal moment in your life that drove you to create “art”?

Watching Disney movies as a child. 

I was a young person when they first came out, and I got a real kick out of these cartoons. I also liked Popeye...singing the song as saying this. I could pay 10 cents for cartoons and movies. Parents could leave their children with a sense of safety because some theaters had a children's section which was overseen by a matron who kept children from leaving the children section. 

 

When I was old enough for the adult section, the matron tried to put me into the children's section which upset me, as I had paid an adult price. I felt exalted to show her my adult stub and move into the adult section.  This was a valuable event in my life, learning that I had rights and could stand up for myself.

 

Another influence was my older brother, Noel, who was in art school. We also had the influence of a famous sculptor whose studio was on the ground floor of our building in Manhattan. We would see him and his work sometimes, but often he would have his windows blocked to keep the young boys from seeing his nude models. He had done a piece for the world's fair of 1939 and he had a famous actor customer, Monty Wooly.  

 

During school, I had a habit of drawing in the margins of my textbooks which I wasn't supposed to do. I would hide these drawings when the nuns would walk by and I never got caught.  These are my memories.

 

Why do you think art is important?

It is a part of being human. 

 

What do you want people to know about you or your art?

I would like them to like it, get a kick out of it. I did not do art with the idea of selling it, but I did art because I liked it. If I got into a career of making art, as a fine arts artist, I would have to think of what sells and not be indifferent to the market. I think art has to have some sort of beauty and a sense of accomplishment.  

 

Do you have a goal for your art?

As an older person, I am discovering new things I can do. I am being influenced by the simplest of objects and once I start drawing these objects they become something completely different: a photograph of food placed upside down on my table becomes a fish with aquatic scene or while looking at a part of a paper bag, I will draw a beautiful house scene.  Like people looking at clouds, seeing shapes and objects, I see these daily in different objects and have been rendering these images. The goal is to continue with the art process using these images around me, incorporating color and different mediums. 

 

Do you listen to music when you create?  Any favorite bands/musicians?

Not necessarily. If I do listen to music when I create it is not necessary to the creation process. I sometimes don't even hear what is around me when I create. However, classical music touches my soul and moves me.

 

Many people think artist are only “right brained,” what else do you do well?

I work with mechanical devices very well, which was a part of my professional art career. I get a kick out of moving things like animation.

 

Do you have an artist that has influenced your work? Who and how?

One artist who influenced me was the creator of the artwork for the original Tarzan comic strip; he was one of my teachers in art school. I was also influenced by Disney cartoonists. I would not know who did the Disney cartoons, or how they did them - I went to the movies and was impressed by the art and music. 

 

What type of art do you prefer to make? Mediums and tools you prefer to work with?

Right now, I am working with water colors, ink (black and white), and markers all different colors. I am also combining watercolors, ink and markers. These mediums are new for me, previously I worked with oils. 

 

What art tools would we find close to you? 

Paint brushes, ink pens, markers and paper.

 

 

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