Kristin J. DeAngelis, owner of 107 Bowers Gallery & ArtSpace, sits with Johnnie Grinder and Orange Li.
Johnnie Grinder originally hails from San Diego, CA.
Orange Li grew up in Taiwan.
Both of our artists have recently moved to Brooklyn from Oregon.
They are schedule to come back to Jersey City to 107 Bowers Gallery & ArtSpace for their Artist Talk on Saturday, February 24th from 4:00pm - 8:00pm.
Are you an artist for your full time work? If not, what is your day job?
Johnny Grinder (JG): I am a full time artist. When moving to New York, I found out that I was juried into the New York Art Expo in 2017. Now, I spend a great deal of time traveling around the country to participate in art fairs to show my work. The rest of the time is spent working on new paintings. A big focus of my painting is creating biographical portrait commissions that tell the story of people's lives.
What was your pivotal moment in your life that drove you to create “art”?
JG: I saw a painting by Salvador Dali when I was a child and I knew I found what I wanted to do in my life.
Orange Li (OL): When I had some health problems I realized how short my life was. I decided to put all my energy into making art.
Why do you think art is important?
JG: Art is about bringing ideas, beauty, story, and personal transformation to people's lives. To allow people to see the magic of the imagination and can lead us to the world that imagination within ourselves. It has been a healer and a friend. But even more so, it has been a roadmap to finding meaning on a long and twisted journey through life.
OL: Art is the purist space in my life. It is the only place where I can be true to myself and I don’t need to worry about pleasing other people.
What do you want people to know about your or your art?
JG: My art is filled with symbolism, which I use to tell the story of our journeys. When I c
heir dreams and goals and their most precious memories. Then, I carefully analyze them to try understand the underlying themes in their lives. I really want to discover what is at the core of who they are. Then, I build up a world on canvas that becomes a "Roadmap for the Soul.”
It is a visual story that shares how each and every one of us has our own unique and epic journey. When we focus on the beauty and magic of our lives, the dreams, harmony, adventure, and love will show more in our lives. So, when I create a painting of yourself to see everyday, it is a personal reminder of what we are looking for in life.
OL: I want people to know there is great beauty in the suffering.
Do you have a goal for your art?
JG: My goal is to help others see the epic nature of their lives, to understand the "Oneness," and how all of our lives are connected to each other. Also, how each experience in life forms who we are and that our focus and action determines the quality of our lives.
OL: My goal is to find my genuine self.
Do you listen to music when you create? Any favorite bands/musicians?
JG: I don't listen to music when I create. I like to be able to get in the zone and become absorbed completely in my work. For me, music becomes a distraction.
Many people think artist are only “right brained” – what else do you do well?
JG: I have created quite a few animated shorts. I play guitar and write songs for personal pleasure. My love is painting and this love grows as I continue to build a world of pipes that seems to connect it all together.
Do you have an artist that has influenced your work? Who and how?
JG: There have been so many artists that inspire me and push me to pursue the higher levels within my own art. I spent quite a bit of time in Florence, Italy immersing myself in the work of The Masters. When I saw the amount of triptychs (a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece), I started to work on some of my own. I began to dig deeper into my goal of creating a world that is connected symbolically with pipes.
OL: I love to go to museums, galleries, and to read about successful artists. It is not so much just one artist that has influenced me, but the entire art world from The Masters to the preset.
You walk into your favorite art store – what section to you beeline for (regardless of your actual need)?
JG: I always head straight for the acrylic paints, then the brushes, sketchbooks, and canvas, usually in that order.
What art tool do you carry with you wherever you go?
JG: I always have a sketchbook with me.
OL: Me too!