PODCAST: with Erika B. Hesse

I am excited to share this episode with you because it is packed with such great content! Kimberly Brooks is a Renaissance Women who is a painter, researcher, writer, teacher and all around wonderful mind.

In this episode, we talk about David Hockney and his use of technology, the history of technology in painting, the book her father wrote “Art & Physics” and how she edited it during her teenage years. We also discuss her studio practice, work, color and how she became the founding editor of the Huffington Post Arts section.

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LA WEEKLY Interview with Shana Nys Dambrot

Meet an Artist Monday: Painter Kimberly Brooks
by Shana Nys Dambrot

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?

KIMBERLY BROOKS: I knew I was an artist since I was little. I had a set of markers in kindergarten that I kept incredible care of, and every few years I would get more colors. When I was 13, my father took me to New York’s MoMA, and when I saw Malevich’s White on White I had so many questions and it filled me with determination. That same moment also led my late father, Leonard Shlain, to pen his first book, Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time and Light.

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INTERVIEW: Yale WYBC Radio Interview

Kimberly Brooks is a contemporary American painter whose work integrates figuration and abstraction to explore a variety of subjects dealing with history, memory and identity.    Brooks has solo exhibitions throughout the United States and her work has been showcased in juried exhibitions including curators from the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Brooks received her BA at UC Berkeley and studied painting at Otis and UCLA. Brooks lives in Los Angeles and works out of her studio in Venice, A coffee table book of her work will be available Spring 2018 (Vivant Publishing).    Brooks current exhibition “Brazen” is on view at the Zevitas Marcus in Los Angeles until Oct 28, 2018.    The book mentioned at the end of the interview is Leonardo’s Brain.

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INTERVIEW: CREATIVE BOOM Kimberly Brooks

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Kimberly Brooks on the love of painting, switching off and the language of fashion

This month, Los Angeles-based American painter Kimberly Brooks returns with Brazen, her latest exhibition which will run at Zevitas Marcus in Culver City until 28 October. Taking cues from the current socio/political climate, her new work moves in a more abstract direction, reimagining her visual style, but never losing her sense of self as an artist.

Kimberly’s work deals with the subjects of memory, history, and identity. It’s these ideas that connect her present work to past series such as Mom’s Friends, The Stylist Project and I Notice People Disappear.

Her art has been showcased in numerous juried exhibitions including curators from Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, California Institute of the Arts and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We spoke to Kimberly about her latest exhibition, her life and her career so far.

Is it true you worked as a writer before becoming an artist?

I was always the sketchbook-toting kid making art but yes for work, my first job was a speechwriter in the design industry. Yet I always worked as an artist in some form or another. Writing as a medium ramped up in the middle of my art career when I started interviewing artists for a weekly column I started called First Person Artist. I think the mediums of painting and writing have a lot in common. Writers just paint with words.

What inspires you?

A little bit of everything. Sometimes other art, other times the way sunlight falls on tree limbs and other times the way rust might look on the side of a turquoise van.

Is there a special someone who has influenced you?

I was incredibly influenced by my father, Leonard Shlain, who not only was a great dad but took me to museums at a young age and had me edit his book Art and Physics all through college. Art, art history, seeped into my veins because of him.

You have a love of portraiture. Would you say you have a certain style?

I love portraiture because I love art as a way of understanding human nature. Art allows me to improvise and idealise simultaneously. I used to be very exacting when I painted people to flex or prove my technical prowess. Now I’m happy to say I haven’t fretted over an eyelid or a mouth in years.

Fashion and women play an important role in many of your artworks. Why is that?

I see fashion as just another language of art, however ephemeral. Fashion to me seems like a quark in physics, only lasting for a moment in time, but is also a building block of the universe.

Near & Far | Kimberly Brooks
Near & Far | Kimberly Brooks
Blue Forest | Kimberly Brooks
Blue Forest | Kimberly Brooks
Talitha | Kimberly Brooks
Talitha | Kimberly Brooks

We loved The Stylist Project – how on earth did you choose your subjects?

I originally created a list by pulling the mastheads of the magazines for the most famous creative directors and stylists who I would ask to style themselves and sit for their portrait. I presented the list to each subject after a sitting, and they would look at it and say, ‘Oh you don’t want this person, you want that person’. It, therefore, ended up being curated organically by the subjects themselves.

You have a new show, Brazen. Tell us more.

I’ve been on a path toward abstraction for quite some time now. I started this newest body of work right after the inauguration and I felt that the world had become a reckless place. I thought of the sheer audacity of art-making at a time like this or making art at all. I dwelled on what it meant to make art throughout history and the grandiosity associated with it. I started gilding the work by incorporating gold and silver leaf for the first time. In creating this body of work, I was reacting and breaking into something new simultaneously.

How is this new series different from what you’ve painted before?

There is a certain meta aspect where I am incorporating paintings of paintings. But the abstraction stays inside the frames.

We love that interiors still play a part.

I still find interiors endlessly intriguing for so many reasons, for what they can evoke about the people who created/designed them, and also the way they offer a vessel for the viewer to fill in his or her own story.

You’re the person behind The Creativity Notebook. How did this come about?

As a painter and a human being, I noticed that many of the technologies meant to make us more efficient keep making us less so. I am convinced that, even if one still has a digital system, incorporating mark-making to keep track of our time and ideas is infinitely more valuable and pleasurable when committed to paper.

I also think incorporating art of any kind into one’s calendar provides visual scaffolding to mark one’s sense of time. People who use the system swear by it and I hand-make them in my studio for people all over the world.

Aside from this, how do you stay focused? Are you easily distracted?

I suppose being obsessed is a form of being focused. Certain ideas or materials obsess me. Painting has long been an obsession of mine. After years of being intoxicated with technology, I’m fatigued and wary of it. I often lock my phone in my car when I’m at the studio where I just have a stereo, my paints and canvases to keep me company.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your work?

There is a certain moment when my work goes from private to public. At that time, if I’m making a big change, I wonder, how it will be received? Then I feel as though I’m diving into the unknown. I’m grateful to have wonderful people and publications like yours to give oxygen to the new work and appreciate it.

VANITY FAIR- Kimberly Brooks’s Mesmerizing Oil Paintings

By Nell Scovell
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This image may contain Outdoors Art Painting Nature Human and Person

In March 2010, I attended an art opening for Kimberly Brooks’s show “The Stylist Project” in Los Angeles. It was a starry celebration hosted by Dior and Vanity Fair to benefit P.S. Arts. But even as fun-to-gape-at actresses like Christina Hendricks arrived, I couldn’t take my eyes off the oil portraits. This was not a show about fashion. Brooks had truly captured the vibrancy and deep beauty of her subjects, which included Grace Coddington and Janie Bryant (*Mad Men’*s costume designer). Brooks’s latest show at Arthouse 429 in West Palm Beach is more impressionistic, with the evocative title “I Notice People Disappear.” The show went up in early February and has just been extended through March 15. Go if you can. I stopped by Brooks’s studio in Venice, California, to see many of the pieces before they shipped and coveted every one.

As Brooks moves toward greater recognition, here’s the giveaway that she’ll get there: board members at MOCA, LACMA, and MoMA are already collecting her works. I met Brooks (who is married to actor and filmmaker Albert Brooks) about five years ago, and we started a conversation about art that recently spilled into e-mail. Here’s a bit of that discussion, which focuses on her new show, her creative process, and how she lives at the intersection of the art world and Hollywood.

Who has disappeared from your life? Are any of these paintings about them?

In hindsight, I think this show had a lot to do with processing the death of my father, author/surgeon Leonard Shlain, five years ago. People disappear, but they are still there—it is just their bodies that are gone.

There’s a focus on luxury in these works. Even in the titles, you use words like “parlour,” “salon,” “palace,” “banquet ,” “princess. ” What drew you to these images of wealth?

So much of the canon of art has been about the documentation of wealth. If the history of art were on a 24-hour clock, only the last five minutes would involve subject matter other than showing off your landholdings, fabulous clothing, or conquests. For this series, I was going backwards in time, starting, in my mind, with some grand family in the 1850s. Binge-viewing Downton Abbey and the Forsyte Saga last summer probably helped.

We just got through Oscar weekend in L.A. Is there a message in “The Banquet” for everyone who attends a fancy party in a tux?

Yes, the Oscars is the greatest example of live participatory performance art! Marina Abramovic has nothing on the spectacle.

Like David Hockney, you have embraced technology. You have large followings on Twitter and Instagram (@artistkimberlyb), and I love when you post details of your work. You also started the art vertical for The Huffington Post, including the amazing ImageBlog. And yet viewing art on a screen is nothing like seeing it in real life. How do you reconcile this?

Deciding to toss a little piece of a painting out to the world in a ritualistic way puts your work “out there,” and then you can have the rest of your time to focus on making it. It’s just a Hansel-and-Gretel-like trail. It’s not attempting to be the thing itself, but a clue to a mystery that you want other people to know about.

Fashion plays an important part in your works. You once told me you saw fashion as an aesthetic language that speaks to a time and era. What are some of the eras you’ve painted?

My first show that really explored fashion was “Mom’s Friends,” where I painted my mother and her glamorous friends in 70s Mill Valley. I loved the furs, the big sunglasses, the bold prints. That might be the sexiest era of all time. That led me to start thinking about fashion as a language, which is how I came up with the idea for The Stylist Project, where I asked the most articulate people in that language—stylists, designers, costume designers—to style themselves and pose for their portrait.

Is it strange to be so close to the entertainment business and not part of it? Would you include painting as a form of entertainment?

Absolutely. There’s something about the stillness of all those colored rocks suspended on a flat plane that makes all the molecules of our mind stand at attention. I love its longevity as an art form and the way you can enjoy it without plugging it in. Most entertainment has such a short shelf life. With the exception of my husband’s (a constant source of laughter and inspiration), there aren’t a lot of movies that will want to be seen hundreds of years from now, but painting as entertainment exists on a different time scale. Albert believes that no one will remember anything about today’s “entertainment.” When Bob Hope died, the kids asked why the news was mourning an airport.

Which kinds of paintings make you cry? Laugh?

Some paintings are so great in their execution or abandonment, I’ve shed a tear of awe (Cecily Brown, Daniel Richter, and Herbert Brandl). John Currin makes me laugh and cry, because his paintings are so witty and masterful. But the only paintings I really laugh at are the ones I’m looking at when Albert’s standing next to me and making a quip in my ear. If he recorded a museum audio tour, we could invent an entirely new form of entertainment.

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CULTURAMAS Interview with Kimberly Brooks (Spanish) featured in Spain

culturamas_sm

Kimberly Brooks: “Los niños deberían ser expuestos para hacer arte y música a muy temprana edad a lo largo de la educación básica”.

Pocos conocen fuera de Estados Unidos a esta artista anglosajona, pero realmente es la persona que esta detrás de la sección dedicada al mundo cultural del portal el Huffington Post, uno de los sitios de agregación de noticias mas vistos mundialmente, quien en esta entrevista para Culturamas, nos habló sobre su llegada al portal de noticias, sus inicios en el mundo del arte, su visión sobre la educación artística mundial, los próximos retos tanto como arista y editora, entre varios temas.

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English Translation Below

 Tell us more about your childhood? It´s someone in your family related with arts?

My great grandmother on my mother’s side, Corinne Werthheimer, was a painter and I have one of her watercolors.  It was a different time and she devoted herself to helping the women get the right to vote in America.  My father, Leonard Shlain, also painted but was a surgeon by profession.  Then he went on to become a best-selling author, the first of which was his seminal book called “Art & Physics” which he dedicated to me and the inspiration for which he attributed to my budding talent and incessant questions about art as a child.  I’ve written about it here:
 
How did you start with an interest in the visual arts?

I can only answer that by saying that I was just born this way.  I was always looking at the shape of things and trying to see if I could recreate what I saw in my head.  I was always staring at the clouds and drawing on everything.

How´s a normal day in your life? How do you divide your time between your art and the Huffington Post?

I wake up very early, make coffee and walk to the edge of the waves on the ocean.  When I come back, I spend the early mornings responding to emails and getting various gyroscopes in motion.  But I use the day light hours I paint.  While I definitely devoted a burst of time to launching the arts section in June 2010, it is a much bigger operation and it is run by an incredible team mostly out of the New York office.   Now I play a different role and can devote most of my time back to painting.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love to cook. And when I read cookbooks and recipes and I can taste what I read as the words reach my eyes.  I love talking walks by the ocean and spending time with my family.
Do you was inspired by some artist in particular?
This would be a very long list, worthy of its own book.  So let me keep it short by saying that I truly admire David Hockney, Bonnard, Bacon and Fischl.
Which is the technique do you work the most?
My technique is constantly evolving and each new series presents it’s own new challenges of depiction.  One goal is consistent though, to convey the most amount of emotion with the fewest amount of strokes.  I want it to appear effortless.
Why are you interested about fashion in your paintings? How you inspired yourself to make your portraits, do you have a special moment for this?
One of my early solo shows was about my mother and her friends in the 1970s called “Mom’s Friends”.  I wanted to capture the era of when women were really coming into their own.   It fascinated me that the aesthetic language of clothing captured a revolution in attitude.  I continue to explore that idea in “The Stylist Project” by focusing on subjects that are highly articulate in the language of fashion.   I asked famous stylists to style themselves are pose for their portrait.  In my most recent series “Thread” I use fashion as a point of deconstruction.  It was not a focus but a starting point, as if visually I was breaking an egg.
Do you prefer to work as a visual artist or as an arts journalist? 
I don’t consider myself an arts journalist but i do like to think about other artists work and interview them.  Around 2007 I decided that my writing muscle needed flexing so I made writing about other artists’ work a part of my art practice.  After about seventy interviews, this is what led Arianna Huffington to ask me to launch the arts section for the Huffington Post.  At the time, I was one of a handful focusing on the artists whereas everyone else was writing about politics and business.
 Which is your perception towards contemporary art today?
This is such a loaded question I cannot answer it in a paragraph.  But I will say this: I think contemporary art is flourishing right now especially because technology has allowed images to be airlifted out of their geography (studios, museums, galleries, etc) and into the blinking eyes of a world audience.  This is causing the visual language of art to become more sophisticated and to progress more.  Only ten years ago no artists had websites.  Oddly, it was considered taboo.  Now everyone has one.
 If not an artist, which could your other career?
I almost became a doctor like my parents but that profession was not for me.  If not an artist, I think I would like to be a classical music conductor.
Which could be your suggestions to approach young generations, especially children with art?
Children should be exposed to making art and music very young and all through their education.  A big problem in America is that many children aren’t exposed to arts education because the focus is on reading, writing and arithmetic.  This will kill the spirit of a child.  Furthermore, the concept of talent should be destroyed and demystified.  Kids should be taught the truth: that anyone can do anything with the right amount of dedication and passion.
 Which is the best way to use new technologies wisely?
Technology has and will continue to obviously revolutionize our world in so many ways.  However, I think when technology is not used a tool (photoshop, word processing, coding, etc.) but used for communication (email, social networking, etc.) that screens should be limited, especially for children, and people should pursue a life that compartmentalizes such interruptions as much as possible.  I have a timer on my iPhone and I don’t allow myself to be interrupted by email or the phone for hours on end.  People who allow themselves to be constantly interrupted are disallowing themselves to have a fertile creative brain environment.
What are the most concerning aspect with the financial crisis?
I most fear the erosion of the middle class and the polarization of wealth.  It has also had a distorting effect on the art world where more people are seeing art as an investment vehicle and fewer people can afford to buy it.
 Should world governments must give more money to arts and culture?  
I sincerely believe that creating a positive and nurturing environment for art and artists would help heal so many of the ills in our world.  Whether or not the government, per se, should be responsible for the distribution of funds is a complicated question.  If anything is done smartly, it will have a positive impact. For example, In America we have a huge problem with overpopulation in prisons.  In California, specifically, they’ve realized that when children have arts as a part of their eduction they’re less likely to drop out of school.  The term they use for people who drop out is “truancy”. People who stay in school are less likely to get involved in drugs, gangs and violence.  They’ve been able to make a direct correlation between crime rates and truancy rates and now they’re making a concerted effort to bolster arts education programs to solve the problem of crime and the prison population long term.
If you were the NEA director, how you could solve the arts budget for orchestras and arts?
I believe the root cause for the problem of orchestras in our country is that the culture is not doing enough to support classical music to children at an early age.  The exposure is thin at best even though every study in the world shows that children who study classical music will help them in every aspect of their education, especially math and writing.  The NEA created Americans for the Arts which is an advocacy program to promote why we need arts as a part of education.  However, all the funding goes to supporting the concept the goodness of arts in schools, instead of putting the money into arts programs themselves.  I would support creating a better means of supporting consistent funding for arts in education.  If you raise a generation of children who love classical music, you won’t see such a high ratio of grey haired people in the Orchestra.  This a huge part of what is what is creating such a deteriorating condition of the orchestras.  I have been a long time board member of a model organization for arts education called P.S. Arts (www.psarts.org) which raises money to provide arts education in the local public school system in Southern California.  We have had a dramatic affect on the over 22,000 children we serve.  I see the results first hand.
Why do you decide to merge arts and culture section at HuffPost?
The Culture section was created to be a parent section of Arts, which I created, and Music, TV and Film which came after the merger with AOL.  What ended up happening is that we were cannibalizing the content we should cover.  It made more sense to have one “Super Vertical” so Culture was folded into the arts section.
Which is one of the special moments during your HuffPost careers? What do you learn each day?
Launching an arts page on the Huffington Post was hugely important to me (Huffingtonpost.com/arts), I knew that it was the beginning of something big.  I turned out to be right.  I was so happy to provide a forum where artists around the world could be shown and reviewed in front of such a large audience and such an important part of our popular culture. I believe every artist shares my dream of showing her work to the most amount of people.   Last year I launched the science section, in honor of my father Leonard Shlain.  That was also a truly exciting moment.  The other exciting days were when we launched separate daughter pages including ones for Painting, Architecture, Film, Design, Female Artists and Art Meets Science. It’s been an amazing experience.
What´s next?
I’m focusing on two new bodies of work, one is an extension of what I’ve been doing and another is entirely new.

 

Life by Me/ Kimberly Brooks Interview

http://www.lifebyme.com/kimberly-brooks-left-turns/Life by Me

(The following interview is the aggregation of answers to a series of questions posed by Sophie Chiche)

I used to be fueled by independence and artistic freedom. I came out of the gate wanting to shock and be shocked by the universe. But that has transformed into a love of much smaller moments, usually in the studio or with my family and people I love, like hours two through six in my studio, a gorgeous view, and cooking a great, healthy meal for my children when they come home from school.

Because I’m an optimist and want to do everything, I’m always having to dial back. My father used to say, “May your grasp always exceed your reach,” or, “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” I’m always edging toward the next new challenge, but that also means I’m constantly reassessing to get back into balance.

I don’t come from a place of judging whether or not other people’s lives are meaningful, but what I’ve observed is that the biggest obstacle often holding people back is a lack of confidence and courage. People who believe in themselves and are brave move forward. People who follow through and realize their dreams, as I’ve been fortunate to do, seem to experience many deeply meaningful moments in their lives.

I love being surprised. A few years ago, when I thought I’d seen it all, I spent time in India for the first time. There wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t surprised – by the colors, the scents, the beauty of the people.

Being in the studio demands a constant state of innovation, with the subject matter or with the material itself. As a painter, every day I face the challenge of discovering a new way and a new thought in the work.

I’ve been developing a meme called The Left Turn Theory. Whenever I feel totally comfortable in a situation and can see the road stretching before me, sometimes endlessly, I make an unexpected left turn and the world becomes exciting, strange, and new again. For example, I never expected to live in Los Angeles. Now, every time I see a palm tree, I’m slightly shocked and surprised and it makes me smile.

Every day, I care less about what other people think and I become more and more daring. In a few months, I might just do something I never imagined I’d do, something I can’t even guess about now. I might even do it naked. Can’t wait.

– Kimberly Brooks