YabYum Seven: Jennyfer Stratman

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All photos courtesy of Jennyfer Stratman
Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jennyfer Stratman. I have been a full-time artist (sculptor) for 17 years, working primarily in metal.

How did you get your start?

I made my first ceramic sculpture of a reptilian creature when I was 3 years old. This was certainly a prophetic indicator of my future passions: sculpture and lizards!

I later graduated with a Fine Art degree from ASU and have never stopped making art since. I first started exhibiting my work in Downtown Phoenix when it was just on the cusp of being transformed into an arts destination. From there I began showing at more established galleries around the world, allowing me to continue working as a full-time artist.

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Connection Point
What inspires you?

I am continually inspired by observing patterns and connections between humanity, nature and the cosmos. These connections appear equally evident to me whether I am walking through the forest, looking at the stars or welding two pieces of metal together.

Science, poetry, music, storytellers and other creative people are also great sources of inspiration.

What do you like about AZ?

I was raised in Arizona and feel the desert has really informed the person I’ve become and the work I make. My studio is on a ranch style property near the base of South Mountain where I create and spend time with my 28-year old iguana and various farm animals. It’s a very inspiring place to live and work.

I also live part of the year in Melbourne, Australia (I married an Aussie) where I have a more urban style studio. Having studios in two countries is a life I never would have planned, but I seem to have made it work.

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My Mind Is A Garden Of Stars
Where can we see your work?

My work is always on display locally at Calvin Charles Gallery in Scottsdale. I have an upcoming solo exhibition there opening March 8th and running until early April.

I also have a public sculpture on display in the Heritage District of Gilbert, 206 N. Gilbert Rd, just south of the American Legion.  This was commissioned via a grant from the INFLUX AZ public art program and is on display until the middle of this year.

My website is stratmanstudio.com or I can be found on the usual social media sites (Facebook, Instagram).

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I hope to continue being inspired and passionate about the work I do and I would like to scale up and create larger public and private sculpture commissions. I would also like to create some kind of creative hub, reptile sanctuary, and small organic farm on my Phoenix property.

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The Gravity Between Us
What is your mantra?

I reread The Alchemist recently and there is a beautiful passage that resonated with me years ago when I first came across these sorts of ideas…

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. All things are one. When you want something; all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

I really believe this is true, but also know that it takes more than just talking about your dreams- an enormous amount of hard work and dedication is required!

~

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Giving Tree
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Cultivating The Wild
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Grown A Phantom Limb

YabYum Seven: Jessica Speer

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All photos courtesy of Jessica Speer
Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jessica Speer of J.Speer Fine Art. My past projects included L.B.Paintings and Halcyon Fine Art. I am a Visionary Artist and Spiritual Abstractionist.

As a Visionary Artist I explore all opportunities within the unlimited universe to create art that is profound and innovative. In this effort to create I take spiritual concepts and explain them through abstraction. My goal is not only to reach the curious mind but also communicate through the windows of the soul to the spirit.

My artwork is heavily influenced from my study of God, language, symbolism, numerology, sacred geometry and the esoteric world. Each piece I create is an unfolding of the extensive research I do on Metaphysics, Astrophysics and Esoteric Mathematics.

How did you get your start?

I started working as a self taught artist in 2005. My creativity for the majority of my working career has been in the field of science. This later took a turn into expressing that creativity through visual arts. Combining my two passions art and science.

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ShinKatsu 新生活 | 4″ x 4″ (9 pieces)
What inspires you?

As a seeker of truth, my inspiration as an artist comes from my study of the creator, creation as a whole, multi-universes, dreams, and the spirit realm. I am constantly being inspired by life in all it’s beauty and sorrow.

What do you like about AZ?

I am a native to Arizona by three generations and take pride in that rarity. The gorgeous landscape is an open wonder to all those who live here and visit. It is truly a place to fall in love with, as the sites are breathtaking and unique.

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Origins of Metatron | 30″ x 40″
Where can we see you(r) work?

I do many art exhibitions around the valley and state. As of recently I have become an international artist and will be exhibiting in France in the summer followed by my solo exhibition in Peru at The Museum of Contemporary Art in November. I will also be conducting a lecture and speech at the University of Cusco in Peru regarding my work as an artist. I have plans to show my work in Italy and Japan in 2019.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I have many things I want to accomplish before I move on in this life. The main thing is to fulfill my purpose as an artist. This includes translating truth through art. I plan to travel the world exhibiting in various countries which will only further my esoteric studies and research of the universe. I will complete my invention of the first electromagnetic painting which is only in its first stages. These are just a few things I plan to accomplish before my time is up.

What is your mantra?

My manta is simple….. “Knowledge is power to all those who seek it.”

~

For more Jessica Speer, visit her website.

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Shino Hajimari 死の始まり | 48″ x 48″

YabYum Seven: Benjamin “Benjam” Goens

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All photos courtesy of Benjam
Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Benjamin Goens aka “Benjam”, and I produce hand-cut stencil artworks with spray paints. I graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Art History. My initial plan was to teach art history or pursue a career in an art museum or gallery setting and soon after graduation I ended up in a director position at a Scottsdale Gallery.

The gallery experience afforded me the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the art business/world, as well as learning priceless techniques from world-class artists, which quickly led to the realization that I had an insatiable desire to create.

I dabbled with various mediums and ultimately began experimenting with stencils. I cut my first stencil back in 2008-2009, but it wasn’t until 2014 that I really started investing the time into developing my craft, hand-cutting single layer stencils. During the last three years I dedicated myself to learning to cut intricate stencils to create detailed depictions of my subjects and began production of my own multilayered artwork.

I use anywhere from 4 to 20 layers in one image to create photorealistic tonal gradations in my imagery. Over the past couple years I’ve spent countless hours creating several commissioned works and portraits for private collections.

How did you get your start?

I simply told myself that I needed to paint enough pieces to participate in a show and when I had a body of work I took the next step and decided to submit to a call for art to be part of a RAW Artists group show in November 2014. After the success of that first show, I was approached by a curator to be part of another group show shortly after. I made a personal goal to have my first solo exhibition within a year and accomplished that with the opening of my solo show “Cutting Edge” at the Funk Lab in November 2015.

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“The Journey” – mixed media and spray paint on framed canvas – 2017
What inspires you?

I’m inspired my my life experiences and variety of sources I encounter on a daily basis. My work always starts with a photograph that I gravitate towards. During my university studies I fell in love with the art of classical antiquity and European masters, so that is the foundation of my inspiration, but I’ve always held an obsession for the raw grit of hip-hop culture, graffiti, and street art.

The contrast of old-meets-new has always interested me, so I draw inspiration from past designs, ideas, and innovations. I often find beauty that exists in images of the past and attempt to reinvent them by bringing them into a new light on my canvas.

My inspiration truly stems from my family. My wife and my two young daughters are eternal reminders of why I choose to relentlessly chase my dreams.

What do you like about AZ?

I was born and raised in Arizona. I’ve grown to love what this home has to offer. The art community is constantly pushing development and evolving, which I’m thrilled to be a part of. I feel like there is an abundance of creativity and a wide array of sources to collaborate and draw inspiration from with in the Valley of the Sun and I’m looking forward to seeing it shine.

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“Pointe of View” – mixed media and spray paint on canvas
Where can we see you(r) work?

I’m currently showing several new works in “Benjam: What The Cut”, as the first featured guest artist with the collective at {9} The Gallery.

I will be part of an upcoming group show as one of the TLC Community Foundation Artist Grant recipients, opening First Friday, March 2nd at Sisao Gallery during Art Detour.

I have two paintings currently on display at the Muswellbrook Regional Art Center in Australia, as part of the of the 2017 Stencil Art Prize touring exhibition.

You can also view my painting “Play Ball”, acquired for the permanent collection at the Mesa Historical Museum, as part of the AZ Spring Training Experience exhibit.

You can follow my artistic journey on social media on Facebook / Instagram: @benjamzart.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I want to contribute to the betterment of society and, if I’m privileged enough to do that through my art, then I can’t ask for anything else other than leaving a legacy behind for my family to be proud of.

What is your mantra?

Give back more than I take.

~

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“The Walk” – spray paint on wood panel – 2017
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Sprayed stencil set for “The Walk”
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“Harmony of the Hearts” – mixed media and spray paint on canvas – 2017
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“Quatre Impromptus” – mixed media and spray paint on canvas – 2018

YabYum Seven: Scarlett Decker

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All photos courtesy of Scarlett Decker

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Scarlett Decker (Scarlett Ministero-Decker on Facebook) and I do mixed-media constructions and installation.

How did you get your start?

In Kindergarten, we had clay and I made a basket and snakes and I didn’t want to stop. In second grade, I contact-papered the entire living room as a surprise for my mom (she was surprised!) and I continued throughout school with an uncontrollable urge to make things. Later, it became more acceptable.

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“The Game” | marble chess board, bullets, lipstick

What inspires you?

Artists inspire me. Nature inspires me. Words inspire me. Politics inspire me (not in a good way). Satire inspires me.

What do you like about AZ?

I like absolutely everything about Arizona. When I go elsewhere all I do is complain about the weather. I love the heat! I love the geography. If we had more water here I wouldn’t have to go to California and see the ocean but otherwise Arizona is perfect!

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“Checking” | installation

Where can we see you(r) work?

My website. And currently I’m really doing more in Instagram. I have some small works in Chicago now but more planned for the Phoenix area this year.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I have about 100 things on my bucket list and 10,000 art ideas that I have yet to create. I don’t have time to die! Mostly, I would like the respect of my peers and to continue to make art, those are my goals of success.

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“Domestic Violins” | broken violins, aprons

What is your mantra?

“Push”. I write the word “Push” every day and I try and PUSH myself outside my comfort zone, both in art and in life every day. It always is so worth it.

~

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“One-Sock Danny” | mateless socks, various clothes and shoes
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“Uncle Albert” | zippers, plaster cast leg, shoe
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“Sighs and Whispers in the Night” | plaster ear, fabric

YabYum Seven: Cody Rex Chamberlain

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All photos courtesy of Cody Rex Chamberlain
Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Cody Rex Chamberlain. I’m a visual artist. I identify as a painter, first and foremost.

How did you get your start?

Some of my earliest memories of are of my parents painting and drawing. They were both creative people, though they didn’t consider it their vocation to be so. I started creating art myself very young. My mother made sure I had the tools to.

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Bull
What inspires you?

My inspiration is, in large part, the desert. Being there is a sort of beautiful reality check. The natural process of life and death are starkly exposed to the desert explorer. You’ll see a weathered skull nestled up against a living tree, or the new bloom of a yucca next to a withered juniper.

What do you like about AZ?

Arizona has been a favorite retreat of artists I admire. I remember seeing photographs of Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning hamming it up in Sedona. Ernst said Paris and Sedona were the only places he wanted to live. Arizona lends itself well to surrealism, and I consider myself a surrealist.

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Bird Of Prey
Where can we see you(r) work?

The quickest fix is my Instagram.  There you can see a visual chronicle of the various shows, collections, and articles I’m featured in at a given time.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I’d like to have created a body of work that bears witness to the beauty of the western landscape as I’ve experienced it. What I hope to accomplish is what I’m actively working towards accomplishing.

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Inside The Mesa
What is your mantra?

The earth is forever.

~

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Rush Valley
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Aquarius

YabYum Seven: Joe Willie Smith

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All photos courtesy of Joe Willie Smith
Who are you and what do you do?

Joe Willie Smith, multimedia artist. I work in whatever medium is necessary to realize an idea. Presently I build ‘Sonic Sculptures’, basically sculpture that are amplified using piezo microphones, some are passive others require performance interaction. I recently completed a large scale, 32 ft, concrete and steel public art sculpture. The sculpture, commissioned by Harrison Properties, is located on the SW corner of Buckeye and 5th St.

How did you get your start?

I’ve been making art continuously since I was a child. My mother got me started weaving pot holders by the hundreds, painted plates, and toilet paper Carnation flowers. She would sell my creations and give me some of the money.

joe willie smith 05What inspires you?

I’m inspired by my surroundings. My work is usually created from the context of place.

What do you like about AZ?

I moved to Arizona in December 1987, from Youngstown, Ohio. Leaving Ohio during a major snow storm, I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, 87 degrees. I was sold, no one mentioned the summers. I still love the southwest and Arizona for the fantastic skies, amazing landscapes and the amazing wealth of creative, talented friends. Arizona and the southwest never cease to inspire me.

joe willie smith 06Where can we see you(r) work? 

My public art can be seen at Matthew Henson Community Gardens, 7th Ave. and Buckeye Rd. and the SW corner of 5th St. and Buckeye Rd. I also perform on my Sonic Sculptures with Datura Ensemble, a improvisational Performance group.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I would like to have a solo exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

What is your mantra?

My mantra is ‘Where am I’.

~

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YabYum Seven: Joey Morgan

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Joey Morgan pictured with “Bolt of Blue”
Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Joey Morgan and I am a digital mixed media artist born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. (Actually a fourth generation Phoenician — quite rare!)

How did you get your start?

I started creating mixed media pieces with patina metal and metallic paper about five years ago. While on vacation in Mexico, I started photographing patterns in the sand and have been fascinated with texture I discover in nature ever since. For the last four years I have been digitally combining photos of patina color and nature’s texture into intriguing abstracts. The final composite image is printed on metal.

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“Stone Maze”
What inspires you?

Chemistry inspires me. I love creating patina color! When sheets of copper and brass are ‘stewed’ overnight in chemical solutions or pre-made patina dyes, it’s very exciting to wake up to random patterns of vivid, saturated colors. Nature inspires me. Looking at plants, petrified wood, canyon walls, sand and tree bark stimulates my creativity. I see the intricacies and immediately start thinking of how I can use the texture or pattern in a new piece of art.

What do you like about AZ?

What I like about Arizona is its diverse landscape. From the open, vast deserts, to lush forests, amazing canyons, beautiful lakes, rivers and creeks, not to mention the plethora of hiking trails. Always something to do outdoors!

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“Whispering Rainbow”
Where can we see you(r) work?

You can see my work at Art Mixed Up; at The Ted Denton Gallery in Carefree, AZ, the Iluminate Apartments in downtown Phoenix, and The Edgewater Condos on Tempe Town Lake and Circle Spotlight Oct. 2017; page 75.

What would you like o accomplish before you die?

Before I die, I would like travel to as many natural places as possible to photograph texture for my artwork. I would also like to see my work in hotels, commercial buildings / businesses, in more private homes here in the US and in other countries.

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Tie Dye Crevice
What is your mantra?

My mantra is to be in the moment. Enjoy the now.

~

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Botanical
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Lava Flow

YabYum Seven: Donna Bernstein

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Donna Bernstein pictured with Amadeus
Who are you and what do you do?

Donna Bernstein: I am a contemporary equestrian styled artist, creating both abstract and modern horse paintings. I use mixed mediums, acrylics, inks and archival sprays. I paint on linen, canvas, wood. Whether a textured, complicated painting or a minimalist graphite, pastel or charcoal sketch, my vision is always centered upon the beauty, balance, sensuality and wisdom of the essential, classic equine.

How did you get your start?

I started doing artwork as a child. Always in awe of the horse, this passion for them seemed to be born with me – I was not brought up around them, and no one in my family was connected to them. We could not afford one, so my only way to connect with or obtain a horse – was to draw it myself.
I spent all my youth studying everything about them – their anatomy, their breeds, their illnesses and cures. When the time came that a neighbor got a horse I taught myself to ride. Through reading books, and watching others do it.

I would also watch the horse incessantly – what a pest! But I never drew while I was watching – I was afraid I would miss something… and I think I was right. By drawing and painting afterwards, out of my memory and imagination, my horses have come to be defined by a signature style all my own.

My art was born of a boundless love for this animal. As I have come to understand, because of this, I was painting the horses I never had. I was painting the horses of my imagination and my dreams.

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“Lover’s Rock”
What inspires you?

What inspires me is the nature of horses. They express the ideals I most value – an honesty, a purity of emotion, courage, beauty, balance, sensuality, a willingness to serve, companionship, and compassion. The most fiery, brilliant, and powerful stallion, will do as you ask when he trusts you.

They are herd animals… family animals, and exhibit tenderness and loyalty, with a sensitivity that has been honored through the ages. From the first cave wall renditions of the magnificent horse, he has been both companion and teacher to man, in every endeavor.

Everything about the horse inspires me. His great vulnerability; his great contradiction. He is such a symbol of freedom; an icon in this regard. Yet his entire history is wrapped in ours, as he has not been at liberty, but has done our bidding, whether in war or at play.

Truly a debt of gratitude is owed.

What do you like about AZ?

Arizona has a wonderful energy, weather that evokes a positive point of view, and a truly growing and expanding business and culture base that is energizing to be around. I started doing art shows in the area a few years back, and my husband and I bought a home not long after, we loved it so much.

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White Horse Grazing
Where can we see you(r) work?

In Arizona my work is currently shown and represented at a beautiful gallery, Desert Mountain Fine Art, located in the elegant Keirland Commons in North Scottsdale. The business of an amazing young couple, it is just completing its first year in Scottsdale, and I am honored to be included in its roster of artists.

What would like to accomplish before you die?

That is a difficult question! I think living a life I am proud of, and allowing my art and brand to be a demonstrative and, if possible, collaborative expression of that vision. I’m developing my artistic energies into an equestrian lifestyle brand, with products that include jewelry, scarves, handbags, etc., and fashion accessories for the modern equestrian. I see my art as expansive into these areas in a way that allows others, who have dreams of horses, to experience the equine’s wonderful and playful energy through Donna B.

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Cowpoke II
What is your mantra?

My mantra – Actually, I have two… one that defines my personal commitment to my work, which I learned about myself through the process of making art:

“It is not horse that I paint; I paint the way they make me feel.”

The other – as it defines the Donna B Brand:

“Love Your Horse – Live Your Horse Style.”

~

Check out more Donna B on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Hi Ho Silver
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Two Horses
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Field Horse Watching // Field Horse Grazing

YabYum Seven: Nigel Clouse

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All photos courtesy of Nigel Clouse
Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Nigel Clouse and I am a multidisciplinary artist who has lived in the valley for 13 years. I was born and raised in Winchester, Indiana; a rural community located in the Rust Belt. I completed my undergraduate degree in digital design at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and worked in the graphic design industry for over a decade. I am best known for my pop surrealist work incorporating femme fatales, pop culture references, and dystopian themes.

How did you get your start?

I spent many childhood summers enrolled in community art and computer courses intended for adults. These programs constructed a foundation in both traditional art and computer programming—fields which eventually merged within my work. I pursued art through high school, completed all available courses during my junior year, and began taking college courses at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I was one of the first students to graduate with a degree in digital design from the Art Academy of Cincinnati—a fledgling program introduced as computers began to replace traditional media in the design industry.

Relocating to Phoenix to launch my graphic design career, while simultaneously developing a successful website showcasing my performance and street art, I never felt comfortable mixing my artistic persona with my corporate identity—I ended the project after five years.

A career in the design industry provided me with an opportunity to refine my technical skills, but the Great Recession forced me to change tactics. I moved to California to pursue my doctorate degree in psychology, worked for the University of California: San Diego, and spent time examining my identity and purpose.

My father passed away from cancer in 2012 and I moved back from California to help him for the last month of his life. I witnessed a man slowly wasting away after sacrificing everything for his family while working at a job he hated for over 30 years. The disorienting dilemma I confronted after his passing allowed me to envision the future I wanted for my family. I conceived my Dystopian Delights series shortly after his death and have been working on the project for five years.

Never have I considered myself an artist until recently; I believe the title of artist is earned through the melding of skill and aesthetic, which combine to form a personal style—continually honed through experience. The series has allowed me to define my style, acknowledge myself as an artist, and develop an understanding of the world and my place within it.

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“Yesteryear’s Inn”, dye sublimation on aluminum, 20″ x 16″, 2017
What inspires you?

A variety of subjects, including art, history, music, literature, and technology; but my favorite is film. I was introverted as a child and spent much of my time with my maternal grandmother; a bootlegger from the time of prohibition with ties stretching back to the infamous Hatfield and McCoy feud. My grandfather passed away when I was young, which allowed us to spend copious amounts of time together.

She loved to watch the work of Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and other silver screen classics; introducing me to film noir, Citizen Kane, and Psycho. She sparked my interest in cinema and I find this love of film continues to inspire and influence my work.

I believe the life and work of Andy Warhol to be highly inspirational. Discovering Warhol through a chance encounter at the library early in life immediately changed how I experienced art. Warhol is the “American Dream” personified; a socially awkward child coming from a destitute immigrant family who was able to achieve his goals despite the limitations of his background. Not only was he able to achieve his dream, but he did so with such conviction it forever altered the course of art history.

What do you like about AZ?

I enjoy the tenacity of Arizona as a state, both in historical terms and the ability of communities to adapt to change. This is a state where the Hohokam thrived as a culture, the Spanish sought cities of gold, desperados roamed the Wild West, and miners eked out an existence underground. I especially adore the old mining towns, which have reimagined themselves as artist communities and continue to thrive.

The Arizona sky at dusk is one of the most beautiful sights I have seen—vivid colors contrasted against desolate and foreboding landscapes. The Sonoran Desert has always reminded me of a Salvador Dali painting with warm hues and expansive vistas. Who doesn’t want to wake-up in a Dali painting on a daily basis?

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“Derealization”, dye sublimation on aluminum, 16″ x 20″, 2016
Where can we see you(r) work?

My website is the best place to see pieces as I keep it updated with current work; available in my online store. I keep my Instagram account active by sharing work and tidbits of my life—social media has been an interesting experiment for a self-proclaimed recluse. I haven’t shown my work in a gallery since I graduated college, but I am actively seeking space in the valley if any curators are interested in an emerging artist.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

Immortality. I believe art affords the artist the possibility to defy death; creating works which outlive the physical being, while continuing to communicate complex concepts, experiences, and visions beyond the grave. This is how we intimately understand the sorrow of Van Gogh, the madness of Munch, and the whimsy of Warhol. Artwork can readily survive the passage of time and provide a glimpse into an artist’s understanding of the world.

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“Cataclysm”, digital media, 2017
What is your mantra?

“The night time is the right time.” I have been a night owl since I was born; the early morning hours are when my creativity and productivity are at their peak. I am the primary caretaker of my son, which means nap times, nights, and weekends are when I am able to devout my full attention to art.

~

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“Sentimental Journey”, digital media, 2017
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“Deluded by Dilaudid”, dye sublimation on aluminum, 20″ x 16″, 2016
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“Industrial Resolution”, digital media, 2017

YabYum Seven: Heather Freitas

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All photos courtesy of Heather Freitas
Who are you and what do you do?

Heather Freitas: I am an eco arts artist who’s main goal is to impact people around the world with my artwork and in doing so educating them about the current environmental issues we face today!

How did you get your start?

I have been painting since I was a child and even went to college for art. It was not until two years after graduating that I finally found my signature style and voice. I landed my first real gallery show within 3 months and the ball has continued to roll ever since, but not without very hard work!

Desert Pupfish
What inspires you?

The natural world. Creating something beautiful out of something that was once toxic and impacting people enough to maybe even just stop using plastic bags for the first step! The impact that artwork can have on people is far greater then a speech or article. It speaks every language and is something that each person can identify with. That is powerful and a large part of my inspiration.

What do you like about AZ?

I love the weather here and the location is perfect to me. In the Valley we are driving distance from forests, ocean, and snow! You get the best of all worlds here!

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Fur
Where can we see you(r) work?

Currently right now I have artwork on display at the Tempe Public Library until December. October I will have a lot of work up at First Studio in Phoenix and November I will have some work at Public Imagery!

I have started a GoFundMe for my Mobil gallery and you can visit my website as well.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

My sole mission in life is impacting people through my work. My long term goal is to be able to travel the world with my artwork and help educate areas where waste is a large problem. I would love to create an organization that helps clean up our oceans and forests as well! There is nothing for us if we do not save our planet!

What is your mantra?

It is said that one person cannot change the world but it is with my deepest hopes that my artwork can!

~

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Bleach
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I’ll Have Another
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Ivory
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Spotlight
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Welcome To America

~

For more on Heather Freitas, visit her website and GoFundMe.