The idea of the life of an artist has been romanticized in movies and novels and in fact, it can be a very exciting profession. The reality, of course, is that most artists who begin an art career drop out well before they can realize the “life of an artist”. The long years of study and practice perfecting their craft, coupled with extreme economic hardship is too daunting for most. The “art game” is not for triflers. This is why it is referred to as a calling and not a career. If you have talent, focus, courage and humor you are half-way there. Timing, luck, fortitude and persistence will take you the rest of the way. Few there are that can travel this road and not give it up for a “so called normal job”.
One such traveler who made it is Cabo artist Chris MacClure. A veteran artist of 35 years, Chris opened his studio/gallery, the Golden Cactus Gallery, in Cabo San Lucas in 1997, after spending 6 years traveling back and forth from his studio in White Rock, B.C. There is nothing like information straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, so we asked MacClure some questions that might shed some light on art, artists and the art scene here in Baja.
Chris, the life in art is difficult, to say the least. What prompted your choice of this career and what were the most important questions you answered for yourself when you decided to become the artist?
“All children like to express themselves with pencils, crayons etc. up to about the late teens. Usually at that time, other ways to express become more important, so most of the young people drop all their ability to do art. A true artist is directed this way and not other. If life is hard for them at this time, then the life of this artist will perhaps be harder than others. The artist needs to express themselves and economy has nothing to do with it. It is only a matter of eating hamburgers or steak at any given moment.”
What has been the most difficult aspect of your field so far?
“The most difficult aspect of becoming an artist is the separation from mainstream society. All your friends are buying new cars, houses, vacations etc. and this passes you by early in the life of an artist. Once you are aware of this the art becomes even more important and you learn to be content with what you have and what is brought to you. Later in life, perhaps, the monetary rewards are greater. Somewhere along the line of the desire to be that artist, you get up on day and suddenly realize that you are that artist. Your life is surrounded by art and the making of art. It is not something you do in the closet. The ability to say “here I am” to the world and have the wisdom to know and to be humble that you are not great as yet!”
Did you have mentors or others helping you in the beginning?
“Mentorship was not there when I decided to give art a chance as my expression in life. I knew no one personally who was a full time artist. Art as a career has only recently become popular. I try and mentor others now as we all need to see the larger picture, so to speak. I have always been fortunate to have met groups of artists over the years that I can work with and befriend. To share the burden with other artists I believe is a necessity for your own growth as an artist.”
How do you choose your subjects for painting and where does the motivation come from?
“I have no idea as to how I choose subjects. I just suddenly get a glimpse of something and it motivates me to start. Maybe all is just a romantic feeling of something tangible.”
Do you get inspiration from other artists or master artists from the past?
“Around 1967, I used to look through a gallery window in Montreal. There was a portrait artist working from life and I was fascinated by the process. My grandfather was an illustrator back in the 30’s and 40’s, but in those days, one didn’t have the choices we have today. I guess these experiences all inspired me to work in that general direction. It was the end of an era, so to speak, so it wasn’t easy to imagine oneself as an artist.”
When and what brought you to Cabo San Lucas in the first place?
“I came to Cabo as a regular tourist for the first time in 1990. We stayed in a hotel in Cabo and loved the place, so decided to spend more time here. Within 3 years we bought a place sight unseen, off a chalk line, like everyone else was doing at that time and spent long stretches here really getting to know the feeling and of course, painting. We decided to find a way to perhaps stay permanently. One evening, sitting on the Costa Azul beach at sunset, we watched as all was going dark except up on the top of the highest hill we spotted a lone cactus glowing gold against the sky. We made our decision then to open a gallery/studio and call it The Golden Cactus Gallery.”
You have many artists in your gallery, how do you choose who to take in?
“The gallery artists are with us more out of friendship than business. Most of the artists I have known for sometime and have done many shows with over the years. Artists I have met here in Cabo have been with us since the start.”
What’s down the road for Chris MacClure, artistically and business-wise?
“As a full professional artist, the way in the future is dictated by the inspiration. Only time will allow one to understand where we are going and how we express it.”
For 35 years Chris’ romantic visions of his world and his art have sustained him throughout his career after attending Concordia University fine arts in Montreal and Emily Carr school of fine art in Vancouver. His style has evolved into what might be called “romantic realism” with his own personal twist. His work evokes an almost Zen-like quality without clutter; simplistic but powerful in its’ message and the emotion it gives the viewer. A critic once described his paintings “like reaching out and slapping you gently on the cheek, kind of a wake-up call for one to feel more than what the eye beholds.”
MacClure has amassed an impressive collector list throughout the years: John Travolta, Kristie Alley, Bill Clinton, James Whitmore Jr., BorisYeltsin, The Ford Motor Co. and Pepsico, Frederika Von Stade (Metsoprano) and Don Prudhomme (The Snake) to list just a few.
You can find MacClures’ romantic paintings at his Golden Cactus Gallery in Cabo San Lucas, where he paints and meets clients and in the Old Town Gallery in the historic art district of San José. Maybe a poem MacClure wrote many years ago will sum up this interview perfectly;
I stand as a conductor, brush in hand
Applying the rainbow best I can.
Storms must come, the rage beset
Not crystallized of you as yet.
Gently you arrive, the light most bright
From the swirl and darkness of the fight.
At last I have freed you, beloved one,
Your radiance flowing, like the sun.
Out of the canvas you arrive,
My second love, materialized.
This love and the first are sisters of grace,
And each in my heart have their place.
Often I try and sometimes I dare,
To create my own love affair.
Artists, Authors & Musicians
|Thursday, July 14 2005 @ 02:05 PM CDT
Contributed by: Marilyn
|An archetype is a universal idea or concept, un-manifested as yet into visible form. A true and gifted artist can render, through the medium of paint, music, sculpture or prose, a less than perfect but nevertheless a reasonable facsimile which would suggest this eternal idea. Any person, anywhere would relate to such a piece of work, whether they were aware of the intent behind its creation or not. Most artists, in fact, would probably not even know themselves that they had touched a universal chord, until after the fact. Truly inspired art is never contrived and when this perfect note is struck it surprises the artist as much as anyone.
Because the nature of inspiration is so elusive, this occurrence is rare for most artists although there have been thousands in the course of history where this has transpired many, many times. For example, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, William Blake, Rembrandt, Rubens, just the tip of the iceberg creativity-wise but in our present time, recognized all over the world as inspired artists. In their time, of course they were celebrities within their own immediate circle of influence. Had telecommunication been available then, they would have reached global celebrity status and reached a much wider audience even though they have done that in modern times because of the advent of mass media, and electronic technology.
Painters in our modern world are now faced with a great opportunity to share some of their inspired visions with the world in general through originals, lithography, Gicleé fine art iris prints, and the internet exposure. Inspired art doesn’t come everyday and when it does, everyone wants to share it. Without the opportunity to reproduce their master works visual artists are not able to share to the degree that musicians or authors can.
Through recording companies, musicians can get their message out through videos or CD’s, which reproduce their music for a global audience. The original score is retained by the artist and copyrighted, but the music can be enjoyed by millions. Authors, in the same way, introduce their work to the world at large through world-wide professional publishers. Because of the inroads that musicians and writers have made, it is now possible and acceptable for painters to use the same criteria that these other artists have enjoyed.
21st century art, in general, will undergo tremendous transformation as technology becomes more fine-tuned. This is well and good and will benefit collectors and artists alike. Art has become available to everyone and through the medium of fine art printing, artists can reach a wider audience with their work. Reproductions give the artist the time to do better and more inspired work and even printing technology has progressed to the point where the quality sometimes surpasses the image. However, even professional artists know that not every painting is a masterpiece and needs to be replicated.
The fine art publishing market is as varied as the recording and publishing industry and quality can range from a corner grocery store copy machine to the finest continuous tone large format printers. Professional artists tend to use canvas or paper and inks that will best replicate their original work and take pride in the quality they can achieve in their reproductions.
Internet technology has opened a new door for artists as well. Now artists can have a presentation of their studio to the world at large. The applications for fine art are as infinite as the taste and style of the artist.