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Studio Visit - Jonni Cheatwood

Studio Visit - Jonni Cheatwood

Studio Visit - Jonni Cheatwood

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Studio Visit with Jonni Cheatwood

Jonni Cheatwood was born in Thousand Oaks, California but has spent the duration of his adulthood living and working in the Phoenix area. He received his BA from Arizona State University, where he picked up painting.

 

The majority of Jonni's thought process is dedicated to deconstruction, making mistakes, and coming alive through chance and the abstract. He has chosen to step into a seemingly destructive composition of layers, shape and lines, along with aggressive colors to relay parts of a story.

 

Jonni is deeply interested in the process of creating an aesthetic piece and how one gets there; understanding the reception of art, objects, and how influences influence the work he makes. Cheatwood is also interested in how creativity cultivates hope, revival, and the restoration of what was nothing into something beautiful and pleasing. Cheatwood's work, at its core, is an interdisciplinary experimentation in urban subculture, composition, color, shape, and form through a variety of mixed media. Jonni and his wife, Amy, currently live in metro Phoenix, Arizona.

Q.

What motivates you?

A.

The idea that I get to create something new everyday is motivation enough for me.

 

Q.

What is your least favorite sound?

A.

Metal scrapping against metal. It makes me cringe.  

 

Q.

What is the one thing you wouldn't eat?

A.

I absolutely hate cherries. Even the smell of cherries gives me a headache. 

 

Q.

What is your biggest demon?

A.

I don't really know. I don't have any wild vices that hold me back, but I have a few insecurities.  

  

Q.

When did you start calling yourself an artist?

A.

When I quit my job to paint full-time in May, that's when I really started to comfortably tell people that I am an artist because it is how I make my living. Sometimes, it's still weird to tell people that I'm an artist because I'm afraid of immediate judgement, but that's my reality. I scribble, pour paint on top of more paint and make decorations for a living. No regrets.

  

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

When I don't force a painting and just go with the flow. I also need to be calm. If I'm upset, hungry or just flat out not feeling it that day, I can just go kick rocks.

 

Q.

Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea of the other way around?

A.

My general ideas when it comes to the piece isn't so much the paint on the canvas, because I don't really premeditate a painting; but rather if I am going to sew that canvas together with another piece of canvas, burlap or denim. I think changing the materials used change the idea of a painting. I like seeing how different fabrics disrupt a painting. Once I have the fabric down, then my methods of painting come in. 

 

Q.

Is art making therapeutic for you?

A.

When I first started painting 6(ish) years ago it was 100% for therapeutic purposes. Now, most of the time it's a very joyful time for me but I would be lying if I said that I've never questioned all of my life choices by deciding to paint. 

Q.

What are you most proud of?

A.

I don't talk about this much, but the fact that I am 29, didn't go to art school or have any type of formal training, and I get to make a very decent living by painting full-time is very rare. I don't like to pat myself on the back, but I've worked hard to get to where I'm at and I don't plan on slowing down.

  

Q.

Artist whose career you covet?

A.

Urs Fischer probably. Maybe Daniel Arsham.

 

Q.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

A.

I'm committed to painting for as long as I'm able to. Hopefully, I'll have a kid or two and my dream studio. I see where my work was five years ago from now and I've seen how much I've progressed and how differently I view art as a whole; so I can only imagine what my work will be like in five years from now. Maybe I'll have a great art dealer and a big time gallery. I hope.

  

Q.

If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?

A.

Right now, I would be curious to see what I would paint in a place like Marfa, Texas. I feel like my work is directly inspired by my surroundings and I think a creative community like Marfa would be interesting. I would love to go to Paris or London as well. Maybe I'll look into a residency. 

 

Q.

Did you grow up around other creative people?

A.

Not really. I grew up in the burbs. I grew up playing sports and everyone around me played sports. I didn't really appreciate art until my early 20s when Obey started popping up everywhere.

 

Q.

What are your other hobbies?

A.

Well, painting was my only hobby and now that it's my job, I need to find another hobby. Suggestions?

 

Q.

What influences you?

A.

So much. Other painters painting, photography, rock n roll, a good museum, a decent book, good cinema, pizza. 

  

Q.

What is your happy place?

A.

My studio has become my happy place. I can turn my music up as loud as I want, make as big of a mess as I want and it's my safe place. Yeah, it's my little safe haven

   

Studio philosophy

"I am a big advocate of just showing up to the studio, even if you're not planning on actually working that day. You just never know. You'll never know when your inspiration will come."

Q.

If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

A.

Tom Waits. Absolutely Tom Waits.

 

Q.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A.

"Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News. It's my wife's alarm.

 

Q.

What puts you to sleep at night?

A.

I'm a night processor, so it takes me a while to fall asleep. It's a waiting game. 

Q.

Why do you create?

A.

I create to come alive. It's the one thing that I am passionate about and I feel like it's what I'm supposed to do, plain and simple. I can't imagine living my life without making art.

 

Q.

Tell us a little bit about what you're doing in your work now.

A.

Currently, I'm trying to mature, stretch, and grow as a creative. I get bored easily, I suppose. Personally, I don't want to go through my entire career as an artist pounding the same key. I realized this last year that I can get very comfortable making a certain type of art. If I'm being honest, sometimes I'm terrified that I will never meet my full potential as an artist so I'm taking the time now to sort out new mediums and styles to make my own. My studio has become a mess, and I love it.

 

Q.

Which is your favorite quote?

A.

"Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world." Robert McKee said that. 

 

Q.

Who is your favorite artist?

A.

I have a few. Pollock, Makoto Fujimura, John Baldessari, Basquiat, Richter, Cy Twombly, Kevin Appel, Robert Motherwell, Jaybo Monk. 

 

Q.

How many hours do you try and work in the studio per week?

A.

I try my hardest to treat it like a full-time job. I don't really give myself a set schedule, but I like to be in my studio by noon everyday and work until I can't work anymore, generally 6 or 7 hours. I usually take off Saturdays and Sundays to spend that day with my wife, like normal working people.

 

Q.

Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?

A.

Tom Waits, DMX, Bowie, Rage Against the Machine, Cold War Kids, Fiona Apple & whatever great Jazz I can get my hands on. I'm particularly fond of Milford Graves & Jack DeJohnette. Sometimes The Dayton Sidewinders. Silence is for the birds in my studio.

Q.

Favorite art-making tools?

A.

I feel like my sewing machine gets a lot of play, but I would say this little squirt bottle that I turned into a pen-like tool is my favorite. I fill it with a fluid enamel paint and I scribble with it.

 

Q.

When do you make your best work?

A.

I'm yet to figure this out. I can go to my studio any time of the day and feel like I'm making a good work, but I feel like when my work comes naturally or when there is no thought going into what I'm doing, it is something worth keeping around. I can't premeditate my work. I noticed that if I try really hard to make it work in the studio, it won't work. At all. It has to be organic and true.

 

Q.

What is your favorite color?

A.

Gold, probably.

 

Q.

What do you think photography does to a moment or place?

A.

To me, it's a visual reference of a moment that I'll never get back. I think I take my personal photos in an unconventional way. Say you see a really cool building, the general idea is to take a photo of the whole building right? I'm more interested in the cracks in the wall or any imperfections that building has. That's what I want to take a picture of. Now, I use a lot of photography in my work as it gives me a way to broaden my options when I approach a piece and I get to interact with a moment that is gone.

 

Q.

Tools or mediums you’re dying to experiment with?

A.

I have a very very basic knowledge of photography. I would really love to dive deeper into that. I've always wanted to work with lighting as well, but I don't know how my work would play into that. Could be cool.

 

Q.

Where is your ideal life?

A.

I grew up around the Los Angeles area and I would absolutely love to be back in LA full-time, but Phoenix is home. It's very comfortable here and I enjoy the pace. My wife is from a tiny town here and she absolutely loves the desert. We'll see. I know that there is more opportunity for an artist in Los Angeles and New York, but it was my own decision to stay here.

 

Q.

What's next?

A.

So far this year I have a group exhibit at the Torrance Art Museum in June and I'll be in good company with Christian Rosa, Oscar Murillo and Albert Oehlen, then me. At least that's what I was told; but if that's the case, then I feel like I'm opening up for Led Zeppelin. I'm hoping to find a good gallery in Los Angeles or wherever that will represent me this year. Other than that I am open to most opportunities that present itself to me. 2016 should be a busy year for me.

 

Q.

Who is your hero?

A.

Jesus, straight up. 

About Jonni Cheatwood

His work describes the broad visual ideas stemming from still life, abstraction and minimalism

 

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Tappan is proud to present, Strange To Meet You, a solo exhibition featuring new works by Los Angeles painter Jonni Cheatwood.

 

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About Jonni Cheatwood

Jonni Cheatwood is a painter who lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Stitching canvases together using found fabric, Cheatwood’s works begin at the sewing machine as an autobiographical patchwork of “inorganic forms”. In a multi-faceted and interactive process, the artist considers his expressionist mark making at every stage, moving works to the studio floor, then to the walls and back again, simultaneously moving between canvases. His graffiti-like scribbles, scratches and primitive colors are freewheeling yet deliberate. Intuitively embracing, repeating and then responding to the accidental marks that can occur, Cheatwood stitches together a reflection of his perceived experience of the city in which he lives.

STATEMENT

"Process is everything for me as a painter. There has always been this game going on in my practice of balancing negative space and structure, which I love. I tend to use differing fabrics that I sew together to allow my paintings to take a breath when they need to. I try to include everything I can within a canvas without overwhelming myself, as well as the viewer. I focus on the interaction with the viewer of the painting, as I want my audience to feel involved. For example, when I write something within a canvas, make a mark, use a color, sew, or let my work roll around my studio floor, I'm interacting. I'm trying to convey an honesty by showing you the bones of this painting, as well as my process, and not just what's on the surface.” - Jonni Cheatwood

 

EDUCATION

2011 BA, Interdisciplinary Studies, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

 

SELECTED SOLO AND TWO PERSON EXHIBITIONS

2015, "Don't Lift Your Heroes Up So High" Palabra, Phoenix, AZ

2014, "Alysian" Prohibition Gallery, Culver City, CA

2013, "Paint It Black" Dirty Laundry, Los Angeles

2013, "New City Studios Presents" New City Studios, Phoenix, AZ

2012, "Glory & Consequence" Artlink A.E. England Gallery, Phoenix, AZ

2012, "Movement_:2" Foco Gallery, Portland, OR

 

SELECTED GRPOUP EXHIBITIONS

2015, "UNICEF Next Generation" 800 Main, Venice, CA

2013, "The Time We Can Not Meet" Gallery 4731, Detroit, MI

2011, "Rhythmic Sensation" Sun Dust Gallery, Mesa, Z.

2003, Conejo Valley Young Artist Showcase, Thousand Oaks, CA

 

COMMERCIAL PROJECTS

2015, The Pepsi Challenge (forthcoming), global project (artwork in collaboration with Usher.)

2015, Yoobi X Usher, national project (artwork in collaboration with Usher).

2014, BARE MADE, signature artist series bags, Denver, CO