Our intrepid intern Ryan Pack (O) is querying artist members about their professional lives. Watch on Mondays for new artist interviews. This week's questions went to Curtis Jones.
O: What influenced you to become an artist?
CJ: Art is something that's always been there. Even in the years I wasn't showing or sharing my work, I was painting and filling up notebooks with drawings. Between undergrad and grad school I stayed away from any jobs that might carry too much responsibility or take up too much of my time (waited tables, worked retail, did free-lance graphic work), so that I would have space and time to give my art. I guess the decision pursue graduate study is when I officially made the commitment to it as a "career", and that came about because I was sick of working meaningless jobs that were unrelated to my interests. That was about five years after undergrad....
O: Why did you come to Oklahoma?
CJ: Because I was offered the job at OU. I was willing to go anywhere if the job was right, and this job matched what I wanted to do perfectly, so here I am.
O: What are your favorite things about teaching?
CJ: I love seeing what interests young artists and am fascinated by the cultural shifts that go on between generations. It keeps me on my toes and makes me question what I do much more than I otherwise would. Also, the dialogue that accompanies academia is far more satisfying to me than that of the market-driven gallery world. Whether my art will sell or not is almost never a concern when I'm making it. So if it wasn't for academia, I'd probably have an extremely difficult time surviving as an artist.
O: How does Oklahoma's art scene compare to SF and Seattle?
CJ: Oklahoma has a great art scene and there is a lot of talent and support for artists around here. It's probably more like Seattle than San Francisco in that there is a profound native influence and much of the art deals with local issues. San Francisco is a huge international art market, so it's hard to isolate one aspect of it to campare. The local artists there are generous and supportive. But because there is so much competition at so many levels, it's easy for great artists to get completely ignored. Definitely not for the faint of heart...