Steven Barich, the Quiet and the Logical
Steven Barich is one of the most considerate men I know. He exudes this kind of Old World artist quality about him that is gentlemanly and introspective. You throw on top of that the gifted hand of an illustrator who doesn’t cheapen the pure, intellectual pursuits behind his practice with gimmicky graphics, and I am telling you, you’ve got a complete package. I hadn’t seen his new Jingletown home yet and he invited me over for a weekday cup of tea with his dog gypsy and we talked about making quiet works is a straightforward way.
Obi: It has been a year or so since your Logic Stone show at Rowan Morrison right? How has your relationship to the Scholar’s stones changed over the past year? Where does your fascination with them come from?
Steven: Yes, my solo show at RW was last June/July, 2009. A perfect opportunity to have a small, focused exhibition of this new-ish Logic Stone series. Since then, I’ve followed a logical progression (pun?!) towards a grand 10 large-sized stone series, with small tangents, bumps, rocks…you get the drift…along the way. Although Life with a big L conspires to get in the way of this project, I am slowly but surely rolling along and producing some new work (http://www.stevenbarich.com/html/logicstones/dragonclawcurl.html). I still see the Stones as personal/mystical/peaceful/mysterious sculptures—if you grant me permission to allow drawing to exist for a moment as an object—and I see them not just as artwork to look at, but to live with. They are also heavily invested with my own hand, my time and energy, literally. And from this, I think it is fair to say, each stone is a fragment, a shard, of myself. Own a piece of the artist, today!
All joking aside, I am fascinated by the process of creating an image or an object that is referencing our desire to meditate on the meaning of a thing, or on simply meaning in general—asking the questions what is this, what am I really seeing, what am I learning in this artwork/viewer situation? But, in a quiet way. These are quiet works, for extended consideration. Furthermore, I am fascinated by a capacity of the artist to make an image or object that can transport the viewer into another place, a memory or an emotional state. Can the Logic Stones do all this? I’ll leave that up to others to decide…but the idea that artists still have this beautiful magic skill, and works of art have this power, is what gets me up in the morning, gets me out looking at new work regularly, and as well, getting myself into the atelier.
Obi: How do you classify the disciplines of your work in your own mind? Do you have to? Are you an illustrator or a painter? Does the media dictate or prescribe the artistic proclivity?
Steven: I’m pretty much adverse to pigeon holing. I can say that in the past I’ve struggled with labeling my art practice in any straightforward, soundbite kinda way—it’s just not gonna happen. I am an artist. I try to be very good at the thing—with the medium—I’m using at that moment. skilfulness and craft are my discipline, that’s just how I was introduced to art. I am also very much behind pushing myself to do art-making actions that reach an extreme level, such as can be seen in the intensity of mark-making with each Logic Stone. And, not all ideas can be manifested in the same, one medium, so I keep learning about my limits as an image maker…then push on beyond them.
Obi: Your award winning blog ARTOPIC.ORG is a wonderful resource with a world class way about it that seems to transcend provinciality. How did you go about starting the website and what are your future plans with it?
Steven: Talking about visual art, pushing forward ideas, interpretations, reactions and the like, challenging what you’re given, responding, discussing again…this is why I started Artopic. Because the East Bay art scene is on the up and up, there is a real need to write one’s own history, so to speak. It was and still is my desire that Artopic could function as an online portal to that: local and inter-local authors would reflect on their “scenes,” and a conversation, dialogue around those reactions, would create an awesome feedback loop, generating an immediate and non-academic record/history. So, big idea brought to a small action, really. Artopic, unfortunately, has been rocky in my desired audience participation. But hey! All the contributions by authors do create a unique picture of the local scene, so far…go check it out! As for now and the future, I keep passing out invites to unique local voices to jump on the Artopic bandwagon, and anyone with an inkling to join as an author is welcome to contact me.
Steven’s Drawings will be featured in the group show “A Simple Bestiary“, premiering July 10th at Swee(t)Art Drawing Gallery.