Onesock, part 2

Interview with Jacksonville FL artist Mark Creegan, continued. Read Part 1.

Tell me about the paintings which seem to spring from a different well than the sculptural installations…they’re more coded and less overtly playful although i do get some notion of play from them. But play like Richard Tuttle plays — arty not like a kid.

Sink, foam, acrylic, oil and flashe, acetate on canvas, 12″ X 16″, 2004

The paintings were part of my initial work in grad school and were the result of taking stock of what I was making and how I was making it. Before school, I was making these abstract paintings (ala Tom Nozkowski but not as good) using thick layers of acrylic paint and medium. Considering other forms of paint and mediums, my first piece in grad school was an installation of butterscotch candy (the pigment) wrapped up in plastic wrap ( the medium) to form a long rope which then could be used to make a field on the wall and extend out into the space.

Road, foam core, acrylic, flocking, acetate, 22″ X 20″ X 2″, 2004

This segued into the relief paintings which echoed some of my earlier painting but using cut layers of foamcore, layers of transparent plastic forms and acetate, and found objects. Vinyl paint was used on the first batch but I gradually began to let the intrinsic colors of the materials dominate.

This led me to using objects that had paint applied to them thru other processes and circumstances other than me applying paint. These would be the used paint rollers, watercolor pans, paint can drips etc. that show up in the later arrangements. The rollers were collected as I worked at the local art museum as a preparator during school. I loved the idea of using these discarded elements that related to the artworld from a custodial perspective. Same with the can drips and children’s art supplies.


What’s the art scene like in Jacksonville?

Kris’ Spiral, Foam Sheets, gumballs, paperclips, monofilament, Dimensions Vary, 2005

Strange. We have a huge art gallery at the beach built by a Johnson & Johnson heir that looks like a big money gallery in New York. It has shown Al Held and Yayoi Kusama. [Ed. note: that would be J. Johnson Gallery]


What is funny is that it is surrounded my beach bums in flip flops and tacky souvenir shops. I love that clash of cultures! There is no thriving arts district because people are so spread out because it is such a large city land-wise. Most of the galleries are really commercial and tame and cater to the décor aesthetic of the beach or golf enthusiasts.

Strapping On, Used paint rollers, bungee cord on wall, Dimensions vary, 2004

There have been some short lived attempts to get things going. Right now there is one gallery run by artists who went to graduate school. It is called Seesaw and it has put on some really interesting conceptual shows. Other than that we really need alternative spaces. We do have a pretty good modern art museum which has done their best. The museum building is nice and some of their shows have impressed me. [Ed. note: That’s the Jacksonville MoMA.]

Many peeps here are starving for culture in this sports and business environment- meetings are held, plans are made- but nothing really exciting happens. I think if there was an art school with an MFA program in this city things would happen because the grads (some anyway) would stay and stir things up. For the most part, those with that degree go to or participate in better art communities. Cool artists! Please move here! Rent’s cheap and we got a beach!!!

Anything you’d like to tell us? Are you a native Floridian? Surfer dude? been adjudged an art prodigy since you were in kindergarten? Make any comix?

Boog Woog, Used Paint rollers, used watercolor pans, cassette tape cases, Dimensions vary, 2004

I am a web surfer dude! I was born and raised in central and north Florida. I was basically an only kid raised by a single mom so I found ways to entertain myself creatively. I always drew pictures and made up comics to entertain my friends in school. My high school newspaper would publish my caricatures of teachers. But I did not take art seriously until college when I took my first art class one summer.

My feeling is that art is getting smaller instead of bigger (I don’t mean size-wise). Artists are hunkering down and turning inward more and making small statements instead of big ones. It’s almost like the fight’s gone out of art. No more transforming the earth, the visions are smaller and reflect less about the world and more about inner states of being. It’s not a bad thing but it points to a negativism about the world, especially in art by young artists. Are you optimistic about where art is going? (that’s a huge question and requires more than a yes or no, so feel free to break off a part to chew over).

“Fieldstream” an array of used craypas

I never fret over the direction of art. It is going in all directions so why get on some soap box? I understand some do concern themselves over whatever they perceive as going backward or too far or whatever. I appreciate their passion but it seems silly to me. Art is silly, it is sincere, shallow, smart, stupid, a cry for attention, a means to get laid, an attempt to point to injustices, an ironic statement, a reverence for technique all at the same time.

But I do hear you. I think a lot of artists just want to escape from the world right now. Especially the young ones who are disgusted at what a world/country we are inheriting. We need more creative leaders in this country to face all the challenges of today, which are at super critical status (the environment, foreign relations, economy, health care). I was deflated after the last election and feel like going into a hole (with my radio tuned to NPR) for four years. Care to join me?

What art magazines do you think are relevant these days? Do you subscribe to any?

I no longer subscribe mostly because the internet keeps me abreast of the latest art news and happenings. But I check them (AiA, Artforum, etc) out at bookstores and such. Sometimes I even peek at the technique magazines for kicks.

Is there any found material you dream of finding in quantity so that you can make an installation with it?

Well, can a creative imagination be considered a material? I already have so many accumulated materials and the only thing that keeps them from being used is my limited imagination. So I want more of that. Adjunct teaching at the local colleges has proven to me what a rare thing a fruitful imagination is. And when you witness it, your belief in art (and maybe humanity) is refreshed.