Owen Smith, Eclectix Interview 20

Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


Owen is a master fine artist – a painter, muralist, mosaic artist and a sculptor. A local, whose lively works were featured in the last Eclectix “Flesh” issue, he is currently working for the San Francisco Arts Commission and teaches at the California College of the Arts. 

His illustrative and fine art works have graced many editorials, CD covers and magazines – permeating pop culture for at least the last 20 years. They have a vibrant, lusty feel to them, conjuring up 1940’s Los Angeles, vintage detective stories and film noir – many with a WPA mural influence, a little of the “strong worker” and that “heroic little guy”. They are distinctly American, part gritty crime drama, mutt offsprings of our sordid pasts, sensuous exploits and our brash history. Pop surrealist adventures from the New Deal to Hunter S. Thompson, we just love his swirling painterly world of pulpy flesh.


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


My favorite art memory from my childhood is …

My twin brother Aaron and I would sit around fantasizing about what kind of amusement park we would have if we were as rich as Walt Disney.  We’d sketch crazy themed rides: Giant Octopus/Squid rides, Medusa vs. Jason rides, Haunted Circus rides (complete with freaks), etc…


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


My interest in art/painting started … 

As soon as my eyes could focus.


I am often inspired and motivated by …

Being in Big Cities. There is an excitement and desperation that is infectious and frightening.  That kind of energy can sometimes motivate me and sometimes cause paralysis and procrastination.


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …

Right now it would be Rodin, because I am currently obsessed with sculpture and he was an amazing bridge between traditional sculpture and modernism.

And we would…

I’d just watch him work.  He seems like he’d be intimidating as hell. A force.


The tip or art technique (a specific tidbit of craft, advice or mechanical expertise) that has helped me the most is ….  

Learn to draw from observation… and learn to accept one’s own drawing quirks.


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …

Probably a Van Gogh self portrait.  Of all figurative work they seem the most personal and alive.  Next week it would be something else.  How can you pick one?


My favorite piece of my own art is …

“K.O”… (below)

Because…  it has mystery and sexual tension.


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


Your work recalls Thomas Hart Benton – was he an influence?

Benton has certainly been an influence.  I saw a fantastic retrospective of his work years ago in NYC.  The work was amazing, some of it surprisingly progressive, some of it pure kitsch.  He was quite a character.


 My ultimate project or fantasy is …

To design a complete environment: a building, the sculptural ornamentation, murals, furniture and so on.


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


The last song I chose to listen to was … 

“Your Love is as Black as Night” by Melody Gardot

The last book I couldn’t put down was …

“Tooth and Claw” by T.C. Boyle


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


I can’t live without …

My wife, kids, art…and coffee.

It’s not hip, but I really love …

Old train stations, brick warehouses, kitsch sculptural monuments.


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


My favorite word is …

Indelible, dogged, luscious, ruminate, scoundrel.


You did a painting of Hunter S. Thompson for Rolling Stone years ago, I just loved the feel in it.  Can you tell us a little about that project? 

The painting of Hunter S. Thompson (below) was from a group of photographs.  I don’t think it was a particularly good likeness… but it did capture something about his personality.  I didn’t get any feedback from Thompson or RS, but a famous actor bought it as a gift for his famous actor buddy… who played Thompson in a certain movie.  (hint, hint)


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


 My favorite motto (or quote)  is….

“Illegitimi non Carborundum”  

(a mock-Latin aphorism meaning “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”)


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview


A peek at some of his current fantastic mosaic murals, in progress, at the Laguna Honda Hospital – HERE.

  owen smith-Laguna Honda Hospital


Link to Owen’s Website


Owen Smith - Eclectix Interview

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(This entry was  originally posted on 4/28/11 )

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