In the interest of full disclosure, one of Roger Disney’s paintings graces the cover of my current book, “Art For The People: A Collector’s Journal.” I think that Roger’s work www.rogerdisney.com embodies “fresh and contemporary” yet it’s also effortless, warm, friendly and accessible. It’s intellectual, but not snobbish. Roger really taps into what ArtBookGuy is all about and I loved chatting with him. I think you’ll enjoy our conversation as well.
MICHAEL: Hey Roger, You're definitely a great painter with a broad range. But the common thread I find in your work is the sense that you love urban, contemporary life. Your work is very NOW. Am I right?
ROGER: Maybe it's from living in Oklahoma most of my life, but I've always enjoyed the more urban places in the U.S. and world, and often paint in , direct visual response, often from photos or allude to them in more of a socially theoretical way with my figurative work.
MICHAEL: What is it about the urban places that appeals to you?
ROGER: Being a visual person, it's just wonderful sensory overload. The energy, the motion, the color, the smells, not all of which are good smells - cities just feel alive. I try to capture that in the paintings. Some of my more recent work, I'm actually focusing more on the motion and the blurring of the people and the cars. Everything is in a constant state of change in a city and I want that feeling in my work. I want to capture that fluid state in a traditionally non-fluid medium.
MICHAEL: Your work is so contemporary and fresh. Is this something that you strive for or is it just a by-product of inspiration?
ROGER: Just luck I guess. I try to keep in interesting for myself – entertaining - there is a natural tendency to drift toward what has been successful in the past and I'm guilty of that as much as anyone, but the work that is most exciting for me is the new work - the different work - the exploration - the progress if of it all. I do like to build bodies of work or a series of paintings that work well together, but it's usually the work that stands out from the rest of my current works that I'm most excited about. If that turns out to be "contemporary and fresh" to the viewers of my work, then I'm flattered. Better than "traditional and dated" I guess!
MICHAEL: We met awhile back at the Gold Coast Art Fair in Chicago. I recall you told me that you show your work at many art fairs every year. How many? Do you still show at many art fairs and why? Many artists don't like doing art fairs.
ROGER: I'm actually on my way home from this year's Gold Coast how. I do 20-25 shows a year. It's a lot of traveling, but can be quite lucrative. I'm trying more of the gallery shows now just for a bit of a change. I can't see myself doing these shows forever, but it's a good deal of exposure when you're just starting out. It’s not always exposure to the right clientele, but exposure none the less.
MICHAEL: 20-25 shows a year sounds exhausting, but hey, you gotta make a living. So many artists complain about art fairs. They have to ship and shlep their work around, smile a lot and constantly explain their work to people who don't know much about art. Don't you get tired of it?
ROGER: It has been a good experience overall. It has forced me to be more social and I think I've become a much better communicator in the process. I've been getting a little tired of the driving and have been exploring a few options like hipping work or hiring someone to drive for me. I generally enjoy the traveling though.
MICHAEL: You're certainly proactive. I've spoken with artists who've said things like, "I wish I could find a rich collector!" or "I wish I could get in with a great gallery!" What do you think about this?
ROGER: That sounds nice! You know any good galleries or collectors? I'm still kind of new to showing my work publicly and naturally, I'm on the look out for better, more time effective opportunities, but will probably continue the art shows at least for a few more years. I've been doing some larger scale three dimensional canvases that are more installation pieces than wall hangings and work better in an indoor gallery setting. They're something I'm not expecting to sell, but that's usually when I do my best work anyway - when I create something for my own entertainment and then maybe figure out a way to show it, transport it, or sell it...
MICHAEL: Why is it that so many artists feel their best work isn't necessarily marketable? Of course, we all understand how the art market works, but I always want to see the things artists don't think will sell. That's the exciting stuff. Now I really want to see these works you're talking about.
ROGER: Well... I've started doing some curved canvases with an arc on the sides or top and bottom. I like doing the large scale versions http://rogerdisney.com/01/_indiv/220.php, but have been doing smaller ones to make them more attainable. That one is in my studio and was still in progress at the time. It's meant to be free hanging and have space all around. Some of the smaller ones:
I've done a couple with the perspective series also - has a nice feel on the three dimensional canvases. I'm working on one that has an archway - sort of - eight feet tall by three feet wide - one continuous, free-standing cave-like painting with the work on the inside so you stand inside the painting and it's in front, above and behind you. All of them are stretched canvas on wood frames.
MICHAEL: They look pretty cool.
ROGER: It's interesting how people react to them as they're three dimensional, and almost sculptural, but yet they're still stretched canvases. They make you look at a "painting" in a whole new way and they become their own space and not just a simple wall hanging above the sofa that matches the drapes. They’re kind of architectural as well - the small ones kind of remind me of some of more tent-like structures. Denver International Airport comes to mind - very fluid and graceful.
MICHAEL: Paintings as installations.
ROGER: I like the idea of doing larger scale installations and then selling the small replicas not to the scale of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's works, but the same idea. I have a big attention getting piece and then smaller companion works. I guess the original idea for the curved works came from seeing the large three panel Monet in MOMA and reading a bit about it. One writer said that he originally meant to show it with the right and left side angled out to create more of a panorama, and that got me thinking. It's not uncommon to see paintings in the round as murals, but what about free-hanging paintings on canvas in the round? Anyway, I'm rambling. Gotta get back to work.
MICHAEL: Great and I think we’ll end it right there. Thanks Roger. You know I love your work. Keep going! Cheers.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I asked Roger he’s any relation to Walt Disney and he told me he thinks they MIGHT be distantly related. There you have it.
Check out Roger’s work at www.rogerdisney.com.