Art After Dark: Q+A with Augie WK & Jessica Carmen
The first Friday of the month is art night or "First Fridays" in Santa Cruz where artists of all kinds display their work at various venues downtown. This past Friday I made the drive up with one of my best friends to show some art appreciation to an artistic couple I know from my home county.
Meet The Artists
Augie WK and Jessica Carmen coordinated the entire show themselves and it was one hell of a party! Upon walking into the venue, Faust Salon, we were greeted with the artists info booklets, Smile Now, Cry Later , and Selena inspired 'Dreaming of You' designed candles. I wanted one immediately but they were already sold! I was consoled by Jessica when she told me there were more for grabs on their Etsy shop. Phew!
90's Hip Hop set the mood by local DJ/Beat Maker Micheal Castro ( @the_ecstatic_mc ). The hits kept everyone's shoulders bouncing and brought in a funky colorful troupe of SC locals with big green hats who basically created the dance floor, along with other art visitors who couldn't help but get jiggy. The beats were complimented by flavorful brew by locals The Midnight Gazebo. I asked the artists which beer was their favorite.
A: I only got to try the Cucumber Hibiscus, their brews went quickly.
J: I tried all three, but the Cucumber Hibiscus Ale was my favorite. It reminded me of agua fresca en bolsa from Mexico. That's the reason I chose them to serve. They have this infusion of flavors reminiscent of our shared Mexican-American upbringing that I thought would go well with my art.
Certain pieces were easy to tell which artist created them, but some I wasn't so sure. Were there any art pieces you worked on together or did you both work individually for this show?
A: From idea to actual painting, collaboration is inevitable. I have ideas that I think Jessica can convey with a style I can't offer; Be it more feminine or just her own approach to imagery.
J: And vice versa. Sometimes Augie has a specific technique that can be the difference between a good idea and a tangible piece of artwork.
What feelings or inspirations did you wish to ignite in the audience with your art? What is your artistic mission?
A: My paintings are me having fun, often playing on words or puns I enjoy. Also imagery that evokes emotions to an audience, but I think that's a part of any artist's mission.
J: I don't really have a mission with my art. I'm just trying to share my unique human experience with people. If they find something within a piece that they connect with, then that's just a bonus.
You created a broad collection of intricate pieces for this show! Which art piece or pieces took the most blood, sweat, and tears to create?
A: All the painted woodcuts get sawed and sanded by own hand, before being painted. Then afterwards glossed and epoxied to prevent damage and preserve them long-term. But in all my work, the color blends I strive for have a lot of thought and experimentation put into them. The end results, I hope, give the piece a feel/energy that looks simple and seamless. So many colors though.
J: I'm really scatterbrained with my art. I never go into a piece knowing exactly how it's going to look. I just start with a general idea and plan then add or change it as new ideas pop up. So with that in mind, they all took a lot out of me because nothing is ever what I originally planned for.
I saw some people I hadn't seen in years including an art teacher that Augie WK and I both had in high school! Any memorable moment ( funny, frustrating, whatever) from the night of the event or from the preparation of the show that stands out in your mind?
A: Uncertainty. There's a point where you realize: this is an Art Show, with just our work. The focus is clean, there's no credit or blame to be shared. It's all on us. So when the reception was warm, and the DJ meshed so well with both the environment and the work we displayed, it was relieving. The painting was half the battle, a cohesive and well received show took work too.
J: I think my favorite part of the entire process and event was when my mom showed up, I'm pretty sure I squealed and ran towards her. It felt like validation for her to have seen what we've created and be so impressed by it all.
Successful Night! Talk about motivation! Any upcoming projects?! What is next for this power duo?!
A: I plan on continuing to make canvases and woodcuts based on musical inspiration, and taking "Brought to You by Music Vol. 2" to another area and open our audience. With loads of new work and a similar energy that we got from this show in Santa Cruz, we hope to get people excited about art. With music riding sidecar, we want to keep momentum going. But my interest is always in mural work, and I hope this year can offer some new outdoor walls for me to bless the landscape with.
J: Yeah, pretty much just more shows in new areas to broaden our audience and exposure. I have been in talks with a gallery in San Francisco which is exciting. And we've also thought about just doing pop-ups as well.
I might know a town that would love to have you around, next show in SLO maybe?! ;)
That, my friends, is how you put together your first art show. I was so impressed and excited for them!
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