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Victor McGhee

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating
Actually only since August of 2001. All my life, I've been cooking up ideas for this, ideas for that, etc. I've always been a "creative type searching for the right medium", or at least a "well fitting extra large". I dabbled in watercolors in High School, but timing wasn't right for me then. I started songwriting, which became a passion for about 20 years. Then I got married to an artist, who helped me realize there were other media I could experiment with to help my self-expression. Mainly I helped her with her designs here and there, but I became a sponge for different media such as painting, collage, pen and ink drawings, photography etc. I owe her a lot, she's still one of my best friends, and she still inspires me to create. It was meeting Dianne that turned everything around in me, I think. The constant search for ideas, and constant experimentation with different and unusual approaches to "traditional" forms of art keep the juices flowing. When I'm blocked, she helps to un block me.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
I grew up in the sixties in Brooklyn, NY. Along with all the Vietnam War stuff on TV, the peace rallies, the hippies, etc., was Gilligan's Island, Batman, Bewitched and a host of Saturday morning cartoons. I guess that's where I learned that life can be very serious, but if you keep your sense of humor at the same time, you can cope. Peter Max and the Beatles were strong influences early on, then Warhol, Picasso and Dali, later Matisse and Magritte. I remember seeing Keith Haring's dog paintings at the bottom of store front windows and on NYC sidewalks. I'm still being shaped by Outsider Artists, and Oaxacan Art from Mexico.
How would you describe your work?
Tough question to answer. I'd say lately, it's cartoonish by definition, humorous at best. I try to make sure that it's upbeat and lively if not a little surreal at times. Kind of Far Side-ish too.
What are your motivations for creating?
Bright Sunny days have a way of making some people work out, they make me want to create something. Strange ideas come to me in the shower sometimes that I burst out laughing at absurdities, and I have to run out and quickly either write them down or sketch them out. Then I go back and dry off. J My subconscious works in strange ways sometimes.
How, if at all, have the events of 9-11 impacted your art making?
Well I used to work on wall street for about 20 years, so it's my like backyard became a war zone. I just saw the skyline last week, which was almost 2 months after the bombing. I still can burst into tears from the horror of it all. I didn't lose any immediate friends, but people that I know personally have lost someone. I'd say that it gave me more drive than ever to create art that makes people smile and laugh, just like during the Vietnam War, we had some of our funniest TV shows. I guess that's where it came from.
You are one half of an artistic couple--how does your partner influence what you create?
Dianne is like a muse to me. If I'm not getting ideas from her art, I'm getting ideas from the stuff she brings home for inspiration like artist magazines, library books, etc. I never like to go to the library but it's a good thing for me that she does. Sometimes it's an idea she gives me directly "You ought to paint this.." or "Maybe you should add something like ..." and sometimes she'll be telling me a story and I have to run off to sketch out an idea while she's in mid sentence. I know that would really anger some people, I'm so thankful that she understands. It's great living with an artist. Every artist needs a person to bounce ideas against. Best part is, we never get in each other's way about art. We just plain understand that giving each other the freedom to create is the best part of our relationship. Sometimes I come home and she's surprised me with art supplies! How cool is that.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
I'd say Graham Parker said it best in "Temporary Beauty": "You gotta believe what you sing" It works the same for my art. Whether it's a mosaic, a collage, or a painting, like most artists I don't get any pleasure in creating something just because it's marketable. It has to have my personality in it because it becomes a part of me while I am creating it. I'm not selling art to sell art, I feel I'm letting people in on how I see life, and how humor and strange juxtapositions of things help me cope with it. Finally, I need to say this: if it weren't for many of the EBSQ'ers out there doing what they're doing, I may never have decided to pick up a brush. you are all an inspiration. I'm grateful to be a part of EBSQ, and hopefully I'll continue to learn from all of you. Keep doing what you are doing.

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