The Visual Arts Building at UT-Dallas contains two exhibition spaces, a large downstairs space for group shows and a tiny upstairs mezzanine for discoveries. Running concurrently with ON_game in the main gallery below is between, a one-man show in the mezzanine gallery from multimedia artist Tony Vincenti. We asked this up-and-coming local talent about his methods for creating art and for surviving the life of a starving artist/graduate student.
You’re from Houston. Why did you come here?
I was looking for something that would allow me to study traditional arts and digital art, particularly 3D stuff, and I randomly found UT-Dallas.
What are the mediums you work in?
Video, sound, a lot of 2D stuff like acrylic, stuff on paper, stuff on wood, india inks, pencils, traditional stuff. Drawing was my primary interest as far as I can remember, before I could write and read. I didn’t start painting until my first college course in painting my freshman year, in 1993.
Why the move into digital?
Because there are things you can do with it that can’t be done otherwise. And there’s a lightness about it, it has an information quality, as opposed to a material based quality, that’s kind of interesting. And it’s time-based. It’s harder to deal with time in traditional mediums.
Do you have a day job?
No. I don’t want the distraction right now.
How do you survive?
Student loans. I’ve worked plenty of jobs in the past. I was a mover for many years, I was a truck driver for a short while, I delivered bread to grocery stores, and I was an official cleaner at a youth hostel for a year in Hawaii.
How do you get free Starbucks?
I always go in when they don’t have any brewed yet, and they have to brew it and they give it to me free.
Do you do that strategically?
No, but 50% of the time I end up getting it free. I think it’s because I wake up so late in the afternoon that they’re just not brewing. I don’t really worry about the time.
How long do you work on any given painting?
I work in groups of paintings, not one painting at a time. I might work on five or 10 at a time, on a given day – small ones, they’re not big. In a year I might produce 50, 60 paintings if I’m lucky, if I’m working hard.
Are there similarities within the group?
Yes, in the marks, the brush size, the color. The next time the groups are reconfigured, so they are not distinct groups. They overlap with one another so they’re not really groups at all. I see it as cycles. I want to stop on the high point of a cycle. If I push it too far I ruin it, or it gets worse and I have to keep working on it again until it gets back to a point that I like.
What are some of the criticisms you’ve heard of your work?
Not enough color, too much black and white. At first I disagreed with them, but then I started working with brighter colors. I can sense people might think I’m a little too obsessive because I’m only using squares right now, and I’ve heard scale, that they’re not large enough. I can’t afford to keep up with a lot of big paintings. I’ve thrown big ones away.
You’ve thrown them away?
Thrown them in the dumpster.
Are you interested in sound design separate from video?
Yes. Sound is harder to ignore. It permeates the whole room, it imposes on people. People get more opinionated about sound, which makes it harder to present.
Do you consider yourself an abstract artist?
The word “abstract” is interesting. To define that word is a challenge. I believe it comes from “to pull away from.” So when we see the world around us, we can’t process all the information in the environment; we can only pick pieces of it out. Those are the things we pull from the concrete world into ourselves. Any type of perception is sort of an abstraction. It’s a pulling away from what’s actually there, isolating a piece of information. The way it’s used in art I’m still trying to understand.
The Art&Seek Q&A is a weekly discussion with a person involved in the arts in North Texas. Check back next Thursday for another installment.