“Dinner with an Artist” was inspired by the many dinners ANNE REED GALLERY’s owner, Barbi Reed, has had the pleasure of enjoying with gallery artists over the years. It was during these dinners that the conversation twisted and turned to the delight of all sitting around the table. There was no more perfect way to relax and enjoy the camaraderie of artist, collectors, and staff after the intensity of curating, preparing for, and installing an exhibition. Today, we invite you to this virtual dinner table conversation with Inez Storer as we talk about her current exhibition: Summer Pastimes.
My father was an artist and art director of many well-known films. Being around his creative energy greatly influenced me. I always knew I was an artist. I have a vivid first memory from when I was 3 years old of creating a “site specific work” in a sandbox. Later, I was the go-to kid for all the posters in school. I also always went “outside the lines” on the handouts given out during the Friday Art Lesson that only lasted a HALF HOUR!
ARG: Do you have any contemporary or historical role models who inspire you?
My eye roams everywhere – Matisse, Rauschenberg, Giotto, DADA, Surrealism. I find myself often attracted to work that doesn’t always make sense in the real world.
ARG: Your use of found imagery is one of the defining elements of your work. When did you start working with mixed media and what determines your selections of material?
I had a life of interruptions with a large family so creating collage/assemblage works was a way of dropping what I was doing and being able to pick up where I left off by merely looking at the scraps left on the table.
I also have a bit of a criminal past! One day my 9-year-old son came home with some very interesting things and, after I bribed him one dollar, he led me to “the burned down house” down the street. It was incredible! Items left there dated back as late as1856: journals, objects, photos, books, every thing had “history” written all over it. One day I was caught and that was the end of my criminal object hunting activities and the beginning of collage!
ARG: Your paintings are all very narrative, often with multiple stories. We’re very curious about how you determine the subject of your paintings?
The first mark, or matrix, I make on the surface of a work is oftentimes my instinctual way of beginning the process. It may change (and most often does) as I go along but, it is definitely that first mark or marks that determine the way to proceed.
ARG: Your work seems to beg us to dig deeper into this narrative. In your statement you mention that you often leave “written clues” in your paintings. Can you give us an example of a written clue in Summer Pastimes and where you might want that to lead us?
I really don’t set out to give “clues” but just hope that the viewer will take the adventure to new heights. Verisimilitude!
ARG: We feel that all the elements in each painting relate in some way. Do you have an intention directed to the viewer?
I hope that the work isn’t always “of the same flavor”! It is through my process that I want to explore various ways of telling stories as I am a storyteller by nature.
I sometimes create a series, and other times, there is a wild card piece. I really do not believe in planning things out to the nth degree. What comes creatively is always the surprise and I like to be surprised and have that “AHA!” moment.
ARG: We understand you’re a wonderful teacher. What do you do to inspire your students? What advice would you offer other aspiring artists?
I have always told my art students, “art chose you, not the other way around.” They really do not have choice except to figure out how to support their “habit” and to keep on doing it as much as is possible. I think I still am on the right track as I just gave a lecture to students (and other art people) at Santa Clara University. Afterwards students came up to me and thanked me for giving them that advice and information. They were grateful to hear it.
ARG: You mentioned that your parents are European. Where are they from and has being first generation American influenced you and your art career?
They were both from Germany and, yes, indeed they influenced me. They kept many secrets about their lives before they came to the U.S. and I was always trying to find out more about that life. My mother was Jewish but only admitted it just before she died. I learned that we have over 30 relatives and some lived only fifteen minutes from where I grew up. THAT WAS A SECRET! But my mother did not want anyone to know she was Jewish so she never mentioned it. Life was complicated for me since I never knew much about my own history growing up. A lot of my art making came out of this experience.
ARG: Besides having European parents, you are married to Andrew Romanoff, also an artist and whose great-grandfather was Tsar Alexander III and is the great nephew of Tsar Nicholas II. Has being married to someone with so much familial history influenced your work?
It has had a big influence on my work in terms of the historical observations. It has been/is a constant source of ideas that may or may not come to fruition. Many a painting has come out of this relationship. It’s ongoing, like turning to the next page in my studio practice.
ARG: We raise our glass to you and to your latest wonderful exhibition with ANNE REED GALLERY. Although we’ve many more questions for you, perhaps we should end this conversation by asking if there is there anything else you would like to say, either about your work or perhaps something totally unrelated.
I want to say that your online style is a very interesting way to go about introducing artists across the globe and one that should/and will have a life of its own! Thanks!
Inez Storer, Inverness, California
ARG: Thanks, Inez. We’ve so enjoyed sharing a conversation over a “virtual dinner” with you and look forward to more time with you in the future. Cheers!