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Home FEATURES Daniel Tierney Interview

Daniel Tierney Interview

Written by Trippe   
Tuesday, 04 March 2008 07:31
A dark place where neon fires light the walls... It's where you'd go if you could be everywhere at once. This SFAI and Oakland artist explains.

early morning mountain music ..........48" x 48"...........acrylic and archival tape on panel........2006

Age? Location? Artistic education?

30. East Oakland. MFA San Francisco Art Institute. BFA Cleveland Institute of Art. Printmaking. 1 course in shamanism. self taught tarot. 2nd place poker tournament cash money winner.

If you had to explain your work to a stranger, how would you do it?

It's something you didn't know you already knew until you saw it: familiar and strange. It's how you would tie your shoes if you melted your hands to a plastic truck. It's where you would go if you could be everywhere at once. It's a dark place where neon fires light the walls.

pooling galaxies of salt water and dirt.....42" x 54....acrylic, crayon and pigment print on paper...2004

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

A new piece is pretty much the best thing ever. Like most people I spend a lot of the time reimagining old "new pieces" on the very fruitful path of fleshing out a series where refinement, development, and specific exploration occur... but a new piece isn't attached to anything so it's very special. It's dirty. Incomplete. Rough in as many ways possible and more than likely it's some sort of frankenstein where the ideas that run through everything I make take a new form and sort of staggers into the woods. from there I just chase after it hurling chunks of butter and hope the fat kid takes the bait.

How do you know when a new work is finally complete?

I usually think it's done when I look at the thing and I know that anything else I do to it will ruin it. That's when I usually do something else to it and ruin it. Then I work on it some more and coax it back from the very uncomfortable hideous place to somewhere new. This sort of process keeps things from getting too safe.

those rich bastards sure can set a trap..........42" x 54".......archival tape on lambda photo......2007

What materials do you normally work in? Looks like you got some spray paint in there? Tape?

Yup there's tape. I've been using that stuff since I used to live in Cleveland (one of the greatest cities in america). I use artist tape and clear tape as stand in for brush strokes. Like how a robot would paint if it didn't have fingers. Very gestural without the sensitivity of brushes. After abstract expressionism was completely played out it became very difficult to trust gesture as as emotion. Tape is my electric sheep dream. I've been getting into airbrush lately. I can't really stand tiny brush work. It's too fussy. Airbrush lets me get fairly detailed while still moving very quickly. Time is what I have absolutely none of so im always trying to find ways to do things more efficiently. Other than that I use acrylics and I only use foam brushes. They are dirt cheap so I don't have to waste time with clean up or prep. If they get nasty I just throw them away.

When are you the most productive?

I still hold down a job so three day weekends are manna from heaven.

What kind of job?

I work at a digital printing company in potrero hill. I trade it many hours for the super sized studio.

panda attack!.............18" x 18".............acrylic on canvas..............2007

What's an average weekday like for you?

I get up very early. Work hard for the $. Come home. Knock back some whiskey to get my brain back and put as many hours into the studio as I can. It's a long line of 14 hour days where vacation is something other people take.

How long have you lived in Oakland and what brought you there?

I moved out of SF around five months ago in an attempt to have it all; my lady, and a kick ass painting studio under the same roof.

Studio below your house. That sounds really nice. The photos of the studio you sent, is that the place? It's big!

Yeah that's it. I love my studio. It's the biggest studio I've ever had aside from the residency I had at the Headlands in their project space. That place is the best place on earth and pretty much ruined me with a sense of palatial entitlement. Now every penny I have goes to my studio so I never have to feel limited in scale. I think the intimate scale of so many artists in SF has more to do with rent than anything else. Drugs, OCD, and the ubiquitous return of craft might make up the rest.

What do love most about living in Oakland?

Not watching people take a shit wherever they please is nice. For all of you out there on Capp st.. check out Bayview. It's the shits! East Oakland is great. You can't underestimate the power of the taco truck or the revenge of El Farolito here on International Blvd. The flower guys/ the orange guys. Biking around San francisco's Portland, a sleepy little boat town called Alameda, where the side streets are tree lined and the cars stay parked. In the end the rolling thunder of a north bound train in an otherwise silent neighborhood is what carries me to la la land.

If I came out for a visit what would we do/ where would you take me?

I think we would sit down to find out how good you are at poker. From there we might find other ways to loose our money with a BB gun and a bottle of Bulleit. After that I would show you no matter how many times you tell a bunny to play dead or roll over the damn thing just wont do it.

mr freeze hates this................48" x 48"...................acrylic and archival tape on panel..........2006

What's the deal with the bunny photo you emailed?

Thats Bun Bun. AKA Jeru the Damaja AKA Knuckles. It's the wave of the future as far as pets are concerned. I highly recommend one. It's like having a cat without dealing with a psychological thriller. or a dog without the buddy comedy, a hamster without the pet rock feeling or a rat without the outbreak. It wants just enough to need you without being needed and the damn thing uses a liter box.

What are you really excited about right now?

Mostly...the return of the sun. Outside of that, I've been doing sculptures and photo collages for so long it has been amazing to make paintings again. And outside of the studio, Daniel Buren's recent wall sculptures at Konrad Fischer (see video) are pretty fresh. and the bmx bars I just put on my old Stella.. Rad like a bowl of Kix. My friend Paul Wacker's show at Eleanor Harwood gallery should be something special. Wilhem Sasnal, Jonathan Meese, Sol Lewitt. I don't know him but Porous Walker is a walking lesson. Starring into hell with SF's best drummer George D'Annunzio.

Favorite trip taken?

Hitch hiking for 2 weeks through western Mass and Vermont.


If all I could listen to for the rest of my life was Lightning Bolt and Mindflayer I think I would be okay. I would miss Bob Dylan though. and the Thriller album.

What were you like in high school?

I was a wreck and I'm pretty sure I died at least a handful of times. It was freaks and geeks territory except some of us were kind of nasty at basketball. I took latin so I could learn words like portcullis. and did pole vaulting because it looked cool and they didn't have to run. We just sat on those big mats all day looking at the clouds and the girls track team go round and round. My town was a good time with snakes and rivers and cliff jumping. We got out of school at 12:30 on Wednesdays.. some east coast loophole that really proved that the best drinking day is in the middle of the week.

lightning bolt and forcefield.....20" x 32"....acrylic ink, oil pastel and pigment print on cut paper...2006

What you have coming down the line in terms of shows and/ or projects?

I'm looking. Trying to line something up right now. I think I've got something in the works in the city (SF) but it's too soon to say. I'm not the best at networking or contacting galleries out of the city so hopefully more of that will happen soon. I find it hard to prioritize that part of being an artist. I always think I need to be in the studio... not writing cover letters or putting together emails... so when I do they come out very blunt and clumsy. I don't think galleries like that very much.

For more info on Daniel Tierney, check: www.invincibleclock.com

world class hurdles...........14" x 24"..........archival tape and acrylic on pigment print.............2007


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