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Home FEATURES Brian Willmont Interview

Brian Willmont Interview

Written by Trippe   
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 08:28
"Wasted youth, totally lost and really angry. I hung out downtown drinking beer, getting high, cheering on bum fights, and going to shows. I was probably one of the worst students in my high school but did great in art school, ha!"
This print making major from Boston and cofounder of the experimental publishing/printmaking project Apenest recently relocated to Santa Fe and wrapped up a 3 person show at NYC's 92Y Tribeca. He's also shown at Philly's Space 1026 and SF's Park Life. His paintings are simply distinct, unique, and refreshing. Brian has his own voice in an age when that always isn't common and a skill set that's beyond most. He's onto something that we're eager to follow. 25 years old and on a good path. We like this guy.

Silver Lining, Gouache and pencil, 28 x 22, 2009

Location? Artistic education?

My name is Brian Willmont. I am living in dusty Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'm from Boston and went to the Massachusetts College of Art, majoring in printmaking.

What was that like?

Majored in printmaking, which almost meant "the works on paper department" there, and anything that held up against critique up was ok to do. It was a super small and tight major and a lot of the work was really good, I met Cody Hoyt there and started Apenest. We had a hangar sized print shop with our studios in it, with free reign and lots of shit went down.

Fraggle Rock, Gouache, ink, gold leaf and glitter on paper, 2009

What were you like in high school?

Wasted youth, totally lost and really angry. I hung out downtown drinking beer, getting high, cheering on bum fights, and going to shows. I was probably one of the worst students in my high school but did great in art school, ha!

What's the art scene like in Santa Fe?

There is a whole lot of crap here, but also a couple good galleries and art spaces. My favorite things to see have been in the folk art museum and in meth heads yards along the highways. The people are tired or something, maybe it's the altitude

Secret Realm Devotion, Gouache and ink on paper, 40" x 30", 2009

Describe your process of creating a new piece.

I often have a couple of ideas of where a piece might go before I start. I write down a lot of my ideas in notebooks and usually make my sketches directly on the paper. I try to work on a couple of pieces simultaneously so that I can take some time making decisions on one piece while I work on another.

What materials do you normally work in?

Right now mostly gouache on paper, but I also make sculptures, bits and pieces, other kinds of painting, installation and whatever I think is awesome at the time.

Alka Seltzer, Gouache on paper, 21" x 15", 2009

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

A cyclical creation myth based on conquest, which plays as the primary creator and destroyer. Set off by and sucked into black ether thicker than mashed potatoes, I paint weirdo Americana choose your own adventure novels in acrid colors that bleed into one another, creating vividly patterned compositions bordering on decorative, which are designed to entrance the viewer (like a siren), disguising and distorting violence.

Awkward, loud, nasty, and a bit boisterous, I might call them "American Miniatures".

Cosmic Dancer, Gouache on paper, 30" x 44", 2009

Nice description. You just had the show "Invisible Somethings" at 92Y Tribeca in NYC. How'd it go?

Looking at it again, my space it feels like a show celebrating loss and revenge. It was great to go to New York and see lots of friends I haven't seen in a while.

It was a 3 person show curated by Ben Sisto with Eric Shaw and Denise Kupferschmidt, they're all good folks I know from Boston and have worked with each of them in the past.

How'd you end up in Sante Fe?

I came to the land of big skies, and turquoise a little over a year ago. I was looking to move somewhere cheaper than and totally different from Boston where I would have the space to breath and make art for a little while. The History of the west and all of the conflicts between American, Spanish, Mexican, and the many American Indian tribes is really interesting to me and integral to my understanding of our countries history, present and future. I've had family here ranching for 5 or so generations, so hearing my grandma's stories of the ranch and what it was like in the real wild west had intrigued me for a long time. Integrating these histories with my own is a way for me to personalize the American myth.

Yellow Brick Road, Gouache, ink and gold leaf on paper, 60" x 44", 2009

What kind of ranch are you living on?

Oh, I don't live on a ranch, I live in a fake adobe house.

The ranch I mentioned is my uncle Gilbert's, he has cattle, it's on a giant canyon with the Canadian river at the bottom. He is 86 and has had so many back surgeries he can't ride a horse anymore, so last time I was there he had just got this 4x4 with a roll cage and we were getting air off cacti and generally it up. I will be back there soon.

What do love most about Santa Fe?

Green Chile, the desert, my studio, it wasn't a state a hundred years ago, there are lizards in my yard, mountains that look like sleeping buffaloes outside of my window, outlaws, witches, cowboys + Indians, Old Man Gloom, Skin Walkers Etc.

Z, Gouache on paper, 15" x 15", 2008

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

We would probably go explore some ghost town or cave dwellings, swim in a canyon and go to El Santuario to collect sacred dirt. Pockets full of magic earth, we'd stop at El Parasol in Espanola, home of the low rider, for authentic New Mexican burritos for the drive to back to the city. Then we'd drink tequila and Q it up in the backyard and howl at the coyotes.

What you do for $$$?

I work at an art gallery. It's my first time sitting down at a job, I have a desk. I've learned a lot and am grateful for the experience.

Babel, Gouache and ink on paper, 30"x44", 2008

What are you really excited about right now?

Everything. This is a great time to be alive.

When are you the most productive?

Whenever I'm relaxed, anxiety is my productivity killer. I try to be in the studio most of the time that I am not working a day job, I work part time and usually get the most done on my days off when I can really get into it.

Northern Territory, Gouache and ink on paper, 30" x 22", 2008

Favorite trip taken?

I drove to LA and back alone in January, that was fun.


Recently Electric Wizard, T Rex, a little Modern Lovers when homesick, Annihilation Time, The Showcase Showdown, Orange Goblin, Neil Young, Big Youth, Beirut, Os Mutantes, The Stones etc.

Southern Territory, Gouache and ink on paper, 30" x 22", 2008

What's your routine like these days?

In the morning I deal with emails, run errands, and take care of Apenest tasks. Then I try to be in the studio until I cook dinner with my girlfriend and watch a show or movie, then I'm back into the studio till 1 or 2. If I went to the day job then the above schedule resumes at dinner. Sometimes I do something fun and call it "research".

Are you in shape?

Not especially, I ride my bike to work, but my job isn't nearly as physical as past ones.

Any pets?

I want a dog, but I think it's a bad idea for many more years.

Writhing Tree, Gouache and ink on paper, 30" x 22", 2008

Favorite breakfast?

Center Street Cafe in J.P., Boston, amazing food and you feel like family there. You always have to wait forever because it's tiny, but they give you coffee and pep talks when it's cold.

Do you like to get dressed up?

I pretty much wear a uniform of jeans and a hoodie with rotating t shirts made by me or someone I know, I don't like to think about it. I wear a button down at work now, It's kind of like being housebroken.

Perch, Gouache and ink on paper, 48" x 30", 2008

Upcoming projects and/ or upcoming shows, etc...?

Mike Nason and some other folks are going to come to town in July for a western we're making. I'm really excited about this. I'm about to get started making sets, props and costumes. I think it'll be a real charge.





Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.

Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

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John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.

FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners

Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.

Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.

Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.

NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.

Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding

"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle

Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.

Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.

Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.

The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.

The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.

Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.

John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.

High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels

"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.

Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.

Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.

"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".

"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.

Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.

Project M/3 in Berlin curated by NUART

BERLIN --- Project M is a temporary art project with the objective to improve the neighborhood, to push creativity and to connect people. At regular intervals Urban Nation with director Yasha Young invites a group of internationally reclaimed contemporary urban artists to re-design the facade and shop windows of a prominent residential building in Berlin, while it is being reconstructed.