Q&A [Question & Artist]: Brea Fest
Brea Fest is an annual event celebrating and supporting all the arts in our city. This year, the Gallery opened its doors to share the 4th Clay and Glass Biennial with the event's over 5,000 attendees. We also brought in three awesome local ceramic artists to provide live demonstrations, showcase their work for sale, and engage with the visitors!
Michael Nightmare, Ryan Reich, and Jeff Picou are all local high school ceramics teachers, as well as very talented artists. After speaking with them during Brea Fest and watching them work, we wanted to be sure to share something about them with our readers here.
So we wrote up some questions, and they were kind enough to answer. Confirming what we already suspected - they're pretty cool dudes. Here's our convo:
Brea Art Gallery: What made you interested in art? What’s your background in it?
Michael Nightmare: I was not interested in art until after my first year of college, I left Cal Poly Pomona because I no longer had an interest in doing electrical engineer. I transferred to Fullerton College where I took a photography class to meet my fine art requirements and completely fell in love with it. My love for ceramics came when I was transferred within my district to teach the subject and I spend all my time making and thinking about ceramics.
Ryan Reich: I always liked building things and arts and crafts when I was a kid. Legos, Lincoln logs, Tinkertoys etc. So creating something from a pile of raw materials has always been interesting to me. I started ceramics in high school as a freshman and I was really bad at first. But I liked it and kept taking the class until I figured it out. I have not looked back since. I got my BFA and MA in ceramics from CSUF and I also have my secondary teaching credential. Currently I teach all levels of Ceramics at Valencia High School in Placentia. This will be my 13th year at VHS.
Jeff Picou: I loved drawing as a child, but fell in love with art when I saw the Picasso show at LACMA in 1998. From that point on I knew I wanted to be an artist.
BAG: If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be? Why?
MN: Introverted, I am your classic introverted artist who also happens to be an extroverted teacher.
RR: Work. I am a workaholic in that I have a hard time ever truly relaxing. Not my job kinda work, but I like keeping busy and getting things done. I am DIY AF. And I'm bad at asking for help. And I don't always call what I do "my art". It's "my work".
BAG: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing now?
MN: I think about this all the time, it would be cool to have my own travel show.
RR: Probably something to do with commercial or residential construction/remodeling. I have bought and remodeled a couple houses already and did a lot of the work myself. One big project I did was making my own concrete counter-tops. I had to make complex forms that were reinforced and ended up buying the fancy diamond polisher. It was cool and custom and one of a kind. So I think if I was not an artist I would still be doing something hands on and somewhat creative using wood or stone or concrete.
JP: Probably working as a lawyer, I considered pursuing a career in law before studying to teach art.
BAG: What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
MN: Just keep making your art and don't worry about popularity, your time will come when it is right in your career.
RR: Blocking and tackling is what makes winners. Meaning all the dirty, un-glamorous, sometimes un-noticed things in life is what really matters in success. Be a grinder, first one in, last one out, get dirty. And don't complain about it.
JP: That nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
BAG: Working in this medium must be rewarding, but what do you find is the most frustrating thing about working with clay?
MN: The most frustrating part of ceramics for me is that it can be a slow process and you have to be patient.
RR: There are so many steps in the process. From lifeless mass of wet clay to completely finished and sale or show ready, there are just so many opportunities for things to go wrong. The worst is when it is on the last steps and the glaze just didn't work or dripped too much. But I've been doing it long enough now to not get too upset and to expect disappointments. Which makes the success even better.
JP: To be honest, I love working with clay! The only frustration I encounter is not having enough time to work on my art.
BAG: Now for the real question: Tacos or burritos?
MN: A taco-burrito!
JP: Burritos all day, any day
A huge thank you to everyone who attended this year's Brea Fest and stopped by the Gallery. And thanks to Michael, Ryan, and Jeff for making the evening such a success!