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Gavin's Underground

August Gallery Stroll: Kimo Pokini & PJ Mannion

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2008-08-18 -

Back to Gallery Stroll we go. However this month seemed a little… slim. With a few galleries not participating this month and a list that looked only half as long as a normal stroll, the selection for August was small and more spread out than normal. But I still found a double show down the road on Broadway.

The dual business
Caffé Niche and Dexterity Salon off of 8th East took on two artists to be displayed in each section. Taking over the salon was the modern abstract works of Kimo Pokini, while the café played host to the mixed-media paintings of PJ Mannion. I took some pictures of their work that night and got a chance to interview both men about their work and their thoughts on the local art scene.

Kimo Pokini

http://www.kimopokini.blogspot.com/


Gavin: Hey Kimo. First off, tell us a little about yourself.

Kimo:
Hi Gavin, good to meet you! Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, I've been living in Utah for about 14 years now and enjoy it here. I'm largely a self-taught artist who focuses as much on the experimental process of art as I do the aesthetic end result. Oh, and I'm a nice guy. And single.

Gavin: What first got you interested in doing art for a living, and what were some of your inspirations?

Kimo: I grew up in a really musical and artistic family, so it didn't take much to start creating on my own. An Honors Art History class in high school sparked my interest, and I found a quick and easy admiration for many of the Masters, especially Picasso. But as I grew older, I decided on a career in business, eventually working my way through an MBA (go Utes) and settling into a corporate career. After putting art on hold for a bit, I realized how much I missed being "artsy," and started creating again, first with music then with visual art. I continue to work my day job to pay the mortgage and support my art habit.

Gavin: For those unfamiliar with your work, what are you most known for in the local art community?

Kimo: I love it when I hear "How did you do that?!" It's a huge compliment because I know people are getting drawn in to the piece. For me, it's not just a matter of creating something that is beautiful - I really like incorporating techniques or materials that are surprising and unexpected.

Gavin: From what I’ve seen, a lot of what you do seems to have a pattern, yet at the same time doesn’t have any real form or structure. Is there planning behind the art, or is it more spur of the moment?

Kimo: Yes! I love patterns and I think you can create interesting effects with repetition. I usually have an idea of the basic structure of a piece when I begin, but I try not to get too tied to that idea so I can be open to inspiration along the way.

Gavin: The description people always give about your art is that it’s “improvisational”. Can you give us some insight into that?

Kimo: Sure. If you listen to jazz music, you're familiar with the idea of improvisation. Every jazz standard has a predictable chord structure as its foundation - but that's not the exciting part. What makes jazz exciting is when musicians extemporaneously create melodies over that structure and play off the other musicians. You have to be on top of your game and very "in the moment" to pull that off successfully. One of the techniques I've developed involves latex paint, which dries quickly. Even though I map out the piece's basic structure in my mind before I start, I know I don't have much time with this unpredictable medium. So as I work, I make decisions, I negotiate, I manipulate, I go with the flow ... all in a matter of seconds. What is left is an impression of that particular artistic moment that will not ever be duplicated in the exact same way.

Gavin: Aside from being an artist, you’re also a musician. How have things gone for you in that respect?

Kimo: I remember an interview I read with Joni Mitchell once. Now Joni is one of my favorite singer/songwriters so I was surprised to read that she considers herself a visual artist first and a musician second. I actually consider myself a musician first. I've had some mild success with my music, winning some songwriting contests and garnering some interest. A couple of years ago, I found myself unexpectedly in the role of caregiver for my aging father. As such, I knew it would difficult to find time to rehearse and gig, so I put performing on hold and decided to channel that creative energy into my art. I can see myself going back and forth between art and music moving forward, and developing my talents in both areas.

Gavin: I understand a couple of publications are publishing some of your work. What are the details on that?

Kimo: I know, it's so cool. Several months ago, one of my pieces was selected as the cover for Westminster College's literary journal, "Ellipsis." Then after that, I had other pieces selected for other publications outside of Utah. Now I've been in five or six publications, exposing my art to people in other places and to all who have Internet access. The response has been pretty flattering. I really love art in all its forms, and one of my goals is to build more collaborative partnerships with artists working in all kinds of media.

Gavin: Tell us about the display you currently have up for the Stroll.

Kimo: The display highlights two techniques I've developed: larger paintings/collages and smaller "drip technique" pieces. All the pieces are abstract and concentrate on texture, form, and color. I'm proud of the exhibit because it offers a nice, current snapshot of where I am with my art at the moment.

Gavin: Why did you choose to go with Niche instead of a more traditional studio for the showing?

Kimo: I've tried and will continue to try all sorts of venues. This is the first time I've shown in a salon/restaurant, but so far it's been a tremendously positive experience. You should know that I'm a big fan of Caffé Niche. Great food... but bring back the cheesecake with balsamic vinegar sauce! And the nice people who work there have been so incredibly kind to me. As you know, Caffé Niche and Dexterity Salon are sponsors of the Gallery Stroll and they aren't even official "galleries" - but they see the value in supporting events like this that showcase local artists. It's a win-win situation. Niche/Dexterity have also made it even easier for artists to actually SELL work because they don't demand the commissions that other venues often do. For someone like me who wants the art to be both affordable and accessible to the public, that's a huge plus. Even better, Dexterity is doing a dogwash on August 23rd and proceeds are going to No More Homeless Pets. I mean, come on! It's a great company with a great service, fantastic atmosphere, sound marketing strategy... all while giving back to the community. I respect that.

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to do a dual show with PJ?

Kimo: It was complete serendipity. The nice folks at Dexterity Salon put us together. I think it's an interesting pairing!

Gavin: What’s your take on the local art scene, both good and bad?

Kimo: There are many, many talented artists in Utah who are doing some great things. I think the challenge is that Utahns in general aren't necessarily accustomed to buying art, especially art that is more modern or experimental. So if the public doesn't buy modern art, the galleries won't supply it. I think that is slowly starting to change, with certain venues consistently offering up interesting new work from local modern artists at affordable prices.

Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

Kimo: Again, I think Utahns just need to buy art! Buying art helps local artists and encourages artists and galleries to produce and seek out new and experimental work. In turn, I think Utah artists have an obligation to continue to push the envelope with their work. We need to take more risks with materials and techniques and start educating and challenging our audiences a bit more.

Gavin: What are your thoughts on Gallery Stroll and how it’s evolved over the years?

Kimo: There's no better excuse to go out and do something fun on a Friday night, right? Making art accessible and fun is such a smart way to introduce art to the public and gain a loyal following. People come from all walks of life and all levels of appreciation, and you know what? It works. In its growing evolution, I'm hoping more "non-gallery" venues like Caffé Niche and Dexterity Salon become sponsors of the Gallery Stroll, offering even more opportunities for the art enthusiast to get exposed to the local art scene.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

Kimo: Gosh, I'm not 100% sure right now. I've been so busy preparing for these last couple of shows that it seems a good idea to take a little breather after this show is over. The problem is, I don't always know how to take a break. Haha.

Gavin: Anything you’d like to plug?

Kimo: My
blog, the Dexterity Salon exhibit will continue through the end of August, so please check out my stuff and say thank you to the wonderful owners and employees for supporting local art. And please be sure you support the Gallery Stroll, which happens the third Friday of every month! I just may run into you.


PJ Mannion

http://pjmannion.com/

Gavin:
Hey PJ. First off, tell us a little about yourself.

PJ: I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. Just got accepted back to Graduate School for Social Work and I just recently got engaged to a most wonderful little someone over the summer.

Gavin: What first got you interested in doing art for a living, and what were some of your inspirations?

PJ: Wow…I never thought that I was going to do art for a living, I just got really lucky and started hanging some art at the
Porcupine Pub & Grille and things just kind of took off. I am super blessed and lucky to be able to be doing what I am doing. As far as inspiration goes, I have never really studied art or anything fancy. I usually just get inspired by artist that I know; people like: Dave Doman, Chuck Landvater, Trent Call, and Zachery Proctor. Zachary has actually been a huge help and always willing to help me with whatever I need. His kindness has been amazing.

Gavin: For those unfamiliar with your work, what are you most known for in the local art community?

PJ: I don't really know that I am recognized in the art community, but I suppose if I were it would be for portrait work with bright backgrounds.

Gavin: A lot of the work that you do tends to be profile portraits. Do you find it easier to paint people, or is that something you prefer to focus on

PJ: Yeah, portraits are just easier for me, landscapes don't get finished that often, they take me to long.

Gavin: I've seen on your website that you've also done nature photography. Is that something you're looking into, is it just a hobby you do on occasion and on vacation?

PJ: Ya know, those are just pictures that I take while I am out on vacation. I don't really think that I could be a photographer, there is to much going on.

Gavin: You recently did a showing at
Autumn Garage. How did that go?

PJ: It went pretty well, I didn't sell as much as I would have liked. But I did get a really good response and the show was a with a photographer that I like Chris Swainston, so that was a honor to be on a wall with him.

Gavin: Tell us about the display you currently have up for the Stroll.

PJ: Just some fun portrait work, and some colorful bikes and birds. I think that there is around 14 pieces. You should check it out.

Gavin: Why did you choose to go with Niche instead of a more traditional studio for the showing?

PJ: Niche just kind of fell in my lap, my fiancé talked to the manager one day while she was getting her hair cut and then the manager actually turned out to be a friend of mine, so they didn't even need to see a portfolio or anything. It was pretty nice.

Gavin: Where did the idea come from to do a dual show with Kimo?

PJ: In all honesty I'm pretty disconnected to the local art scene and I had never seen his stuff before, but I really like his art and I would like to meet him and do another show sometime.

Gavin: What's your take on the local art scene, both good and bad?

PJ: Ya know, like I said I am pretty disconnected to it. I really like going to Gallery Stroll and talking to people, and looking at other peoples art.

Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?

PJ: I wish that I had some ideas. I think that they are doing a pretty god job.

Gavin: What are your thoughts on Gallery Stroll and how it's evolved over the years?

PJ: When I first started to go to Gallery Stroll it kind of felt smaller more intimate and now it has become more of a scene.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of the year?

PJ: I have show going up at Bladework on the Sept. 5th and then I am hoping to get some art back up at The Porcupine over the Holiday.

Gavin: Anything you'd like to plug?

PJ: No not really, but I guess I'll just say come check out the shows, I am available for commissions and thanks for reading this whole thing.

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