Juan Perez and Paul Goodnight

Yesterday I made a quick trip to Dick Blick to pick up some glitter pens for a class I'm teaching and I met the painter Juan Perez. He was a visiting artist of sorts; he had an easel set-up outside and was working with oils.

There's examples of his work on his website, but the images are displayed in a Quicktime slideshow and I can't find images through Google.

Juan was very friendly and told me about his experiences as a professional artist. He has an interesting life story; he was born in the Dominican Republic, got a scholarship to study at SMFA, taught art in schools and prisons, and then worked in gourmet restaurants in Boston. Currently, he is a chef at Fenway Park.

When I went to Dick Blick, Juan was painting portraits of Red Sox players with the goal of capturing specific gestures. He had several insightful comments on the seeing part of portraiture. He said when observing a sitter to mostly study the bone structure because that will capture their likeness. Also, he suggested not to get lost in the process of observing and figuring out proportions because painting is about capturing what you see in the first 30 seconds of looking at something.

Juan told me about the painter Paul Goodnight, who is a MassArt alum. Paul similarly has an interesting life story. He is a Vietnam vet and started making art after losing the ability to speak as part of post-traumatic stress. Paul's paintings are about capturing and documenting African culture in a way that is full of movement and energy.
Black Butterflies, glicee, 36.75 x25 inches.
Oddly enough, the medium of television jump started Paul's career as an artist. He had a show in California where a representative from The Crosby Show saw his work and decided to feature it on the set. Since then his work has been featured in the TV shows ER, Seinfield, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the movie Ghost. His work is also collected by many African American celebrities such as Halle Berry, Maya Angelou, and Wesley Snipes.

Paul has a studio in the Piano Factory, which is a live-work studio space and gallery in the South End.

Artistically, his work is inspiring because lately I've been thinking about cultural identity and cultural displacement. Since I'm half-Korean, I strongly identify with Korean culture even though I have never visited the country. It's strange feeling so connected to a place you've never been to or to people you have never met. Paul's work is about re-connecting with and celebrating African culture. It makes me wonder how I can create work about my feelings toward my cultural identity and what the purpose would be.

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