Arizona ArtBeat: Artist Eddie Mitchell

More from this show

Phoenix-based painter and sculptor Eddie Mitchell is on the short list to be named to the 100 Painters of Tomorrow, a competition judged by art experts from all over the world. He was chosen for the short list from among 4,200 painters from around the world. The final 100 will be chosen by the end of the summer, and their work will be exhibited at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts in 2014, and it will be published in a forthcoming book. Mitchell will talk about his art and his nomination.

Ted Simons: In tonight eats edition of "Arizona Artbeat," we meet a Phoenix-based painter and sculptor who's been nominated for a worldwide list of promising artists. Eddie Mitchell is on the short list for the painters of tomorrow. Eddie Mitchell joins us now to talk about his work. It's good to have you here.

Eddie Mitchell: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Short listed, painters of tomorrow. What are we talking about here?

Eddie Mitchell: We're talking about a competition based out of London that is going to be set up for 100 finalists, put into a publication by Thames & Hudson in 2014, also put into a show at the institute of contemporary art in London, this was put together by Kurt biers of Biers and lambert, they start off by receiving 4,300 submissions worldwide, 105 countries. They've narrowed it down to 400, that's the short list and we'll keep our fingers crossed.

Ted Simons: is there any indication -- Art in contests always seem a little -- Is there any indication what these judges are looking for?

Eddie Mitchell: You know, from what I gather from the blogging and information that they've been sending out, they're really trying to find some new things that are happening in painting. Painting has been kind of put on the back burner for a number of years because of all the new things happening in art. And now we're seeing a resurgence, a renaissance if you will of painting. So they're looking for new things that are happening.

Ted Simons: What are some of the new things happening with painting?

Eddie Mitchell: We're dealing with generations that are looking at social media, they're viewing the world around them through a computer screen as opposed to going out into nature and finding things that way. So you're seeing that kind of connection in the painting and the artwork that's coming out.

Ted Simons: Is that connection, are you seeing that with your own work?

Eddie Mitchell: Not necessarily. I do find myself image hunting on the computer, but more so image hunting as I go around, you know, around different areas or my day-to-day life.

Ted Simons: I find that image hunting, I find that phrase fascinating. The creative process always interests me. You're a painter and a sculptor. When you are ready to create, how do you know which medium to use?

Eddie Mitchell: I pretty much start off as -- In painting. I approach my process, my body of work through light narrative type of structure. I then go into painting, when I find myself into a rhythm where that rhythm starts to dictate that I need to work into the next dimension that I worked in as sculpture, and that feeds me back into painting and comes full circle.

Ted Simons: If you are image hunting and you bag an image, do you say to yourself, painting, yes, or, hmm, sculpture?

Eddie Mitchell: When I refer to image hunting, what I'm basically saying is to me there's no such thing as inspiration. We hear this, what inspires you? I don't buy that. What we really are doing is we're going out and stealing things. We're stealing images. We go out and, that's where the hunting comes from. We're collecting those things and putting them into our file cabinet, if you will. As something triggers us at a deeper level or another Avenue through that hunting of images, that triggers those things that we've collected and we go through our process at that time.

Ted Simons: I believe we have some of the art that we would like to look at here, as soon as we can. As we look at what you've done, when you finish a piece, I'm always fascinated -- Do you know you're finished?

Eddie Mitchell: M-hmm.

Ted Simons: How do you know?

Eddie Mitchell: I paint more when I don't paint. So when I'm out of the studio, I'm still working on that process as far as my strategy and my work, what's going to happen the next day or the next week on these works. That doesn't specifically say when I'm going to be finished, but it comes -- Always comes down to the brush mark. And the brush mark is the one is when I know it's final, there's something slightly intuitive that says this is complete.

Ted Simons: And when you start, you have the image in mind? Are you ever surprised when you're finished with what shows up?

Eddie Mitchell: You know, absolutely. I believe -- There's a give and take. Art teaches me. Art is the dictator if you will. So I'm going back and forth and we're having this kind of play. So as things erupt or come into that situation through that image hunting and gathering, then we go ahead and try to figure those things out. So there's a lot of smaller kind of problems that are set up. And I'm almost purposely try to set problems into place. So I can then solve them, and then go back and forth with the medium.

Ted Simons: I was interested when you said sometimes you're working when you're not working. Is that somewhat similar -- I know in sculpture there's removing, removing from the stone or whatever the medium is. When you paint are you thinking -- Is your process of creativity so totally different?

Eddie Mitchell: There's always those times when you're tearing the painting apart, you're tearing it down so to say. You're building up and pulling back and tearing down and adding to it. So there's always that as well. The painting to me becomes almost sculptural because they are larger and I'm very physical about the way I apply the paint.

Ted Simons: I want to go back to what you said regarding a renaissance in painting. This is something that has been done for hundreds and hundreds of years. Can you do something new in paint?

Eddie Mitchell: Yes. Yes. And the reason being is because if we try to train ourselves to disconnect from the rules, so to say, and make up our -- Search for that individual language, that's not been dictated by the rule makers. And we spend that time to seek that out. We will have no choice but to come up with something that is original.

Ted Simons: Original but new. Something that makes people go, I've never seen anything like that.

Eddie Mitchell: Every individual is new. So individual painter comes up with something that's exclusive and he comes up, or she comes up with an exclusive language. It has no choice but to be new.

Ted Simons: What got you started in art?

Eddie Mitchell: It was a language that I was able to communicate with from a very young age.

Ted Simons: When you were a kid were you the kid in class who a little drew better than all the other kids?

Eddie Mitchell: I don't know if it was necessarily draw better. I wasn't the killer technician, if you will. I was always the kid that was always wanting to go dig deeper into that and draw something out.

Ted Simons: Was there a point in your life, and I ask this almost every time I have an artist on regardless of what they do, was there a point when you kind of said to yourself, I'm pretty good at this, and was there a point when you said, I'm really good at this, I can make a life of this.

Eddie Mitchell: No, I think there was a point where I said, this is the thing that is. This is what I do. This is how I communicate. This is the language, and this is how I want to tell my story for the rest of my time. It wasn't, I don't -- The light thing and all of that -- I don't -- I don't make the work for a monetary situation or for even showing -- When I'm making my work I'm not even thinking about what the viewer might even intoned get out of it. I have to be so free in that process and have to trust that if it does go into a space, that message or that language will be seen.

Ted Simons: I did want to ask you, what do you want folks to take from your work?

Eddie Mitchell: Well, as I build these bodies of work through these narratives, through these objects, those objects should come out and should come through. Then as they see the brush marks and the way the paint is applied, perhaps they can go to that next layer of what that language might be that then is interacting with that object or that narrative. Because there's a lot of personal iconographies in these pieces, not --

Ted Simons: When you exhibit, are you showing your -- You're telling the world, here it is.

Eddie Mitchell: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: What's next for new.

Eddie Mitchell: We've got a show right now at ARPELLA contemporary art in Phoenix on third street and Mcdowell. I've got a piece that's going into the Arizona bi-annual next week; it opens on the th in Tucson. That will be up until the end of September. And keeping our fingers crossed on the next painters.

Ted Simons: Eddie Mitchell, thank you so much. Continued success.

Eddie Mitchell: Thank you.

Eddie Mitchell:Painter & Sculptor;

Federal Share of State Budget

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
airs May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: