It’s Day 189! While researching experimental artists I happened upon a website for disabled artists and found Matt Sesow. I absolutely fell in love with his artwork. It has this Basquiat feel to it, but he also embodies his own style. I relate to his paintings and paint in a similar way as well. I feel like I could’ve done a little better with my piece, but I have so little time these days to REALLY work for hours on my paintings. I was thinking about pushing this one back, but I got too excited to paint a tribute. I’m pasting an article from his website that was published by http://www.washingtonpost.com here since there isn’t a wikipedia bio on him. Join me in honoring Matt Sesow today!
GOING SOLO: In 1993, I was working at IBM and met a girl who shared a house with
some artists. One day, they brought out some supplies, and I started painting and couldn’t stop. I started strategizing ways to paint full time. I set up a Web site, www.sesow.com. I saved up a lot of money. I got rid of my car. I bought my apartment with IBM stock. The day I got laid off from a dot-com, in 2001, I stopped by CD Warehouse and said, “I want to hang my paintings here.” I’ve been living off my art ever since. All I have to come up with every month is a condo fee, health insurance and some brown rice.
STYLIN’: I started out looking at pictures and trying to paint them. They always turned
out really bizarre-looking: The eyes, the mouth, the teeth were way too big. People liked it. Eventually I started painting things that happened to me: When I was 8 years old, I was playing in a field by an airstrip and was struck by a landing airplane. The propeller severed my arm. So I’ve painted people missing limbs, people pointing at someone with a disability.
ART SCHOOL: People put me in this folk-art/outsider-art group because of the disability and the rawness of my paintings, and because I’m self-taught. But I think “outsider” is a term that’s almost like victim art. I want to reset the expectations in the art world, so I actively promote myself. I’m my own boss. I’m my own agent. I’m my sales team.
NETWORKED: When I set up online in 1995, I’d search out sites that showed art and e-mail them
saying, “I’d love a link from you.” I did that probably 800 times. If you do a search on “Sesow” on Google, I’m up to 2,500 hits. I get around 500 individuals visiting the site a day. I don’t think a gallery is going to get that.
ON THE ROAD: I’m always working. When curators ask me to be in a show, I go. I had a five-day solo show in January in New York, and I’ll have a solo show in D.C. at the end of April in Dupont Circle [at Art+Works+Wonders, 2122 P St. NW, Suite 303].
My paintings are pretty inexpensive, so anybody can afford a small one, and I’ll do a sliding scale. I like the idea of somebody paying $4,000 for a large painting and then a college kid buying a little thing for 10 or 20 bucks. Better my stuff than a poster.
As told to Nicole M. Miller (www.washingtonpost.com)
I hope you enjoy my tribute today and I’ll see you tomorrow on Day 190! Best, Linda