1: What gets your motor running, artistically?
A trip to the museum—almost any museum, but particularly any collection of great Old Masters (The Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the Kunsthistoriches in Vienna are probably my two favorites on the planet). Being awed and humbled by great work, and learning from their skills and themes, always stokes my creative fires!
2: Tell us about a work of art you feel is woefully misunderstood or underappreciated.
Thomas Gainsborough’s “The Mall in St. James’s Park” at the Frick Collection, while hardly an unnoticed work, is far from the centerpiece of the Frick or of Gainsborough’s work. But for me, it has everything: incredible landscape painting full of movement, historical figurative painting, dramatic lighting, and biting social commentary and wit. Watching these “gangs” of socialites sizing each other up on a stroll through the park, their small dogs and male servants lurking in the shadows, tells you more about 18th century mores than any book on the period could hope for.
3: What artist, living or dead, would you like to have a cocktail with? Why?
Peter Paul Rubens. Aside from being one of the most talented and prolific painters of his time (2500+ works attributed to him), he was a diplomat for the Southern Netherlands and was knighted by both the Kings of Spain and England—no small task in his day. And looking at his works, you know he was a man who was entertaining and enjoyed being entertained.
4: Tell us one thing that you can’t do without.
My studio(s). I’m lucky to have two, one in Germany and one in Texas, so when I travel I can quickly return to my space and begin working, full of the inspirations of the day.
5: How do you get out of a creative rut?
Travel is the best antidote for a creative block: the input of new cultures and environments always kicks the creative gears in. But in these travel-restricted days, my backup getaway is a good book. I’ve been reading some the classics in my downtime, and seeing that even the greatest minds of history struggled with creativity reminds you that a block is only a temporary obstacle on path you’ve well-traveled.
6: What are you working on now?
I have both collaborative commissions and gallery shows in the works right now, which is the perfect balance for me: both the same voice, but in one the themes come from outside myself, in the others from within. It keeps my mind open to the possibilities and engages in the world around me—you can’t ask for more than that as an artist.
7: Is there any particular music or art you feel goes well with whiskey?
Everything goes well with whiskey! But give me beautifully produced book on Dutch landscapes, some Coltrane on the stereo, a glass of Still Austin by my side, and I’m a happy man!