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0 Rockport Center for the Arts | "In-Depth Q & A with Joey Blazek, 2016 Rockport Art Festival Poster Artist"

I’m kind of like Popeye - I am what I am and I’m a graphic designer that paints. Making me a designer first and a painter second. For my entire career I have worked to create images that are quick to communicate and are pleasing and attractive to the viewer’s eye. It has taken me several years to realize this, but that is exactly what I have continued to do with the fine art side of my career. Except that I am taking everyday images that people might miss along their way and capturing them on canvas in a way that quickly conveys the scene and is attractive to the viewer’s eye. Same concept but a different product and I’m still approaching them in the same way, just a different medium.

As a graphic designer in the ad business, I always considered the demographic of my audience. My work not only had to be engaging, but appeal to a specific audience as well to their cultural ideals and philosophy. As I began to paint in 2009, I innately approached my work in pretty much the same way that I approached my advertising design business. But instead of selling a product or a service, I was creating an image from my coastal perspective that hopefully others could appreciate and enjoy through their similar coastal experiences. Having that common denominator certainly helped.

TAYLOR HENDRIX (TH): What makes you a coastal/regional painter?

JB: I paint what I am familiar with and attracted to. I’ve always loved the sense of peace I feel at the beach and the joy I get from watching birds or the calming effect of a working pump jack plugging away. I try to create an image from my coastal perspective that hopefully others could appreciate and enjoy through their similar coastal experience.

TH: Why do you leave so much out of your paintings?

JB: I see composition, light, shadow, shapes come together in nature and I capture the moment in a photograph. That is my blueprint to work from. I then approach the painting as a design problem. Arranging objects, adding light, shadow, adjusting color, working with shapes and finally adding a few detail tweaks, but careful not to overwork it. I like to allow the viewer’s eye to fill in detail. I am hardwired to approach everything with design in the forefront. Whether it is a construction project, landscaping, or trimming a tree, the same basic design rules apply and I approach them all that way.

TH: What is your approach to painting?

JB: I always strive to keep my paintings spontaneous and never “over worked”. My approach is to lay in basic shapes quickly and define them as I continue to work over the entire canvas. Ideally the piece should always have an appearance of being a complete thought and could stand on its own as a finished piece at any time during the process. That is why many times you will see areas of unpainted areas showing through the image. I feel at that point I have given the viewer enough to convey the image.

Sometimes when I feel I’ve overworked a piece, I’ll go in with a large brush to break up the detail and start fresh. Also, it is amazing the detail you can achieve with the corner of a 2” “throw-away” brush from a hardware store.

I want the viewer’s eye to fill in detail. I call it “implied detail”. I’ve had many people comment on first glance that they are amazed at the detail only to look closer to see that it is an illusion.

TH: How have recent hurricanes Rita and Ike affected your painting?

JB: Living on the Texas Gulf Coast, hurricanes have always been a part of life for me and my family. My great grandparents survived the 1900 and the 1915 Galveston storms in a cypress-planked house in High Island that still stands to this day. I remember the devastation from Carla as a kid and surfed on an enormous swell from Camille in 1969 as a teenager and caught a few good waves from Hurricane Katrina as an “old guy” in 2005. In 2008 Hurricane Ike destroyed my sailboat and took away my family’s beach cabin on the Bolivar Peninsula that my father had built in the 1950s.

The widespread destruction on the Bolivar Peninsula from Ike seemed to give me a renewed appreciation of my time growing up there because so much of what I was familiar with was completely gone. The uniqueness of the community was erased and the quirky family-built cabins from my childhood were being replaced by homes far bigger and grander than what we thought we would ever see on “our” beach. Subconsciously that might have influenced me to begin painting coastal scenes the following year. A byproduct of the disaster was a demand for art to replace what folks had lost and to fill all of those empty new walls, thus creating a larger local market for my work than there would have been.

Renowned Beaumont artist Joey Blazek, created the 47th Annual Rockport Art Festival collectible poster. Orchestrated Chaos, an original 43” X 43” oil on canvas signature Blazek piece will be submitted for live auction during the party. Blazek will be signing limited edition posters the night of the opening of his solo exhibit which are available signed for $40 signed and unsigned for $30.

TH: Tell us about your introduction to Rockport.

JB: I began painting in 2009 and not long after that my wife suggested that I consider applying to some regional art festivals. Rockport was my very first festival in 2013. Being a newcomer to this, I approached it with a hope of at least a small success in case I really bombed.

During the show, a woman who was obviously a local stopped at my booth. Immediately she had quite the group of friends and acquaintances collect to visit with her. More added to the mix and pretty soon my booth was a gathering place for a small reunion. This was my first show, so I was kind of at a loss as to what to do. I didn’t know if I should be concerned that I might lose potential buyers because they couldn’t get into my booth. About that time, her friends were starting to disperse, and she walks up to me and says I’ll take that one and that one as she points to two originals. I was thrilled.

When she came back later to pick up the pieces she said that she had a friend that she really wanted me to meet. The lady that purchased my paintings was Julia Dutton and her good friend was Lisa Baer Fredrick at Estelle Stair Gallery and that was the beginning of many new friendships and my discovery of a true jewel that is Rockport on the Texas Gulf Coast!

TAYLOR HENDRIX: You can meet Joey Blazek in person at the Art Center. His solo exhibition will feature over 30 original, new works. The show opens to the public Saturday, June 18 with a gallery talk at 4:30 PM. A reception with the artist will follow from 5 to 7 PM. The opening reception is sponsored by Gulf Pointe Plaza. The exhibition continues through July 31, 2016.

Rockport Center for the Arts is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM and Sunday from 1 to 4 PM. Admission is always free. For more information call (361)729-5519 or visit rockportartcenter.com

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