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Home FEATURES Studio Visits Studio Visit w/ Rob Minervini

Studio Visit w/ Rob Minervini
Written by Ashley Taylor   
Saturday, 07 May 2011 13:15
I stopped by Rob Minervini's studio in SOMA this week to see where all the magic happens, and I was not let down! His studio is filled with beautiful work. Rob has a show opening up this Saturday, Sunken Dreams, at Gallery Hijinks and in July he will be a part of The Bay Area Now 6 exhibition at YBCA. Below you'll see past works and works in progress for the YBCA show. Can't wait to see the finished pieces! -Ashley Taylor

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Tell us a little bit about your personal and artistic background?

I have a mix of a fine art as well as a public art and mural painting background. I’m from the Philadelphia area and recently became a dual Italian / American citizen which I am excited about.

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How was life growing up in New Jersey, and when did you move to the Bay?

I was born in North Jersey and lived there till 2nd grade when my family moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I think my experiences growing up there were like most other would be weird-o punk rock sub culture kids.  I played in bands and had a skateboard crew of hooligans, loved to draw and that hasn’t changed a whole lot since.  After attending Tyler School or Art and living in Philadelphia for about 7-8 years I came to San Francisco in 2007 to get my MFA from the Art Institute. After they gave it to me I decided to stick around.   

What’s your upcoming show, Sunken Dreams all about?

In a way, it’s about dreams for a utopia unrealized and the potential futility of aspiring for a better future in the face of humanity's self-destructiveness. I’ve always been interested in Buckminster Fuller, and for this exhibition I wanted to focus the body of work on his dome structures and what they potentially represent when depicted in states of decay. It’s a way for me to express certain frustrations in the world and, for my second solo show, to have unified concept in which the work revolved.

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Day job?

That would be nice…. I’d be way less stressed about money all the time. I work non-stop but mostly on my artwork and from time to time I get the privilege of teaching some painting and drawing classes at various places in the area. I’d love to be doing this more and am excited to be teaching at SFAI this summer in their adult continuing education program.  

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Your studio is in SOMA, how long have you been in he area and how do you like it?

Before I had my studio in SOMA I had a space in Root Division, which is a great art and arts education non-profit located in the mission. I’ve only been in the space in SOMA since December, and while I love the area for its views of the bay and its vicinity to South Park, I’d love for something with more privacy.  I can hear my studio neighbors move their chair or type on their laptop for Christ’s sake, and sometimes a guys gotta sing-a-long to some Misfits and not feel self conscious about the people next door hearing you muttering out the lyrics. Know what I mean?  

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Typical soundtrack while at the studio?

I always have music going in my studio and having formally played drums in bands actively music is a very important part of my studio practice. My ipod is all over the map from metal to indie to blues and jazz etc etc.. Recently I’ve been on listening to a lot of Bowie, Kurt Vile, and Women. Also been getting into audio books because I've had less time to read. Recently listened to Faulkner’s Sanctuary, and Wilde’s A Portrait of Dorian Gray.  

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Do you remember your first piece that was part of a show?  Do you still have it?

I remember after graduating from Tyler having my first outside of school show in this co-op gallery where I actually sold my first paintings. My work has bounced around a lot and it looks nothing alike or similar to what I’m doing now, so it’s interesting going back and seeing how it all has fed into my current body of work. Most of those older paintings I gave to friends before I moved and the rest are in my parent’s basement, which they playfully refer to as my “museum”… where paintings go to die.  

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Tell about where your inspiration comes from when starting a new piece.

In general, it’s a process of trial and error. Usually, I’m motivated by the progression of things happening in my studio. One thing tends to lead to another and so on, that, in combination with life experiences and a fair bit of informal research to inform the direction of the content in the work such as film, writing,and photography.  But ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere by just being observant of one’s surroundings. I’d say living in California has definitely shaped the kind of artwork I am making now.  

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Do you work on multiple pieces at the same time or focus on one piece until it’s complete?  How long does it take to complete on average?

It’s hard for me to say how long a painting takes me because I tend to work on more than once piece at a time. I can work fairly quickly when things are going well, and slower when I don’t have a clear sense of where the piece is eventually going. I’m working on three 5’x8’ paintings right now and I’ve had three month to complete the group for the next show at the YBCA. I’m fairly comfortable working large and less working small, so hypothetically it can take me the same amount of time to finish something half the size.  

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Favorite paints or materials to work with?

I use Golden and Nova Color acrylics paints, Montana Acrylic spray paint and a "magic" stencil paper.  Nova Color is a small acrylic mural paint company out of Culver City and when I was actively working for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program we used their stuff for all the outdoor murals cause its tough stuff and comes in bulk. There would inevitably be left over paint after a project so I started to use it more and more in my paintings, which is how I got involved with working in acrylics to begin with.  I was very much an oil painter for years and sometimes I add oil paint on top of my pieces in glazes or impasto, just for extra layering.  Also, some colors a best suited for oils, particularly earthy tones, but my palette tends to lean toward chemically based pigments so acrylics are most suitable for what I’m going for anyway. It’s become a pretty essential part of my aesthetic I think. 

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Cats or dogs?

I’d love to have both, but since I’m hardly ever home, for now I have an extremely affectionate and needy fat tabby cat named Girard Kingsley. He’s named after Girard Avenue in North Philly where I used to live and where I found him.  

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Artists you’re excited about these days?

Matthias Weischer, Lisa Sanditz, Utagawa Hiroshige

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What keeps you in SF?

The Bay Area Now 6 exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts opening on July 8th, after this summer who knows what is next. SF is a great town, but it’s been almost 4 years living here and I still feel very unsettled, maybe that is a good thing… who knows. My gripe is it’s just not a struggling artist friendly city, but where is?! I have a gallery in LA now called Marine Contemporary, so I may eventually head down there to get ready for my show in January 2012 but hopefully I’ll find more reasons to stay here.  

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Favorite thing about SF at the moment?

The community here, the food, the views, the ability to ride a bike most of the year

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Future plans?

Same thing I do everyday... Try and take over the world.

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Thanks Rob, and good luck tonight! -Ashley Suzanne

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contact FF

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"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

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"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

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John French with Hasselblad by Lola Dupre

"John French with Hasselblad", photo collage/ hand cut paper on wooden panel, by Lola Dupre which will be part of tomorrow's opening of "Salt the Skies" at FFDG in San Francisco. 2277 Mission St. (6-9pm) - RSVP here.


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