The Garage Mechanic of The Art World
by Jonny Boys
I first met Aaron Molinsky at Emerge Oregon Art Series in Salem, Oregon, where he showed his life size mixed media fiberglass sculptures. His work is very unique, he is driven to make sure he is always creating groundbreaking art. Growing up in Canby, about half way in between Salem and Portland, he was brought up in a hardcore religious setting in which art and music were frowned
upon. This is a major influence in his work today.
These days he lives just outside of San Francisco with his wife Kezia and their kiddo, on the campus of Menlo College. It was Kezia who initially pushed him toward art, she bought him his first set of paints. He gives her full credit for starting his art career. “My work expresses sadness, anger, frustration and not feeling you have a voice...these are real valid feelings that deserve attention in art. Not just the happy rainbows. It purges these feelings from me and hopefully lets the viewer know we are together with those feelings. The end goal? Create beauty from sadness”, explains Molinsky.
Because his studio size is significantly smaller since the move to California, he has switched his focus from sculpture back to painting. He is fine tuning his work by drawing on techniques he has seen in J Slattum's work. By doing this he can tie it back into his sculpture work, with an
end goal of a large body of work of mixed media sculptures that will blow people's minds.
In August of 2011, Molinsky showed for the second time at The Gallery Zero in Portland. He unveiled his largest painting entitled The Coward's Path. It is about suicide, his take on someone's choice to take their life. “Just because life is shitty, you're just kinda opting out and then leaving everybody with your mess...the lady licking the skull, she was embracing death which signified her embracing death”.
Recently, he entered a traditional plein-air contest at Menlo College and they awarded his work with the Best in Show title. He was really encouraged that he was able to go up against seasoned fine art painters and show his skills off. He referred to himself as “the garage artist of the art world” because he is completely self taught. Part of his award is a show featuring his work and the second and third place winners. So he is going to introduce his own style into this traditional art show.
He has been developing a brand new series of paintings that he will unveil for this show entitled Skullscapes. “I love painting skulls but everybody's doing them right now and nobody's really making anything that unique anymore, it's all kind of the same stuff. It's awesome, but it's kinda
getting old. So, that kinda gave me an idea of going to a different level and showcasing a traditional landscape painting with a big fat bloody skull in the middle of it!”
So how did he come upon this plein-air contest? His wife, who works for Menlo College saw it and urged him to enter. “I was thinking, well yeah that might be good, try something new and try a new crowd. The cool thing was that my stuff was really well received by everyone, I didn't get anybody that was like 'ugh that's terrible', everybody was like 'oh that's awesome'...I don't have anything but good stuff to say about the school because they allow people like me to enter that and they don't have any prejudice over what my normal style is. It's just about making a good painting and [them] showcasing for you. That's awesome that they'll actually do that when most places are gonna go 'who are you, and who did you train under or where did you go to school'.”
He said when he was in Portland he felt like the doors were really beginning to open up and he was getting connected to people, but since his move he's had to start over. I asked him about his experience showing at The Gallery Zero. “I thought it was really good, just because of the fact that it's really hard to find a gallery that's willing to show my stuff and actually be excited even. Normally I don't get a response from a gallery normally, especially in the Willamette Valley when I lived there, it was kind of a thanks but no thanks. There I really thought that even if the
clientele doesn't come in and buy the pieces at least there was people there appreciating it and I was getting exposure for sure.”
I had a conversation with Molinsky about the genre of dark art and the business of attracting attention to it. He told me, “There are people that like the stuff, I mean there are so many artists that are making it there have got to be just as many people that enjoy that kind of art, the darker stuff, [who] can appreciate it. Just trying to get the word out there and trying to get exposure for it is the hugest thing.”
In my opinion many artists at the top of the genre in America should be shown in Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, places that would really appreciate the work. The US is still so conservative, there are only a hand full of galleries willing to step out and show this kind of art. Aaron summed it up well:
“It is weird most people get into art for freedom of their thoughts and ideas and being able to express them to people, yet only if it's the OK ideas that are accepted within the guidelines. How many times can you paint the same thing? It's great looking, but there were guys doing the same thing 100 years ago, doing the same thing you are doing right now. There is nothing different about it, you haven't upped the ante or changed anything. You've just repeated what you've seen and then taught as art. You've not pushed any boundaries or tried to further your own capabilities, you've just been OK with making the same thing because that's what people are OK with. Because that matches their couch and it doesn't scare them and doesn't make them upset, because it doesn't question their ideals so that's what they like.”
As Confucius said, “The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”