Galerie 102 Opens: An Interview with Featured Artist, Devin Oatway

Galerie 102Galerie 102 Opening:  A Conversation with Devin Oatway

By Demitri Corbin

Galerie 102 opens its doors Saturday, November 16 .  Gallery owner Jolene Lloyd inaugurates the gallery with, We Are One/We Are Many,  the works of Los Angeles-based artist Jon Rajkovich and Ojai artist Devin Oatway.    I sat down for a chat with Devin in his studio at his East End home.

Demitri Corbin:  You are one of the few other people I know who I had no idea was a gifted artist.  When I met you, you told me you had just discovered you had schizophrenia-

Devin Oatway:  I knew before then.

DC:  Did we know each other in 2003?

DO:  We met in 2005.  I was diagnosed 2003.

DC:  So, you informed me.   That brings me to my next question, the degree in English literature and creative writing.  How does that work with the visual art – does it inform or inspire your work; like with the J.D. Salinger stories?

DO:  No, it’s just the opposite.  It’s a rebellion against anything literary or musical, a rebellion against everything I had learned.  In 2003 my mind changed and I no longer read.  Before, I was reading thousands of pages a month.  Those short stories are the first thing I’ve picked up and read in years.  No, painting has always been my first impulse, ever since I was a child I would paint, draw.  As an adult I saw the Julian Schnabel film, “Basquiat” with uh…what’s the actor…

DC:  Jeffrey Wright.

DO:  That movie profoundly affected me and I knew I wanted to be an artist.

DC:  I’m glad you brought that up.  I was going to say I see in your work the influence of both Basquiat and Beatrice Wood.  Would you say that‘s accurate?

DO:  Well, Beato will always be considered the Mama of DaDa in the early 20th Century.  I grew up totally influence by her.  My mom is a collector.  Beato and Basquiat have greatly influenced me –

DC:  But at the same time have given way for you to express your own expression.

DO:  Exactly.

DC:  Tell me about the curator – who is she?  Is she both owner and curator?  How did she find you?

DO:  Jolene Lloyd.  She found me through OSA.

DC:  Does she live here?

DO:  Yes.  She’s been wanting to start a gallery for some years now.

DC:  I find it very interesting that hers is one of a few new galleries that are opening now that are also presenting emerging artists.

DO:  Yes.  I like Jolene’s style.  It’s more international rather than local; more on a wave of the art scene as a whole.  I like the gallery.  It’s small, about 600 square feet, lots of wall space.  It’s not cluttered with too much.  It’s like walking into a museum. DC: Now tell me about your work.  You have not been painting for very long and yet you have a nice resume of shows.  When did you actually start painting

DO:  Well, I really started painting in 2002.  I do pieces and give them to my friends or I’d just give them away.  Then in 2004 after my diagnosis, I started painting squiggly lines – you see this tattoo…

He shows me the tattoo on his left forearm.

DO: (con’t) I just started painting those.  I started reading Perry Mason stories.  I read them all, even though they were all the same, then I stopped reading altogether and I started painting.  My first show was in Austin, Texas where I joined an arts collective, Shady Lane Studios.  Then in Berkeley I started the Firehouse Art Collective.   I sold a lot of paintings and now that I’m prolific, I’m not as attached as I used to be.

DC:  How do you feel about all the acclaim?

DO:  I don’t know if I’d call it ‘acclaim,’ acclaim would be the L.A. Times!

DC:  Well, maybe acclaim is too strong a word, but certainly success.  Now, you’re paired with L.A. based sculptor Jon Rajkovich.  Have you met him?

DO:  No, but I like his work.

DC:  I think it’s perfect with your work.

DO:  Yes, I think it’s going to interesting for Ojai.  I’m curious to see what happens.

DC:  Do you have any pieces here?

DO:  No, the show’s already hung.

I take out my handout left over from the OSA tour.

DC:  Here, tell me what pieces are going to be in the show so I can look for them.

DO:  None.  It’s all new work.

DC:  All new work!!!  That’s wonderful! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see!

We end on that note and I head off to catch the encore screenings of Ojai Film Festival winners.

We Are One/We Are Many, the inaugural exhibit of Galerie 102 featuring the works of Jon Rajkovich and Devin Oatway.   Opening reception with artists is Saturday, November 16 from 5 to 8 pm at Galerie 102, 102 West Matilija St., downtown Ojai.  For more information visit galeri102.comor call 805-640-0151


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