It’s been a whirwind of an interviewfest & it’s hard to believe we have come so far. Over the past couple of weeks we have brought you virtual sit-downs featuring the artists that currently have their work on display in “New Blood. Old Money.” here at Kettle Art.
Well, this is number 11.
Eleven down. Four to go.
Not sure we’ll get all fifteen in before closing time, but we’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out.
Number 11 simply brings us a shining example of “New Blood.”
Number 11 is none other than Tony Reans.
“Who is Tony Reans?”, you might ask.
Well read on, my friend. Read on …
Kettle – Tell us a bit about yourself (give a brief bio).
Tony – I was a mediocre artist as a child, with modest potential, and as an adult, I didn’t create any art until my late twenties. After two stints in the Air Force (where I was an electrician), I went back to college in my thirties, to study fine art, concentrating on graphic design.
Which was great. Really. And even though design could land me a day job, it was fine art that really called to me. Once I discovered painting, man, I really caught the fever, and my life ever since has been all dripping acrylics and oils, gessoes and varnishes. Now I paint, teach art, and do freelance photography.
Kettle – The name of this show is titled, “New Blood, Old Money”. Which are you, “New Blood” or “Old Money”?
Tony – New Blood when it comes to exhibiting at Kettle, thank you very much. I meant it. Thank you very much.
Kettle – So, what intrigues or excites you about exhibiting at Kettle Art?
Tony – This is my first exhibit in Dallas, which is very exciting – Kettle has a great reputation. My wife and I have lived in Shreveport, Louisiana, for about 20 years (that’s where I was stationed in the Air Force), and I’ve been keenly interested in getting my work seen in Texas for a while. I’m originally from the Houston area, so I want to get back into my home state!
I was invited to show at Kettle by Robb Conover, who was introduced to me by a mutual friend, so that’s also a wonderful blessing. Networking in this fashion is how an art career is made, and meeting new friends makes it worth the making.
Kettle – How many pieces do you have on exhibit for “New Blood. Old Money.”? Can you tell us a little about each one?
Tony – I have two paintings at Kettle right now. They’re the first two in an ongoing hero-worship-themed series I’m doing.
The first is:
Flash, I Love You!
36″ x 36″ x 2.5″
Acrylic and collage on canvas
This one’s not based on an actual Gordon comic, but is instead a vision from my own fevered imagination. I painted elements from various Sunday comics from 1934 to 1940 or so, building up the composition to create a scene from Flash’s point of view (something the real series apparently never did). So we’re seeing through his eyes, through a sort-of “telepathic window.”
As often occurred in the series, Flash and his girlfriend, Dale Arden, are on the run from Ming the Merciless’ army. In a brief quiet moment, Dale expresses her love for Flash, and just as he’s responding, the army opens fire, interrupting them. The collaged comics depict war scenes and romantic moments from the years I used for the painting.
The second is:
A Love Like Ours
36″ x 36″ x 2.5″
Acrylic and collage on canvas
Here, I’ve painted panel number five out of five for one particular Sunday in 1937. Flash and Dale are looking for their friend and fellow earthling, Dr. Hans Zarkov, who is lost in a jungle on the planet Mongo. As a terrible storm approaches, Flash is suddenly attacked by a killer “living vine,” which wants to strangle him to death. Dale tries to help him, of course, and is attacked by the vine as well. As the two are just about done for, a lightning bolt strikes the vine and kills it, saving our heroic lovers. They’re just happy to be alive, together and in love, and we see that scene depicted in my painting.
I’ve included panels one through four in the collage around the outside of this painting, so a viewer can – if he or she so wishes – read the whole story. The beautiful newspaper comics from the 1930s have a deep, rich patina and the colors are still vibrant and warm even after all these years.
Kettle – Where did you find the inspiration for these pieces?
Tony – I paint in two distinctly separate themes these days: junk food and hero worship, two very irrational human creations. In the food series, which is iconic in nature (which for me means non-narrative), I concentrate on candy, breakfast cereal, and comfort food, and use food packaging as my collage. The hero worship series is narrative, uses actual vintage comics, and involves my favorite sci-fi action hero, Mr. Gordon. I bought about ten years’ worth of this strip from the 1930s-1940s in a collection on ebay, and I’m going to keep painting until I use them all.
By the way, I should explain that I’m actually rescuing these comics from certain decomposition, as the scrapbooks they were glued into are not of archival quality at all, and simply crumble at the slightest touch. Removing the comics, sealing them in acrylic matte medium, and carefully adhering them to the canvas is a painstaking process (so don’t hate me, comics fans)!
Kettle – Were you able to attend opening night for “New Blood. Old Money.”? What was your favorite part of the night? What pieces really stood out to you?
Tony – I was there. Meeting all the other artists and art lovers was the highlight of the evening, of course. Everyone’s work is impressive, with Kelsey Kincannon’s and Arthur James’s making the strongest impression on me. Wow. Me likey.
Kettle – Will you be showing with Kettle again?
Tony – Yes, in November, thanks to another invitation by Frank and Robb.
Kettle – Do you have any other shows coming up where one could see your work?
Tony – Besides the Kettle in November, no. Thanks for rubbing that in (Just kidding). I’ve exhibited so much in Shreveport and the surrounding areas that it’s become a little tired. My resume reads, “Shreveport, Shreveport, Shreveport.” That’s why I know it’s time to branch out regionally, and hopefully, nationally. Eight of my foodie paintings just came down from a group show at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts where one of my pieces is now a part of their permanent collection. I’m also represented at Rawstyle Gallery, in Santa Monica, CA, but I don’t have any exhibits coming up there anytime soon. So I’m networking, looking for opportunities!
Kettle – What is in the future for you and your art? Do you see yourself or your art developing in any particular way in the near future?
Tony – Larger Gordons, larger foodies. I like to paint six-foot canvases and larger, which I haven’t done much of lately. I’m also introducing more psychedelic trippy backgrounds into my food paintings, which will take on a more Op Art, highly technical aspect, and will concentrate more on the marketing mascots, like Tony the Tiger.
I’m also working on trading up to a van, bus, or RV, to be transformed into a rolling fine art gallery, which will travel between cities in Texas and Louisiana, creating a network amongst galleries, museums, artists and collectors. I’m trading little things for bigger things, and will eventually make it to a vehicle. Apparently, Artman wants to do something along those same lines, so we may have some kind of art collaboration when one of us gets there. Maybe it’s a race! First one with a van hosts the first exhibit, with the other as a guest artist! I have a blog on the trading project: http://www.ArtBusTradeUp.blogspot.com.
Last but not least, I’m working on a comic-styled instructional book on the art of photography for beginners, based on the class I teach at LSU Shreveport Continuing Education.
Kettle – Where else can one find your work? (online or otherwise)
Tony – Sorry, nowhere in the Dallas area (yet). We’ll have to make do with the Interwebs: