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Arts and Entertainment

Eco-LA to Present "ReVisions"

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In 2004, artist Peter Schulberg learned that literally tons of advertising billboards were being dumped into landfills every month. His solution to dealing with all this waste was rather novel: recycle those billboards into art. On Saturday night, the newest exhibition of these pieces is unveiled at Eco-LogicalART. Fifteen local artists have created pieces that will eventually be mounted as billboards across the city.

Based on existing traffic patterns, it's estimated that 750,000 people will see these billboards in the first day, making it one of the largest public art exhibitions in LA history. By comparison, more people will see this "renewable imagery" billboard art project in one hour than attend the Getty Museum in a week. One of the artists participating is Jon Nimetz. I had a chance to speak with him about it this week. After the jump!

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Tell me a little bit about your career as an artist and how it's progressed over the years.

My mother growing up was an art teacher, and my current mother was an artist and my grandmother was an artist. I was doing paint by numbers when I was three or four, and by the time I was eight or nine I was re-arranging the numbers in a hat, painting the numbers with off-colors. I did a lot of classes when I was younger, but I went to college expecting to be a lawyer. But about halfway through it I realized that wasn't for me. So I minored in Art and went on to get a master's degree in Fine Art at the San Francisco Art Institute. And that pretty much solidified my desire to make art instead of war (laugh)). Which I think I probably would have done as a lawyer. (laughs).

How long have you been working as an artist?

Since I finished graduate school so since '98. Pretty much for the last ten years I've been plugging away.

How would you describe your style? Is it a specific style?

I have to look at my whole career as an artist, and I think I change a lot in terms of what I expect from myself. When I was in graduate school I made a lot of large-scale figurative murals, and then all of a sudden switched to abstraction--probably as a reaction to being failed on my final graduate review which I had to re-take a year later. I sort of came at them with this really expressionistic look, but with the figure still in it. I made up a whole scenario about what is was about--I was studying these schizophrenic people down in the Panhandle. It was total bullshit, but it was really funny anyway. So he passed me! And from there on I think my work was permanently altered. I went to almost total abstraction for awhile, and then I started looking back on it and saying, "I can't really figure out where I exist here" in terms of trying to figure out my path. It's all very autobiographical. And so I started to make stuff recently that has more of a narrative quality to it. A little more preconception instead of just jumping right into something.

In what medium do you typically work?

I used to work in all oils and spray paint, and then I worked in spray paint and acrylic. I've pretty much moved away from spray paint and now I work in acrylic and ink mostly now. The texture itself is mixed medium--a lot of white-out, a lot of inks, acrylic and a little bit of spray paint still. A pretty wide range of mediums. But a lot of commercial mediums--white-out. I use a lot of white-out which is kind of funny.

Can you describe the show that's starting this weekend?

I was originally brought into the show by my friend, Walt G. Hall--a great artist who curates my work into some shows in East L.A. He informed me of this project he had worked on and he said me I had to hook up with Peter [Schulberg]. As it turned out I had painted outside of an event that Peter had had so Peter already knew me. And he knew Walt so that was a great introduction to me. So I went in and met Peter and had him look at my work. I told him I knew which piece I wanted to use, I showed it to him and he said go for it. The show is about the amount of vinyl that pretty much goes to waste. It's really about trying to create awareness about how we should find a solution for this, how it shouldn't be piling up in landfills. So what we did was flip the billboards backwards--the back side is white--and we stretched them over these big-ass stretcher bars and winched them tight. And we painted our stuff on the back which is now the front.

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What are you trying to express with your piece?

It's funny, all of the pieces are sort of different. I would have anticipated that they would have come at this with a completely political approach. There's also some surrealism, some abstract pieces. That being said, my piece is political. I chose the piece that I chose specifically because I knew what a physical presence it would have out there. What it's saying is that the government is really refusing to listen to almost anything that is being afforded them. Whether it's the people or opinions about Iraq, whatever else it's really in one ear, out the other. Decisions are made and we really have very little to do with it. It's a protest piece in a way.

What's the title of your piece?

The piece is called "Information out of Formation". On the bottom of it is the phrase, "In one ear, out the other."

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“ReVisions” is open to the public and opens Saturday, January 12, 2008, 6 pm-11 pm
Eco-LogicalART
4829 West Pico Boulevard

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Photos courtesy of Superfine Art