Get to Know: Dion Wright

When did you start painting or drawing or doing whatever it is that makes up your work?

Before I could talk or walk.

What artist or artists do you consider as having the greatest influence on your work?

Neolithic cave painters, Howard Warshaw, Henry Moore, Carl Barks, Morris Graves, Leonardo da Vinci, Tibetan Tonka painters, Tchelichev, El Greco, Japanese prints, Bruce Connor, Rembrandt, Tom Blackwell, “Guernica”, Frank Frazetta, Salvador Dali, Jacob Epstein, N. C. Wyeth, etc., etc., etc.

Do you have any influences, artistic or otherwise, that might surprise those familiar with your work?

Aldous Huxley is the greatest over-all influence, but that’s not likely to surprise anybody.

What was the best advice you ever received that has helped you with your art?

Take advantage of and use your mistakes. Offered by Bob Thomas, sculpture professor at UCSB.

If you could only pass along one piece of advice to a young artist, what would that be?

The more sincere and committed you are to Art, (as opposed to decoration or manufacturing), the less chance you will have to make money, because real originality is usually unrecognized until some time after the fact, if at all; therefore, do not try to be both an artist AND a householder. You may as well go to Vegas and put all your assets on double-zero. As for how talented you are, forget about it. There is talent all over the place. We all know of several examples od persons who reap fame and reward without talent.

Do you have a favorite piece of art by someone other than yourself? How about by you?

My favorite modern painting is The Raft of the Medusa by Gericault. One reason is that this picture best develops the excellences of Solutrean cave painting into a set of modern notions and perceptive idioms. Naturally I like my Taxonomic Mandala the best of my own efforts. ( When I say “modern” in this context, I cite the 19th Century. I regard Art in general as decadent in the 20th Century. That’s a consequence of looking at the long sweep of History, starting with the cave painters, who have never been surpassed, and trying to see what is or is NOT in line with their notations, as a rational progression).

Do you listen to music when you work? If so, could you share a few titles or artists?

I have well over 25,000 vinyl lp’s, not to mention many, MANY tapes and cd’s. I can’t listen to a fraction of what I have, but the things I come back to include: All J.S. Bach, especially as performed by Pablo Casals and Glenn Gould. All of Beethoven, especially as performed by Arturo Toscanini, David Oistrakh, Vladimir Horowitz, and the Julliard String Quartet. All of Rossini, especially as performed by Arturo Toscanini and Cecilia Bartoli. Carmina Burana. Prokofiev Piano Concerto #3. Bela Bartok string quartets. All of Haydn. Eric Satie. Etc., etc., etc.

The other prong of this listening is pop/jazz. Lately I’ve been bearing down on female vocalists: Carmen McRae, Dee Lawson, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Kay Starr, some Dinah Shore, some Doris Day, Billie Holiday, etc., etc. I’m always up for West Coast Jazz, as centered around Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All-Stars, and Shelley’s Manne-Hole on La Cienega Blvd. Gerry Mulligan is my all-time favorite jazz musician, but there are multitudes of others. Anything by Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Miles, Sonny Stitt, etc., bears more than one listening.

Favorite book?

An impossible question to which I tentatively answer, The Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley.

Favorite movie?

Also impossible, but I would say Citizen Kane and The Third Man, and also, High Society. Reverse the order and it still works.

Favorite local performance?

What the devil does that mean? Local WHERE? All performances are local, if that’s where you are… The two best performances I ever saw were both in the Hollywood Bowl. One was a memorial concert by many artists on Charlie Parker’s 60th birthday, and the other was Igor Stravinsky conducting Rite of Spring on his 80th birthday. I liked Rudolf Nureyev (to put it mildly) when saw him at the NYC ballet, I think it was. Also, Horace Silver at Birdland, Joan Baez at the Santa Monica Civic in ’62, Bill Monroe at the Palomino, Rahsaan Roland Kirk at Concerts by the Sea, Victor Borge at the Irvine Bowl, and the great, GREAT Gerry Mulligan at Fairfield College in Connecticut.

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One Response to Get to Know: Dion Wright

  1. Michael Barr says:

    Hi Guys ! Great set up ! I always look forward to coming in to the gallery for inspiration and motivation..( not to mention conversation and coffee :)) Great job Gary and all you girls !

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