Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Artist's Easel: Joseph Lusk

A six-pack of questions with Mexico-based artist Joseph Lusk.

Barra de Navidad based artist Joseph Lusk is a man of as many talents as he has names. Whether you call him La Manzanilla Joe, Painter Joe, or Twelve Beer Joe, Joseph Lusk has left an imprint in the Mexican fishing village that he calls home. We recently caught up with Joe and shared a six-pack of questions. What follows are his answers and an insight to one of Jalisco's idiosyncratic artists.

1. You live in a community full of writers, artists and musicians. How did you first come across Barra de Navidad and what made you stay?

Having spent nearly five years in La Manz, I was beckoned by John and Trish of the [local musical group] Redneck Mothers to come and paint some murals for a bar called The Q Club, located out behind the Cadillac Ranch here in Barra. (I first met the Redneck Mothers in [Puerto] Vallarta back in 2000 before they all moved to Barra.) This was also when I met [Q Club manager] Héctor Alejandro García Loza and his family. I packed a light bag and came to Barra to work on the murals. I was put up in a sleeper van on the property and met some wonderful, new and exciting people.
While working on the Q Club project, I was commissioned to do other residential murals locally. When I finished the Q Club, I felt good things about the community and it's people with the promise of more work ahead and just made a decision to make the move. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. Do you find that the community supports each other?

As far as the community supporting each other, I would say yes to an extent. What I feel is lacking, is a co-op community gallery that could showcase local artist's works.

Son of Man inspired by René Magritte.

3. Tell us about your style. Who were your artistic influences along the way?

My style speaks for itself but realism with an inkling toward surrealism from time to time. Some of my influences growing up were: Norman Rockwell, Robert Bateman, Glen Loates, Chuck Close, Mary Pratt, Dali, René Magritte, Wyeth (both Andrew, and his Father N.C.), M.C. Escher, Alphonse Mucha...the list goes on forever get the picture. I've always been more of an illustrator than an artist, and if you do a bio search for N.C. Wyeth you might understand my style better.

4. Back to your community. You are well known for your mural work. How did that come about? Do you ever take a moment and say, "Wow! I have a lot of public art in this town."

Having dabbled in art since I could hold a pencil, I didn't make a living at it until I was 33. I had enough of corporate atrocities, and answering to people and governments who served suppression only to serve themselves. I quit my job as a studio photographer and auctioneer of eight years at an up and coming auction house that would eventually come to amalgamate into an international auction house.
Woodbine mural ( )

Three days later I was hired by a mural company called Brushworks in T.O. The company was in the middle of a multi-million dollar installation for the casino at Woodbine Racetrack. The murals were done in studio and later installed on site. I was elated to be part of more than 25 talented artists working on the project. One of the managers, days after I was hired, said I was a 'freak' of nature having picked up so quickly what the others were doing. I was elated by the compliment. I'm good at copying what I see before me.

As for the latter part of that question: I have a lot more murals elsewhere than here in Barra, and no, I don't think, "Wow! I have a lot of public art in this town." I think about all the canvas works I've done that are now all over the world, as I sell mainly to tourists.


5. What inspires you to create? Is it an image that you want to convey or is it an emotion?

I am inspired by harmonic contrast and composition. Lot's of things inspire me. Sometimes I'm inspired by a simple tree just being a tree.

6. What is the one thing that you would like people to know about you and your art?

That everything I do is with absolute passion, curiosity, and a desire to challenge my limits which seem to be limitless. Challenge me, and you will surely be surprised. Rather than sit and paint a bouquet of flowers just because they sit before me, (not very challenging because I know I can do it) I would rather step outside the box and do something extraordinary that no one expected, including myself.

Arroyo Sunrise
With the tourist season winding down in Mexico Joseph is once again standing outside of that box looking to create something extraordinary. He is available for commission work on walls or on canvas. Available to work from photographs, Joe invites those north of Barra de Navidad to send along their favorite photo or idea with which he can transform into art.

Joe's art is also featured in Take Two: Another Anthology of English Writing from the Costalegre.

CREDITS: All images of original artwork ©Joseph Lusk and used with the artist's permission. The title of the lead image is, Huichol. The Untitled piece is one of three from a single commission. Original artwork is available for purchase by contacting the artist.

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