By Rebecca Artemisa
My paintings are influenced the most by ghosts, definitely ghosts. Holy ghosts, demon ghosts, memory ghosts, our internalized ghosts and the kind of ghosts we will become. I am also very fond of wild flowers, sugar skulls, night time, and only paint people i know, people I love, or strange semi-fictionalized versions of myself. I think up impossible stories of walking skeletons made of burnt sugar (leftovers from Dia de los Muertos altars), flowers that never die, fatal injuries that don’t cause death, girl giants, and spirits coming off of hot tea like steam. I suppose this show in particular is about finding small joys in the darker hours of night and of life.
- Rebecca Artemisa
with Rebecca Artemisa
@ Meat Cheese Bread
1406 Southeast Stark Street
Portland, OR 97214
Oct 10 – Nov 6, 2012
OPEN Monday thru Saturday 7am-7pm
Curated by Greg Pitters of HungryEyeball
I’m excited to be working with Rebecca Artemisa, a Portland artist, who I had in the “Buzz” show at Tender Loving Empire back in 2010. Her new show at Meat Cheese Bread is titled “Ghost Friends” and is available online in the HungryEyeball Gallery. I sent Rebecca a few interview questions and here is what she had to say…
>>> Where did you come from?
I come from Los Angeles, and I come in peace! I’ve been in Portland for a little over 4 years and like it much better.
>>> Where would you like to go?
I would like to go to visit Mexico City where my dad grew up, and I would also like to go to Japan someday as well. I always wanted to see the Great Lakes too, and Niagara Falls. I like being around lots of water.
>>> Your art deals a lot with spirits, ghosts, nature, and usually has a girl with black hair, can you tell us about these reoccurring themes?
Ghosts and the celebration of death as an extension of life is a huge part of Mexican culture, and I am Mexican/Mestiza-American, so I draw a lot of passion and inspiration from that. My mom and family members have pictures of happy skeletons dancing all over our houses, and put up Dia de los Muertos altars every year.
Nature was always a very sacred thing to my family when I was growing up. As a child I spent many family vacations building trails with my dad and brothers around my grandparents house in Arizona border town desert, staying on Native American Reservations (living off fry bread and honey), hiking river canyons in Utah, exploring tide pools in Big Sur and sleeping in tiny motels in the mountains of Northern California, where we would wake up to elk in the early morning outside our window. We met a lot of interesting people and learned to have a lot of respect for the earth and life at a very young age. Those experiences and feelings have stayed with me, and only get stronger year after year. I grew up in a city, but my heart is in nature.
The girls with black hair are sometimes me, and sometimes like extensions of me. The girls I paint are often a lot sassier and a little more rambunctious than I am in my real life! Also they are tough. Lots of times they are dealing with arrows, snakebites, fire or ghosts haunting them, and they are dealing with it like pros. I am kind of a shy pansy who gets flustered easily and likes to press flowers as a hobby, so these girls are wonderful to paint. I live more fully through them, and work through rough bits in my life better because I keep painting them.
>>> Do you believe in ghosts? If so do you have any ghost stories?
I totally believe in ghosts! I have so many stories I could probably write a small novel.
One in recent memory took place back in my old apartment here in Portland. I was doing laundry down in our super creepy basement and was about to head back upstairs when I felt a hard tug on the back of my shirt. I whipped around quickly because I thought it was one of the little kids in the building playing a joke on me, but as I turned around to say “GOTCHA!” no one was there! Suddenly, all of the hairs on my arms and neck stood up, which I thought odd, because I wasn’t scared or cold. I checked all over the basement but after a minute, realized I was absolutely alone down there. I walked back upstairs pretty quick once I figured that out!
Later my boyfriend told me that sometimes when he did laundry alone down there he would hear someone calling his name when no one was home. In addition, my mom visited us before we moved out of that apartment, and she said the same thing. She thought she heard me calling her name when she was down in the basement doing her laundry, but when she came upstairs she realized I was sleeping, and couldn’t have called her name. SO WEIRD.
Hmm. I honestly don’t really know!
If it helps, for this show i was jamming out a lot to the following 7 songs and the “Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus” documentary soundtrack:
>>> What are some of your other interests besides art?
I like pressing flowers, researching beekeeping, making 5 minute warm-up comics with my boyfriend and inventing constellations (in the most un-offcial way possible), baking bread and watching scary movies or shows about the paranormal in a blanket fort while screaming into my hands. I also used to skateboard and I kind of want to get back into that at some point.
>>> I’m excited to have you in the second HungryEyeball show at Meat Cheese Bread, do you have any other shows or plans coming up?
Thank you! It’s an honor to be involved!
I am in a couple shows in the month of October here in Portland and L.A. and a few shows lined up for next summer in Portland. I’m also working on painting commissions and a comic that I’m trying to have printed by December. Making comics is kind of new for me, and is really challenging, but I like finding new ways to draw and paint.
See more of her art online at “Ghost Friends” by Rebecca Artemisa or visit the show in person at Meat Cheese Bread in Portland, OR till Nov. 6th, 2012.