Gawker Artists Interview: Nicholas Bohac



Gawker Artists Interview: Nicholas Bohac

Gawker Artists Interview: Nicholas Bohac

What is your relationship to nature, and what inspires you to make work about man's relationship to it?
I live in the natural world. San Francisco and the Bay Area are a deeply packed urban area, sure, but they exist within the framework of nature. Maybe it's a little easier to see the natural in a place like San Francisco because there are so many areas that still appear natural. Golden Gate Park is a huge natural feeling space, despite the fact that the Park looks nothing like it's "natural" state. Other places, like the beaches, or the hills and mountains in the city that are too steep to build on, make the city as a whole feel natural.

When I was in grad school and trying to figure out what some of the themes in my work would be, I never set out to make work asking questions about humanity's relationship with the natural world. A lot of it just came out of experiencing San Francisco and the surrounding area. I was reading so many articles about technology, climate change, agriculture, it just lead to me asking a lot of questions, and eventually working through it in my paintings.

Gawker Artists Interview: Nicholas Bohac

Do you feel part of a generation? If so, how would you describe it?
Maybe? It's really hard to gauge what this means anymore. In a lot of media, there always seems to be this very strict cutoff between older generations and the new generations. I really like to think that I get along with older people and younger people, be they artist or not. Most of my friends and people who I identify with are around my age, give or take a few years, but some of my best friends are ten, twenty or thirty years older than I am. Artistically, I feel attached to a lot of movements and people and "scenes". It helps that a lot of things that weren't taken seriously before are now taken very seriously. The low-brow art scene is embraced today and is a major component of the Bay Area scene. I don't feel like I'm fully a part of that, but I incorporate elements of that in my work. More than anything, I feel like maybe we're at a crossroads as far as generational things go. We don't need to solely define ourselves as one thing or the other, and I would say that's where I sit.

I re-appropriate elements from a lot of different styles of works, different art movements and time periods, and juxtapose them all together. That also happens to be what I think a lot of people working in art & entertainment are doing right now, so in that regard, I suppose that I do feel like a part of "THIS" generation. The generation of musicians who are sampling and borrowing from each other, where authors are mashing their words up with the classics, and where artists are trying to blend everything together that they can.

How do you evaluate what you do?
I'm not sure if I ever really do fully evaluate what I do. A lot of times, it's hard to even walk away from a painting and say "it's done". In the past, I've been working toward a show, making a lot of work at once, and thought I finished a painting up. I start working on another, and a couple weeks later, I might end up going back into the "finished" painting and working more. Other times, I feel like I look at the point and just hit this point of clarity, where the painting just feels done and like there's absolutely nothing else that can be done. The problem is that I don't know how I hit the point. Sometimes I go back and look at a painting a year or two after it's been finished, and I still love everything about it. Other times, I look at something that I remember feeling so proud about, and I think "Why the hell didn't I think to do this, in this spot?" I see my work posted somewhere, and I think "Why did somebody else like THAT painting over one of my other paintings". More than anything, I just see things that instantly don't mesh well, or things that seem to just work. I can't always explain why something does or does not work, and a lot of times it's just aesthetics.

Gawker Artists Interview: Nicholas Bohac

Would you consider yourself a "California artist"?
Of course! I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and lived there for 24 years, but I feel like my "career" really grew into something when I came to San Francisco. At least for the foreseeable future, I plan to stay in California, and I feel connected to what's happening out here. I love San Francisco and California and everything that's going on out here. Also, I vote here. That has to count for something, right?

Gawker Artists Interview: Nicholas Bohac

A Google search for your name turns up a lot of results from blogs, as well as content you've generated through your own site, Twitter, Facebook, etc. How are you thinking about your internet presence? What do you see as the value of joining a community like Gawker Artists?
This is something I think about constantly. Like, to the point of ridiculousness. I have the luxury of not having to "self edit" in the same way that people in other fields have to, but I still find myself thinking about what I'm writing and presenting online. For example, I have my Twitter account linked to my website and blog, and I post images on there fairly often of works in progress. But I post a lot of other things, as well. Do people reading my Twitter feed really care about the San Francisco Giants, the new episode of "Fringe" or Nirvana? I'm not really sure.

I tried to approach Facebook by setting up a page where people who like my work can just be a "fan", or whatever Facebook is calling it these days. It's kind of worked, but I still get random friend requests from people who are obviously finding me through a Google search. Which is fine, I guess, if people don't mind seeing a lot of pointless things showing up in their feeds. My Facebook page about my work is probably more enjoyable for people who like what I do, as an artist at least, because it's just about art. I post updates to work, articles, blog highlights, things like that.

Over the last couple of years, since graduate school, I've been very fortunate that people are paying attention to what I'm doing. My work gets featured on a lot of really awesome blogs, and it's astounding to me that people around the world have seen my work and wanted to feature it on their space on the internet. The value of joining something like Gawker Artists is that it's visible. If your work isn't being seen, it really does not have much of a chance at all. You could be making the greatest work in the world, but if nobody sees it, where do you go from there? If people are seeing your work online, and then they're reposting it somewhere, be it Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogger or anywhere else, then you're creating something that's resonating with people.

The fundamental concept behind the Web 2.0 movement is that we all control the internet through social networking. As a massive aggregator, we all have ability to push something through to the top or let it sink to the bottom. Gawker Artists is part of a large media community, so there's a lot of potential for people to see what I do. As a still emerging artist, that's one of the most important things I can work for. Just to be seen.

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