by Johnny Murdoc
SEX+STL’s Friday night shindig isn’t the only fundraiser happening this week. On Saturday, FriendsbyChoice is hosting ChoiceArt 2010, an art auction to benefit Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is an invaluable resource in the St. Louis area. They provide health services and education programs designed to give teens and adults the information they need about sex and reproductive health. Along with providing comprehensive birth control and contraceptive services, they also provide testing and treatment for HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections, HPV vaccinations and cancer screenings. Their website provides an overview about subjects ranging from birth control, body image, gender, sexuality, and relationships. They have sections dedicated to teens, parents, and educators.
The Edison Art Group, painters Neal Rogers and Jake Sedabres, have two pieces in the ChoiceArt 2010 auction. Rogers is a close friend of mine, so I took a moment to ask the two of them some questions recently about the paintings, the auction, and Planned Parenthood.
First of all, can you tell a little about the fundraiser?
Neal: To be short and sweet, the event is a tremendous opportunity to support both the Saint Louis art scene and Planned Parenthood, hosted by the Concrete Ocean Contemporary Art Gallery.
Why was it important for you and Jacob to donate artwork for the fundraiser?
Neal: Jacob and I have always been strong proponents of Planned Parenthood and we both saw this auction as a chance to fulfill our progressive agenda by helping raise funds for Planned Parenthood. The pride that we feel for both our pieces was also a major contributing factor to our decision to donate them; the worth we have vested in these paintings (Cerebro & Bill Cosby) is something we hope translates to generous bidding come auction time. Ultimately, supporting PP and the LGBT community means a lot to us. (Plus a little exposure for us isn’t bad either!)
How long have the two of you been working on art together?
Neal: It’s actually funny you ask that, during our last painting session Jacob and I were attempting to figure how long we’ve been an official team. Not counting the numerous childhood projects, but rather planned, collaborative works, we’ve been working together to nearly a year now and named this joint effort the Edison Art Group after the street we grew up on.
Your artwork has a very unique style, a mixture of organic, Lovecraftian imagery, with a hint of H.R. Giger and a heavy dose of pastels. How has your style evolved over time?
Neal: I can say that Jacob and I have come quite a long way from our very first piece, the style we’ve come to hone developed from a nearly haphazard mash of color and line into cohesive compositions with strong, bold, colors and form inspired by elements of nature. Truth be told, our work together has helped both of us better appreciate and understand each other’s unique vision and style ultimately complimenting each other quite nicely. In each successive piece, initial sketches have become more deliberate, form has had stronger purpose, and use of color has taken on greater meaning. Finding the balance of my nearly obsessive attention to detail and line with Jacob’s flowing and strong strokes has been a great learning experience for both of us.
Jacob: Our style is, in many ways, still being defined. although we have found a rhythm and harmony when working together. I feel we have yet to even scratch the surface of what we are capable of as a team. Looking forward, I hope to see us use more depth and more contrast between light and dark. I would also like to incorporate realistic imagery in a surreal manner in some pieces, though leaving the art vague enough for people to feel whatever they feel from it. What I am most proud of from our collaborations thus far, is that every person who looks at our work envisions something different. Some lines stick out more than others to different people, and focusing on each line can create a new composition. This is the direction our paintings have taken, and I hope to further grow in this direction.
What is your working process like?
Neal: Well, our process follows in alternating direction of each piece, specifically, for one painting I’ll define theme, general composition, etc. and vice versa. At times, it seems unreal how well and easily our compositions fall into place with two artists working the same canvas at the same time. I think we’ve really hit a groove in understanding and seeing each other’s vision.
How long have you been involved (and in what ways) with Planned Parenthood and FriendsbyChoice?
Neal: I’ve been involved with Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region through donations and volunteer work as well as patronizing sponsored events for at least the last 5 years.
Jacob: I have only donated artwork to charity. I have never sold a painting. the last donations t gave were to help someone raise funds for brain surgery that they needed to live – but did not have insurance. Being someone who knows first-hand the greedy evil that the health industry in this country provides, I felt motivated to help. As with all of the artwork I have ever made, I donate it to causes which I support; my own personal form of political activism. So, although I have never donated to Planned Parenthood in the past, it is something I feel passionately about and gladly support.
The ChoiceArt 2010 auction is this Saturday, November 6th, at the Concrete Ocean Contemporary Art Gallery, located at 2257 South Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104. Tickets are $30 per person. You can see more of the wonderful artwork up for bidding on ChoiceArt 2010’s blog.