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Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Close’

For the next couple weeks on the radio show, we’ll be taking a peek at Studio 360′s new book, Spark: How Creativity Works. It draws on ten years (!) of interviews with America’s most accomplished filmmakers, musicians, art, and others about what it takes to live a creative life.

This week, Kurt talks with Julie Burstein, the show’s former executive producer, about a subject that’s meat and potatoes in the interview biz: childhood. We hear about Chuck Close painting from a nude model at age eight, “which made me the envy of everyone in my neighborhood” and helped him get past a severe learning disability.  Richard Ford tells us that his childhood memories are cans stored in his mental “pantry,” waiting till he has the right recipe.  One such memory, Ford explains, was an untimely end of the family cat under the family station wagon — which found its way into one of Ford’s celebrated Frank Bascombe novels.


You can hear Kurt’s full, original conversations with the artists below.

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Chuck Close, painter

(Originally broadcast January 19, 2002)


For over 30 years, Chuck Close has been making huge, meticulous paintings of faces — 9 foot, looming images of himself, and of friends such as the composer Philip Glass and the late painter Robert Rauschenberg. He is one of today’s most famous and seriously regarded portraitists — particularly impressive since Close suffers from prosopagnosia, face blindness.  Kurt visits Close at his New York studio.

Richard Ford, novelist

(Originally broadcast November 10, 2006)


He’s not the type of novelist who cranks out a new book every year. Ideas marinate in Richard Ford’s mind for years – sometimes fifty years – before they surface in his stories. Ford spent so much time gathering material and reworking the manuscript of his latest novel, The Lay of the Land (2006), he kept the pages in his freezer for safekeeping. Ford talks with Kurt about the challenges of aging a character in real time.

Mira Nair, filmmaker

(Originally broadcast March 16, 2007)


Mira Nair’s films take place all over the Indian diaspora – from the rough city streets of Salaam Bombay! (1988) to the American Deep South in Mississippi Masala (1991). The Namesake (2006) spanned the distance from Calcutta to New York: a young Indian couple who makes a life together in the US, and the struggles of their American-born son. Nair tells Kurt why unconventional love stories have inspired so many of her films. And how an encounter with a band of street performers set her on the path to becoming a filmmaker.

Richard Serra, sculptor

(Originally broadcast May 25, 2007)


Richard Serra began working with steel as a teenager, on a summer job in a steel mill. He went on to become one of America’s greatest sculptors. Serra’s recent pieces are massive, 12-foot-tall steel walls that curve and lean together to form fascinating spaces you can enter and walk around. Serra walks Kurt through a major retrospective of his work at New York’s MoMA as he finishes up its installation.

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Out of 1,262 artists from 41 states and 15 foreign countries, Ran Ortner was declared the winner at ArtPrize, the festival that took over Grand Rapids, Michigan for the last couple of weeks.  There were balloon sculptures and paper airplane demonstrations, but in the end, the public got behind Ortner’s two-dimensional painting, “Open Water no.24,” and made its creator $250,000 richer.  Ortner will be on the show next week to tell Kurt how his life as a struggling artist has been forever changed.  Until then, consider a couple others who fell short of the blue ribbon:

"Imagine That"

"Imagine That"

Second place finisher Tracy Van Duinen received raves for his tile mural, “Imagine That,” displayed outside the city’s Children’s Museum.  (He pocketed a cool $100,000 for his efforts.) Van Duinen worked in Chicago’s public school system, leading inner city kids to create large murals and sculptures.  Community groups in Grand Rapids helped assemble Van Duinen’s installation outside the museum, contributing the small paintings that were incorporated into the design and helping to adhere some of the tiles.  While Van Duinen fell short of first place, the city won big — it gets to keep “Imagine That.”  The mosaic will remain on the museum’s façade.

Works by Eric Daigh

Works by Eric Daigh

The Traverse City-based artist Eric Daigh took third prize, collecting $50,000 for “Portraits,” which consisted of three of his signature pushpin designs.  Taking inspiration from the artist Chuck Close and photographer Martin Schoeller, Daigh devised his own method for capturing his subjects.  He starts by taking photos of them and then using a computer program to create a very low resolution image.  Then he sets up a grid and gets to work dotting his canvas with five different colors of pushpins, the kind you  would tack onto a bulletin board.

Daigh seems destined for something big.  And he’ll always be able to pinpoint his success to ArtPrize.

- Jordan Sayle

How It's Done

How It's Done

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