Our interview with artist Scott Cousins
Where are you from?
I’m from Planet Earth in the future but I reside on the internet at scottcousins.net (Ha-ha) But seriously I’m from New Haven, Connecticut in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I think it’s important for an artist to “be of our time” even if it’s a challenging one for all of us.
How did you get into art?
I’ve always escaped into my own fantasy world while I was making art. It was a safe place and somewhere I could be strong and creative. Not one of those party boys… I wanted to create something and art was the way for me to do it and wasn’t going to let my dreams be an obstacle keeping me from doing the tasks required to achieve them. I’ve been a fine artist my whole life but have along the way had other experiences like design work and performing all of which have been growing experiences and enhanced my imagination as a painter.
What artists influenced you the most?
Wow! For me that’s a tough question because I’ve never settled on a particular style or “look” for my art. Maybe it’s ambitious of me but I like to think of myself as protean-ist painter. I suppose there are artists that have had an influence on my work. And there are some who’ve had an influence on my life. And some who’ve influenced both my way of living and my work. I’ve read a number of available biographies, autobiographies and essays by artists whose art I love and probably could say they influenced my work & my life. Then there are people who write about art who’ve influenced me in those ways also; John Berger, Robert Hughes, Roberta Smith & Jerry Saltz. People who’ve I’ve learned things about the craft of painting and being a colorist. There’s a long list of past artists and contemporary artists whose work I’ve always loved. A few; Susan Rothenberg, Henri Roussea, Martin Puryear, Cecily Brown, Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Egon Scheile, Bill Traylor, Henry Darger, William Blake. Always Blake!! I could make a huge list of living and deceased artists whom have impressed me. Basquiat, Warhol, Rauscheberg, Lichtenstein. … … Sometimes an artist impresses me without having a direct influence on my art. Also I’ve seen contemporary artists whose work resonated with me but their names don’t conjure in my mind as readily I’m sorry to say. Then there are friends whose art and life has been an influence; Dan Romer & John Kelly are just a couple. Of course there are writers and other types of artists who’ve influenced me in a big way. Poets like Mary Oliver, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickenson and of course Oscar Wilde. Poor Oscar Wilde, a daunting androphile silhouette from the past.
The people who’ve had an influence in the best way are those who’ve given me strength to be my best self in my work and life, whether I’m making art that’s very intimate and personal or art that’s universal in it’s appeal. I do both kinds of art; I guess I’m both introverted and extroverted. It’s always a pleasure to create something that touches everyone. But at times I make work that might be controversial because it’s openly or explicitly sexual. The controversy I guess being the elevated tone. Maybe–ha-ha. I think having a sense of humor goes a very long way in the future. Then there’s cinema influences; Fellini, The Coen Bros., Charlie Chaplin and Mel Brooks.
A Portfolio Carousel of Scott’s Art
Are you currently exhibiting if so where?
That’s an easy one. The simple answer is: No. I do have my website scottcousins.net and my social media pages; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and I’ve posted some work on websites like Saatchi Art or Linked-In.
I received The Pollock~Krasner Foundation Grant (for painting) in 2013 which was a shot in the arm for me. I’d walked into a design showroom in the iron district in Soho NYC looking for part time retail sales job and the showroom director instead offered me exhibiting opportunities (I didn’t get the sales job though ha-ha). I had two solo exhibits there which were well attended. The openings were crowded with hipsters, artists, writers, performers, arbiters and aesthetes. Both times the opening was attended by around 650 people. I was so exhausted that I had to flee at the stroke of midnight once like a Cinderfella. It was a commercial success also. I can say my work is in the collections a a very diverse demographic of people from royalty to vagabonds to writers & intellectuals. But those things are confidential and unless I’m seeing my art in a magazine, in someone’s home, I wouldn’t reveal who’s collected which painting. Francis Bacon’s art is very dark and yet his paintings have been some of the most sought after and expensive contemporary art in recent history.
I’m sure having gallery representation can be a wonderful thing. Some gallerists are as talented as the artists they represent. And when there’s an understanding and commitment between the gallery & artist it can be a wonderful relationship I’m sure. I guess I’m a bit like a reclusive writer who follows an inner muse rather than trends or commerce. I’ve escaped the traditional gallery system so far. There seems to be a tendency galleries foster to make artists repeat themselves.
I’d like to find a few galleries or exhibition opportunities that could show my work in it’s best light. Just have a few shows and see where it goes! Honestly I’ve had offers that I’ve declined too. It’s a LOT of work mounting exhibitions and sometimes it seemed my effort was better applied to producing art than being in sales and marketing. I’m waiting for a “good fit”. There have been some great gallerists who’ve shown interest … I’m pleased about that. I once half-seriously posted on my social media page that I wanted my own museum. I’m still trying to be that prolific as a painter; a painter who makes my paintings with my own two hands. The art world can be a real rodeo.
What other interests do you have?
There’s so much to see in NYC – though thanks to *the Rona* we’re in lock-down more than anything. I love museum going and gallery hopping which is almost better than clubbing if it’s done right. Again the mess our planet is in has put a damper on that decadence! I like to read when I can sit myself down. I love training my body. I try to keep my peak conditioning so I can be the Renaissance man with a body that will carry me through all my trials in this life and bring me joy. (Did I say SEX…I enjoy sex.) Then there’s also the ultimate alter-verse of TV programming which during the quarantine’s been an endless stream of drama and comedy. I’m very involved with the real world though also – this comes through in my work too. I’m concerned about the environment and politics. I’m an idealist, an atheist and a humanist. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some kind of spirituality & faith. But I’m a scientist of the realty based kind. I love life in all it’s permutations on this beautiful planet earth and I take the responsibility as an adult to be an unselfish steward of the Earth. I see a lot of selfish man-apes who think they’re really something. I’m just another critter made of stardust here on the 3rd planet whipping around our sun-star. In the blink of an eye I’ll be rejoining the intelligence of the comets, black-holes and stars. We humanoids are just like sea creatures swimming in the atmosphere of Time.
Website – scottcousins.net