With early forays into the New York experimental film, theater and performance art scenes, the L.A.-based multi-media artist who combines photography and painting in stylized portrayals of nature and landscapes – and also makes use of body images to create a visceral vocabulary of loss and remembrance – plumbs her own psychological depths only to discover what makes her love work and life.
What historical art figure would you like to have lunch with and why? I’m a big Leonor Fini fan. She was a very wild, free and undefined surrealist who did not consider herself a Surrealist. She was flamboyant, theatrical and ahead of her time, and lived with a lot of cats and lovers.
What did you purchase with the proceeds from your first sale? Actually, I bought some very expensive shoes – Arche. I hate buying them because they’re so expensive.
What words or phrases do you overuse? I’m a little excessive in the adjective department and say ‘unbelievable’ and ‘incredible’ a lot.
How do you know when a work is finished? When I can’t see its future. It’s true. I really do stick with the work a long time and then all of a sudden it exists in the present and I don’t see anything else ahead but what it is.
When and where were you happiest? I’m happiest in warm water snorkeling – in the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Mediterranean. I also love Hawaii – the tropics. I wish I could spend more time there.
What is your most treasured possession? My grandmother’s jewelry. I wore a bracelet of hers that’s a double-headed snake. It’s a metallic enameled, woven-looking Deco thing. It’s irreplaceable and I wore it last night at my opening.
What is your ideal escape destination? I’m still into the tropics – I just like that warm tropical breeze. Something happens to me there – I change.
What’s the worst survival job you’ve ever had? When I was eight months pregnant and I was selling human resource software on the phone. I couldn’t even talk any more on the phone after that. But I’ve had a number of difficult jobs. I catered through college and graduate school until I got sick of catering other peoples’ parties. But I’m very sympathetic now when I see caterers.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? For me, being able to be productive into the night. I don’t like the weariness that comes with time, so if there’s something I could change about myself, it’s having that focus and drive that goes into the work. Now, when the sun goes down, I start getting tired and don’t have that drive.
What TV series from our youth best describes your approach to life? I wasn’t allowed to watch TV as a kid. I grew up watching film and West Side Story was the first big movie I saw.
What is your most treasured memory? I have a lot of them, but I might say marrying my husband, Gary Brewer, 22 years ago. He’s my third, and three is the charm.
What makes you smile? Babies. I hate to be so typical, but that’s what really gets me. I have a soft spot for babies.
What makes you cry? Racial and political injustice and the frustration of our world – the big issues of our time. It’s a horrible moment we’re in politically.
What is your go-to drink when you toast to a sale? Champagne. But I am also spoiled by very fine deep, dark complex red wine. Even though I love champagne, it gives me a headache, so I take an Advil when I drink it.
After an all-nighter, what’s your breakfast of champions? I don’t do a lot of all-nighters, but I am a café con leche girl. I lived on the lower East side a long time ago, and that’s still my morning drink.
Who inspires you? Anselm Kiefer. And Jay DeFeo. When I finally saw The Rose in New York, I couldn’t move. Once in a while, when looking at art, it physically enters your body and your bloodstream.
What’s your best quality? I have a joie de vivre that’s a little contagious at times – a love of life. But I’m a moody bitch on the side.
What’s your biggest flaw? I have a very poor memory for names. It drives me nuts. I make notes on peoples’ faces and names on my iPhone these days because there are so many interesting people in L.A.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My undependable hair. It has a mind of its own.
What is your current state of mind? To be more fearless, to be a physical adventurer, to push myself physically. And I’m still longing to get on a motorcycle and drive it. Everyone I’ve ever been around begs me not to do it. But since I’m easily distracted, I’m probably not a great candidate for that.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Following my inner desire to live a fulfilling, creative life and giving back. I’ve had some marvelous teachers and inspirations along the way, and have felt obligated to return that generosity. That’s my challenge in life – to be as generous an artist as those who have inspired me early on.
What is your current state of mind? I’m currently exhausted because of the opening [at Beyond Baroque‘s Mike Kelley Gallery]. I saw a ton of people and I performed at the end of the evening. All in all, I’m dying for a massage and am going to go get one.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I think it would be an animal, because I can’t think of a person I’d rather be than myself. I’d probably like to be a mystical bird, a phoenix. That’s a regenerative life. You don’t want to live forever, but then you kind of burn and are re-ignited.
Cover image: Gary Brewer; all other photos by the artist.