Laurie Pace, Editor-in-Chief, Visual Language, Contemporary Fine Art Magazine interviews New York Artist and Art Critic, Hall Groat II.
Laurie Pace - What is your earliest memory that involves creating?
Hall Groat II - Playing in the sand and collecting seashells, along the seashore in Cape Cod.
Pace - Did you ever feel competitive to your Dad or challenged to do more?
Groat - No, never in the field of art, but during my early teens my father and I were very competitive at tennis.
Pace - Do you have brothers or sisters or other family members that paint?
Groat - Yes, I have one sister who creates abstract collages. Her work is along the lines of the Harlem Renaissance artist, Romare Bearden.
Pace - What was life like growing up with your Dad painting full time?
Groat - I have very fond memories of my father working at home, and during my teens actually helping him with his business. I used to assist him in painting the large backgrounds for the various corporate and religious murals he was commissioned to create throughout upstate NY.
Pace - Did you ever contemplate another profession?
Groat - Yes, while I was an undergraduate student at SUNY Binghamton during the mid-1980’s I was studying to be an urban regional planner, and then changed to architecture. My father took me to several architectural firms located in upstate, NY, and most all of them were negative when discussing the occupation. I recall them stating, “Why do you want to be an architect, when you are already an artist?; This field is so difficult now to be successful in since there are so many legal restrictions on architects.”
Pace - Where do you draw inspiration from in your work?
Groat - The history of art, especially 17th century Baroque chiaroscuro painting.
Pace - Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone to try different approaches to your art? If so, what was it? Groat - Yes, I often step out of my comfort zone and explore atypical, non-conventional subjects. I find it helpful to explore both conventional archetypes and then delve into fresh ideas. For example, over the past few years I’ve been experimenting with polyptychs, which are multi-panel paintings. One of the most unusual ones is entitled “Virgin Earth Challenge” which is 35x35 in. overall, consisting of sixteen 8x8 in. panels.
|Blood Money by Hall Groat II|
This constructivist piece combines fragments of an internal combustion engine, juxtaposed with insects, bones, a hornets nest and human hand. Over the past few years I’ve also been inspired by the textures found in popular culture desserts and have painted quite a few of them. I decided one day to explore a few atypical associations, and ended up combing a large peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a pile of coins, entitled “Blood Money”. This initial piece then led to “Dirty Money”, “Bad Money” and then “Bling, Bling”. In the most recent piece, called “Bling, Bling”, one is confronts with a large piece of strawberry shortcake served on a sterling silver, ornate plate, which is enveloped by a monumental pair of hand-cuffs and coins. Yes, I’ve painted quite a few pieces involving food and money, which is apropos based on what’s taking place worldwide. The pieces are depicted in a slideshow on this page: http://hallgroat.com/painting-a-day/
Pace- What do you do to continue ‘growing’ with your painting?
Groat - Teaching painting at the college allows me to grow since I feed off of the students’ creative energy. I’m inspired by the way college students explore ideas with a fresh vision. Perhaps it’s due to their tabula rasa minds, in the sense that they have not been exposed to too much art history and are not aware of what has been done or not done yet. In terms of painting, pretty much everything has been tried at least once, and knowing too much about art history could potentially inhibit one artistically, resulting from pre-qualifying everything that one considers painting.
Pace- How do you challenge yourself with your art?
Groat - I explore non-conventional subject matter and compositions, both within the large format and smaller, daily painting studies. For example, within “Human Heart with Brain” I painted an
anatomical study depicting a dissected human brain on a 12x12 in. panel, which is presented alongside a second panel of a human heart as a diptych. I have always been interested in science, and the piece was inspired by a scientific exhibit I went to a few years ago in Buffalo, NY, entitled “Bodyworlds” that presented a variety of human body parts preserved through a unique plastination process that was invented by German anatomist, Gunther von Hagens. This piece prompted me to then paint a baby suspended within its mother’s womb at the five or six month point, along with a fetus at six weeks.
Pace - Do you ever fight ‘demons’ that slow your creative process or create doubts?
Groat - Yes, I often ask myself “Why should I paint this; does this deserve to be painted; what’s more important, the subject and content or underlying aesthetic of the piece”? As a result, I work in series and am pushed towards exploring diverse subject matter, spanning from conventional motifs to the atypical or odd.
|New York Street Vendor by Hall Groat II|
Pace - Tell us more about your newly launches website. You have always been a teacher and helped others in learning how to develop their own style, market their work ,etc., so how does your new site benefit not just your work, but the work of other artists?
Groat - Within my new site at www.HallGroat.com, there is a section where students may upload their paintings for a free critique. These critique posts include the student’s statement about their paintings (or what they are working on), along with my critique. So far, this has been a very popular area within the new web site since students may learn from one another’s work. Art students may also post comments at the bottom of each critique page, which are networked directly into FACEBOOK.
Pace - What would be the best advice you share in the classroom with your art students?
Groat - Don’t allow your parents to push you into a practical career, unless this is what you really want to pursue in life. You will be the happiest and do the best at what you have a true passion for. There are many people who are making lots of money at what they do and are miserable. I t’s important to find balance in life.
Pace - If you could live anywhere and paint, where would it be?
Groat - Paris, or perhaps Santorini, one of the Greek Isles.
|Dirty Money by Hall Groat II|
Pace - What type of music do you listen to?
Groat - My taste in music is diverse. I enjoy listening to a variety of classic rock and Jazz, all the way to alternative and classical symphonic orchestra music, such as Rachmaninov and Chopin.
Pace - Who are some of your favorite authors?
Groat - In recent years, I would have to say Leo Tolstoy has been one of my favorites.
Pace - What is your passion in life?
Groat - Making art, traveling, teaching and spending time with family and pets.
Pace - What is something no one knows about you?
Groat - I really wasn’t that talented in art during my high school years.
New York Art Collection
Hall Groat II, President
During the late 1990′s, the New York Art Collection naturally evolved from the New York Art Guide publication, and currently showcases the permanent collection of the New York Art Guide quarterly publication, which was last published during the spring of 2000. The collection consists of various 19th and 20th century artists, including Pablo Picasso, Salvtore Dali, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Raphael Soyer, Leroy Neimen, Xavier Gonzalez, Jerome Witkin, Valfred Thelin, Jan DeRuth, Roger Walton, Romanos Rizk and several other well-known contemporary painters from the United States.
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