We had the good fortune of connecting with Brian Giberson & Sheri Cohen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brian & Sheri, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Sheri: I think of risk taking as pursuing nontraditional designs. I work with unusual materials in a manner totally outside what one thinks of as jewelry. I am not driven by trends, fashion styles, or what people wear. The risk is that I follow my own artistic voice. I am driven by what speaks to me so it either works or it does not. I have experimented over the years with lots of different places to show my art. I am drawn to unusual venues that attract a population that is generally outside the box. This is not to say that I do not appeal to the mainstream. Quite the contrary. My work appeals to bold, self-confident women in whatever shape and size they come.
When I was young and wanted to be an artist, the well-meaning messages from those who loved me were “Dreams are nice, but make sure you have a fallback position with something practical in case it doesn’t work out.” I understood those fears as being pragmatic about setting out on a historically difficult path, but my feeling was, I would rather jump out of the plane without a chute and learn to fly on the way down… or fail spectacularly. Thankfully, my drive and ability brought me to where I am today.
I think the biggest risk in life is to not risk it all on living your truth. Life is short and you only get the time your allotted. I cannot think of a worse fate then to get to the end of your life filled with regret for not giving your all on your dreams and what you feel your meant to do. I feel extremely fortunate that I knew from a young age I wanted to pursue bringing more magic and beauty into the world via my art.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Brian: My artistic journey wove its way through many different techniques such as illustration, digital art, sculpture, and metal smithing. All these techniques found a combined home it the mixed media art totems I make today.
Totems have existed since prehistory as a marker, a sentinel, or a physical representation for an abstract concept. It is an object of inspiration and spiritual significance.
I started making my totems after helping my neighbor take his back yard gate to the curb to be thrown out. It was so worn and gnarled by the lifetime of use, that I found it inspiring in its grotesque beauty and hung it on the wall of my studio as inspiration. This gate became a talisman that worked on me while I painted. By looking at it daily, it made me ponder what it was about it that I found so compelling. It spoke to so many of the preferences I already have in my art. Natural processes such as how things break down over time, the way water staining travels over uneven surfaces, and the erosion of paint have always intrigued me. I also began to find faces and creatures suggested by the patterns etched into the wood grain. This artifact opened in me, an interior gate leading to a deeper understanding of my own artistic process. It inspired me to tear the gate apart and create from its pieces the first batch of totems.
I make my totems from wood that has lived its life as part of a structure such as a house or fence. Scarred and worn wood makes the most interesting pieces to work with. I break the wood, creating ragged edges and natural abstract forms dictated by the way wood splits along the grain. I then play with the broken pieces laying them out in compelling compositions. I like to assemble the hardware, copper strips, and found objects in a way that divorces them from their original function. I use these found objects purely for their design potential. The paint is then applied in multiple thin glazes with a light sanding between the layers to emphasize the texture and creates an intriguing evolution of color.
I hope that my totems inspire you the viewer, as that original gate inspired me – as a key to unlock a special little door in your mind, that when opened, spins you into a part of yourself half known yet instantly remembered.
Sheri : I have always been artistic but didn’t know it. I helped my college expenses by doing cake decorating. I wrote a novel. (never got it published) I made fabric art, painted and did ceramics. When I met my husband, Brian, we took a jewelry class together and something clicked. This was the medium that allowed me to put together all the things I wanted to express. After the journey of learning how to control the range of different techniques, I then set out to express what I had to say. Be bold! Embrace your power. Take the world by storm.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We love unusual artists who create their art outside normal gallery settings. Several favorites are:
Galleta Meadows Estate in and around Borrego Springs, CA. Featuring the work of metal artist Ricardo Breceda. Here you will find over 130 monumental metal art sculptures from giant scorpions to dinosaurs and even a huge dragon serpent. It is in desert badlands so be mindful of the weather.
Tio’s Tacos 3948 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA. This is a family-owned Mexican restaurant, but what really makes it remarkable is the recycled/found object art that is continually growing on the grounds by artist Martin Sanchez. Much of the waste of the restaurant finds its way into his installations from folk art giants made of large cans to a walk-in shrine made from bottles. Have a nice meal and explore the concrete walkways with mosaics of imbedded found objects. It is also a short walk away from the Mission Inn which is also well worth a visit.
The weirdest Museum in LA is The Museum of Jurassic Technology at 9341 Venice Blvd., Culver City, CA (Currently closed due to covid) The museum’s collection includes a mixture of artistic, scientific, ethnographic, and historic items that are all presented in an authoritative factual tone, but are all kind of strange and a bit off. Many are certainly real and remarkably odd, like miniature paintings made of scales from butterfly wings or miniature realistic carvings of the graphite on the end of pencils. Some exhibits seem to be elaborate put-on told with a straight face. About halfway through your visit you will be questioning what is real and what is not. This Museum is a thought provoking descent into the imagination.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We feel profound gratitude to everyone who has believed in us in our artistic journey. From our collectors and patrons to our fellow artists with whom we feel a kinship in externalizing our imaginations as we dream our way into the future.
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