We had the good fortune of connecting with Eugene Huffman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eugene, how do you think about risk?
I was just having a conversation with my Partner about this – but you don’t gain anything of substantial worth or payoff in any art form without taking them. Try different things – push yourself out of your comfort zone – try that idea you haven’t been so sure about. You won’t be successful every time, but it is worth it for the times that you are – and that may lead to other ideas and ventures. Safe is boring.
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.
I am an abstract expressionist. My works are all personal, reflecting expression of my inner self at the moments of creating each piece, tied to my emotions and mindset, and goal I set for each one at the time. A kind of meditation of sorts, if you will. I also take breaks in between creating work to curate shows with other artists and team up with other curators (one I have worked with recently – K Ryan Henisey – has been a wonderful experience – we work very well together, and I look forward to our future curatorial collaborations). Also being an HIV-Postive Queer man, I weave in elements of advocacy and activism in my work. My work as an artist also gives me a platform to start dialogue on those issues. Coming from the background I have – HIV, being Queer, and growing up in a household where domestic violence was an often – if not almost daily – occurrence – nothing I have done has ever been easy; but I find those things I accomplish and reach to be more satisfying and better learning experiences. Also do other projects! Recently, I had to have a major surgery to replace two discs in my neck – it was a major source of pain for years, and right before the surgery, it was almost unbearable. After the surgery, I had limitations on what I could do – and I was in quarantine during my recovery. Having that time to myself – I couldn’t paint…but there were other things I could do. I meant for years to create a tarot deck – so I put my graphic design talents to use, created a deck, custom box, and booklet, and have almost sold the first print run of 30 decks. It’s an accomplishment I finally had time to do, and I am very proud of the results. My advice – trust yourself, trust your work – be genuine, and don’t comprise yourself for anyone else. Hard work also pays off, and failure is just an opportunity to learn and steer yourself in the right direction.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well – these times in the era of COVID-19 prohibit us from doing any of that. Los Angeles does have a lot to offer when it comes to visitors. Odd place you might not think of to visit – the abandoned Old LA Zoo…I did one of my first artist photo shoots there, and it’s something a lot of people don’t know about. Favorite restaurant…? Baco Mercat – they combine different cuisines and flavors – some things you might not think would go together ingredient wise – and may end up surprising you. For those that enjoy a cocktail or two – there are a few speakeasy style places around – Dirty Laundry is a favorite. In the world of art – LA Artwalk is always a fun experience to have with a few people.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to say that I am extremely fortunate to have the Partner that I do – Fredrick Faith. Fredrick works in the film industry, and is a fellow creative. It is extremely rewarding to have a relationship where you both support each other in your creative endeavors and successes. We both have our on/off modes as well. When I have a gallery exhibition or am curating a show, he is there to support me, and vice versa – when he has an event, wrap party with cast and actors – I step back and let him have his spotlight. We are always helping each other, and are each others’ sounding board for ideas and they work we create. That, in and of itself, is a rarity, and quite special. I also am grateful for my interaction as a youth with “elder stateswoman of the avant garde” musician and artist Cosey Fanni Tutti. Someone I’ve looked up to – and it was her honest critique of my early artwork that led me to the realization that I needed to trust myself as an artist, and led me to creating the abstract expressionist work that I do today.
Painting Images: Brandon Rizzuto