We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Reischman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Ah, the work/life balance, it can be challenging. I’ve been fortunate to have always been working in a creative field. Early on in my career work was everything. I was happy to be a designer and spend my creative energy in the service of others. Working long hours was challenging and rewarding, until it wasn’t.
It was when I began to explore my personal creative vision without parameters that the need for balance entered my life. It was more of a mental thing for me, but the more time I spent on my work, the more time I had for it. My priorities shifted, the other work got done but they supported each other – or at least that is how I came to see it. I wanted to build a creative life, one that was multi-dimensional.
I built a studio, that looks out into my yard. Having this creative space allows me to work whenever I want, and it does blur the lines between work and life. Work is whatever I am working on at the time, art, design cooking, or gardening. Wherever the energy takes me, that’s the work, it’s all my life, there is no separation.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In terms of my art, I am most excited about exploring light and darkness to create areas that contain a certain presence. I am always intrigued by that transition of light to dark and vice versa, I see this as a metaphor for life’s transformations. I feel the same way with color, I am always curious about combinations and how they react and work together. I have been pretty focused on this idea for many years, I pick a starting point, a line, or a shape, and build upon that. I work intuitively, each mark directs the following mark, as one painting or drawing leads me to the next one.
I’ve gotten to where I’m at by showing up. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. I keep working and get my work out to the public whenever I can. Los Angeles has a strong artist community, one that I find to be very welcoming. I was in a workshop where the speaker told us that – and I’m paraphrasing here, that whatever is prominent in our art, whether it’s an image or a style, is what we should consider our art. I’ve learned that this is true. I’ve said this before, artmaking is all part of our journey, we just need to stay on it. There’s a quote by Banksy on my wall that says “If you get tired learn to rest, not quit.” I think that’s pretty good advice.
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?
I would offer a nice balance of nature, art, and some walking, all centered around eating of course. Breakfast at République, to start, they have great food there the baguette with French butter and jam is not to be missed. Then we would head over to LACMA to see the Bill Viola: Slowly Turning Narrative and take in whatever else the museum has to offer at this time in their collection. After that, lunch at Petit Trois on Melrose and Highland, we’d sit at the bar and eat mussels and fries downed with a glass of rosé while French rap music plays in the background – it feels more like Paris than LA, but it’s the perfect stop after the museum.
After that, we could walk it off strolling up Highland boulevard taking in more art galleries there – Diane Rosenstein and Various Small Fires.
The next day I would keep it simple, a walk on the beach, Santa Monica Pier and have lunch at Gjelina before heading home.
Next, I would keep it close to my neck of the woods with a stroll through Descanso Gardens taking in all the new blooms. The lilacs are starting to bloom right now, if it’s a weekend, a quick hop on the Glendale Freeway to Echo Park for Lunch at the Ostrich Farm.
The last day would be a hike at the end of the day in the Angeles National Forest. Following the Rim of The Valley trail to take in the sun setting over the San Fernando Valley and Mountain ranges beyond. Then meander back to my place, where we will dine al fresco in view of my studio, beneath eucalyptus trees and a backdrop of the Mountains we just walked in.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The first person that comes to mind is my husband, Jan Kovac. Without his staunch support and encouragement for the past twenty-nine years, I would not be making the art that I am today, he believed in me before I did. I can always count on him to be honest and he’s always the first person to see my art.
Having one’s artwork included in the permanent collection of a museum is a pretty great thing to happen in one’s career. I’d like to give a shout out and a thank you to Andi Campognone, museum director and senior curator, and Robert Benitez, assistant curator at Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH)
They have also created a supportive community of artists and art professionals that I am honored and thrilled to be a part of. I have learned so much and continue to discover ways in which I can be in the world as an artist.