We had the good fortune of connecting with Tom Pazderka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tom, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in Czech Republic (former Czechslovakia, now Czechia) in the last decade of Communist rule in that country. My family were all poor, working-class folks, but what I remember most clearly are all the great fun times we had together, more so than the not so good times. The 1989 revolution is probably the first of many formative events in my life and one of the most impactful memories of my youth immediately followed by my move to the United States a few years later. I wouldn’t be what I am today and wouldn’t be doing what I do without those two specific events. In some ways, my work always returns to that time, not as a form of nostalgia, but as something that I can only think of in terms of the Nietzschean ‘eternal return’ or Freudian ‘return of the repressed.’ Much of what happened in those days, the chaos and hopeful future, was too much to take in and I was a little too young to understand it fully. I doubt that even the adults understood what had in fact happened and to this day the legacy and fallout of the revolution are hotly debated 30 years later. This among other things, had instilled in me a kind of intellectual hunger for strange and fringe phenomena that are then channeled through my work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Art for me is a living document – of one’s life, feeling and emotion, inner drives and intellectual investigation. Nothing is already given in advance and an artist’s life can be a challenging, even traumatic experience. My life so far has been full of ups and downs. Persistence is the only thing that I can say that truly make or break an artist. I make art because I have to, not because I can, and it is not always easy. There are no open doors one can simply walk into. The challenge is to find it within oneself to keep going despite all the roadblocks, rejection and deprivation that are surely going to come one’s way and to not take any of it personally, despite the fact that all art is in some way personal. There is a mythological aura suspended around the figure of the artist, the ultimate creative, driven by centuries of historicist misrepresentations. Art is not a glamorous endeavor or some form of simple entertainment. It is not just a form of self-expression or propaganda. Art can be ugly and crass, dark but beautiful, like the world around us. I look around and I want to channel that energy into something, not positive or negative, but meaningful.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m more of the outdoorsy bookish type, so a camping trip to the Channel Islands is in order. Then probably a road trip up the coast or into the mountains, stopping over for food in some tiny mountain village. I live in Ojai, so checking out downtown, Bart’s Books (the only outdoor book shop I know), the Krotona and the surrounding landscapes with hiking all over is a must.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to do a shoutout to my wife Stacy, my mom, grandparents and my family. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Another shoutout to my friends who are strewn about this postmodern, interconnected, yet socially distanced world, East Coast, West Coast, Europe and the great people behind the galleries that represent my work, The Basic Premise, Bender Gallery, and Silo 118.
Art photography by Tony Mastres