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What is your name: Erik Kučera
Do you have a formal art education or are you a self taught artist: I have a degree as a licensed goldsmith and jewler.
What is the style of your pieces: I have developed my own style of art which is called “surreallations”
What is the medium in which you work: Mainly i work on paper with ink and marker, however when i work in 3D it is a mix of fabric, wood, pvc and metal. My sculpture work i try to use as much recycled materials as possible, whether it be from nature or man made. When i do my jewelry work i use metals such as gold, silver, copper and brass.
What started you on your path as an artist: My love of beauty, things in nature and my natural propensity towards creativity always drew me to art. I think that when i became a goldsmith and jewler, i became fascinated not only with the creation of jewelry, but the different ways and creative methods I could use to repair and produce items. For example even making cups out of plastic and silver or even a dried pumpkin and silver.
As I was being trained to become a jeweler we were supposed to sketch ideas for jewelry, which I always did, but often I would find my mind wandering into dreams, into fantasy worlds of my creation. I would sketch and doodle and draw and fill up my notebook with fantastic ideas. I was always a dreamer, I wanted to create something different. First I started with black and white, and then after a couple years I moved over to color. Through these works I had the possibility discovered to show another side of my dreams, of my thoughts of my power of imagination. I was able to do whatever I wanted, where as through my jewelry business I was often hindered by customers or trends.
What is one of the most important things that art has brought to your life: The desire to express freedom. I was on always an artist from profession. Earlier I worked in an office and I knew that this was not me. Even when I sat in my office I secretly wrote poems or short stories, anything to be creative. In the evenings I would go home and draw, when I did I would feel good, I would feel free. When there were times that I didn’t create for a while, I would notice how miserable I felt and how much I needed to go back to drawing again. Now, through art I have a profession which I truly love. I don’t sit and dream about a better future or different life, I create my future now and I live my life.
One of the most joyful things about my profession is when I create a piece for someone and they are so astonished, sometimes even to the point of tears. I am so moved and touched that I can do that. I am happy in the moment to know that my job is not useless. Through my art I can also help people, I often work on projects for beautification of neighborhoods and we often donate art to worthy causes.
What is your favorite genre of art besides the one you work in:
I am a lover of modern art. Although it is always impressive to see the oil works of the great masters, I love being a part of the 21st century and I find myself often drawn genres such as cubism, op art, and contemporary modern art.
Do you have art showings, and if so what are they typically like: We try to have at least one new show a month. I have to say there is no typical vernissage that we have experienced and usually it is the great public that makes it so unusual and fun.
Do you have a certain set of clothes you make art in: When I work, I like to be as comfortable as possible, especially when working on sculptures it is important that I don’t get hung on anything. Usually a shirt and jeans, comfortable shoes (my girlfriend often calls it my hobo style). When I work with different metals however it is important that I wear protective gear for safety reasons.
One of the most frustrating parts of being an artist is the requests for art which are more a design then an actual artwork. People, who are just looking for something to match their sofa or to fill an empty space on the wall, will probably be disappointed with my work.
My other frustration is with the galleries. We moved here to Europe to support a yearlong tour of my work and really hoped we would find a lot of galleries to partner with. I was very disappointed to find that here not only were many galleries not open for modern art but only wish to speak with people who have contacts or money. Because of this we are looking forward to our return to the US. Even here in Europe we have had more opportunities in and exhibitions in America as here. Art is more than a business; it is something which enhances life and makes the world more beautiful.
What is your favorite sandwich of all time:
My all time favorite sandwich is one that my girlfriend invented. We both suffer from almost the same list of allergies and we often have to get creative to find foods we can eat. The sandwich she made is yucca bread, baked and filled with goat cheese, lox and pickles. I can recommend it highly. It is even more delicious when paired with Kombucha or root beer!
Has this year brought about any changes in your work, and if so what are they:
I have made two major changes in my art this year. Firstly, because of the increase in demand for my art this year, mainly 3D works, I started to move towards more sculpture and away from just paper and ink. In order to help show my support for the environment and my desire to protect it, i have been producing all my art only out of recycled materials. Whether it is sculpture or fashion, everything is made from materials I have found or received. Secondly, I have had an increase in requests for more of my Jewish works. I have decided to make more pieces which reflect our religion, whether it is holidays, stories or just general themes and symbols pertaining to Judaism. This year we hope to work as well this a Jewish museum and several Jewish art websites.
Who is your favorite artist alive or dead: It is hard for me to choose just one, but would say that my top choices would be Dali, Gaudi, Escher, Hunderwasser and DaVinci
What is the most moving piece of artwork that you have seen in person: In the last months i went to a museum featuring the works of Bruno Gironcoli. His sculptures and 3D objects were very moving for me and helped me decide this year to move towards more sculpture.
Do you have any animals, and what do they think of your work: We have no pets, but I am sure if we did they would certainly enjoy what they see.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions you would like to share with us: We are currently showing in a Hospital in Petaluma, CA. The info about this exhibition can be found here http://www.stjosephhealth.org/Facilities/Petaluma-Valley-Hospital/default.aspx