Dylan: It was an amazing meal
Mimi: Oh good! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Dylan: Thank you very much.
Mimi: So, the first question I would like to ask you is, you come from Athens Georgia and how has that affected your art work?
Dylan: I grew up in Athens Georgia, I was born in 1977. My parents worked at the university there, I actually went to the University of Georgia and got a degree in sculpture there. Growing up in Athens was very impactful, not only for me as a person but obviously my entire aesthetic. I say obviously because Athens Georgia is a very unique place. It is often heralded as the birth place of “Indie rock” itself. We skateboarded at a storage unit complex that REM practiced in, my mom actually taught Michael Stipe English in high school, so for me growing up in Athens was very much an exposure to the idea that you could do whatever you wanted to do creatively and whatever you wanted to do anyway, because Athens located in Georgia the upper south and if you live in the south you want to live in Athens , it’s like being in Texas if you’re in Texas and you want to be creative you want to be in Austin . So Athens is a pretty curious mix because you have the eccentric southern sensibility floating around and you also have the university there , so there is a lot of youth and a lot of energy combined with a very eccentric place . For instance, we have a monument in the middle of the town square, a monument to failure and it was a double barreled cannon that was used in the civil war that killed every person that operated it. They only tried it out three times and it killed every single person who did it, and that was in the middle of our town. You also had the tree that owns itself, that was a cobblestone street that went off the main street of Athens and this tree was actually deeded to itself. It was an oak tree that was probably fourteen feet in diameter that jutted out into the middle of the street and they had a little wrought iron gate around it and you couldn’t move the tree or alter it in any way, cause it actually owned itself and it could not voice for itself so it had a historical board that looked after it , but those are the kind of eccentric things that gave Athens it’s character. So except for me growing up, growing up in the theater, it was this kind of sense where everyone was playing in someone else’s band, you were doing the album cover art for someone else’s band and or you would go to these, I don’t know if they were happenings or installations when I was growing up, but it was kind of like there were bands there was performance, there was art.
Mimi: So it was a very artistic place.
Mimi: And you were talking about your parents were both in the theater so what did they do exactly?
Dylan: It wasn’t that they were in the theater, it was just that my mom from a very early age recognized the fact that, hey this kid should be in theater, so she was an English teacher and a literature professor at the University of Georgia and so she pushed me into Athens creative theater which was where I was first exposed at the age of six or seven to the idea of taking subject matter, making a set and putting on a production. So for me it was growing up on the stage till I was about fifteen and then I started getting into the behind the scenes work, how stagecraft was formed, how you take very, very low brow materials and create very, very high gloss fabricated sets that actually put the work on. So it was kind of that exposure that showed me sort of the magic and approach to kind of taking something very cheap and making it look very amazing.
Mimi: So you went to school for sculpture, what kinds of work did you do?
Dylan: well I actually, it is interesting how I got to what I ended up doing. I took in high school a thing called AP which was advanced placement classes, it could be for math, it could be for English but you could also do it for art. When you got out of the program you had to submit your portfolio to be judged by an official board and you would get a score from one to five, if you got a five you would get all these credits to knock off all the introductory art courses you would take in college. Now I knew from my portfolio that I would get the best score or the worst score and I got the worst score. So I went into college taking the introductory art courses and got so dissatisfied that I actually dropped out of school. For two years I ended up travelling the country and ended up living in Steamboat Springs Colorado, snowboarding for an entire season, and on the last day of the season we were in the board park taking all these big board jumps with my snowboarding buddies and I said ”hey watch this!” which is like some famous last words, so I ended up in this huge jump and I came down and cracked all the ribs on this side of my body.
Mimi: And how long ago was this?
Dylan: It was in 1998
Mimi: So, were you in the hospital?
Dylan: I was in the hospital and I was just living in Colorado trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life and I decided, you know what, I am going to go back to school and I’m going to do what I am supposed to be doing in life, just making art. So I came back and got into school and took a sculpture class and I met a professor named Jim Buonaccorsi who is responsible for bringing iron casting back down to the studio art level in the country amongst his contemporaries, Skip Van Houten, a number of amazing artists that I met through him, his approach to making sculpture was really, really forward thinking, because he encouraged anything could be sculpture where is it painting, a performance, it was really folded into the concept of what forward thinking sculpture really was. So I fell into that and at the same time we had a new director of the school of art, Carmon Colangelo who brought in all this technology, like 3D modeling and graphic prototypers, powder coating, brought all those tools and elements into our program.
Mimi: So you got a very rounded education in sculpture.
Dylan: I was exposed to all these new materials and techniques. It was totally killer, totally killer.
Mimi: So in your work do you prefer to collaborate or do you prefer to work alone? Because I know you do some music with Jeff Gerber, right?
Dylan: He is called Raven, actually
Dylan:Yes, Raven. Yes, for me it is highly collaborative the way I work, because I think once you get to know memore I think, I have no shortage of ideas, it’s kind of like an idea net, and by talking to people it is really like forming out which idea is resonating the most, honing out that idea and figuring out where we are going to go with it because although when you look at my work it is aesthetically, materially, all across the board. It is because I am finding new people and new ways to actually realize the work. Now the way the I work is a very high design type of approach a lot of hand drawing and then it goes into a digital way of rendering these objects and finding the most appropriate way to build the object. So at this point I collaborate with a specific carpenter, a neon fabricator, glass blowing team and then certain industrial fabricators to actually realize the work. So for me working in the studio is kind of a way for me to think and conceptualize and render these objects and then I kind of consider Seattle my broader studio because I go and work with different teams in different places to actually realize the best and most perfect version of the work. It goes that way for music too. A lot of the work that I make musically is by making tracks, emailing them to people. They add to those tracks, they can email back and they go through those stages until they are finished.
Mimi:Right, so that’s good. So does some of your work with Chihuly, did that lead to working collaborating with other people?
Dylan: Absolutely. Working for the Chihuly studio absolutely changed my life and it totally changed the way I made art as well.
Mimi:How long have you been doing that?
Dylan: I’ve been with him for five years and I’m on the exhibitions and installations team.
Mimi:And how did you get on that team?
Dylan: You know,it was kind of random. I was a studio lead at a high end metal fabrication studio and it was kind of going a different direction than I wanted to go in , so I applied to the studio to be a project coordinator because that is what I was doing for the high end metal studio. And then when I got interviewed, the guy that interviewed me said “wow, looking at your skill set and looking at what you’ve done in your life you might find this more interesting and I have been with this team ever since .
Mimi: Ok, now I want to change directions a little bit.
Mimi: What movie influenced you the most in your life? If you had to choose only one, which would it be?
Dylan: Blade Runner.
Mimi: Why is that?
Dylan: I think it was the first time. I saw that movie when it first came out. I was taken along to see it in the theater, I would have been about three or four years old, I didn’t get a chance to re-visit it until it came out on VHS tape if you kids remember those things. We rented it from a video library on the east side of Athens where I grew up and it just totally threw me for a complete loop. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before. The way the visuals would pull off and the architecture. It was a fully realized stylistic vision, and it impacted me both with the vision of the architecture and style, the story which was so seemingly pedestrian, a detective story but it has to do with so many esoteric concepts that started leading me off and checking out Phillip K. Dick who actually wrote the story “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep“ which inspired that movie and it further tuned me onto how the position of a director is responsible for executing the entire production, keeping it as a cohesive vision across the spectrum of all the materials.
Mimi: And also the movie had quite a sleek look, which is a reflection of your work really.
Dylan: Absolutely. right down to the Vangelis soundtrack, I mean it couldn’t have been a better sound track in a way that it all ended up being that really slick and impenetrable surface to all the work and that is what the movie is really about. These people at these surfaces that the androids have these surfaces, but beneath it what is the substance behind the surface, which is really what my work is about.
Mimi: Here is another question for you. How do you think that love had affected your work?
Dylan: Interesting question, I think greatly. There is actually a new piece I am working on which is specifically about how my girlfriend Rian and I met, the piece is called “Us “What it is about is, I kind of envisioned time as this thing that there is not enough of, we only have a certain amount of time to do what we want to do in life. So , when you meet somebody where that thing happens which we’ll call love, it’s almost like your two timelines twist toward each other and then start to merge and that to me is what love is all about. So it wasn’t until I experienced that for the first time in my life for real that I could begin to understand the power of what that could be. It has actually made me reimagine all the work that I’m doing and all the work I have coming up in the future.
Mimi: So, do you think that is motivating in a good way or do you feel like you work more when you are more tortured?
Dylan: I feel like if you are an artist you are going to work whether you are tortured or in love but I feel like the power of realizing what love can open up for you, not in the sense it is the only way to open up, but by truly knowing one another, you can truly know yourself and I think that when you are in the process of knowing yourself, everything else can fall into place.
Mimi: Do you think that it gives your work a little more of an emotional quality?
Dylan: Oh absolutely , I have taken a lot of criticism in the past that it is extremely impenetrable or that there is not a lot of points of entry into the work, or it could be cold or that it is so conceptual that there is a lack of emotional depth there. I think in the newer work, it is a complete 180. It has allowed me to realize that by making work for myself is one thing, making work for other people is one thing, but making it meet in the middle is the most important thing.
Mimi: So you feel like you are in a progression, your work is progressing ….and changing?
Dylan: It’s changing but meaning I have only recently honed in on what the work is exactly about and that has been an absolute sea change to realize that.
Mimi: That culmination that is a new culmination. Now, today I brought you Mediterranean food?
Dylan: Ah yes, my favorite.
Mimi: So, why is it your favorite food?
Dylan: You know, I think what is interesting about it is , it’s sort of like when I realized the first time I ever had Mediterranean food, I remember my mom said “ were going to go to the Gyro Wrap today” when I was about nine or ten. It was like a local college gyro place but was extremely traditional. So the first I had it, for some reason eating that food seemed to be some kind of stomach , brain soul connection. So by eating olives, hummus and pita, the chicken, the gyro and the falafel all this flavors seemed to resonate with me very strongly. Just recently this past year I have been to Israel three times for the Chihuly studio and going there and actually eating that food, being in that location just kind of gave me the feeling of home.
Mimi: So, you feel like this is a comfort food to you
Dylan: Oh absolutely.
Mimi: That‘s interesting because the people I have been cooking for have chosen food that they feel the most comfortable with.
Dylan: An affinity with.
Mimi: Yes, it is not a food that they think they would like, or like to try but something that’ comfortable.
Mimi: So good. I’m glad you liked the food. I guess I would like to know about the diamond. Tell me about the diamond, the neon diamond.
Dylan: The diamond, it’s funny. The way I have always worked is that I have always been strongly attuned and drawn to graphics and they way that a graphic, one simple tiny design and form can allude to so many other conceptual ideas that are the underpinning element to that one tiny symbol. So I’ve always drawn like that. In fact in school I was often called pattern man or told I couldn’t draw consistently. So I think it’s always the way I’ve been drawing and I’ve always gravitated towards making these tiny symbols that are the definitive graphic for a body of work. I made the diamond about ten years ago because I had a glam rap persona named Gold Hick and I actually put out a vinyl record which was a concept record about Gold Hick and after a number of different symbols, bodies of work, personas, the diamond stuck with Gold Hick . I had no idea what it was really about. It came from a thing about gutter glam, which is kind of the way I describe my work. I was living on Beacon Hill at that point in time and I would walk through the ID and see all the jewelry and all the jewelry stores and see this diamond in the windows and I always thought it was kind of bizarre that only in the worst neighborhoods in any city would you see these diamonds in the windows. So it’s kind of this weird dichotomy. So as I went through the last ten years of my life, I had some pretty crazy experiences over the last ten years. I’ve lived a pretty hard life and I had an event last year where I made a choice to change my life and realize some things about myself and move forward. My show “The Conversation” at the Punch gallery was a meta narrative kind of about this experience I had where I was near death.
Mimi: What happened to you?
Dylan: Well, in short I had what would be considered a pretty hardcore potential overdose, that I should by all reasons be dead, but at this point had what I call “The Conversation” with myself and did not die and had this look in the mirror about myself. On the side of the road on Aurora about three in the morning and turned right around and completely became sober and changed my life and realized out of that experience what the diamond meant to me all along. That it is a symbol. You are like a lump of coal as you’re born and through heat and force, pressure and time, you become a multi faceted diamond and the more you realize you have all these facets to your personality, not everybody knows every single facet about you, the more you know yourself the more you can shine. So, the diamond became the symbol that was the most powerful way to communicate to people, so that is why I created the biggest diamond that I could make.
Mimi: It’s a striking image.
Dylan: To communicate that. So it is a very personal symbol but is also a very powerful symbol in the way it can speak to people, cause you meet somebody who is a doctor but it turns out for twenty years of their life they were a Hell’s Angel and they had been in prison and they had possibly almost killed somebody and now they are a doctor and you wonder how they got there.
Mimi: Peoples transitions.
Mimi: So the diamond is a bit like your cue card.
Dylan: It is my calling card, yes it had become my calling card. I think what is powerful about it is something that I made so long ago not knowing why I made it and know through these experiences that I ended up in, put myself in, turned around and got myself out of it became this huge abyss that I can look into and go “that’s why I made that, that’s why I’m here, because for all reasons, I shouldn’t be here, but I’m here and I’m here for a reason.” Why am I here, that I am what this came out of?
Mimi: What about the “Total War“piece?
Dylan: “Total War” is a reference to William S. Burroughs writing about this is a war world and this could be any kind of world but it is a war world. It’s a battle for your attention. It’s a battle for your money. It’s a battle for your love. It’s a battle for your respect. It’s a battle for your isolation. It’s a battle - for everything is a fight . Because it can be summed up in that phrase , it’s total war and it’s also something that is a bit inspiring too. It tells you that if you have a dream or a vision, it’s gonna be war for you too, to get it out there, to get it known and real, if it is real. So it is also an evocative phrase and it also looks really beautiful.
Mimi: It does actually, the neon pieces are very striking and strong and arresting.
Dylan: Yes, for me they reference something I am very attracted to. Which comes out of writing by Bret Easton Ellis. A lot of my work comes from reading but what I’m attracted to in that is with neon you have surface and substance. You have a surface which is the neon, which is the light, which is the color, which is the glass ,which is this very enveloping, you’re awestruck when you see it. Below all of that surface is a lot of substance. So I don’t just go think of something and want to make it neon, my studio work builds up a lot of ideas, a lot of materials to draw to drive towards going to something that is going to be a definitive statement whether it is graphic or text.
Mimi: Do you see the end result of the piece or do you just start working and get to the end result as a surprise?
Dylan: It’s both, for me it’s a bit of a laborious process because I go through making very complex fabricated work whether it looks dingy or it looks really glamorous and glossy. The process to get there is extremely tedious because I have to make all these objects to eventually go “Ah! That’s why I’m making all these things”. And Ryan my girlfriend summed it up best, she says often times I feel like when you make these works and you shove them together in the environments. The way you present them it is almost like you’re seeing them for the first time too, it’s kind of a surprise. Ah, that’s what I was getting at. That’s what I was working on and it comes from interviews like this, question and answer, like so what is this work about? I’ll just say it and someone goes, ah! I get it. Really because I just said that, so it often times ends up being a surprise.
Mimi: How old is your son?
Dylan: My son is seven
Mimi: And what does he think of your work?
Dylan: His name Is Bowie and he has a pretty funny take on it , he is a pretty nonchalant character. He is a little bit awestruck because I take him often times of course to my shows. He comes to the studio, he goes to the Chihuly studio and sees the work going on there. So I’m often wondering what his take on it will be when he is older. Cause I feel like he is growing up around all of this and is attracted to it and of course is supportive but what’s it going to be like for him in his later years when he reflects? Like I reflect about growing up in Athens and being exposed to all this music. I remember going to Michael Stripe’s house and Kim Gordon was there and Patti Smith was there and it was like, oh yeah, part and parcel to the whole thing, so I wonder what his take will be in the future on it.
Mimi: Is he an artist?
Dylan: His favorite thing in the world is to draw. He is an amazing artist actually. I am excited to see what he will end up doing with that. Because I see a lot of the same things in him as I do in me growing up. He is excellent in math and reading but he doesn’t want to play sports. He also doesn’t want to go to school but he is amazing at drawing, so I’m kind of interested to see where he will gravitate to when he is older. I think he will definitely follow in his own footsteps that’s what I would say.
Mimi: But with influences from you.
Dylan: Yes, influences from me for sure.
Mimi: Now let’s talk about the things that are upcoming, the upcoming projects ………….what’s happening?
Dylan: I’ve got a show in May. May 11th at Ryan Rhoades Design. It is an architecture firm located in SODO. It is a really interesting proposition, they have, their design studio is set up in the front, they have a gallery that they had shown bodies of work in the past by artists to bring in the architectures clients and to bring in the artists fans and clients base and then the artists would have these shows kind of like a mixing pot. Designers, artists and architects, people in the industry all coming together in one place. So my friend told me that and they have not had a show there in awhile - you should come check it out. I am always interested in showing in bizarre places. I have shown in the back of a U-Haul truck that drove around New York. I’ve shown in warehouses. I’ve shown in parking lots. So to me it was kind of old hat in a way to approach it that way. So I went down there and checked it out and because my work is site specific neon, multi installation. I assessed the space and realized it was a great space to actually mount a body of work that is kind of like a thesis show, I am calling it that because it is a way to show work that kind of sums up what all of my work has always been about and it will help people specifically understand my show “The Conversation” what I was getting at as well. So really the point of the show is going to be called “ Times Arrow “. And it is work about our concept of time and how we have only a limited amount of time and the fact that in this spectrum of time that we experience how our identities are formed by going through time and realizing that at certain points on this timeline, our identities our formed by going through the time and realizing that at certain points on this timeline, you have these formative events and one little blip can change - an evocative memory can change or alter everything. So it’s going to be mostly neon based and will be some blown glass elements and some materials I’ve used in the past. It will be extremely minimal, extremely stark and I think in the end, extremely elegant. So that is coming up. I have a profile coming up in Gray magazine which is a north west centric art, design, architecture and fashion magazine that was started by a woman who used to work for Seattle Homes and Lifestyle and she always wanted to do a little more aggressive and a little more dynamic content to a magazine, so she started Gray. I had an interview with Stacy Kindle who is a writer for that magazine. They are going to do a feature on my work. They shot in the studio here. She was a really great interviewer in a way, a great question asker and I think what she wrote, although I haven’t seen it yet should be pretty interesting. So that’s coming up. That’s exciting and then there is a commission coming up I got for a large, local but national level arts and music festival which will be coming up in September which I cannot really talk about specifically because they haven’t announced the full details of what that festival is going to feature fully, but in that show it will be a four day presentation of the first object which I hope will be my trajectory in life as an artist. It is a large scale suspended neon object. It will be a twelve foot diameter suspended sculpture called “Now” and it will be a sculpture that communicates how our expectations, hopes and dreams are really the presupposition to an event which is in the middle. And then below all that will be the memory and nostalgia and the fade of all those hopes and dreams. So it’s kind of a circular way to represent time - attaching it to a large scale event and how an event really effects your identity.
Mimi: So, let’s end with this. If you could sum up what your work means, if you had to explain it to some pedestrian coming down the street, how would you explain it, what do you want to give them?
Dylan: I think the primary focus of my work is that we all experience time and through our experiences in time our identities change over the course of time through the power and memory and nostalgia of events. So really it is about the experience defined by the expectation and the memory all at the same time. That you only have a limited amount of time and so really the power is now and in now you can go from a lump of coal to a fully fleshed out shiny diamond if you choose to .
Mimi: Very nice, Thank you.
Roast peppers until blackened, remove skin
Cut into small pieces add small chunks of feta, olive oil, a touch of sugar and balsamic vinegar
Let ingredients meld for at least an hour before eating
Add walnuts to hot skillet; add a touch of triple sec, brown sugar and cinnamon,
Coat the nuts and keep moving the pan, just before they overcook take them off the burner and toss onto a baking sheet that had cinnamon and sugar on it, this will prevent the nuts form sticking.
Bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes and then turn off the oven and the nuts will begin to crisp up
In a heavy cast iron casserole brown onion , garlic , oregano , mint , lemon slices and bone in , skin on chicken thighs , sauté together until chicken is browned and onions re caramelized , add chicken stock and saffron threads , pepper , sea salt , more fresh squeezed lemon , olive oil .
Add lid to casserole, bake at 360 for an hour
Cool and deconstruct chicken and remove bone and skin, keep cooked lemon wedges and set on top of cooked chicken with some fresh parsley.
Cucumber, Greek yogurt, fresh mint, garlic and olive oil blend
Serve with fresh warm pita bread
Cook rice, sauté onion, garlic, capers, turmeric, parsley and oregano in a pan with olive oil
Add small dices of red pepper , add cooked rice to the hot pan and toss together add a little chicken stock , sea salt and lemon , serve chilled with the other dishes
Click here to Spinach Pesto Mediterranean style
One bag of spinach or two bunches
½ cup of almonds (skin on is fine)
Olive oil – use enough to make a smooth puree
Sea salt – to taste
Two small cloves of garlic
Fresh lemon – to taste
Fresh ground pepper – to taste
Myzithra cheese grated –1/2 cup
Blend in food processor until smooth
Serve with warm pita bread