Brin Levinson - Reclamation of Nowhere

1. What do you love most about the place you live? How does it influence your work?
Being in Portland was very important to the birth of my urban landscape work because I based most of my paintings on places around the city. I’m especially interested in the old buildings, water towers and rail yards around here. Misty winter days in the northwest have a unique and nostalgic beauty that have been a source for inspiration to me for a long time.  

2. What inspires you to make art? Can you tell us a little bit about the influences and inspirations behind this particular body of work?
Continuing to try new ideas is how I inspire myself. Most of my pieces in this show started as experiments of some kind. At first I was a little nervous that they’d all be too different from each other to make a cohesive show. Now that they’re all finished, I don’t see that problem anymore, they came together in the end. Having the concept and subject matter evolving in your art keeps things interesting. I wanted to push the level of surrealism in these new pieces and try to create a dreamlike atmosphere with light.

3. There seems to be a common theme running across all media where people are depicting speculative dystopian futures, do you view this output as social commentary or political action?
Also, do you view your own speculative version of the future as being within a specific timeline (near future? distant future?)
I think it has everything to do with the time we live in. There’s a growing concern about how fragile our environment and civilization is. Some people say the whole point of art is to reflect what’s relevant in the society they live in. I’m glad my work has that kind of connection but I think it’s something that still sits in the way back of peoples minds. I’m glad it has found relevance even without a specific time period in the “story” where my imagery takes place. It was never intended to be that literal. This topic evolved into my work gradually over a few years of painting empty urban landscapes. The nice thing about approaching a concept organically through years of process is that you have time to develop it in your own way. I prefer the animals point of view over the human. There’s hope in the fact that nature always perseveres.

4. What do you find the most challenging/rewarding aspects of being a professional artist to be?
It’s very rewarding on a personal level when you get a good response to your work and when your career moves forward. When people tell you that your art has had an impact on them, that’s a huge reward and is a great feeling. The most challenging part of being an artist is that you’re also automatically a gambler and maybe gambling isn’t your thing.

5. Do you listen to/watch any form of media while working? If so, what is it and how does it influence your process?
Music is very important, it helps me focus when I’m working. Headphones shut the world out and that’s the best way to get into your own head. Then, to get out of your head, a good podcast does the trick.

6. As supreme leader of the totalitarian regime ruling over Levinson’s Utopian Republic; which artist/art movement would you censor and/or exile and why?
I accept everyone's individual artistic voice. But, I’m also evil and have a job to do. Luckily, art is so broad that there’s always going to be something you hate. I’m really annoyed by abstract minimalism because it’s boring on purpose. Why would anyone make visual art that has nothing to look at? You’ve found a clever loop hole in the definition of art smarty pants, good for you. Off with your head.

7. Conversely, whom would you commission to make your visual art propaganda?
The place that prints my postcards. They do a fine Job.

8. If you had a time machine would you go backwards or forwards?
The future is unknown so that’s automatically more interesting to me. I think we’re all curious about what the world will be like in the future. We have no idea what our kids lives will be like. We do know that it won’t be anything like ours and that’s a completely new thing. We also know what peoples lives used to be like and it wasn’t good. History is full of horrible suffering and atrocities of all kinds. Slavery, oppression and constant violence combined with plagues, famine and religious insanity. It was even dangerous to be an artist throughout history. Everyone was oppressed by the ruling class in almost all societies. We’ve come a long way, just remember the guy who’s head was chopped off for making shitty art. That kind of injustice would never fly in the future.

9. Extrovert or Introvert?
Introvert and weirdo just like you’d expect.  

10. Outer space or deep sea?
Outer space. The higher up you go, the better the view. I heard that we’ve only explored 1% of the deep ocean at this point which means there’s a lot left to be discovered down there. Which means there could still be things lurking around in the mud. Plus the big perk with space is you get to float around. Who doesn’t want to float around?