WHAT IS ART? is a radio show that collects answers to this question. Follow the podcast! This installment with guest Paul Cade and music by Evangeline Gentle.
Paul Cade enjoyed a successful career as an illustrator, designer, art director and film director, before returning to his first love, making fine art. Paul approaches each piece with a “what if” curiosity in an on going exploration into colour, form and the subconscious. (from Art Gallery of Peterborough, Artists)
COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT (Original Radio Broadcast: March 30, 2016)
ANGEL HAMILTON, HOST: Today, we are going to talk with Paul Cade. Welcome Paul Cade to What is Art?
PAUL CADE: Thank you. It’s good to be here.
ANGEL: Can you answer What is Art? starting with “Art is…”
PAUL: What is Art? What isn’t art?! That would be my response to that. Because, basically, it’s what anybody wants to think of art.
Right? Art is a feeling as opposed to a thing. It’s an expression. So, just like our thumbprints, art…can be interpretive. Especially in today’s day and age, anything can be art. You’ve got conceptual art, you’ve got installation art, you’ve got performance art, you’ve got sculptural art, you’ve got photographic art, movie art, it goes on and on. And architecture, fashion, you know, to me: what is the thing that actually separates craft from art?
Craft is really about perfecting a technique, perfecting some form of creating and art goes beyond… It steps into the world of the unknown; that’s where you are trying to follow more of what is in your heart-and-soul as opposed to what’s in your head. And it’s not about perfection, it’s about imperfection. In fact, I found this wonderful phrase, if I can find it…
Here it is! This describes my art, ok? People have had a problem with my art, since…First of all, I worked as an illustrator and a designer and a film director for thirty years, and then I was able to do my own art and people went crazy because they loved what I was doing but it was all different.
There was no cohesiveness, so there would be a sculpture, there would be something realistic, there would be something very spontaneous, more abstract kind of thing.
I had a friend tell a friend of mine “I love Paul’s work but you got to tell him to do one thing! and my friend said, “You know Paul…” [laughs] “He won’t do one thing! I finally found a phrase and it’s called “Wabi-sabi.”
Wabi-sabi is an approach to life that urges us to take a second look at what we may otherwise dismiss or treat with disdain. It recognizes our tastes are not fixed and if someone with talent, artistic grace, urges us to look more sympathetically at the moss, or slightly wonky tea cup, or indeed a wrinkled face of a friend or relative, we will be able to find charm and beauty here too. Our notions of beauty and interests are relative and are open to change and improvement with the ideals of wabi-sabi in mind, we may be able to find satisfaction in humbler moments; a walk down a slightly crooked path, an overcast autumn day, (I always call overcast days as “poet’s days”), or in a less than blemish free house, face or soul.
Right now, I am working on cardboard that I find, that’s about to go in the garbage. In fact, my last, my most recent piece that I have finished, is called In The Nick of Time because it’s a bunch of strips of canvas that could be headed to the garbage but I glued them all together to make a collage.
ANGEL: Do you have any new projects that are going to be exhibited that people can find more about? Your latest projects?
PAUL: There will be one, when I finish my website and finally I couldn’t deal with the website so I finally hired some good, wonderful young designers, and so the domain name that they have come up with is Curio Cade, or Curio Decade – and the reason is how I operate is: curiosity. What if? And so when that goes up, and I am hoping in June, then you will see, the website is actually a gallery — a virtual gallery, and so there will be different exhibition spaces and there will be new works and archived works and sculptural works and photographic works.
ANGEL: That’s very exciting! I like being on websites, that’s the kind of website I would like to explore fully.
PAUL: The problem with websites, especially with my pieces, some of my pieces are six by eight feet square, so they don’t really show on a website.
ANGEL: I am having memories of your big sculptures Paul at the Erring on the Mount.
PAUL: It’s hard to show those, and so anyways, what you do, you try to show something that interests or tweaks somebody, but for me its about creating.
ANGEL: What’s your favourite thing about Peterborough?
PAUL: The favourite thing about Peterborough. I do really love the creative spirit here, that there’s a real interest in, there seems to be a non-judgemental interest, in doing, in creating, so I find that some of the gallery shows are really fantastic and fresh.
One of the problems I have with, say, the AGO is that it recycles other works in the world. It’s not focusing on what Canada is doing or what Canadian artists are doing, and I think also what young contemporaries are doing (and I consider myself a young contemporary.) I am way from being young but my head is young.
ANGEL: Thank you Paul! We are going to take a little break and from local music we are featuring Evangeline Gentle and we will be back in a few.
ANGEL: Hello. Welcome back to What is Art? here on Trent Radio. Today, we are talking with an amazing artist, Paul Cade. Today, we have been covering a number of different questions, and my next question is Paul,
Can you tell our listeners about the upcoming course that you have?
PAUL: Yes, last year I was asked to do a course. The course was teaching adults to create or play without expectation and it turned out, we had a lot of fun. It was a six-week course and I break it into two parts each night and nobody did the same thing twice. So I had these projects and nobody knew what was coming next, not even me, that is kind of how I work. I don’t over-think it. So this year, they asked me to come back, and I said yes, because everyone had such fun and because I am not a professional teacher.
I’m an artist, so I kind of learn from the students, because I don’t really talk about what I do, I mean, I don’t like articulating what a painting is or what it is about or what the meaning is behind it because I feel the painting should be its own self.
So anyways, it starts April 14th through the Art Gallery of Peterborough, and Jane is the person or Celeste or Fynn anyone and the course will be a little narrowed down because I did pieces that were six feet long, so I am going to have to reign it in a bit.
And, this year, I am going to have them deal with some figurative work, because it’s really about, I believe everybody is creative, and everybody says I can’t draw, I can’t do this, I can’t do that, well my goal is to show that they can. There is no such thing as bad art and there is no such thing as failed art, because you may miss the point of the art, but its working through it, and you can find where it comes out again, you can find it.
The part that they didn’t do last year that I am going to try to get them to do this year: we do a whole bunch of pieces, and at the end, the last session, they are going to take some of these pieces and they are going to cut them up. You can’t be precious about art, so I want them to cut it up, and then recreate something. That is to me, how you have to do it, because creating is a process, we are all creative, it just got it slapped out of us, along the way.
ANGEL: That’s amazing! How much is the course going to cost?
PAUL: That’s up to them, I can’t tell you. I don’t know exactly, and if I said, I’d be wrong so…
ANGEL: I am going to seriously see about my schedule and see if I can come, it sounds like something that would be really fun!
PAUL: Yes, it is fun! As I say, there’s no expectation and you get to play. You get to play and I was telling you earlier, if somebody wanted to do a Matisse, the whole thing is you don’t do a Matisse, you do the feeling of Matisse. One of the last guys last year wanted to a figurative, a face, so I had two photographs, one of Jiacometti, and one of a guy, and he took Jiacometti, and he said okay, and I said okay, go ahead, now shut your eyes, and he said what? you looked at the photograph, shut your eyes, now draw Giacometti, and he did the drawing, he shut his eyes, and he came to the course because he felt his work was too tight, and he wanted to loosen up, and I said okay… He showed me what he did, and it was cool, it was really cool.
And he said, can I put colour on it? I said, it’s not my drawing, it’s your drawing. If you want to put colour on it, go ahead, so at the end of the course, he was really deflated. He went from really being excited to being deflated and I had to be honest, it was a mess. You put the colour on it and I said, “Are you finished, and is it not done? because I wouldn’t make a mark on somebody else’s work unless I got permission to do it, and I said do you mind if I?”
So I started drawing on top of it, and he goes oh wow, it’s Giacometti! I said the thing is what you were doing was trying to copy the photograph. I know Giacometti’s work and I know how he draws, so I tried to capture the essence, the feeling of Giacometti. I wasn’t paying attention to what the photograph is and that is where art is feeling, it’s you’re trying to express something. So that’s what we get into in the course: trying to express yourself.
ANGEL: Can you tell me a little bit about the Erring on The Mount with The Garden of Infinite Possiblities? and be specific about different sculptures.
PAUL: Well yes, first of all, I presented five concepts, and this one was the most practical one because they didn’t have running water and the other ones required running water and performance. So I am interested in that kind of stuff because I was a film director… So, anyways, sculptures are one of my loves but this allowed me a chance to really get into it and I was also raised and went to school with the nuns and that fascinated me.
I could either do a story of the nuns or I could do a story on the recycling of the building, and I liked that better. It’s where my heart is, in terms of, like I said, the wabi-sabi thing.
I am more interested in turning something. So I thought about it and the rule was that I had to create these sculptures out of junk, out of anything, so I went to the garbage dump and went to welders and collected steel, and found something on the road.
So I did twenty-four sculptures and the title I gave it was “The Garden of Infinite Possibilities” which I feel is what life is. And my art is the garden of infinite possibilities. Anything has got potential! A line on a piece of paper, a water stain, it’s all got possibility.
In this particular case, for instance, I had a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer and blood cancer and I had picked up a bunch of willow branches off a neighbour’s yard that the city wouldn’t pick up, and so I said, can I have them? and yea okay.
So I got this idea (I spent a lot of time in New York,) and so the big grey buildings but cities have souls… so I had this image of doing this model of a city with off cast pieces of wood, angles, rectangles and what have you. So I made this wood, so then out of the bottom of this top structure which was grey, cement grey came these willow roots which I had painted red, and they were supposed to go…and I also did a bunch of other things.
I did two installations on the day when I created the sculpture, on site, where people could see it, so anyways, in this particular case, when we were getting ready for Erring, Liz called and said, some people have run around the circle in front of the convent and they created a whole bunch of ruts, and oh we got problems, cause that’s where the sculpture was going to be, and I went there with her, and went oh boy! It’s land art!, I could do land art! and I just filled my truck with scraps of wood that the country had ripped up all these trees.
So I came back the next day and laid in a spiral, all these pieces of wood and then put this sculpture with the roots, and the tree in the center, and it was great! So then I filled the rest of the garden, and it was all kinds, they became figures, and I found an IKEA chair in the garbage and I turned it in a dancing figure and I found an IKEA crib that I cut it up and made it in to a belly dancer and what have you, part of welding pieces.
I was driving up the 115 and I spot this shiny object on the side and I see it and Oh My God, so I have to go one intersection down and come all the way back, and found out that it’s a crushed garbage can, and it looked like a cloud to me, so I said fantastic! so as part of one of the pieces for the thing, I got a friend of mine, who has a welding thing, and we welded rain coming down from this crushed garbage can, so it was seven or eight feet tall.
ANGEL: If you could say anything, Paul, what would you say to your twelve year old self?
PAUL: My twelve year old self? You’re doing the right thing! Cause that’s when I made the decision to be an artist, and the other thing is Be yourself.
ANGEL: What is the best way to find out more about your work?
PAUL: Wait for my website or come on the tour…for the Art Gallery of Peterborough tour in the fall and so if you want to see a really crazy place. And, the fun part for me, is that people come in and say oh wow this is neat, this is neat and it’s the ones that come in and their eyes go really wide, they’ve never seen a place like it, because they are going in to see trees and landscapes and things and mine is anything but! In fact, in my studio right now, I have about twelve big paintings on the go, and we will see what happens…
ANGEL: Thank you so much Paul for coming to What is Art? radio show. You have been listening to What is Art? everybody, it’s a radio show that collects answers to this question. Life and art around here, Wednesdays at 5:30 on CFFF Trent Radio 92.7FM in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. I’m your host Angel Hamilton and this show is produced by myself and Lester Alfonso and the Media Arts Peterborough theme music is by Ekoplex and please visit mediaartspeterborough.org for more. Thanks so much for listening. Thank you so much Paul for coming to What is Art? today!
END OF RADIO BROADCAST
GALLERY (courtesy of Paul Cade)