For the love of art

Van Lynch was a late-comer to painting, but he’s made up for it with passion

LEAD-1

DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION | Lynch’s varied, colorful paintings have earned him a following after just a few years in the art world. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Having only been painting for about two years, Van Lynch isn’t at Thomas Kinkeade’s level of fame yet. But that hasn’t stopped him from selling multiple, high-price pieces to establishments around Dallas. (And he’s much better than Kinkeade.) Lynch has turned his creative side into a lucrative part-time art career, working his way up through the ranks of local artists with his unique abstract style.

That’s a far cry from his corporate background. Before he started painting, Lynch graduated Stephen F. Austin University with a degree in business and immediately began working into the hotel industry. He hopped from East Coast to West in various sales and marketing jobs before settling in his native Dallas.

“I was missing something, so that’s why I kind of shifted gears,” he says. Now, Lynch’s day job as an apartment manager for the Amli Residences allows him to live comfortably in his apartment, surrounded by his artwork.

Painting started as a Christmas present from his mother and sister — and he took to it like a fish to water.

“I’ve always wanted to paint or do something creative and I’ve never set aside a time in my life to do that,” Lynch says. “One year, my sister and my mom bought me art lessons with [Cynthia Chartièr] at her beautiful studio and that’s where it all started. I painted with her for approximately six months at that studio. It went from there.”

With Chartièr’s guidance, Lynch discovered a facility as an abstract artist.

“I came in for my first lesson and I was like, ‘What do I do, teacher?’” Lynch recalls. “She said, ‘Anything you want; I’m just here to guide you.’”

After his official lessons ended, Lynch bought studio time for a good place to “make a mess.” It was also where he could meet and trade feedback with other artists, some of whom became friends.

Lynch draws from a variety of inspirations, from colors to images. He frequents the library and owns numerous art books, taking after his favorite artists such as Kandinsky, Mondrian and Monet. When he paints, though, Lynch doesn’t always have a definite image in his mind; he says he works better when he sets out the colors he wants and just goes with it until he deems it finished.

Lynch has displayed his art in shows and festivals around Dallas. His canvases start at about $200 for a 36-by-48-inch piece, rising depending on size and complexity.

One of his biggest sales was to the Downtown restaurant Dallas Fish Market, which bought six canvases from him for their renovation. But even that money goes back into his art.

“I bought more canvas and paints,” Lynch laughs about his proceeds. “For me, as a beginner, it’s my secret little addiction, being at the art supply store every chance I get. I just can’t stop myself.”

The best part about painting for Lynch, though, isn’t the paycheck that comes with a custom order — it’s the happiness he gives someone.

“I think the biggest satisfaction is when someone sees something the first time and are like, ‘Oh my God, I love it,’ Something I did really spoke to someone.” He recalls one instance when he sold a piece to a musician who said, “When I see that, I wanna go home and write a new song.”

Lynch hopes he can retire from his day job eventually and become a fulltime artist, painting and teaching on the side. He’d also like to expand his repertoire to include other artistic media.

 “I’d love to do sculptures, mobiles, welding — things of that nature,” he says. He’d also like to work lights and soldering into his art.

Lynch admits to being a bit of a size queen: His ideal work involves bright, bold colors, simplicity and a lobby-worthy size. His project dream is to combine two dozen of his own medium-sized paintings into a mosaic to make a larger “statement” piece.

The only regret Lynch has is that he waited so long to start what has become his favored hobby, but “now I’m doing it” and he doesn’t plan on stopping.

In additional to commissioned paintings, Lynch likes to use giclèe, a method where art is photographed with a high-resolution camera and then printed onto commercial items such as T-shirts and wood. “I’m not above coffee cups,” Lynch chuckles.

— Draconis Von Trapp

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

The Pimentoist

lead-1
OLIVE THE ABOVE | Rocker-like painter Michael Godard (who, ironically, is a teetotaler) specializes in cocktail art, often with witty images — including the occasional cross-dressing garnish.

Michael Godard, rock star of the art world, brings his martini-soaked (and sometimes subversively gay) painting to Dallas

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Long hair, black nail polish, colorful tattoos, a soul patch, a bandana: It’s a look common to hard-living rockers … and maybe should be one you’d expect from an artist. Yet Michael Godard, sometimes criticized for creating work that is too commercial, still considers himself a rebellious outsider. He sees truth in the world around him and puts that truth on canvas. So what if the citizens of his universe are anthropomorphized olives, dancing strawberries and drunken grapes? Through his martini goggles, we are able to see life as a constant party — complete with its share of mornings after.

“I always say that I’m more of a storyteller than I am a painter. I like to tell stories with the paintings,” Godard says. “I like to mix a lot of humor into them. For me, rather than try to create something funny, it’s a lot easier to take life as it happens and turn it into a painting. To me, they’re like a giant diary and they have all kinds of things going on. No two are the same, that’s for sure.”

For somebody whose first book was titled Don’t Drink and Draw, and whose paintings almost exclusively deal with some form of alcoholic libation, it would be an easy assumption to peg this guy as a heavy drinker. But nothing could be further from the sober truth.

“It’s funny, I really don’t drink at all,” he laughs. “People ask if I’m a recovering alcoholic, but it’s not that. I was in junior high and my mom always had Kool-Aid in the fridge. I grabbed what I thought was Kool-Aid and drank a bunch of wine by mistake and got so, so sick. Ever since, the smell of alcohol sort of just turns me off. It’s really kind of ironic.”lead-3

His teetotaling even has the occasional professional drawback.

“Because I am so illiterate about alcohol, I’ll do a painting of a margarita and a gallery will call me up and say, ‘Mr. Godard, the painting is wonderful but actually it’s a salt shaker not a sugar shaker that goes with a margarita,’” he says.

But he continues to use the metaphor of martinis because of what it represents.

“The wonderful thing about alcohol is, it’s such a social magnet with people. We have a drink at a wedding and it’s a toast of good wishes; it calms the nerves on a first date; buddies share a beer together while playing poker. It’s a great thing that pulls people together when they’re stopping life momentarily to relax and enjoy themselves. And that’s why I think I chose to paint alcohol because there are so many situations that come from that. Humor is quite often there.”

His signature subject matter came about almost by accident, as a fulfilled promise to a friend who begged for a painting every year for five years for his birthday. Godard eventually asked the friend what he’d like to see.

“My friend said, ‘I love your sense of humor, I like to drink, martinis are my favorite, just have fun with it.” And so, the world of mobster olives, stripper olives and yes, even gay olives came to life.

“If you look at the painting I did from Fantasy Fest in Key West, which is a gay celebration, I have a cross-dressing olive standing on the street corner,” Godard, who is straight, lead-4proudly notes. “There’s one particular bouncer across from the place where I do my shows, the guy must be 6-foot-5. He loves to cross-dress and he’s one of the funniest people I know. There are gay people walking down the street holding hands. And, of course, in my world you know that a male olive has a pimento on top and a female has it strategically placed at the bottom.”

So naturally, if you ever see an olive with a pimento on top and a feather boa and high heels, you now know that’s an olive in drag.

lead-2Godard acknowledges that his work is popular with gay audiences, a relationship he cultivates; it’s easy to see why. His work if filled with subtle humor and witty observations (not to mention that some of the legs on those dancing strawberries can be pretty damned sexy).

“I have a lot of gay friends,” he says. “One of the neat things is that my gay friends seem to have a better and a more sophisticated sense of humor I must say, than a lot of my straight friends. Any time we can get together and do something for the greater good, that’s what it’s about. When you think about people that have lost their lives and wonderful people that we’ve lost to AIDS, it’s overwhelming. You realize it can happen to anybody, gay or straight.”
Godard, who recently lost his 16-year-old daughter to brain cancer, has always been dedicated to giving back through a variety of charitable organizations.

“There’s a lot of artists out there that are a lot more talented than I am, but I think the guy upstairs knew what I was going to do with my success,” he says. “I’m so about giving back and doing things for someone else. I’m in a very unique position where I have an opportunity to help a lot of people.”

Now that’s a true rock star.

………………………………

Conover in sync
art-1

We’re used to seeing the bold and colorful Pop art of Robb Conover depicting comic book icons of late. Whether he’s giving his take on Wonder Woman or exploring a queer element to Batman and Robin as they kiss, Conover adds a definite punch to the local arts scene. His work has been seen in the gayborhood at Buli, Drama Room and Lucky’s.

He goes in a different direction, above, in Ro2 Art’s exhibit Synclines. Conover joins local artists Cabe Booth and Kevin Obregon, to present, what the gallery calls, new and unexpected works.

— Rich Lopez
Ro2 Art Downtown, 110 N. Akard St. Through Aug. 13.
Ro2Art.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas