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If you like Fritz Scholder's story, you might also like:
J. Carter Brown,
Dale Chihuly,
Chuck Jones,
Maya Lin,
N. Scott Momaday,
Wayne Thiebaud
and James Rosenquist

Related Links:
Museum of the American Indian
Fritz Scholder
Native American Artists
Artcyclopedia

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Fritz Scholder
 
Fritz Scholder
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Fritz Scholder Interview (page: 2 / 4)

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  Fritz Scholder

Can you describe the feeling that you get when you're doing your art, and the feeling that makes you so passionate about your art?


Fritz Scholder: Early on, for some reason, I realized that I did not want to live like others. And I saw people go to jobs they hated, come home, and not be happy. I had a problem with authority, so I knew that I couldn't have an eight-to-five job with a boss. But it came early on to me that by being an artist I would have the most freedom. Because an artist not only has to make up his own problem, but then solve it, in whatever way he decides to do that, and it's all up to him.

[ Key to Success ] Passion


Fritz Scholder Interview Photo
That might sound scary, but for me it was a great release to know that one could do that. You might have to live in a frugal way. At that time, as I mentioned, very few lived off their art, but I was ready for that. I also learned to talk well, to communicate, because most artists became teachers. I got all my degrees to teach, and I love teaching, I love to turn people on to new ideas.

But by the time I got through the college experience, art had become "in" in this country. It was the 1950s, and abstract expressionism had exploded onto the New York art scene.

Fritz Scholder Interview Photo
How does the music you play when you paint affect your state of mind?

Fritz Scholder: The music really is just an artificial energy field. I am very eclectic, so sometimes it's classical, sometimes it's rock 'n roll. I recently discovered Joan Osborne, so I played her song today.

Does it help you relax, or put you more in touch with your right brain?

Fritz Scholder: Actually, it's just music that I like at that particular time. Leonard Cohen is another favorite. But putting on something that puts you at ease, I think that's part of the creative process. Everyone works differently, but I believe in rituals. I believe in certain things that you find out about yourself that make you do things the way you'd like. I walk into the studio and I'm like Pavlov's dog, I don't go in every day, it's very special. Still, if I had to go into the studio every day it'd be like a job, which is a bad word for me. So I walk in and I turn on the music I like. And I wander around, as if I'd never been in the studio. And I now have the luxury of having beautiful canvases waiting for me, every size I would want, beautiful handmade papers with my signature in the watermark. I mean, it's very luxurious to have nice materials. And yet, on the other hand, people can get really so involved with materials.


Any paper will do, any old stick. I did a children's book recently where I did all the drawings with a stick in ink, because I wanted to show that they can do those. They were symbols -- kids love symbols -- ancient symbols, runic symbols. The material isn't really as important as what you do with it. Lautrec would stumble out in the alleyway after he woke up every morning and find a piece of old cardboard and do the most beautiful painting. Now, true, French cardboard is a little nicer than the United States cardboard, but the thing is, what I'm saying is, found objects can... anything can work. It's how you do it. Picasso took a bicycle seat and made a great sculpture, of course.


I know that being an artist, as you've said, it's a way of preserving your individuality and not getting into the rat race. But there has been a time in your career when your integrity has been challenged.

Fritz Scholder: First of all, I believe in paying one's dues. I did all kinds of different jobs.


You have to try to keep your art pure. And not go into advertising, not go into commercial art, because that's a whole different deal. A fine artist must do exactly what he wants to do, with no pressure. Whether it's from your parents, your girlfriend, your wife, you must block all that out. Fine art, if it's the highest form of human expression, means self-integrity. And when you're in that studio, you must do whatever you do completely for yourself. And you must be your own worst critic. Which means that after you've done it, you must live with it, decide if it should leave the studio. Often I destroy the work, either at the moment, or right after I've done it, or days later, or years later. I still will go in the studio at night and destroy paintings, because they're mine.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity


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This page last revised on Oct 27, 2007 14:58 EST
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