Mardi Gras 2013 has just come to a close. The Tappan Krewe loves this colorful tradition, especially because Tappan artist Julian Wellisz currently lives and creates in New Orleans. Wellisz’ Tumblr series aesthetically channels the chaotic experience of being in New Orleans, particularly during the parades and parties of Mardi Gras. Up-close there is much more depth to these digital images that have been recycled from blogs. He harkens to our altered, over stimulated experience of the world via the Internet.
And we’re not the only ones who recognize his talent. Wellisz has recently been chosen to participate in a silent auction at Christie’s Auction House in partnership with Y&S in New York City on March 4th. Like Tappan Collective, the shared mission of Christie’s and Y&S is to provide a venue for emerging artists not yet represented by galleries to share their work with young audience.
Tappan caught up with Julian amid the Mardi Gras madness to chat about his upcoming exhibition and life at the New Orleans Community Printshop away from his hometowns of Los Angeles and New York.
Why did you move to New Orleans?
I’d been moving around from place to place for almost 3 years. Most recently I was living in New York, but my friend Cora and I had been throwing around the idea of making some art together in New Orleans. When I visited New Orleans right after hurricane Isaac there was no power and 100% humidity. It didn’t matter; I fell in love with the place and decided to stay.
How does the city of New Orleans inspire your artwork?
The pace and the vibe. I could walk around all day here and just look at the color pallets of shotgun houses. In New York I was so overstimulated, in many ways I forgot how to take things in. New Orleans in a much slower city on the verge of being dysfunctional, yet some how fragmented pieces fit together in a beautiful manner. The passion I share for my home inspires me to create.
What is the emerging art scene in New Orleans like?
The art scene down here is very different. There is little to no patronage or market to sell work really, aside from busking pen and ink drawings on the side of the street to tourists. Beyond self-expression, art functions as a tool to strengthen the community. Both the New Orleans Community Printshop and the skatepark are completely DIY and run by people in their 20s. The majority of “counter culture” parades were advertised not online but by beautiful multicolored screen-printed posters. It’s all fueled by this need to create and it’s not about being famous, it’s about having an impact.
What was your favorite part of Mardi Gras?
Krewe de Poo, one of the “counter culture” parades. They had a firecracker shopping cart demolition derby accompanied by a drum circle of Swedish girls.
Where were you when you heard you were going to be in a Christie’s Auction?
Can’t remember. I’ve been in close contact with Vivian Brodie and Tom Lee from Young & Starving for quite some time now. I’m so psyched that it’s all coming together. Definitely a testament to what a group of passionate young adults can accomplish. I guess Y&S is similar to Tappan in that aspect.
How did you choose what you were going to put up for sale?
I’d been printing editioned works on paper for sometime, and I wanted to break away from that. So I decided to start printing larger format one of a kind works on canvas. Developing a stronger relationship with a sole piece has been a pleasure.
Did you have breakfast today?
A 32oz Daiquiri. It’s Mardi Gras.
How many layers of color are in your black and whites?
4. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. All printed individually and registered perfectly. From a far it’s greyscale but up close it’s made up of color. It still trips me out.
How do you choose your tumblr images?
It started with random tumblrs that I followed and I dove deeper from there. It’s fascinating that there’s a forum where you can anonymously build a relationship with a person based on their curatorial eye.
Which other artists are you watching right now?
Mat Larkin. Also, Louie Eisner’s paintings of slides are unreal.
What is your biggest demon?
Why do you make art?
I don’t know any other way to live.
What is your happy place?
Skating with my friends and Sierra Nevada.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Mykki Blanco most days. Coffee from my Bialetti everyday.
Who is your favorite artist?
Leonard Baskin. The most incredible woodcuts and woodengravings.
What’s your favorite color?
Certain combinations do it for me. Individual colors rarely do.
How much do you love Tappan?
Who are you following on tumblr?
Groodstuff, Allysonmariechung, Carlmarx, Yemano.
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