ARTIST TALK: Leonard Locatis – October 18, 2019

ARTIST TALK: Leonard Locatis – October 18, 2019

Alright, so I’m just going to tell you guys
a little bit about how I got started making art and and then how this how this event came
about. So so three years ago, I was a contractor and remodeled houses. And at the time I hadn’t
made a piece of art my life. I was I was doing a lot of tile work and wouldn’t trim work
and stuff like that. So I had the I had all the tools that I needed to make these, and,
and a lot of the knowledge that that I needed. I’m going to turn this on, I can see it too.
So we’ve got a couple pieces. “The Mount Hood” is the first piece that I made. And that one
that when I made as a present for my wife. And… so at the time, I was a, I was 70 pounds
heavier than I am now. And I was I was in a lot of pain from failed hand surgery and
bad back. And so doing, doing construction long term wasn’t going to be wasn’t going
to be something that I was gonna be able to do. And so I was I was looking for something
else I was I was looking for something else that I could do that I could use my skills
that I had. And so when when I was towards the end of my towards the end of my remodeling
career the last job that I did was working for a friend in Sunriver doing trim work.
And so while I was down there I was down there often on for several months. And I I got to
got to use their bikes, and road bikes, and hiked, and trails, and I just I started started
eating differently. I I eat a plant-based-diet now. And I was able to, I was able to stop
taking all my prescription medication. And treat my treat everything with with herbs
and natural remedies. And so It’s almost like that change changed my brain and I started
thinking differently. And I started I had the idea of putting a piece of putting a piece
of wood on a on actual picture, just to have something bump it out, and to show more more
depth and more texture. And and that that vision just kept growing to where everything.
When I would look at things, I would picture it out of wood. And and so when I made when
I made the first piece for my wife for Christmas, it was a pretty big hit. She really liked
it and her friends liked it. And so I had been, I had been rushed on it or well, Christmas
was on the 25th. So I felt like I didn’t have enough time. And so when I was done with it,
I thought well, I would like to do I’d like to do another one that that I had more time.
So the next the next piece that I made was another Mount Hood. And I, I took it, I took
it to my men’s group to show to show some of my friends. And they all they all thought
that that it was really good and said that I should, I should be in a gallery. So the
next day I took it, I took it around and I was going to go to all the different galleries
and just see if anybody agreed with them. And the very first gallery that I went into
was Aurora Gallery in Vancouver. And Elizabeth, the owner, she really liked it and wanted
to feature me the following month and wanted me to make five more pieces. So so I ended
up making five pieces and was was featured in the gallery for their art walk and for
that month. And that was kind of… That was the start of it of being able to… I kind
of prove to myself that I could make five pieces that were all different. And… And
so since then I feel like I’ve just been experimenting with what what’s possible, what can I do.
And having having awesome customers that are willing to they’re willing to trust me that
I’ll be able to deliver on what I say that I’m going to make. And a lot of times it’s
something that I’ve never done, but I’m confident that I can do it. And so it’s really been,
it’s really been kind of cool to just to push myself and to to experiment. So this, this
tactile event, it, it was spurred by… it was in June of this year, so several months
ago that that I was at Esther Short Park at the “Recycled Art Festival”, and and I had
a mom with her with her blind daughter come up and asked if they could feel the painting.
And they did. And it was just, it was amazing. And after… After that, I just thought: “Well,
I’d like to have somebody else feel it because that was really cool.” And it was, it was
something that was unexpected I got because I didn’t make my art thinking that it was
going to be tactile for people to feel and so. So since then, I feel like all the art
that I’ve made, I’ve kind of looked at it a little bit differently. Because I’m looking
I thinking, what it’s going to feel like when somebody touches it, as well as what it’s
going to look like. And so, all all of the art that I’ve done since then has been a little
bit more exaggerated and more, more bumped out and more texture. This is the this is
the first the first portrait that I’ve made. And I have gotten… I’ve gotten quite a few
requests for people wondering if I could make people. And since I hadn’t, I didn’t have…
you know, I didn’t have any any proof that I could do it. So kind of felt like if I,
if I did it then it… Well, kind of two reasons. One, I could show that I that I could make
a person. And then two, that for this event that blind people could be able to feel and
know that I wear glasses and I have a beard and and whatnot. I’m excited to to be able
to make other people, i don’t know i mean, I’d like to make maybe maybe blazers or you
know make somebody you know something like that maybe like Bill Walton or Clyde Drexler,
some… So, yeah, other things that i have. Ideas that I have or things that I’m that
I’m working on, I have… I’ve been wanting to make a Multnomah Falls. Out of the out
of the wood from the Eagle Creek Farm. And so I have some chunks of that that I that
I got as firewood that that I’m now i’m i’m going to be cutting out into pieces, and and
hopefully making making a big Multnomah Falls out of it. Welcome you guys. I’m gonna look
at my notes really quick and see what else I have written down that I wanted to talk
about for sure. Sorry, I’m not a professional talker. Okay, so, my art when I’m when I’m
making it, I’m using old reclaimed wood, and then I paint it. And then I distressed the
wood to make it look old again. And and so that was kind of inspired by Disneyland. Believe
it or not, because I was at Disneyland and saw them making repairs to to something and
they were distressing it so that it didn’t look brand new. And that was when I was a
kid. I remember seeing that and it stuck with me apparently that, that things that that
it’s harder to make something look old than it is to make it look brand new. And so I
was just I was really, really impressed with that. And, and so that’s kind of what I what
I’m going for for my for my art. And so when I’m when I’m making it, I want it to look
like it’s been touched a million times. And so that’s kind of why this this event is perfect.
It feels it feels great, you know that people can people can touch it, and I want it to
look like it’s been touched. So, so it’s a it’s a good thing. And I’m super thankful
for Portland Art Museum for partnering with me on this. It was it was really unexpected
that they that they reached out to me and and said that they’d like to partner with
me to help put this on. So i’m i’m super grateful for for the art museum and Becky Emmert is
done a wonderful job helping to help me to make this happen. So I think that one of the
one of the one of some of the best advice that I got when I started my, when I started
my art career was it was before before I was going to my first show. And I was pretty anxious
about it and worried about if things were going to sell or people are going to like
it or… And I had a friend and he said, he said: “Don’t think about selling things or
all that. Just think about that one person that you’re going to meet.” And so I’ve had
that that mentality going into every show that I’m going to meet one person and that’s
going to be who I’m here to meet. And so so it really it’s just, it helps helps to take
off the that pressure and it makes things more fun. So that was the rest of my notes.
So I don’t know if anybody has any questions. Yeah. Right. So the question is, if I have
other other events planned, and right now the the next event that I’m that I’m planning
is it’s not until not until February so I don’t have anything and new before Christmas.
So yeah. A portrait of my wife. I haven’t talked to her about that. I’ll talk to her
about it. Okay, yeah. Okay. Yes they are. Yeah. Thanks. Um, okay, so I’ll tell you what
they are. So the beard is from an 1890s barn. That was the oldest standing barn in Clark
County. And my friend my friend John Siebert gave me that wood. So everything that skin
tone was… it was the old Les Schwab from Downtown Kamas. And that’s where so my parents
used to have a 12 passenger van and it always was needing alignment work and was wearing
out tires. And so I remember as a kid, always going into that place, and having our van
worked on. The hair is it’s just uh, I’m not really sure what it is it was a block that
that I kind of inherited with some other blocks some other wood that I got. But it’s it’s
like 22 inch thick, solid oak. The glasses. The glasses was a block of wood that I got
from a wood recycler local would recycle that… That when I went in looking for the scraps
that they weren’t you that they weren’t utilizing, they said: “Well, we just throw them all in
the dumpster.” So I I went in the dumpster and found a bunch of blocks and… It wasn’t
a dumpster like a garbage dumpster. It was kind of a dumpster like a wood dumpster. Basically,
yeah. It was like a wood store. I think that’s all the word that I know where where’s from
that’s on it. So yeah, okay, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Right, right. Um, you know, for me,
I took the pressure off of off of myself initially that that was what I was going to do for a
living. And I felt like if it wasn’t meant to be that I wouldn’t work. And so, so I was
just it was like, well, I’m going to try and see if I can make this work. And so I really
wasn’t worried about failing because if I failed then I was gonna just do something
different. Mm hmm. Okay. That might be helpful. Cute card. Yeah. Say down. Okay, so… Yeah.
I’ve seen you’ve done those animals, Right. And now yourself portrait. Yeah. What different
approaches do you take? Do a landscape versus, you know, an animal? Yeah. I think it’s the
same approach. So, I mean, I start with a picture. So, I mean, I try to find just the
right picture that I can that I could visualize that picture being, you know, being a wooden
painting. And and so I mean, just thinking through like when I was looking for the picture
for the Mount Hood like it was really similar to the looking through my pictures trying
to find the portrait of me. Yeah. Sorry. Yeah. It doesn’t. Yeah. I mean, I’ve had I’ve had
people, people want a certain certain thing, like a certain mountain or certain glacier,
and ended up looking through looking through other pictures. Try to find a better angle
of it or a better time of day with a better shadows or something that would that would
translate to translate. Well, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s I’ve thought about that about
people. Like if somebody brings me a picture, that’s, I mean, this picture here was not
the best picture, like halfway through it, I wished I’d used a different picture. And
I mean, yeah, I mean, part of it was just because of the because of the shadows. And
I was just like: “Man, why couldn’t I just taken it straight on to where…” You know,
like. So I mean, I’m happy with how it turned out. But so so I think that I could make you
know, if somebody brought me a picture and they only had one picture of their grandma
or have somebody I think that I could, I could make it work. So I guess it’s more about just
getting getting the ideal picture. You know, to make it easier to make maybe. So, yeah,
I think that’s it. Thank you for coming. Transcribed by

One thought on “ARTIST TALK: Leonard Locatis – October 18, 2019

  1. I really appreciate the opportune to get to be part of this event!! Thank you Portland art museum and all the lovely people who I meet👍🏼

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