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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A few questions with William Mize

"House Midtown ATL" Mixed media on panel 36" x 36"
  • "House Midtown ATL" Mixed media on panel 36" x 36"

William Mize says that his paintings are self portraits. Whether he's painting a house, as he often does, or birds surrounding his son, he says the painting "allows me to define myself in relation to the world around me."

Mize attended Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL in the early 90s and moved to Atlanta in 1996. His current show at Alan Avery Art Company is his first since 2008. We caught up with William over the weekend to ask him a few questions about his work.

How long have you been working on this group of paintings?

That’s actually a really hard question for me. I have absolutely no sense of time ever. It really – the majority of it was done in the last three months.

When do you like to work?

I work from morning ‘til morning. First thing in the morning until four in the morning. It was grueling. I work best at night. I get into like a trance kind of thing. Everything is silent and I can get into my head more. That’s the way I’ve always painted.

A lot of the work in this current show looks at houses and urban architecture. Were you interested in portraying specific parts of Atlanta? What draws you to painting houses?

Above all, the house itself has always been a metaphor for myself. The house represents me and who I am in any given point in my life. I see the house as a vessel that I am constantly trying to fill – be it with a particular emotion or feeling, my history or a portion of my life, etc.

I select places that I see often. It's not about choosing a specific part of Atlanta but more about a feeling I get when I drive by a particular building or house. I'm drawn to places with history, a history that reveals itself somehow – like a concrete wall painted with graffiti then painted over dozens of times or a house that is slowly falling to the ground. It intrigues me to imagine how these places got to be in the state they're in. These contemplations take me back to different memories or even forward to an unknown future.

"Pull" Mixed media on panel 48" x 36"
  • "Pull" Mixed media on panel 48" x 36"

A few of your works use photographs. Do you work with found photos or photos that you've taken yourself? Can you describe that selection process?

I take all of my own photographs. It's automatic. I see something I'm drawn to and take a picture. Subconsciously, I'm taking photos of images that correspond to what is going on in my life at the time I take a snapshot. Later, when I see the photos together, I'm attracted to certain images and a story slowly begins to develop. However, I rarely begin my process with something definite in mind. I start with color, texture or composition. The entire picture is never fully revealed but in the end the paintings seem to come together as a cohesive thought.

"Assemblage" Mixed Media on panel 66" x 60"
  • "Assemblage" Mixed Media on panel 66" x 60"

Who or what are your influences?

For this show, my family was a big influence. I see this work as a study in mortality and/or humanity. "Family Tree", for example, is about the life and recent death of my grandfather. There's a lot of symbolism in that painting that all relates to my memories — the tree, the bird, the barn, the flowers. "Pull" expresses tension between siblings, both from my past and my present. "Looking Back" portrays my son; I see myself in him. I am the birds surrounding him, a fleeting moment in time.

Paintings by William Mize, Bob Landstrom, Erik Gonzales and Kenneth Procter at Alan Avery Art Company. 315 East Paces Ferry Road. 404-237-0370. www.alanaveryartcompany.com

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