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Artist Ann Rea
When was the last time that you painted?
Recreating Gauguin photo127 This is what I asked when each brave guest took their turn and stepped up to the canvas last night to help create a collaborative painting, with my guidance. In celebration of the Post Impressionist Exhibition at the de Young Art Museum of the masterpieces on loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, First Republic hosted a spectacular and inspired celebration filled with a full range of fantastic hors d'oeuvres, French champagne, and roaming musicians. What you don’t see in this video clip is a trio of professional ballerinas performing just to the left.  Their tutus, hair bows, and performance were taken right out of the previous exhibition of Edgar Degas, “The Dancing Lesson.” My role was to invite guests into the creative process of recreated Gauguin’s “Arearea” that is currently on display.  I just noticed that the name contains my first initial and last name twice. Ha! Another synchronistic moment last night was when I noticed the spot light shining down on a beautiful cobalt blue and black ceramic vessel in the adjacent gallery.  It was “Jazz Bowel” created by my direct mentor Viktor Schreckengost, the "American da Vinci", for Eleanor Roosevelt. For three years Viktor Schreckengost inspired me.  And it was a pleasure and a privilege to inspire others last night; including, bankers, brokers, and investors.  Each guest took a moment from the frenzy of the festivities and reconnected with their creative selves. When was the last time you painted, sang, danced, or played an instrument? Next stop, next week:  Bouchon of Beverly Hills to paint with Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry.
Because of Viktor Schreckengost I’m still Designing
Viktor Schreckengost I  studied with, and was inspired by a famed creator, Viktor Schreckengost, also known as the "American da Vinci."  He painted, sculpted, and was a pioneer industrial designer.  You still use and see his designs.  In 1972, Viktor Schreckengost established the Industrial Design department at The Cleveland Institute of Art, founded in 1882, where I graduated in 1987. And I actually graduated with a degree in Industrial Design, not painting. In fact, the art school was often cold and the painting studios where not properly ventilated so I developed a horrible skin rash when I worked with turpentine and oils.  I was  allergic to oil painting when I was in art school and I walked around with a raw rash on my neck.  It was no wonder that I produced muddy and flat paintings. Years later when I discovered painting again, I found the least toxic approach to oil painting that involves only pigment and linseed oil.  There were no more skin conditions. Viktor Schreckengost inspired me more than any other professor.  He was such a Renaissance man and true gentleman.  Unfortunately, I could not say that was my experience with all my male professors, or male students, in the Industrial Design department. It was, at times, brutal.  Sexism and racism still lingered in the 1980s. I still remember a male student scoffing at my job offer at the same firm where we would be working together.  He remarked, "Well, I'll make more money that you, and I always will."  Although memorable, that was the least of the hostility. Despite the constant barbs, having Viktor Schreckengost as my teacher kept me going. Viktor Schreckengost had no other agenda but to teach and inspire and he made the design process a beautiful puzzle that I still love.  I designed my company's website, collateral, and closely collaborated with my talented graphic designer, Todd Hedgpeth, who created my graphic identity. I use design when I paint.  It plays a huge role in developing the composition of the painting, the balance of color, the understanding of form. Even though my personal experience of art school was far from ideal I wouldn't change a thing.  I’m glad I knew this legend and I know that I’m not alone in this regard.  Viktor Schreckengost was a good man, a devoted teacher, and a rare talent in our time.  I recall  him telling me how he came to design the childrens toy the Hippity Hop Ball and then later sold the patent to the military to somehow function as landing gear.  I paid close attention to the fact that he owned many patents.  He was also a keen businessman and he blessed many with his creations.
Color, color, color. I eat it for breakfast.
The Color Wheel

What inspires me? Color, color, color.  I eat it for breakfast.

What is color?  It’s simply the energy of light vibrating at different frequencies.  I choose to focus on color because this inspiration is infinite and it is ever changing. As the sun shines through the particles in the sky and moves over our heads each day it casts a different light in each environment on the globe.  Hour by hour forms and shadows are reshaped.  Focus upon this subtle change keeps me present, it therapeutically keeps my thoughts in the moment. Why do we enjoy watching a sunset?  I think it’s because we slow down and relax into the moment, reflecting as we watch the very source of color reshape the environment for yet another day.  As they day ends we’re reminded that the sun will set again and it places the days events and life’s current circumstances in context. The French Impressionists discovered the genius of this joy and inspiration.  Their subject was color shaped by the immediate and ambient light of a place in time.  The subject wasn’t haystacks, water lilies, or cathedrals.  The Impressionist period continues to hold universal appeal and remains one of the most popular periods in the history of Western art.  It’s accessible and the focus was beautiful simplicity. I’ve been referred to as an Impressionist and I don’t believe that is accurate.  Although I do paint in the timeless tradition of French Impressionists like Monet, plein air (in the open air), I’m not from a previous century. And even though I use the same oil pigments as Van Gough from Old Holland Oil Works established in 1664, my work is influenced by the direct mentorship I received from contemporary painters Wayne Thiebaud and Gregory Kondos (American Art icons) and my study with renowned industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost.  Each of these influences are an inspiration along with my love of color.