Home Interviews Art Interview: Charles Yoder
Art Interview: Charles Yoder


charles yoder interview


07/16/13:
Interview with artist Charles Yoder.

Soylent Green Blog: At what age did you know you wanted to become a painter?

Charles Yoder: 
I've always drawn ever since I was a kid. I didn't really start painting until college. Not seriously until after college. You see, painting was supposed to be dead at the time. I was doing collage and conceptual pieces. In the late 70's I started hanging out with painters my own age. I think that's when I started.

Soylent Green Blog: What made you gravitate towards nature?

Charles Yoder: I've been doing these really large abstract paintings using my hands, pushing the paint around, like fingerpainting. And I was very frustrated at the limitations of the marks and colors I was getting. One night In winter I was out in the country and stepped out into my backyard. It was a full moon and the shadows from the pine boughs were dancing across snow. It just hit me that this is what I needed. All information I needed was right there at my feet. And I wanted to do them big. Very big. The first one took me about three months just to figure it out the basics. That was about 1996, 1997.

charles yoder interview

Soylent Green Blog:
 Do you ever think you'll live in Maine again year round, or are you a New Yorker now?

Charles Yoder: 
I can see spending more time in Maine but not year-round. I've got a house out on the end of Long Island. It's really beautiful. In the middle of white and black pine trees and near the ocean. I'm pretty happy there. But I was on Monhegan Island last year and really loved it. Got a lot of really good looking photographs and painting ideas. And I'm still in love with New York City. No better place for an artist, but things change. You never know.

Soylent Green Blog: Who would you say has influenced you the most in your life and art?

Charles Yoder: 
Most influential person? My personal life: I guess my Dad for not getting in my way and my Mom for telling me I could do whatever I wanted. I had a shrink Larry Sullivan who probably saved my life and believed in me when I didn't have anyone like that in my life.

Probably the biggest artistic influence in my life was Robert Rauschenberg. I knew him for almost 40 years and I worked for him for over 12 years off and on. His work ethic was fantastic and I think he was a true genius. One of the best artists ever. Showed me that anything can be art (Whatever that is). These days I guess art is anything I say it is. Bob Rauschenberg taught me that it was the work that mattered. That everything else was secondary. Another artist like that was my best friend Al Taylor, a great artist who was always working. Always. Through thick and thin. These guys made me realize that the making of the work is what made you feel worthwhile. I learned that this was the way to be ready for my luck.

I've had many influences in this strange world I've fashioned but the main reason I'm still so involved is my wife Charlene Keogh. It's no coincidence that my serious concentration on full time painting coincides with the time we've been together. She's been and continues to be my biggest supporter and steadfast promoter. There's a lot of "Check it out. I finished it." with her reply: "You're almost there." "No. I mean it. It's done." "Just a bit more, dear."

She puts up with all the moods that come with living with someone whose life's work, for the most part, is undefinable. It took me a long time to find someone to love like this.

Then there's the usual list of suspects: Matisse (my favorite today. It'll probably be different tomorrow.), Picasso,C├ęzanne,Rubens, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Johns, Duchamp, Homer, Sargent, Monet, Da Vinci, Goya, Velasquez,Munch, DeKooning, Charles Burchfield, Bruce Nauman. I have to stop now. I'm starting to feel like a real whore.


charles yoder interview

Soylent Green Blog: 
Looking back on your career, which painting would you consider to be your favorite?

Charles Yoder: Paintings are like your children. You're supposed to say that they're all equal and have special traits of their own. But you know there are those that you really favor but you just can't say it out loud.

Soylent Green Blog: Was there ever a moment in your life when you considered quitting the art world and getting a 9 to 5?

Charles Yoder: 
I still think about it all the time, but I know by now that I'm practically unemployable in any other occupation.

In fact, it's always been the other way around. I've worked nine to fives to support this art habit of mine for way too long. These days I teach part time and paint full time and I'm very lucky to be in this situation.

So very few friends I started out with as artists are still artists today. In fact, I can't think of any right now.

charles yoder interview

Soylent Green Blog:
 At what age did you finally feel like you had "made it"?

Charles Yoder
The answer to this one depends on how you interpret the word "made".

Financially this career of mine is nowhere near "made". What I considered to be commercially successful remains elusive.

In my late 40s when I was painting more and more, I slowly noticed that it became easier to say that I was an artist. But I still tell people that I'm a picture painter rather than an artist.

I have this notion that only other people can tell me what they think I do and what to call it. It seems to be beyond my own description. You're playing between the areas of sacred and profane when you call yourself an artist. You have to use that word carefully.

I'm of the generation that thought being an artist had religious overtones. This is a discarded notion these days. It's easy enough to be a priest of a failed religion and not know it.

Soylent Green Blog: What is your favorite gallery in New York?

Charles Yoder: 
I don't have a favorite gallery these days. I like galleries that have eclectic tastes that show all different kinds of art ,not just one school or theory. Probably my most favorite art place is Metropolitan Museum of Art followed by the Museum of Modern Art. Then there's the Louvre and Musee Dorsay in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Uffizi in Florence, Blah blah blah.

charles yoder interview

Soylent Green Blog:
 If you could go back in time, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Charles Yoder
As for an alternative past: I'm not one to dwell on the past and am not much for regrets.

Soylent Green Blog: Do you have any advice for up and coming artists?

Charles Yoder: 
My recommendations would be to trust your own sincerity and work even when you don't feel confident. The work will help you find your way even if you don't know what you're doing. I think my work would've progressed further than where it is today if I done that.


charles yoder interview



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