Posted on September 4th 2012
New York singer/songwriter Natalia Zukerman has released five albums. As accomplished an artist as she is a musician, she included original paintings in some preordered copies of her latest, Gas Station Roses.
When did you first start painting?
I was terribly dyslexic as a kid and couldn’t read (books or music) until a pretty late age. I learned to play music by ear, and I learned to write by copying the images I saw. Over and over and over again. The capital letters B and E, the numbers 3 and 4, they became almost abstract shapes, my pencil tracing the lines that were written out for me until I could replicate them on my own.
We had an assignment in 4th or 5th grade that had something to do with Egyptians, and I ended up copying a wall painting from a Pharaoh’s tomb. I copied exactly the image that I saw, taking what I’d learned from my reading and writing lessons (brain re-organizing!) and applying it to these forms—bodies, clothes, instruments, colors, lines and shadow took shape on the page. It was my first painting and I still have it- framed and in a storage box…somewhere!
Are you inspired by a particular painter or artistic movement?
My grandmother (my mom’s mom) was a painter and ceramist. I loved visiting my grandparents and playing with clay in the basement of their house. In high school, I loved painters like John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth and of course I had a poster of a Dali painting and an Escher print in my room. Later, I discovered Jenny Saville and her exploration of the female form blew my mind. But it wasn’t until college that I discovered what moves me the most—a guest speaker came to my art history class to talk about the Chicano Mural Art Movement. I learned about Los Tres Grandes—Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros and their influence on the mural-art movement in California, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. I started studying the women muralists in California like Judith Baca, Susan Cervantes and others. I read and looked at everything I could find and decided I’d move to San Francisco after college to paint murals. And I did! It took me a while though—I was a mural tour guide first through Precita Eyes and then started volunteering on community art projects before starting my own mural company, Off The Wall. It’s the community art process that still excites and inspires me most—its ability to tell a story, to ignite activism and to bring together groups of people to create long-lasting, meaningful and beautiful works of art.
How does painting differ from music as a creative outlet for you?
I’m actually beginning to see these two disciplines as coming from the same place. My friend Andy Friedman (musician and incredible illustrator/cartoonist for publications like The New Yorker and Time) once described creativity to me by saying that it’s like water coming out of a hole. If you put your finger in it, you can manipulate it and make it come out sideways—slower, faster, up, down. But it’s always the same water. In other words, whether “it” is coming out as a mural, a painting on canvas, a song, or a piece of wooden jewelry, it’s coming from the same place, the same well. Both require a lot of work, practice, attention. When I’ve spent too long a stretch on music, my brushes start screaming at me and vice versa- when I’m spending too much time in my studio, my guitar looks so lonely. And mad! So they’re not that different—needy, rewarding, expansive, maddening and freeing all at the same time.
Where can we see your work in person?
My most recent murals are in restaurants in Brooklyn—Villa Pancho Taqueria at 1047 Bedford Avenue; Back 9 Grill at 635 Vanderbilt Ave.; Zaytoons at 472 Myrtle Avenue. Other murals: People’s History of Telegraph Avenue (Telegraph and Haste, Berkeley, Calif.); Planet Rainbow (Rainbow School, Oakland, Calif.), Alice on the Wall (Chambers Street, New York); Yellow Metrobus and Una Pequena Historia de Nuestros Mundos (Havana, Cuba), Tiny Teeth (Phoenix, AZ). I’m also designing necklaces for Bergevin-Lane Vineyards in Walla Walla, Wash., and they’re available in the winery and storefront. They’re hand-painted miniatures on reclaimed guitar wood. I’m also currently at work on commissioned paintings based on song lyrics.
CLICK HERE for the complete article.
Posted on June 14th 2011
Two videos about the project…