Chip Southworth will be showing at JAX Chamber August – October at 3 Independent Dr Jacksonville, FL 32202.
INTERVIEW With Chip and Rikki Southworth by Rebecca Flagg
Where are you from? Where did you study? What brought you to Jacksonville?
CS: UNF and Gulf Coast, Panama City, with a brief stopover at FSU; I also worked for sculptor and painter, Roland Hockett, which shaped me as an artist as much as anything.
I was born & raised in Jax; I’ve moved away a few times, but end up back here. I love Jacksonville and can’t imagine really living anywhere else. NY and Miami are great in short stints, but this is home.
I’m new to the Jacksonville art scene, and I understand that you and your beautiful wife Rikki just went through a fight with breast cancer and that the art community really rallied around you to try to protect and help her through this fight as a working, yet uninsured, artist. Can you describe that for collectors?
CS: Well, there’s nothing easy about it. We made just enough money to not have much access to government help and faced massive financial hurdles, but the arts community really rallied around us and that positive energy and support really helped Rikki recover incredibly fast from her surgeries. We still have quite a bit of an uphill battle, the Donna Foundation told us that Mayo would take us on 100% through their charity, but then turned us down giving no reason. Through the art community and friends we’ve been able to raise about $25,000, so we’re about half way there so far.
Speaking of Rikki, I understand that she is an inspiration often found in your work. If you don’t mind me prying, can you share with the public why this is, and what you love most about your wife?
CS: We’ve been together for a long time, Rikki is my best friend, we are always together and I love her more all the time. She is a great mom and loves rock and roll and art… I couldn’t ask for more… she is beautiful too, so she naturally became my main muse. My last show featured a lot of figurative pieces that examined person struggle, hitting the wall, and facing challenges like breast cancer… breast cancer had a big influence on that show. In addition to Rikki, I used three or four other muses for that show. My work comes across as asexual (Not sexual), full of emotion and bold though the subjects are nude and seemingly vulnerable… there is a real sense of survival and perseverance.
The works on display in the Riverplace Tower are mostly from late 2011 – early 2012 and represent where I was just before devoting so much of my work to grand scale portraiture and figures. The Main Street Bridge pieces in particular are quite special, as I grew up admiring that bridge and think of it as the main focal point of downtown. Today I live just six blocks away from this structure that I love so much. These pieces bridge the last 25 years of abstract expressionism and my recent study of real imagery in a post modern contemporary fashion.
Rikki, what do you enjoy most about your husband’s paintings?
RS: I’m torn, I really enjoy watching the pieces evolve through the different stages and layers of brush strokes, but then seeing the finished product on the wall is just as beautiful as well. It’s amazing to watch Chip walk up to the canvas, dip his brush in a glob of perfectly placed colors on his palette and in one swipe form a lip or an eye. Like magic!
Chip-Who are your primary art inspirations, speaking in terms of art historic masters?
CS: In terms of masters, growing up I studied DaVinci, Michael Angelo, Picasso, and Dali, but as I’ve matured, I really took a liking to Abstract Expressionists like, Roshenberg, De Koonig and Motherwell. These days I’m heavily influenced by Kenny Saville, Alexander Konevsky, and Shaun Jason Alexander. These guy’s works move me, excite me and make me want to work.
It has been identified that, per capita, Jacksonville has more artists living here than in Los Angeles. Describe what you think the Jacksonville art scene will look like 5 years from now, and 25 years from now?
CS: I think the art scene here is amazing, it’s pretty inspiring to have the depth of talent that we have here at your finger tips. I see the movement growing, but I also think that Jacksonville as an art market must grow too. I think if collectors and art buyers get excited about local art, then the future is wide open. I’m excited to see where it goes… I want this City to embrace art of all types. Its all here, If they look they will find it.
Chip’s paintings will be on display at JAX Chamber from August 5th through October 31. Visit him on the web @ http://chipsouthworth.com/