CS Coates & Scarry

Weaving a good story with Kevin Titzer

Q: Where do you live?I’m from Indiana. I spent most of my life there, but I recently relocated to Quebec, Canada.

Q: Did you go to art college? I attended the University of Southern Indiana. It’s a liberal arts University, so I had to take humanities along with my art courses. My degree is actually a Bachelor of Science. When I was younger I was always bitter that I never went to a proper art school. Now I feel it was a bit of a gift. Attending classes outside of the art department really help widened my perspective. If I would have buried my nose in the studio the whole time I was in school I don’t know if I’d still be making art today.

Q: Why sculpture? My whole family work with their hands. My Dad was a bricklayer, and lot’s of tools were around when I was growing up. When I was a kid I thought everyone’s Dad fixed their own car, built additions on to their house, and welded steel. It was kind of a shock when I found out otherwise. So it didn’t take long for me to start banging around on stuff. The thing is, I’ve never been very good at cutting straight lines or being very precise with tools. Building things that were functional or useful in any way never really worked out. Also, I’ve always had an appreciation for great storytellers. It didn’t matter where I found them. Could be at the movies, on my record player, or just listening to my drunk Uncle at Christmas. I love listening to people weave a good story. So for me, when you mix a lack of ability with a desire to express a narrative, you get sculpture.

Q: What inspires you? The City Museum in St. Louis. It’s basically a ten stories, city block long, ever growing found object sculpture made out of an old shoe factory. Wonderful place. Journalistic photography. When it’s done well, it conveys complex ideas and emotions so beautifully. The field recordings of Tony Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz is an audio documentarian. Because of his acute agoraphobia, he only makes recording within his postal code in New York City. He’s been doing this since the 1950’s and has captured so many truly amazing things on tape. Folkways Records put out a lot of his recordings in the 60’s & 70’s.  He’s still doing great stuff today.

Q: Who inspires you? The artist Swoon. The project Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea she started makes me endlessly happy. Her wheat paste street art is also pretty wonderful. The musician Andrew Bird   He never fails to entertain and surprise me. Royal de Luxe. They are a French street theatre company doing brilliant work. I really want to see some of their machines in person some day.

Q: Tell us briefly how you make your sculptures? I start off by carving everything out of wood. I use acrylic paint for the heads, hands, or feet. Then typically I cover much of the surface with tin or some other found metal. I use tiny nails in this process. The majority of my materials are scavenged or recycled. Before I moved, I got almost all of my wood from the banks of the Ohio river.

Q: How long does it take to complete one of your pieces? That’s kind of hard to say. I’m always working on several pieces at once. I’d say on average three to for weeks for the larger ones. Although, that’s if everything goes smoothly.

Q: Do you work from sketches or dive straight into making the sculpture? I do quick doodles on index cards and scrap paper. I don’t really consider them sketches. They’re more like notes to myself so I don’t forget an idea. I always have technical problems which shifts the piece in a way I didn’t anticipate, but that’s the fun part.  I like to improvise.

Q: Where do you work, home or studio, shared or on your own? I’m currently still setting up a studio in my new home. Before I moved, I had a studio away from the house on the other side of town. I really liked that at the time. It helped me keep more regular hours and detach from the work. When you live and work in the same place, it can be harder to do that.

Q: How do you spend your time when you are not creating? Since the move, learning French is going to be taking up lot’s of my time.

Q: Your favourite living artist? I’m a really big fan Chris Ware.

Q: Your alternative career? What would I have done if I hadn’t done the art thing? I kind of wish I would have studied Psychology.

Q: Three loves? Rhubarb pie. The wonderful woman in my life. Old stand up comedy LPs. (Not necessarily in that order)

Q: Three loathes? Tail gating in traffic Inconsiderate people Pretentiousness


Richard Scarry and Chippy Coates

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