Never content to keep doing the same thing, Verbicky continues to evolve as an artist.
Walking into Verbicky Studios in San Clemente, I can’t help thinking what a remarkable space itis. One moment I’m in a familiar Southern California surf town, and then suddenly I am transported into something one could expect to find in New York. From the industrial piped ceiling, steel walls, and reclaimed floor, the space is impressive and undeniably unique. Massive roll up doors expand into a sophisticated gallery lounge for entertaining Verbicky’s clients and dealers as well as displaying his most recent experimental work. The upstairs of the warehouse is only accessible to assistants and those few select persons invited to view the artist’s private creative space – after signing a non-disclosure agreement, of course.
When I first interviewed Verbick in 2011, he was primarily creating mixed media paintings using vintage magazines, an idea that coalesced during his visit to Paris where he exhibited work with the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts at the Louvre. After his widely successful bout with collage, he has moved painting back to the forefront in his new series ERA, as he continues to explore themes of social influence through media.
Could you tell me about your recent work?
ERA is an expansion on the themes of my media paintings. By hand-painting instead of using vintage paper, I’m feeling free to create the piece exactly how I see it in my mind. No longer confined by the small size of conventional print, I can manipulate the size and therefore the impact of the content, which in turn allows me to influence the sensations experienced by the viewer. I am able to create some of the most finely detailed work of my career, with line work as fine as two millimeters. Conversely, I am also building my largest works to date.
Tell me about your process in creating these pieces. Both my media paintings and the new canvas works are hugely time consuming to create.
With my media paintings, my compositions flow as I select and build scenes moving across the panel with paper; I’m very selective. With my canvas works, the amount of pre-planning is huge. I map out my content completely before touching the canvas to make sure the image is perfectly visually balanced. After that, handpainting the original imagery andachieving the desired pigmentation seems to devour my days. My pieces are neither fast nor easily made. As a result, I often have fewer works available than many living artists and they are purchased as soon as they’re completed. My dealers can get frustrated with the lack of inventory!
Does it feel good to be moving back into painting?
Yes, I am a painter first and foremost. Something about paint, it feels very organic and real, even if tightly controlled in a piece. I always seem to gravitate back to it. It is a medium that has stood the test of time and an infinitely malleable vehicle.
What are your sources of inspiration?
My inspirations are accumulating constantly and are fluid. Travel helps fuel the fire and constantly working seems to inspire me, almost like consistently using a muscle. To continue painting through work that I really am not happy with, even hate, I get to the other side, to something I approve of.
How did you become interested in this building as a workspace?
The studio is one of the most unique buildings in Southern California, and I have been stalking it for years. This area isn’t known for industrial, New York loft-style architecture, so it really is a gem. Fortuitously, I was able to immediately put in an offer on it when it came on the market.
Your family has grown since the last time we talked. Do you feel your kids have shaped your perspective as an artist?
I have two young children with my lovely wife, Lauren. Prior to becoming a father, my work dealt with media bombardment and indoctrination. Having kids has only deepened my understanding of how this plays such a key role in our society: that influence begins so incredibly early, in infancy, with so many toys, shows, characters, and advertisements aimed at children to make money. It is a scary thing, so we try to keep things simple. But on the positive side, having children has definitely lit a fire under me and is a strong motivator towards growth and expansion.
How do you balance family time and work time?
I make my own schedule in order to be available to them if they need me, and I work every night after they’re in bed to free up some time during the day. It is a struggle. You really have to work at actively maintaining the balance. I make an effort to have one-on-one time with each of them. My daughter paints in the evenings with me in the studio, and Saturday mornings are for diner breakfasts with my son while the ladies sleep in
What do you love most about being a father?
I love all of it: it has been game-changing for me in the best way. Seeing the world through clear, un-jaded eyes, sharing things like painting and surfing and swimming with them. When the business of art feels too stressful, taking a break with them and returning to a simpler mindset is so refreshing. They’re amazing little people.
Do you think living in Orange County has influenced you as an artist?
I think Orange County gets a lot of flack, given its lack of cultural diversity (compared to international cities like Vancouver, where I lived for a large part of my life) as well as its reputation from reality TV, but overall I think it has had a positive impact on me. I’ve been fortunate in certain ways. I’ve found great people and an amazingly unique building for a studio. And as an ocean lover from a cold, rainy climate, I’ve wanted to live here since I was young. I was even willing to risk jail time by entering the country through Mexico and was illegal for several years before receiving my extraordinary ability green card. It is a beautiful place. I’m currently fighting against a few cities to get some street art going, some murals approved to add some culture to the area. Who knows, maybe in the few years Orange County will be known for its crazy art scene.
What’s next for you?
Global domination. Huge shows coming up in Mexico City, Barcelona, and Paris. I’m constantly painting and creating. I’m moving into large-scale murals to bring my work to a whole new level and never-before-seen scale. My motto for the next few years is: bigger is better.
Place for the perfect cup of coffee in OC.
I’m always searching for the perfect cup of coffee. Bear Coast by the San Clemente Pier is a great spot, as well as Wake Up Coffee, also in San Clemente.
Favorite place to take out of town visitors in OC.
Studio restaurant at the Montage.
Favorite place to watch the sunset.
My wife’s family used to own a beautiful historical home in Laguna Beach since the 1930s called the Ark, so Moss Point is a special spot. The ocean view from our home isn’t too shabby either.
Favorite OC spot for family outings.
We are ocean lovers. Rivieras Beach, San Onofre, for evening BBQs and surf sessions. Trestles is my favorite break in the area, naturally.
Last book you read.
Richard Branson’s Losing your Virginity. I recently visited Bitter Island, which is next door to Branson’s private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands while on holiday in Virgin Gorda. I like that guy’s program: he’s a brilliant businessman, but he knows that life is also about enjoying nature and living life to the fullest.
Three words that describe you.
Restless. Passionate. Cynical.
Favorite brand of jeans.
Best thing about living in Orange County.
Surfing Trestles. It’s the only way to calm my thoughts.
By Danielle M. Walters