Widgets Magazine

Q&A talks art and Shelter Island with artist Roz Dimon

“I’ve got a pixel in my heart”

 

Q: Have you always been an artist?

A: Yes. I was born an artist. That came from both of my grandmothers. But I became serious about myself as an artist when I was in college, my first year. I went to the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia and did a program in Cortona, Italy. That year when I came home to Atlanta, sitting around the table I told my parents that my art teacher told me someday I’d be famous.

I mean I didn’t care about fame, but I knew who I was then—I was an artist.

I was a shy, talented kid. I just dove into art—even gave up men for a few years. I had some solo shows in Atlanta in my 20s, but knew I had to get to New York. So I packed up my VW Beetle and drove up to New York City. My college roommate Joy was a mechanic. She and I built it. The engine worked perfectly but the windshield wipers flew off on the highway.

Q: I and the rest of the world are grateful the Beetle got you all the way North. Funny, you’ve been here long enough you’ve only a hint of accent and you talk as fast as a native New Yorker. Were you always working in digital?

A: No. My first love was drawing that I did by hand—there was no digital. And although I’m an artist who can barely operate a toaster, I responded really strongly to our information age and technical world. Even before the internet, we were tv, radio—everything was electric. I wanted to paint that pulse.

I took my first digital course in 1984 because my paintings were becoming these squares of information. The space was becoming as important as the lines, filled with a techno-charged consciousness. There was no internet. It feels prehistoric now—my first computer had four colors and 2 megabytes of hard drive.

I started with a traditional brush, oil on canvas. My digital brush is similar but has a distinct edge that speaks to today. I use digital as a medium, not just an act of production. I’ve got a pixel in my heart.

Q: How did you get to Shelter Island?

A: I’ve been in New York since 1981—the city really became home to me. In the 1990s my husband and I were looking in the Hamptons—we had been successful in the dotcom boom, had the means to get a second home, but the Hamptons weren’t really us—we fell in love with Shelter Island. We had friends out here. I’d like to mention artist Janet Culbertson in particular—she’s been a real mentor to me.

Shelter Island welcomed us. When we were looking for a house, people said, “Here, take my keys for the weekend, I’m going away.” That floored us. We fell in love with the little house we bought in particular, with its backyard up against the Mashomack Preserve.

Q: So when did you take the plunge?

A: We bought in 2001. That year we lost most of the trappings people call home; not only did the dotcom boom bust, but we lived quite close to Ground Zero, had to evacuate. My piece about that time, Pale Male: A Pilgrimage, is a spiritual journey about finding home when your own is lost. Pale Male has been recently acquired by the 9/11 Memorial Museum for their permanent collection. Back then I never thought I’d have another home, but Shelter Island has become one and I love it.

Q: You’ve got a new exhibit opening at the Barn—the Shelter Island Historical Society Barn. Is Pale Male in it? What are you showing?

A: Pale Male is not in this show, I’m exhibiting new work.

The new pieces go back to the heart of me, which is drawing but with a digital brush. Black and white drawings of individual everyday tools, but each iconic. Every object has a story and ironically, they often outlive us. I’m finding beauty in line and form and shape and that universal experience.

The works have multiple layers, and you can see them animated on my website rozdimon.com. My goal is to make the digital age intimate, to bring people into the experience.

One reason I love showing here is this venue has history, a certain gravitas. It’s an elegant place to showcase art and there’s a community feeling to it. Plus I love the juxtaposition of the warmth of the barn with the contemporary, edgy work I’m doing here. I’m really a traditional artist in new clothes so it’s a good fit. At the same time, I’m pushing the boundaries a bit working with a medium that’s very “now”—one that’s affecting all our lives. Does your baby have an iPad?

Q: Well, no, my kids don't have iPads yet. We're pretty old school. Anyway, when can we see the show?

A: My works will be hanging, preview style, as part of the Historical Society’s Black & White Benefit on July 19th. My exhibit will be open to the public starting Monday July 21st through Tuesday, July 29th, 12-5 pm. The opening reception is July 26th, 4-7 p.m. All are welcome.

Q: If people miss your show where can they find you?

A: My website rozdimon.com is a good way to find me. If people subscribe under CONTACT, they’ll get notices of upcoming shows. Also my studio will be a part of the ARTSI Open Studio Tour in Shelter Island on the weekend of August 16th and 17th. For two days I open my space to the public. It’s an easy way for collectors to purchase an artwork directly from an artist as well as an opportunity for art enthusiasts to learn more about the creative process in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.

Photographs by Kasia Rejzerewicz