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|Marquis Who's Who in American Art 2003- 2010 (International)
|Marquis Who's Who in America 2007-2008 (International)
CAREER SUMMARY--Brian J. King
The early years of my life infused me with a great desire to create art. I grew up in Iowa, my parent’s home filled with prints of Renoir, Matise, Turner, Picasso and Wood. With strong commitment to my education, my mother and father ensured that I appreciate the fine arts. In 1967 I fell ill at age 15 and my mother gave me the task of interpreting “The Bull Ring” by Picasso in tempera on paper to speed my recovery. In the process, I awoke to a discovery of the power in artistic creation. This seminal event is the foundation of my identity as an artist.
The changing social fabric of the time greatly influenced my life. I graduated from high school ahead of my class and entered college before age 16. Through the next few years I attended various universities. I soon left the Midwest, California bound. I was compelled to join the social revolution of the late sixties. First, I went to Berkeley and sold pen and ink drawings on paper with poems from the sidewalks. I shifted to small watercolors which I sold for a few dollars each to tourists in the seventies. As I evolved, I found pigments, inks, and acrylics and let my imagination run, self-taught through reading, observation, and practice.
This was the beginning of the financial and emotional struggle to support myself solely as an artist. I live in frugality and austerity. Art taught me one of life’s most important lessons: the value of giving. I felt alone in the world and I began donating talent and time to worthy local causes. My generosity gave me a richness of spirit helping others. With the friends I made in these organizations, I traded art and art lessons for food and shelter.
I created paintings, drawings, and other works of art in the traditional manner. The technical pen and ink drawings of Escher, the saturated colors used by Parrish, the bold geometry of Picasso led me from one medium to the next. I have worked in ink, tempera, watercolor, pigment, dye, acrylics, mixed media, and digital format—on paper, fabric, artboard, masonite, and canvas. Sales were few and far between, but somehow I managed. I moved from the forests of the Sierra Nevadas—a one room shack without plumbing to a very small home at the oceanside. These environs instilled in me an intimacy with landscape and nature that awes me and inspires my work to this very day.
The West Coast rewarded me with regional recognition. These early works married exciting form and vivid color in scenes I labeled “mindscapes.” It was in the galleries of northern California in 1982 that I first shared my mindscapes with the public. I entered my first competition and won the Best of Show award. This led to showings at a few coastal galleries including the Hobart Gallery of Ferndale, Ca. owned by Hobart Brown of Kinetic Sculpture Festival fame. This led to a glimmer of hope that I might support myself as an artist.
It was in California in 1984 that I saw my first personal computer, and immediately realized that it could be used as a painting tool. In parallel with my traditional art techniques and tools. I invested all my assets and began to experiment with this new medium. I soon realized the tools available for creating art on computer were limited. I knew this would change.
I returned to Iowa with the desire to open a store specializing in the sale of PCs, one of the first of its kind in the nation. I gained access to the emerging technologies of digital art. I enjoyed being involved, though my store did not succeed financially. I soon began to focus on publishing software for the printing industry, releasing three of my original clipart collections in 1987-88. (Clipart are the images cut and pasted into desktop publications.) Though I derived some income from the store and the clipart sales, my situation was still one of relative poverty. I had reached my breaking point, and needed a fresh start. When my older brother learned of my troubles, he invited me to Austin, Texas to start over. He said it was a place of many creative souls, a good place, so I moved to Texas with some trepidation. The year of 1989 was difficult. I had hoped that Austin’s reputation as ‘The Live Music Capital’ would have indicated a support for the visual arts as well. I found that the opposite was true. I had no access to the galleries and museums. They were filled with the work of artists from outside the area. I was very discouraged, so I took advantage of my proximity to Mexico and moved to San Miguel de Allende, an art center in
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the state of Guanajuato, Mexico in 1990. It was full of artists and writers and was an inspiring time of growth for me. This three year stay in Mexico led to an auspicious friendship. I was contacted by the well known Manhattan artist Ronald Mallory to collaborate on two commissioned pieces for the Kullmans of Phillip Morris. This partnership resulted in two major artworks, one of which is documented. Both pieces remain in the private collection of Joseph and Joan Kullman, N.Y., N.Y. Equally important to me, however, were the beautiful pieces of handmade silver jewelry we designed and made.
My time in Mexico came to an end, and I returned to Austin hoping that the art climate had matured and that my artistic growth might gain me access to the galleries with my newly acquired stature. No one would look at my work. I came to know many other artists in Austin who complained about this common problem.
Part of the answer came to me in a circuitous and providential way. I had taken a part time job as an illustrator/artist with a corporate training company. Here I met a client who published a technical computer magazine. The editor invited me as a guest to a think-tank meeting with her magazine staffers about art direction. It was in this meeting that I met my muse, one of the staff, soon to be partner and later wife!
That next day, Victoria and I talked in private to discuss a different and new project she had in mind. This project was a new national art magazine based in Austin. She offered me the position of art director in January of 1994. We established the philosophy for the new magazine: equal access to the art marketplace for all visual artists. Each page would feature a full page reproduction of an artists work with direct contact information. The magazine would be distributed free in Austin, our home, and sold at low cost nationwide. We worked out the kinks and soon had our first issue in hand: large format, full color covers, unique art inside. Barnes and Noble’s national magazine buyer said it was “the most unique magazine in America” and was sold nationwide in their stores. We helped many artists bring their works to the public eye and connected buyers with artists directly. The potential of equal access became a reality: The Picture Paper Magazine.
I received another propitious gift: a mentor. We gave cover magazine space to promote a great artist we had heard about. I thus met Gustav Likan, the acrylic colorist of the twentieth century, the father of acrylic paintings, Eva Peron’s personal painter. We became friends immediately, as he was so likeable and open. Through the years before his death in 1998 our many conversations about art and the world of art shaped my beliefs and painting style. We were talking as usual one day, and upon hearing of the political trouble in Croatia, his home country, he turned to me and told me a story I will never forget. When the Nazis came into his country he was invited to paint the generals of the reich. He did so, with the effect of decreasing animosity between the Nazis and his country. The Nazis chose not to invade his country. Then Gus turned to me and said, “Even in war, ART!” Soon thereafter, we ran an editorial column that stated, “Art is the face of nations, artists the mirrors of the past and the visionaries of our future. Civilizations are defined greatly by artists and our artworks. Each and every person is an artist and has the potential to create beauty in this world. Do not stand and lament, rather bang the drum and create the future. Artists Unite!” I believe this with all my heart.
This knowledge that artists must communicate inspired the Global Art Project, Nov. 1994. This project was a call to artists to create a partially finished work of art, then pass it on to another artist who completed that work and began another, to be passed on yet again. This was not successful due to people’s reluctance to deposit the finished art in a central location for future public exhibition. No acceptable location was found. My friend, Gustav Likan, contributed the first canvas. Using the venue of The Picture Paper, Victoria and I founded the World Art Party, a democratic coalition of artists who stand united and accept the call for leadership and social responsibility. Our group now includes members from dozens of countries worldwide and the entire U.S. Membership is free to all who want to join. The World Art Party sponsored and organized the largest privately held art show in Texas, the 11*11 Art Show (Nov. 11, 1995) with 111 artists. The show was attended by over 5,000 people. We fed a four course dinner to over two thousand attendees. Sponsorships included Motorola, Polaroid, CompUSA, and scores of other corporations. This event became an example of how our society must nurture and support artists, for
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the sake of our civilization. The show was free to artists and to the public, and it was a great success.
The Picture Paper struggled on without financial reward, giving free space and sponsorship to the Museum of Austin at Laguna Gloria, The International Poetry Organization, The Seaholm Art Center Project, the Austin Visual Arts Assn., and many other groups. There was great acceptance of our vision. When wholesale paper prices doubled we were forced to reconsider the economic feasibility of our magazine. We needed change and we found it. With what little money we had, we came up with a plan to move the publication to the Internet. Access to a larger audience, lowered publishing costs, and timeliness were key issues. The Picture Paper become the first art magazine on the Internet in 1995 and lasted six months before we ran out of money. Hindered by my finaces, I had to suspend activism. I needed work. Thankfully, January 1996 saw the beginning of a six month project, a privately commissioned piece: the largest single canvas painting. This beautiful mural debuted at the Grand Opening in July of the new Austin Museum of Art Museum, downtown Austin under Director Sid Meier.
In 1996, I was able to move the World Art Party to the Internet. This resulted in many new members and points of view. We erected the first and only art monument on the Internet, the Monument to the Unknown Artist with our party’s symbol—The Blue Rose. It honors artists who fail to find respect and support from society. We decided to give art away to people on the street, to our governments, and to elected officials. Each gift was an awakening as to the importance of artists in society. Art is not merely a decorative enhancement but is a necessary expression of cultural identity.
In February of 1998 we carried a rare living tree, the camperdown elm, from Oregon and donated it to the Austin Botanical Gardens. This tree was a traditional symbol of shelter, a tree that protected many westward moving pioneers from the rain due to its umbrella like shape. The accompanying dedication read:
This gift to the City of Austin Botanical Gardens at Zilker Park is dedicated to the Artists of the World in memory of Larry Gene Vranich and Bill and Jeanne King, people of peace who were committed to the preservation and perpetuation of nature in all its glory, especially the trees. Cherish and nurture this tree, the Camperdown Elm (Ulmus Glabra Camperdownii) as a symbol of commitment to creativity, beauty, and prosperity.
We went on the road looking for a new start, taking numerous part time jobs and small commissions. In June of 1998 we re-assembled our six member family that was separated by homelessness. I was hired as manager of digital imaging in a photo lab. Victoria, my wife and muse, worked for a popular travel publisher. We have since taken specialized positions in the Internet and media industries and continued our social, political and environmental work. We now reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico as artist and partners in life. Our children have graduated and pursued their dreams, including college, sports and business. Against the constant struggles of finances and artistic vision, both I am destined to love and fated to create.