Imitating Life 14 questions for local artist Bob Potier

Bob Potier

Bob Potier

Cory Bilicko
Managing Editor


In 100 words or less, what do you do as an artist?

I paint on canvas using acrylics and often incorporate hand-dyed fabric pieces. The dye process is similar to tie-dying, common in the 1960s. It’s a painstaking process, but dye gives incredibly beautiful textures and patterns that can’t be achieved with paint. I creatively combine the two, sometimes totally abstract and sometimes showing subject matter in subtle ways.

What motivates you to create art?
I create art mainly for the personal pleasure and sense of accomplishment it gives me. When I finish a painting, it’s usually a source of wonderment to me. The process is like a meditation.

How has your practice changed over time?
Time always brings changes in numerous areas such as production or change of medium. I’m not the type to develop a style and then stick with it forever. I just can’t do it.

“Red Dawn,” acrylic on canvas </strong

“Red Dawn,” acrylic on canvas

Do you ever get artist’s block? If so, how do you combat it?
Nope, I don’t recall ever having artist’s block. Maybe the answer is to take an aspirin and see your shrink the next morning.

What do you think your life would be like if, for some reason, you could no longer create art?
If I could no longer produce art, I’d survive. I’d fill in the empty spaces with other interests. I’m reminded of that disco diva singing, “I will survive.” So would I.

What role does the artist have in society?
The artist presents the world with messages– usually that of beauty and sometimes social commentary. Art can be part of a person’s re-generative process. Art balances a society.

How do you feel when people ask you to explain the meaning of your art?

Never in my memory has a person asked me to explain my art. Are my paintings self-explanatory or is the viewer either stunned or put in a state of grace? Hmm, guess I better ponder that!

“Ramble Tamble,” acrylic on canvas

“Ramble Tamble,” acrylic on canvas



Have you ever been banned or censored to any degree as an artist? If so, how did you react? If not, how do you think you would react in that situation?

Back in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, I was doing Pop Art with the subject of social commentary. The paintings dealt with politics, sex, the flag, etc. I encountered publicity I wasn’t expecting and was too naive to use to my benefit. For example, I was juried into a show at the Laguna Beach Art Museum. The painting was in a hard-edge style and depicted an American flag coming out of a faucet. This enraged some people, who caused the painting to be moved to a less prominent location in the museum. I was singled out and asked to write an explanation of the painting which was posted next to the painting. And the Orlando Gallery in the Valley will probably never forget when they were anonymously told to take my painting out of their front window or a rock would be thrown through the window. All is calm now. My paintings no longer scare kids or horses.

Does your artistic life ever get lonely? If so, what do you do to counteract it?
Lonely? No.

What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I once hoped to achieve a huge remuneration from my art. I’ve grown up since then. Don’t all artists? I really only hope to achieve personal satisfaction.

What are one or two primary areas of fear for you as an artist?
I have no fear as an artist. Since I no longer do social commentary, I don’t have to fear repercussions or dodge tomatoes thrown at me. And since I don’t rely on painting to earn my living, there’s no financial fear.

“Up North,” acrylic on canvas

“Up North,” acrylic on canvas

What are one or two factors that, when they’re in place, enable you to really flourish artistically?
Artistically, I flourish more when there’s a special reason, such as a studio art tour.

What jobs have you had other than being an artist?

Jobwise, my husband and myself own a small company (Studio Dynamics) that does hand-painted backdrops for portrait photographers. As a matter of fact, Studio Dynamics began in Signal Hill and is now in Paramount. I’ve also taught high-school art. While attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I had one of my more memorable part-time jobs. I was a security guard at the Field Museum and spent many stress-filled hours preventing kids from tugging on a stuffed elephant’s tail.

What’s your favorite color?
St. Francis Hotel Faun. Yes, it really exists. We just painted our home that color.

To see more of Potier’s work, visit robertpotiergallery.com .

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