Twelve And A Half Minutes With Local Artist George Vergette…

George Vergette is an artist living and working in Vancouver. His work “uses both medium and content to insert the viewer into each piece, giving a personal dimension to his deceptively minimal works.” After seeing his show at Gallery Jones recently, we contacted him to ask a few questions about his work,  his impressions of the Vancouver arts scene and the animal he most identifies with…

Three things about the Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood that make you want to live there: I’ve lived in this area for about ten years and it’s pretty close to everything. Downtown is less then ten minutes away, Commercial Drive is five minutes away and New Brighton Park is also five minutes away, which is perfect because you can easily take your wiener dog for a run.

Your latest show was titled Stranded and Broke in a Strange Town. Can you tell us where this title came from? I collect books and this was on the back of a pocket book I have titled “A Swell Looking Girl”. It seemed to me that when you’re starting a new body of work you’re kind of left empty in your studio with nothing but whatever source material inspires you and the images of past work. So this title seemed like a good metaphor for the feeling you have in the studio when you’re putting together a show.

Beyond that, what’s the inspiration behind the work? Two of the main pieces in the show are more sculptural than the rest. One is what I call “the corner painting”, which consists of multiple panels that intersect in the corner. My work has a lot of reflection originating from the resin surfaces, so I had been thinking about using this idea of reflection and surface in a different way then I had ever done before, what kind of shape or construction could I employ in a painting that would enhance or distort the typical reflection that comes from my work. There were a lot of different variations that came up in the studio but the corner seemed like the most complicated of all the structures, so I went with that.

What’s next? I have always had an interest in text and it has played a role in my work from the beginning so I think I would like to explore it in a different manner. Not so much as a mark-making tool but more as a communication tool. We’re so inundated with words everyday. How does this affect us? Are we getting overloaded with short messages that get mixed up together?  On Facebook, someone will say their grandma died and the next person talks about the sausage they just had for lunch.

Default drink: Any kind of beer as long as it’s cold.

Favourite place to see a band: Come on, one of the best venues in North America: The Commodore Ballroom.

Book you’re reading: Guns, Germs and Steel.

Favourite way to get your hands dirty? Building something. Nothing is more satisfying than putting a design together, no matter how simple, and making something out of nothing. My next project isn’t going to be one physical thing but actually a space. My wife has a lot of clothes so I’m constructing a closet in the basement for her with a lot of shelves for shoes.

Many people say that that Vancouver is not willing to spend money on art. Do you agree? Vancouver does spend money on art, but because it’s still a relatively new city there isn’t the same kind of history of collecting here.

Why do you work here? I work here because I grew up here and the infrastructure is good for artists. Have you ever tried getting something fabricated in Brooklyn? Good luck.

Words of wisdom for emerging artists? Work. Hard.

Describe your favourite photograph: Evan Lee’s ‘Lighted Bush‘. We wake up to it every day.

One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: Gortex/Lululemon.

Last place travelled: Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Last art show that really blew you away: Geoffrey Farmer at Catriona Jeffries.

Sport you gave up: Soccer. I don’t really like playing sports.

Local person you admire most: Rodney Graham. He’s quite cheerful.

Best concert experience ever: Too many to count. Nirvana at the Forum, Run-DMC at Richard on Richards, The Cocktails at The Starfish Room, Arcade Fire at the Forum and Commodore (both of them were pretty amazing). The Doves in Brooklyn was pretty good too.

Animal you most identify with: Lately, wiener dogs.

The dish you’re proud of: Whatever Shannon cooks.

Town you were born in: Edmonton.

Thing you miss most about home when you’re on the road: Shannon, Dr. Barnes and my bed.

If the Mayor of Vancouver was a genie and could grant you three civic wishes, what would they be? (you don’t have to rub him) #1 – Let’s put an outdoor amphitheater on the PNE grounds. Some big old style band shell where bands could have shows in the summer. Something like the Greek Theater or the Hollywood Bowl. Then we can watch Rush or Black Mountain under the stars. #2 – How about when that new superbridge is finished over the Fraser River we make the old Port Mann Bridge into a park like the HighLine in New York? Maybe have a restaurant that looks east up the Fraser and at the apex of the bridge a lake with paddle boats. #3 – Just have more below ground rapid transit. Why isn’t there one going all the way down Hastings to Burnaby? And don’t do cut and cover because you’re going to piss everyone off and probably put Felicia’s out of business (Felicia’s, 2492 East Hastings, some of the best pizza in the city. Seriously).

Favourite book as a child: Catcher in the Rye (I think I read it when I was in grade 6).

Album that first made you love music: Public Enemy’s Yo! Bumrush The Show.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions: Miles Davis – A Tribute To Jack Johnson (if you think it’s the surfer, you’re clueless).


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