At the beginning of summer, after scouring art shows, Instagram and online artists’ networks, Eugene Weekly found four local artists that truly inspired us and asked them to design original art for our ubiquitous little red boxes. The artists will reveal their art boxes at 6 pm Oct. 2 for Lane Arts Council’s First Friday ArtWalk downtown. A corresponding show of their work spanning the month of October will also be on view at Noisette Pastry Kitchen.
Here, we introduce the second art box team.
One of Santiago Uceda’s earliest memories of making art was grabbing some crayons and drawing on his grandparents’ wall in Peru.
“What’s funny is that my mom was actually encouraging,” he says, laughing. “She’s always been very encouraging about art.”
From growing up in Peru, where he was surrounded by pre-Columbian art, to relocating to Southern California at 13, where he soaked up surf and skate culture, and finally settling in Corvallis, its natural surroundings having now seeped into his imagery, Uceda has carved out a career as an illustrator.
“Every place that I’ve lived has influenced my work,” he says.
The artist, who also does web design and motion graphics for Oregon State University, realized as a young man that he wanted to focus on illustration. “I took one illustration class at community college in California,” he says, “and that was it for me — I wanted to make pictures; I wanted to tell stories with images.”
It was in California that Uceda also began identifying as a “lowbrow” artist. “I don’t want my work to just be in a gallery and selling for a ton of money,” he says. “I like having my art available to everyone, whether it’s on mugs, T-shirts, whatever — I don’t see it as a precious thing.”
Uceda works mostly with sumi-e, a Japanese ink, and Photoshop to craft pieces that mine imagery from his Catholic upbringing and his surroundings. His bold, colorful, expressive work echoes his favorite artists — Ben Shahn and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“For me, it has to be bold,” Uceda says. “It has to come from a really honest place.”
To see more of Uceda’s work, visit santiagouceda.com or follow the artist on Instagram @suceda.
Originally from California, oil painter Marlis Badalich first tapped into her passion in South Eugene High School’s art room and darkroom.
“I like being a quiet person,” Badalich says. “It was a great creative outlet.”
Badalich went on to study at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts before studying abroad in Greece.
“I went to Athens, and that was a really great experience,” she recalls, “kind of starting at the beginning of art history, because in a lot of our classes, we’d go to sites and talk about what’s there instead of being in a classroom and looking in a book.”
From there, she returned to Oregon, settling in Portland, where she started showing at the Wene White Gallery before receiving a BFA from Lewis and Clark College. After dabbling in digital photography, Badalich honed in on oil painting.
“The pigments are real pigments,” she says of choosing oils. “I like the realness of it; it has a much richer feeling” than acrylic paint.
When Badalich was pregnant with her daughter, she returned to Eugene, where she has shown at Jacobs Gallery and live-painted for Marv Ellis shows. She recently joined the New Zone Gallery.
Badalich pulls inspiration from many sources — nature, cubism, Expressionism, existentialism, iconography and artists like Egon Schiele and Marcel Duchamp.
“I’m really interested in the ideas of self,” she says. “The idea that there’s no self, but I like existentialism, too, and interconnectedness — that’s where the multiple faces came from and it spiraled out from that.”
Multiple echoing faces are a staple in Badalich’s oil paintings, which she compares to solving a math problem.
“I always think I have a plan but it never goes that way,” she says of painting. “It kind of takes its own path, which is kind of like life.”
To see more of Badalich’s work, visit mismarlis.com or find the artist on Instagram @ms.marlis.art. Badalich’s “Predator Prey” and “Existential Overlay” series will be on view at Saginaw Vineyard until Oct. 12, as well as a series of paintings at Capitello Wines through October.
Sara Talmadge remembers learning to draw before learning to write. “I took to anime and comics really early on,” she recalls. Even her current sketchbooks are filled with X-Men characters and Disney princesses.
The animator and illustrator has since traded her pencils for a drawing tablet, developing animation for local tech company RockYou, although she still carries a sketchbook wherever she goes.
Talmadge was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father, who encouraged her to pursue art from a young age, which she says was unusual in a place where the schools she attended focused more on math and science.
Before moving to the U.S. to study animation at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Talmadge found an artist community and developed an artist presence online. “That was actually probably my pivotal moment,” she says. “I started realizing there are other people like me and this is a thing I could do.”
In college, she experienced a positive culture shock, not from American society, but from suddenly being surrounded by like-minded artists and art.
“It was my first formal environment being with dedicated art teachers, art professors and dedicated art students,” she says. “It helped me find my focus really fast.”
After receiving a BFA in animation, Talmadge followed some classmates to Oregon and eventually was hired by Eugene’s PushButton (now Spotkin), who put her to work for Disney Interactive’s local office. Now living in Junction City, Talmadge commutes to RockYou in Eugene where she develops game animation.
“The game scene in Eugene is really vibrant, but a lot of people don’t know about it,” Talmadge says. “I want to tap into and foster that kind of community.”
To see more of Talmadge’s work, visit saratalmadge.com or follow the artist on Instagram @charapoo.
Browsing through Neal Williams’ portfolio of band posters from the likes of Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, Dave Matthews Band and Interpol, you’d think he’d been honing his craft for a lifetime. Each one is hand-drawn, tweaked in Photoshop and printed by hand.
“I really didn’t get into drawing until I turned 30, five years ago or so,” Williams says. “My 20s were spent at record stores, trying out some business, trying to do my own thing.”
Williams relocated with his partner to Eugene about a year ago from Atlanta. While working at a record store there, Williams fell in love with the hyper-detailed genre of gig posters.
“I got a ‘learn to draw in 30 days’ book right at the beginning,” Williams recalls. “Things hadn’t been working out for me, and I knew that if I was going to make a go at this, I had to go at it hard.” He continues, “I was spending really late nights at first, studying people’s artwork and trying to reverse engineer it.”
Before long, Williams was networking and gleaning advice from other gig poster artists.
“My buddy Justin said, ‘Send out 40 emails [to bands] in a night and maybe you’ll hear back from one.’ I took that to heart,” he says. After a couple years, bands started contacting him. “The first band to reach out to me that really sort of knocked my socks off was Soundgarden.”
Shortly after arriving in Eugene, Ninkasi found Williams’ website and contacted him to design a space-age label for Ground Control Imperial Stout with “space-traveled yeast.” The brewery went on to make Williams its first artist in residence, where he works directly with the Ninkasi art director and graphic designer.
“They’re sort of my art community right now,” he says. “I’m definitely hoping to meet more people in the artist community.”
To see more of Williams’ work, visit epicproblems.com or follow the artist on Instagram @epicproblemz.