We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott Gengelbach and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
First, I’d like to say that being a professional artist can mean different things to different people. I consider myself a professional because I show my work in professional settings. I do not however make a living off of my work. Certainly it would be ideal to make a living from selling my work, but that isn’t the end game for me.
My work is not an easy sell, particularly because of the controversial issues it tackles. People may like it, but they don’t necessarily want it in their home. Having said all that, being an artist wasn’t really a choice as much it was a calling. I have always been involved in creative endeavors so being an artist was just a natural progression. I have an innate desire to create and art just seemed to be the best way to satisfy that desire. I also have a desire to communicate my thoughts and feelings about the way the world functions and art was a good way to do that also.
I have always drawn (not so much now) and painted a little (mostly water color when I was a kid) but it wasn’t until I took an art class at Mesa College the year after I graduated high school that there was a spark that ignited my desire to become an artist with a capital A. It took me a few years to buckle down and get totally serious about the work I was making but for the last 17 years I’ve been making at least one thing a week and probably something every other day for the last 2 years. My body of work is made up of about 800 pieces and for the most part I still have all of them. So who wants some art?
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
My work mostly consists of assemblage and collage type work and I tend to make political and social commentary. I don’t think I’m really doing anything that different from anyone else who works in assemblage except for that I definitely use more toys and empty food containers. It’s hard to stick out and I’m more interested in being authentic that I am being original. I like to experiment so it doesn’t really cross my mind whether I’m doing something differently or not, I just have ideas about what something would look like with a certain material and then i do it.
The two things I’m most proud of are having an article about my work in Artvoices magazine (now defunct) by the wonderful Sheena Mallone and that I had work in a show at the Museum of Latin American Art. I don’t think I’m really able to say that I’ve gotten somewhere. I think it’s a journey with no destination and I’m just beginning. I’m still an emerging artist but I would say making lots of art and having support is what has made my journey move forward. It’s easy to make art, it’s not easy to get your work shown. And to be successful your work has to be shown to the right people.
How to get your work scene by those people, I just don’t know. One of the lessons I’ve learned along the way is to never believe it ’til it happens and whatever little success I’ve had or might have doesn’t make me any better of an artist. What I want the world to know about me is my ultimate goal for my work. What I’d really like to do is be able to purchase a building (nothing fancy, warehouse like) where all the work can be on permanent display. I think I’ve made some decent pieces, nothing that great. I think my strength is in the whole body of work; I think when its seen all together it’s good. I would like part of the building to be a non profit art gallery. and part of the gallery have a section where as many artists as possible from San Diego can hang one piece salon style permanently.
I would also like part of the building to house a permanent collection of Jesus Dominguez and Mary Lynn Dominguez’s art. There would also be a store that sold hand made items particularly the handbags from the company Hue by 2 that my wife and mother-in-law are the owners of. I’d also like people to know that while my work may seem like a statement, it’s actually a question.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
All my friends are artists or surfers or both. So I’ll just say that my friend who’s visiting is both. And of course we are assuming this is at a time not during lockdown. A few of my favorite places to eat are family owned so we’ll mostly go to those places. We’ll start everyday with a surf then lunch at whatever is near the spot we just surfed then we’ll check out some art and have dinner at one of the places I usually go.
Monday we’ll go to the San Diego Museum of Art (www.sdmart.org) and have dinner at The Purple Mint, a vegan restaurant (www.thepurplemint.com). My favorite is tofu fried rice, the Kung Pao chicken and crispy rolls. Tuesday we’re going to be going to The Escondido Arts Partnership Municipal Gallery (www.escondidoarts.org) (hi Katie and Chrisanne).
On Tuesday there is a farmer’s market next to the gallery that is run by the gallery. The gallery is a non profit so the city lets them run the market and get the profits, it’s kind of like getting a grant since the city doesn’t have funds to give them one. We’ll eat lunch at the farmers market. My favorite is the Indian food vendor, the samosas are awesome. After lunch we’ll check out the newest exhibition in the gallery. For dinner we’ll eat at El Rancho Mexican food in Santee (no website). Bean, cheese and rice burrito plus potato tacos are my favorite.
Wednesday we’ll go to The Oceanside Museum of Art (www.oma-online.org). For dinner we’ll go to my wife’s favorite vegan/vegetarian restaurant Jyoti Bihanga (www.jiyotibihanga.com) in North Park. The Neatloaf (not a misprint) and the curry of the day (all their curry’s are good) are highly recommended.
Thursday we’ll go to The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego- La Jolla location (www.mcasd.org). Dinner will be at Sab-E- Lee (www.santeesabeleewixsite.com) in Santee, they are a Thai food restaurant. My favorite dishes are yellow curry and pad see ew.
We’ll be going to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego- down town location on Friday. For dinner we’ll be getting some of the best pizza in town at Filllipi’s on Friars road (www.realcheesepizza.com).
On Sunday we’ll go to two galleries, RB Stevenson (www.rbstevensongallery.com) and the Quint Gallery (www.quintgallery.com). For dinner we’ll have some falafel followed by baklava at Troys (www.troysgreek.com).
Alright, so let’s jump right in! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there a person, group, organization, book, etc that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
First I have to thank my wife for putting up with my insanity. There’s so many other people to thank, I wish there was enough room in this article to thank them all, pretty much anybody who has supported my work in any way. My friends and family, everybody who likes my work on Instagram and Facebook. My grandparents for having art books in their house when I was little kid, that’s where my appreciation for art began. They had this book of Bruegels work that had a fold out of his painting The Triumph of Death. I would open it up and stare almost every time I went to there house and that was the thing that let me know how powerful art could be.
Support is one of the things that keeps me going. I make art for it to be seen, so it’s nice to know that there are people who appreciate it. There’s one person who really got me going as far as giving me the confidence I needed that let me know my work was decent enough to be seen. And 2 other people who helped keep my wheels turning. The first person is Anita Brynholf. I took 3 semesters of painting from her and in my first semester she saw what I was doing with the first assignment and liked it so much that she kind of let me do what I wanted from then on.
Another boost of confidence came with Alessandra Moctezuma, the gallery director at Mesa College. She had an image of one of my paintings (collage) put on the post card for the student show and positioned that painting so that it would be the first thing seen when you entered the gallery. At SDSU my fiber arts teacher Kathryn Harris also gave me the confidence to keep with my vision. As long as you adhered to the basic outlines of the assignments, she would let her students make what they wanted. That may seem normal, but a lot of art teachers don’t allow their students that type of freedom.
Facebook: Scott Gengelbach- Art