Upon visiting Creative Coworking, people are often struck by our impressive collection of local art. Surrealist dreamscapes, whimsical collages, hyper-realistic portraits, and more have all found a temporary home here, making our office space a key player in the Evanston art scene. In this blog feature, we highlight artists whose work is currently on display. Today’s featured artist is Darren Oberto.
What sparked your initial interest in creating art?
My interest in creating art is deeply rooted in my childhood. My father studied art and worked a fruitful career as a sculptor for Ford Motor Company in the design department. My family has always encouraged my creativity. The public school system, when I was growing up, was much more supportive of the arts than current standards allow. I found much encouragement there, as well as an early introduction to art history.
How would you describe your style?
I would characterize my work as being eclectic. I am constantly alternating between several bodies of work. Each series is very distinct from the others. I often joke with people that I have multiple personalities; fortunately they are all artists.
Who are your influences?
If I were to choose one name that influenced the series that I am exhibiting at Creative Coworking, it would be Todd Hido. I feel his photography, particularly his houses and landscapes, are very painterly, emotionally colored, and sometimes voyeuristic. His work has a distance from the subject that I feel has similarities to my work.
What are your opinions on the Evanston/Chicago arts community? How do you see your work in relation to this community?
I think that Evanston’s art community is truly beginning to blossom. There has been more activity in the last couple of years than I had previously experienced in the fifteen that I’ve been here. The new Evanston Art Center, Evanston Made, Artruck, and new galleries such as Sidetracked Studio, Space 900, The Saw Room, and others, have all been a breath of fresh air for the local art community. Chicago as a whole, I think, has world class arts institutions, artists, and a character distinct from other places. I think that there is incredible room for growth in the greater Chicago arts community. Perhaps one day people will not be concerned with being overshadowed by New York/ LA, but rather flourish here in a proud Chicago style.
Is there a particular piece of yours that is currently on display that you feel really represents your style/means something personal to you?
As I mentioned before, I am a bit of a chameleon and have many styles. Circular formats and dark subtle light color schemes do find their way into many of my bodies of work. There is a strong connection between these photos and my “House” series. You can make comparisons by viewing my website.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions/plans/projects?
I am currently exhibiting my kinetic drawing series (“Turntable Drawings”) at The Saw Room at the Alley Gallery, in Downtown Evanston through the end of July. I also have a piece at the Masur Museum in Monroe, LA, for their 53rd juried competition, as well as a couple of pieces in the latest issue of Studio Visit, a juried competition publication.
How did you discover Creative Coworking as a venue for displaying your work?
I discovered the opportunity while attending a artist mixer through the Evanston Arts Council (Art After Hours) where I had an enjoyable conversation with Angela Valavanis, the founder of Creative Coworking.
Are there particular motifs/themes/symbols that you are fond of using in your work?
I have several motifs/themes/symbols that appear in my work. In one series, I use Fighting Cocks and decadent gold leaf as a metaphor for avarice. I have a series of kinetic drawings that, by virtue of the machine that assists me, are circular. The porthole photos that I’m exhibiting here are also circular as a result of the series of lenses that I use to capture the images. I have a body of paintings that capture suburban houses in peculiar light and ominous tension. Themes of consumerism and voyeurism often creep into bodies of work. I am always looking for new ways to make connections between my work and the world around me. I’m sure that, as I develop, my work will morph into new motifs and themes.
How do you see your art evolving in the next few years?
I feel that many of my projects are reaching a state of maturation that is leading toward a cohesion of several ideas. I am looking forward to nurturing these projects and evolving these ideas.