FINK + TINDEL Interview

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“Drawing influences from the soul” an open dialogue with John Tindel.


And so it is… My last written contribution was a, for me insightful journey with the very talented Mr. Michi Meko. All be it the other half of TINDELMICHI: Two Fat Southern Boys Who Paint.  He was at a point of preparation for their “at the time” upcoming “RELICS” exhibition at Cobb-Marietta Museum.  I have since seen the show and was to be honest with you, truthfully excited to say the least. For me there is nothing like seeing your peers gain ground and succeed. The show is one of the biggest highlights of the Atlanta arts cumulative so far, in ones humblest of opinions. The duality that is this table side seasoning (s&p) family contribution is nothing short of inspiring. From walking in and being hit by the socio-commentary, dry wit in photo-brilliance to the sprawling mixed media collaged paintings, to their monumental results of found object sculptures, to the kudzu cocoon-like homage, it all interplays and works off of one another in a brilliant conversation. The humor yet playful dialogue established creates a cerebral doorway for the patron. I found myself a sincere fan of the two. From Tindel’s tape manipulation & interplay with Michi’s affluent use of found materials to create bodies of work that resulted in history and soul imbued resonance. The rooms are set most appropriately in a lament of social satire that trigger like rapid fire off of the two’s lips as they answer questions to and fro. Look, the fact is that I am biased here. These gentlemen after all are my peers in this small arena of artistic fraternity that is Atlanta. ..and thus resides the tone of the conversations that follow in these entries. And so I present to you “An Eye for an Eye”, a conversation with John Tindel.

Welcome Mr.  John TINDEL,

So we’ve crossed paths quite a few times in this Atlanta artist community. I recall doing a group show at Archetype with you. What drew you to being a part of that showing?

Was that the first time I met you? Being part of that show… Well I do have a bunch of issue related work amongst the mutations of lines and colors, and Archetype allowed me to voice an opinion to the art viewing public.  Since, my opinions aren’t the art world mainstream, it was a nice forum to see the reactions and talk to folk about the piece and maybe a bit of my opinions on the subject.   The shows are like debates, and I think it makes a great exhibit when the artists aren’t all saying the same thing.

Yes! This I completely agree with you on. Christopher/ Archetype is just hands down open to the exchange of dialogue. He takes it from the artist to the viewer, and beyond. He told me once that he looks for the tension to create an opportunity of discussion. So tell me about the Artist that is John Tindel.

Man, I am just a hermit that lives in the suburbs, raises kids, listens to too much talk radio and has this intense OCD to create images.  I have been steady hitting the Atlanta art scene for the last ten years…  gone from festivals to museums, Atlanta  to New York and back again.  I like to keep my hustle up and fine tuned… if I am not painting, I am working on the media/pr side of pushing my visions.  Applied creativity in all areas of my life.

If you would, I am curious as to what brought you to the point of meeting and collaborating with Michi?

By now, Michi is just my brother, and it is what we do.  It started at Cafe Tu Tu Tango in Atlanta, where artist would go paint for a few hours in the restaurant and get some food and a buzz. I think I saw some piece that he did with a metal chicken nailed to a board – can’t remember what it said, but I thought – that was fresh and witty.  I don’t think we really met until one day we were in a rainy booth at the Dogwood festival, and we started passing a painting back and forth.  I would paint something, pass it to Michi, he would rip something from the newspaper and glue it on, I would write something, and he would paint something, until we realized there might be something to this.  The dialog began there, and has evolved since.  I think the first piece we made together that rainy day was called “Faithful Hooch”  - a witty take on Scarlett O’Hara and consuming too much alcohol.  It wasn’t long after that, that we took over a spot in Castleberry Hills and showed Atlanta “Redneck Graffiti”, which was a dialog driven show that changed art shows in Atlanta. We checked our egos and have been having a colorful dialog since.

In regards to your “technique” when it comes to your work, what was your “Ahh- Hah Moment”?

I have an “Ahh-Hah Moment” every time I paint, which leads to multiple styles throughout my work.  I think currently I have been aggressively using tape and razor blades to create the images.  Somewhat of a one-time stencil.  I think this technique was the Ahh-Hah.  I could put down the brush for awhile and bear down.  Your drawing/illustration skills are altered nicely when drawing with a razor blade. My thing now is working the hard edge of the hand cut designs into the mesh of dialog and color.  Each work I create is simply a poster of my mental state/dialog during the process of creating.  I never know what looks right, but seem to know what looks wrong, and adjust form there.

Are there any other collaborative projects that you have been involved in?

I have done some work with Urban Medium, and Michi and I are in a group we names Sunday Southern Art Revival.  It is new way to challenge what we are doing.  The collab is made up of great artists, that are outside of what we do.  It is a pure mutation.  We work with George Long, Jesse Cregar and Mario Schambon.  SSAR has shown at Marcia Wood Gallery and will have a show in May 2011 at Kibbee Gallery.  Should be something to see.

How do you see being a southern artist bearing on you and your work?

The South is my grandparents, my memories, my heritage and where I created a family.  It is partly futuristic and partly indigenous.  History and memories rest on everything here.   Its history is out in the open.  Its struggle is still ongoing.  When I want the South to show its influence on my work, I can draw its influence from my soul.  Can’t Never Could©.

What influences you? Name a few artists that you look to if you would?  What else plays apart in your work?

Hard to nail down what exactly influences me.  I like looking at all types of art, photography and sculpture.  Good conversation or good arguments. I think I just devour as much as I can, then when it i time to start working, I open up the funnel to my brain and let it flow in.  I am surrounded by 10 years of my own work, and I use it as an influence… I study my evolution a bit.  Always in search of that Mega-Painting.

Since becoming a father, I have two little dudes that give me infinite influence.  I sit around with them and we have drawing fights.  Try to see who can draw the craziest thing and beat the others drawing.  Kids are raw creativity.

Tell me more about the TINDELMICHI campaign?

TINDELMICHI: Two Fat Southern Boys Who Paint.  Thought of that slogan on one of my many ramblings.  Michi has always said that he just lets me jabber and then he remembers anything worthwhile that I have said.  We both come from a Design/Marketing background, so the collab has always been approached with the marketing of it in mind.  Each show is another story in our dialog and with each show comes a pretty well thought out campaign to go with the event.  We brand ourselves.

So you guys “RELICS” Exhibition is up at the Cobb-Marietta museum, what’s the response been like?

Man, this show was a journey for both of us. We had a year to ponder and create the show, and getting to see it up in a museum, was a great feeling.  The response has been great.  The Marietta-Cobb Museum crowd has never seen anything like it, and they don’t know how to explain it to themselves, but they love it.  We knew this would happen.  It is familiar to them, whether they can pinpoint why or not.

Can you expound on what you guys are saying through RELICS?

RELICS are symbols.  We wanted to expose southern symbolism. Our work is a direct reflection of growing up in a newer, urbanized, and more racially sensitive South than of the past. Still haunted by history’s ghost, our interest is in narratives, symbols and objects. Graphic painting styles and site specific installations commingle with heritage, rituals, daily visual stimuli and design to collage the imagination into dreamlike landscapes. We combined our  vernaculars to develop cryptic phrases and developed a catalog of symbolic elements that continue to appear in the works. Under the guise of humor and wit, we closely examine and question stories and objects that harness the powers of racial division in America.

Within the exhibit, we also wanted to present actual RELICS.  Live objects that possess the meaning of the show.  The “Katchina Room” in the museum was our chance to create our own Relics.  Since I haven’t explored found object sculpture like Michi does, it was exciting to get to work with that medium.  I gathered history at my Grandparents Farm to use on the found object pieces, and for 6 months we pulled and wrapped kudzu around a rope to create the center piece of that room.  Which is my favorite piece in the exhibit… a must see in my humble opinion.

…and so, I wanted to have a little off the set candid not so candid moment of reflection on the show with you. It was such a good moment to see you guys in your light. And it was such a humorous moment to see you guys as well, with the “If I take another picture I am going to scream moments were  for the group I was with, Endearing for you guys. “  The public relations side of things is a tough pill to swallow at times. But you guys muscled it up and in my humble opinion, deserving the attention. Give me a little of the “what you feel comfortable” revealing about you guys process and what it felt like in the moments of the exhibition.

The show was great.  It was a new crowd.  A crowd eager to learn about our art.  We both know when we get out of the car to go into the Museum for opening night, we are going to be talking our brains out, and answering a bunch of questions and the photos… they did take quite a bunch.  I think the lady had a crush on Michi. Ha.

Our process needs to be a reality show.  It is simple, and when people see it at work, they usually just sit back and laugh.  We fight. We argue. We laugh.  Each layer of the painting has relics of our dialog.  We make arguments for or against a painting move we want to make.  If one of isn’t there to paint, then you have free reign.  These paintings all start from scratch, with no overall look defined.  We just start the dialog, with brushes in our hand.  Since, this show was packed with symbolism, we worked together to add and define those symbols.

I was really taken by you guys work in this show. It definitely lived up to what Michi had previously described to us as “Deeply rooted in history”.  So “Kudos” to the accomplishment of living up to your promise of the work delivered in RELICS. I would love to know what’s going on in the mind of John Tindel.. Care to build upon?

Appreciate it… it was a journey.  We spent most of the year trying to figure out what we were going to do.  Taking out ideas, adding in ideas.  Working in a freezing ass studio. Getting chiggers from pulling kudzu out of empty lots.  I just become fully involved in the conversation and creation of our RELICS.  I play off the feeling of not being able to have “roots”.  I play off the now and then of history.   It is rooted in history, but we take it to a modern interpretation.  At times, I take on the opposing force of Mich.

While we forget that many times the most valid movements in life are the ones that we reflect upon. In looking back we realize the shift that occurred in our lives. This changing point for many is a wonderful experience. I for the 1st time have seen some hardworking peers 1st hand work on something that is now a part of history. The idea is one of liberation, inspiration and affirmation. These are ingredients of living out ones fullest potential.  I can tell you this, “the feeling is indescribable to say the least. Before I close this discussion with you John, I am honored to be allowed such a behind the scenes perspective of these guys process and there in extending that very same perspective to the readers. Both John and Michi are top shelf chaps in my book.

What would be the one artistic medium that you could not live without?

Culinary Medium… just kidding.  Paint.  Colors that can be manipulated and layered.

According to John Tindel, what is beauty?

I am going to have to go Dad on this question.  Holding the hand of your 2 min old child.  Watching his eyes open.  Crazy beautiful… intense.

Such human words from John Tindel of MICHITINDEL of Fatherhood, of southern roots and history, of art, of living struggles and rising through it all. With that, I am Phokus, southern born modern artist. I am not a journalist, yet more so a conservationist of human stories… and this was two peers having a seat and talking, catching up, clearing the air, and getting the scoop on the others next movement…I will be in touch and let you in on what I see and hear on my next installment in “An Eye For An Eye”. If you would like to know more and get caught up in the tide of events and perusings of this Atl based Art lover and his amazing friends find more @

And if you are in the area, please make certain to stop by The Cobb-Marietta Museum of Art to experience the exhibition.




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