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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
If you’ve spent any time wandering around Cleveland, it’s likely you’ve gazed at (maybe unknowingly) graffiti or murals by prolific street artist, Bob Peck. Bob has been marking up public spaces in Cleveland for decades, but also takes his colorful and rhythmic line work to the canvas.
Q. Briefly describe your work.
A. Abstracted graffiti. The colors, movement and energy of the art form without the boundaries of the letter structure. You can still find accents of the shapes and angles that compose a graffiti piece in my paintings. They've just been deconstructed down to a form that is more free and open now.
Q. How were you introduced to your craft?
A. I was born and raised in Cleveland. I started my art career young as an admirer of graffiti art. I saw it scattered around my neighborhood on the west side. I always wondered how people did it and why. As time passed, I started to paint on my own in my neighborhood at first, then all around the west side of Cleveland. Further along I started painting graffiti on canvases for gallery shows, but as I created them, I became more intrigued with the backgrounds I was making: loose sprays of color, wispy lines and random bursts.
Q. Do you have any long-standing influences?
A. Sure there are probably dozens … Mirko Reisser (DAIM), SABER, COST and REVS, TOTEM, David Choe… Music also has a big influence in my work. I grew up in the hip-hop scene. Graffiti went hand in hand with the music of the culture. I always felt that graffiti captured the visual element of the bounce and movement of hip-hop.
Q. Describe your idea of artistic success.
A. Being able to finally eat a decent meal and have a beer with it. I guess some people knowing your name is cool too.
Q. What is your process for generating new ideas?
A. This is a good one. I like to paint in my head first – sometimes for days. I’ll stare at a blank canvas and mentally project my thoughts out before I even touch it. I also like to paint in small bursts. I could finish it all in one shot, but every day I have a different feeling I put onto the canvas, and that’s how the layers are created, through the different emotions from different days.
Q. How do you feel your work affects your audience? (and/or) How do you
want your work to affect your audience?
A. I want people to be inspired. When people reach out and say that they’ve seen my work for however long and it inspired them to pick up paint, that’s an amazing feeling. I want those who see my work to be positively charged by it. I want them to take in the energy of the shapes and the bold colors and use it to brighten their day. It’s more of a question of looking inward. Why do you create the art that you create…
Q. Why do you create?
A. (starts rapping Wu Tang lyrics) No seriously, I grew up in a rough neighborhood with a lot of obstacles to overcome and used my art to escape. I also found that by creating art in that environment, I wasn’t only creating the landscape but changing people’s perspectives of what their life was like around them. The whole reason I really kept going with graffiti is people would come up to me and say “I saw what you did on this alley” or “this corner” and it felt good to see people get excited about something artistic who normally wouldn’t be.
Q. Is that what still drives you?
A. In some ways, but I’m a bigger picture thinker now. So it’s how do you take that to a national or international level.
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