Solomon Bothwell, Part Two: Three Interviews

 "PHD in Artistic Practice"  photo taken by Adam Overton, photoshopped by Guan Rong

“PHD in Artistic Practice”
photo taken by Adam Overton, photoshopped by Guan Rong

Guan Rong with John Burtle

Guan Rong: So you helped Solomon on his first art C.V. for applying for an art-teaching job?

John Burtle: Yes.

GR: How did you like the meeting?

JB: I hate C.V.s. I love Solomon.

GR: Do you think you were being helpful?

JB: Yes.

GR: How smart do you think Solomon is about getting the ideas?

JB. I think smart. I personally don’t like C.V.s because it is not as much about creativity as it is about formatting and plugging information into the format, but Sol is good at that.

GR: Did you look at the C.V. after he’s done?

JB: No.

GR: Do you have any suggestions for other people who are writing an art C.V.?

JB: No. Burn it!


Guan Rong with John Martin (Johnny Jungleguts)

GR: Can you briefly tell us what you guys talked about in your art lesson you gave to Solomon? What were the topics?

John Martin: We talked about how to make art interesting to people. Art that is also useful, like edibles/ garden project, art can be porn, and art can be a lot of stuff in people’s life. We talked about the differences between liking something and loving something and the differences between wanting something and needing something. People can like what you do, but may not want it. The best way for Solomon to make art might be how to make art/something that people want. I guess making something as a job automatically means that thing is what people want. I also showed example of my drawing. We talked about building a persona as an artist. Forming an identity, in my case, I am known as the “animal guy—Johnny Jungleguts” to people.

GR: I remember you guys also talked about alchemy?

JM: Yes. We talked about having your art to be witch-crafted. Using cult traditions to influence your audience in subtle ways.

GR: Why did you decide to give him an art lesson?

JM: Because I am interested in his project. I believe he could become an artist. He is a smart guy; he is friend with a lot of artists. And I don’t get a lot of opportunity to talk about my own feelings/thoughts about art.

GR: How smart do you think he is getting the ideas?

JM: It’s worth it for him to take a lot of lessons from his friends. He has a lot of smart, talented artists friends. I am surprised he is not interested in the kind of practice, which he is already doing, like carpentry, wiring, and electronic stuff. He doesn’t want to become a new media artist.

GR: What kind of artist do you think he want to be?

JM: It seems he wants to figure out a mathematical way to make art. He believes making art can’t be as hard as people make it seem. Almost like he wants to invent an equation to make art. We talked about the relationship between making art and making money, we talked about superhero comics. Solomon brought up that Superman doesn’t get paid to be Superman; he feels that’s the right thing to do. Also, artists should do the right thing. Is it the right thing to do?

GR: Do you think you were helpful?

JM: I think yes. Although sometimes I just go in the direction which I just talk about myself. It was a big opportunity for me, to talk about my own art history; maybe I was advising myself and not Solomon… I think he needs to have at least have 3 or 4 other people.

GR: Are you hopeful for his art career?

JM: Yes. I have high hopes for Solomon to be an artist. It is surprise for me he seems want to make artworks to make money, because this seems really hard to do. But there are many living artists who sell a lot of artworks; people don’t even know who they are. But before the lesson I wasn’t sure if he was or wasn’t an artist.

GR: Now you think he is?

JM: Now it is hard to say if he is. He definitely made some artworks. People make creative choices everyday, using images, sound to affect the world around you. Everybody does that. I guess if you say you are an artist, then you are. He hasn’t officially called himself an artist.

GR: What art did he do?

JM: He did the monochrome painting. Talking about the idea he wanting to be an artist, his writing is very artful. Maybe he wants to get into painting and sculpture a little. I think he is still thinking what he wants to do. Solomon wants to become an artist because he wants to make money. I feel he could. The event that we are talking about this is good for Solomon to become an artist.

GR: When was the art lesson?

JM: It was a Monday or Tuesday afternoon. Maybe a month ago, I can’t remember. We wanted it to be separated with KCHUNG. We wanted it to be about Solomon becoming an artist.

GR: How do you like your meeting with Solomon?

JM: I love it. I think more people should do that. I guess that’s what a studio visit is like. We didn’t make any art in the lesson.

GR: Do you have one suggestion for Solomon?

JM: Think about what you are making in terms of whether people want to see it or not. Try to offer people something that worth their while.


Guan Rong with Solomon Bothwell

GR: What is the name of the residency you went to?

Solomon Bothwell: Flaggfabrikken

GR: Where is it?

SB: Bergen, Norway

GR: When were you there and for how long?

SB: October 2012. For two weeks.

GR: Can you tell people the goal of the residency? Is it an art residency?

SB: Not really. Yes.

GR: Do you feel comfortable telling people how you get in? If yes, how did you get in?

SB: I was invited through email.

GR: What did you do there?

SB: We visited an island for a weekend. Hiking in to the mountains, visiting different galleries, studios. We saw someone’s Thesis Defense for a PHD in Artistic Research. And we did a radio broadcast party.

GR: Did you do the radio part?

SB: I did. I did a workshop on how to set up a radio transmitter.

GR: What have you learned? How did it help you on your art making? Is this the first art residency you participated?

SB: I learned a lot about Norwegian education system and some Norwegian History. I saw a lot of cool projects that people are doing. It is my first art residency unless you count the Mountain School.

GR: How did it help you in general?

SB: I met a lot of really nice people, got to see a new place. I become a little more confident about what I do.

GR: Are you planning to go to another art residency?

SB: I would like to.

GR: Can you tell people how to apply for it, if someone is interested?

SB: I think it is by invitation only, but you can contact Flaggfabrikken and ask.

GR: How did you get the certificate?


GR: PHD in what?

SB: Artistic Practice. That’s what it says. They give them to everyone at the residency.

GR: How many people were in it?

SB: 7 or 8 people.

GR: Congratulations on getting your certificate! Good luck on your future art career!!!

SB: Thank you!


Afterword, by Guan Rong

Thank you Solomon for your contributions to Los Angeles’s contemporary art, music and radio scene. I am sure a lot of people are excited to see your next artistic move. And thank you Johns and friends of Solomon (including myself) for your support of his artistic goal. If anyone is interested, the residency might be


  1. Hi Guan and Solomon and friends,

    Guan, I’ve read both issues of your Solomon Bothwell project and I enjoy them. But I wonder at the constant reference to making art as being “difficult” and “hard.” Making art is fun, right? I mean, life is hard, being unemployed is hard, having an accident is hard; art is the fun stuff I do that lets me put up with all that hard stuff.

    And Solomon, John Martin is on to something in his observation of what you are doing as “studio visits.” Lacking a Post Graduate degree (a state to which more artists should aspire, in my mind) the best way to get (and at the same time give) an education is by doing studio visits. As many and as often as you can, and with as disparate a group of artists as possible. John Martin is also correct when he notes that advice one gives during such a visit is directed as much at oneself as in aid of the other artist, and this is vital to understand because: The way of thinking is what matters. We apply similar ways of thinking to the problem we are individually facing and……… we make art, our art. It always seems to me that art is one thing, it’s just one thing that we all say differently.

    Finally Solomon, if you can, you should probably meet with Piero Golia. Something in what you are doing in this “make yourself an artist” campaign feels very much like some of Piero’s more objectless work. It’s something about making one’s character the work of art….. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think I’m right.

    Best wishes,


  2. Thank you, Geoff, so so much for your comment!!
    Thank you for opening up a conversation. your comment of “art being fun” is very helpful to me. i will try to explain it in the next installment of this project.
    i think your writing to Solomon is very good. Hope he will consider your suggestion.
    i will write you a personal email for the rest of the reply since i dont feel comfortable to share the thoughts with the world yet :)
    thanks again for all your support!!!

  3. Dear Geoff,
    I hate to admit it but I actually feel like making art isn’t always fun or easy. For some artists, making art can feel like a responsibility that they put on themselves, a responsibility that can creep up on them like a snake in their beds. Art isn’t always like that for me but sometimes it is. I think that for me this might be because I have a hard time separating my art practice and my other social activities which often relate to art. I also probably have a hard time separating the work itself and the event of it’s distribution. How work is shown, where it’s shown, and how many people see it always has an effect on the way work is perceived by others. But it’s important to remember that (usually) no one knows more about a work of art than the artist who made it.

    Also, yes! Studio visits are an incredibly valuable tool for all artists. Even if you don’t have a studio! I don’t have a studio and I had a studio visit last night! It was very helpful!

    -Johnnie JungleGuts

  4. P.S.- To further clarify, I want to say that although I really like the idea of art being fun, I am okay with art being hard mostly because I support the idea of the socially responsible and socially aware artist, and socially responsible/ socially aware art can be very hard to make. At the same time I am very okay with a space of absolute artistic freedom for artists and artists having no social responsibility. But if that’s what they choose, they may experience unwanted social repercussions for their choices depending on what it is they make and how they distribute it.

  5. I think I can say “yay” to all these comments. As usual my mind has been expanded. Thanks Johnnie and Guan and acronym person. Maybe I’ll just repeat that I think Solomon Bothwell already is an artist and that this project of his that Guan Rong is writing about is art.

    Now, as for making money… Solomon will figure that out, I am sure.

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