The Way Things Are

Thursday, October 06, 2011 1:25 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

“A lot of the work in this show is very loosely a reaction to the whole BP oil spill. It brought up feelings of helplessness and ‘what’s going to happen’? So many ambivalent feelings undefined not necessarily stuff I haven’t thought about before, but it just kind of brought those feelings and concerns to the surface,” says John Feodorov.

We laugh at his unintentional pun.

A painting 72 by 72 inch entitled “Emergence #3” depicts three heads rising from pipes and fish that in turn emerge from a black slick of oil. The heads have their mouths open much like that guy in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” These folks could well be BP executives making up excuses as to why their Deepwater Horizon off shore drilling rig failed. 

When I ask about his wide use of mediums he replies, “It just depends on the best media for the idea. Sometimes I do video. I also do music so it really kind of depends on the best format. Right now what I’m thinking and doing seems to come out better as paintings.”

In a large acrylic and photo collage on unstretched canvas entitled “The Way Things Are,” getting ideas across appears more important than getting all fussy with paint. This honest quality adds urgency, as if a consciousness is trying to warn us about ourselves pronto. The painting could be saying with images that every living thing across this land is only a target for ego-driven, greedy brains undefined a truth many of us keep our selves too ‘busy’ to do much about. 

Part Native American, Feodorov grew up in a California suburb and spent summers at his grandparent’s homestead in the Navajo Nation of New Mexico. What a mind-bender to have traveled between two such disparate worlds that our country, even after a few hundred years, has yet to mingle. 

Feodorov was featured in the famous “Art21: Art for the Twenty-First Century” series on PBS in the Spirituality episode. Although his art in the documentary comments directly on Native traditions, the artist resists being pigeonholed.

“I don’t really think of it as Native American work. . .it’s certainly part of me and part of who I am and my experience and my world view. I am coming to that world view not so much as an adherent of those traditional values because the cat’s kind of out of the bag in terms of assimilation and all that. I was raised in the suburbs of California not on the reservation so my sense of the world is pretty much shaped by Gilligan’s Island.”

We compare our favorite Gilligan’s Island episodes. Mine is the one where radiated vegetable seeds wash up in the lagoon and are planted and eaten to extreme effect, whereas Feodorov’s favorite is when Gilligan as Hamlet sings “To be or not to be” to Carmen’s Habenera. 

Feodorov would dig a television show that deals with Shakespeare, an artist who created his own mythology. 

“A lot of my work for so many years,” says Feodorov, “has been about what sort of mythology the contemporary world requires if there is going to be any mythology at all? I mean do we just count on the same old nostalgic kind of classical examples? And in many ways I am not proposing a mythology so much as showing how trying to do that just kind of fails. I don’t know the answer to my own question and so everything I do is sort of pre-determined to fail (laughs).”

Speaking of the new paintings and lithographs in the exhibit, curator Jean Benhke says, “I respond to [John’s] inventive process, using what is at hand, both in terms of material and iconography, finding origins in his own personal history. John’s work makes no apologies and in a refreshing way gets in the face of the viewer and asks real questions about ‘the way things are’.”

With so many people out of work, doesn’t right now seem like the ideal time for a multi-medium revolution?

Saylor Jones

Saylor Jones is an illustrator and writer living in the Northwest. 

“The Way Things Are” is on view October 7 through November 19 at Anchor Art Space which is located at 216 Commerical Avenue in Anacortes, Washington. A Reception for the Artist is being held on Friday, October 7, from 6 to 9 P.M. Feodorov is presenting an an Artist’s Talk on Saturday, November 5, call for details. The gallery is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. and by appointment. For more information please call (206) 919-3893, email, or visit the website

View Feodorov’s artwork at his website:

Listen to his music:!/johnfeodorov

Watch the Art21 episode he is in:

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