Brian Dombrowksy paints landscapes with oils that would make Bob Ross proud. His fervent color palette has an incredible warming effect that draws you in, making you feel all cozy and happy inside. In addition to painting traditional landscapes, Brian is an artist of many talents who dabbles in a wide range of different mediums. He is a master sculptor with a BFA in Fine Arts and a BA in Graphic Design from Oregon State University. He has also served our country in Germany, spending a past enlistment in the Army.
While Brian creates many paintings that your grandmother might enjoy and approve of, he also has a darker side where he explores a world far from the land of his colorful landscapes and â€œhappy treesâ€. He was more than happy to answer a few questions for us when we recently met up with him at his studio in the Gaslamp to talk more about his art.
Where were you raised?
I was born and raised in Oregon. I grew up in a small mill town on the Columbia River named Westport; the population is about 250 or so.
What brought you out to San Diego?
I came to San Diego 12 years ago with my now ex-wife. She was pursuing a Masterâ€™s at San Diego State. It was either here or Michigan; my vote was for here. After we split, I had grown roots and made friends, so I stuck around.
How would you categorize or describe the type of art that you do?
I think I fall into a few categories. I call most of my work Pop Noir or Dark Pop. I have heard it referred to as Pop Surrealism, which I liked. I think it could most accurately be described as Allegory Painting. I like to tell stories by setting up a scene, similar to the illustrations one might see in a childrenâ€™s book. Most of the themes are either social or religious in their commentary.Â They almost always contain humor, but on the dark side of funny. I like to laugh and people are funny critters. I like to leave the story slightly open to interpretation. My opinion is definitely there, but when it is open, it really pulls more interaction from the viewer and makes it a more dynamic transaction. I paint a lot of landscapes as well, which could be broken down pretty easily on these same lines.
How long have you been doing your art?
I was a creative child, but there werenâ€™t a lot of outlets for me growing up in a small town. I was always a doodler, but had to settle for band and drama to fill those creative voids. When I started college, after a stint in the Army, I decided to become a graphic designer. It seemed like a good choice since I was artistic and all. Up to that point, I had never had an art class. I was exposed to a lot of fine art classes while pursuing that degree and they infected me â€“ slowly at first, and eventually all-consuming. Although Iâ€™ve been doing art for 20 years, this incarnation of my work kicked off about 10 years or so ago, when I really started exploring my interest in painting.
What motivates you and gets your wheels turning on your next creative idea?
Mostly observation. I see or hear things on the streets or in the media that deftly articulate the human condition, and thatâ€™s what gets the wheels turning.Â For example, my painting â€œCry Havoc in the Name of the Lordâ€ was inspired by a quote from Jerry Falwell. He was talking to Larry King and said in reference to terrorists that â€œthe President should hunt them down and kill them all in the name of the Lordâ€. Shortly after that, Pat Robertson was calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. â€“ I mean, did these guys even read the New Testament? I get all kinds of juicy when I hear that level of hypocrisy in anything; politics, religion or otherwise.
What is â€œMonkey Art Starâ€ all about?
My Chinese zodiac is the monkey, and thanks to Mike Myers, that cheeky monkey, I started making everything monkey for awhile â€“ from my silly monkey of a cat down to, well, just about anything. So my friends started calling me monkey. When I was looking for my domain name, after literally hours of cool or professional sounding names being tossed out due to a lack of originality, I shouted â€œI am the Monkey Art Star!â€. You have to say it like Jim Morrison, when he exclaims, â€œI am the lizard king!â€. I figured something that obscure and goofy had to be original, fortunately or unfortunately as it was.
Any embarrassing or not so embarrassing experiences or stories you would like to talk about since youâ€™ve been doing your art?
One time, when I was part of the Voice 1156 Gallery, Shepard Fairieâ€™s dog took a dump in my room. I donâ€™t know what he thinks of my work, but I know what his dog does.
What is your favorite thing that you like to do in San Diego?
I really enjoy Balboa Park. It is the jewel of San Diego. Whether itâ€™s a museum or just wandering around, Iâ€™ve had many interesting experiences there.
Where can one buy your artwork?
My work can be purchased directly from me. My website is www.monkeyartstar.com and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send me an e-mail and we can talk terms. It can also be purchased from Lestatâ€™s Coffee House in Normal Heights or next door at The Art of Framing.
What do you see in the future for your artwork and where would you like to go with it?
So far…every painting is slightly better than the last. It would be nice if that trend continued. I am becoming more interested in portraits; thatâ€™s new for me. I think I will be exploring those for a bit, then who knows. There are so many things to do with art that it is impossible to get bored with it, so I am enjoying the exploration.
Any upcoming shows you would like to shoot out there?
I have a group show at Visual Artist Supply, 3524 Adams Ave. It is called â€œDelusional Hierarchyâ€ and it opens on December 11th from 6pm until midnight. I also have work on rotation at Lestatâ€™s in Normal Heights.
If you could give any advice to any up and coming artists, what would it be?
Participate! Donâ€™t hide away making art your whole life. Put yourself out into the scene and start meeting people. Go to shows and look for shows to participate in, or make your own. We can cry about favoritism and nepotism all we want, but it is human nature that extends opportunities to those around us that we know and/or respect.
Thank you so much for your time. We very much look forward to seeing your art around.