J GO Gallery artist Denise Duong’s drawings inspired by travel
June 21, 2016
Visual artist Denise Duong enjoys being alone, especially when she travels the world.
"[This past year] I went to Africa, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and I did an art show in Korea and actually just got back a week ago," Duong said during a telephone interview with The Park Record from her studio in Oklahoma. "I realized that I really love solitude, and if I find somewhere beautiful, I can just sit there for days enjoying my drawing.
"I’ve always traveled by myself, but spending extensive amounts of time in these other countries has been inspiring," she said. "When I was in Indonesia, I had hired a driver who took me around for two weeks and he would ask me why I would pick places where no one else would be and I said, ‘I want to go where nobody was at.’ While I enjoyed the museums, I liked being in these little towns that had all of these rice fields."
Park City will get the chance to see some of those drawings when J GO Gallery, 408 Main St., presents Duong’s "Whimsical New Artwork" that will open on Friday, June 24, at 6 p.m.
Most of the works will be pencil and charcoal drawings, which will be new to her Park City followers.
"Most people there know my paintings because I haven’t introduced many drawings to Park City, so that will be exciting for me," Duong said.
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The artist said drawings are something that she’s done throughout her career.
"I usually start my paintings with drawings," she said. "If I have an idea for a painting, I’ll do a sketch that most people won’t know what it means, even though I will.
"Other times, I’ll do very elaborate drawings and pick pieces from those drawings and put them in my paintings," Duong said. "Now, the drawings that I will send to J GO won’t become paintings, because they are all finished works."
Although Duong’s admirers will experience the new medium, they will still see her trademark whimsy in the works.
"That’s a natural thing because all my works are biographical, so the whimsy is just a part of me and my life," she said. "I like to constantly be stimulated and entertained. It’s inspiring to apply all of those new discussions and experiences onto a canvas."
Another of Duong’s artistic trademarks is the inclusion of vehicles in her art.
"I’m always fascinated with those things," she said.
A fishing boat in Indonesia inspired a couple of her works.
"I was on the beach and I saw a fisherman pull up and I went over to him and asked if he gives boat rides," Duong said with a giggle. "He went and got his brother who spoke a little bit of English and he said if I wanted to watch the sunrise, they would go out at 6 a.m. in the morning to go out and fish."
Duong met the two men the next morning and took off on a four-hour excursion.
"After we departed, I thought to myself, ‘Is this a bad idea? I’m going on a boat with two strange men?’" she said. "I didn’t have any sharp objects [to protect myself], so I just sharpened my pencil and stuck it in my hair."
Duong also left a note at the place where she was staying.
"I wrote and said I was going out on a boat with a fisherman named Newman just in case I don’t make it back," she laughed.
The artist enjoyed the experience.
"We were out there and they didn’t speak a lot of English, so it was just silence the whole time," Duong said. "It was my dream come true."
At one point one of the men offered her a cigarette.
"I thought since I was out there, I should at least be part of the gang and smoke one," she said. "So, all three of us had cigarettes dangling out of our mouths sitting on a boat fishing."
A few days later, Duong had the two men take her on a motorcycle ride.
"So, you can see, I like pretty much any type of vehicle," she said.
Many of the drawings and a few paintings that will be part of the exhibit measure 11 inches by 14 inches without frames.
"I may send some bigger drawings, but I haven’t decided, yet," Duong said.
In addition to the drawings, Duong will show some of her new paintings.
"Those will be my favorite size, 36 inches by 36 inches," she said. "That’s my favorite size, because I remember when I first chose that size, it reminded me of those cameras that used 120 film and the photos would come out in a square. It felt that I was capturing moments in the square like those pictures."
Duong enjoys working with J GO Gallery and owner Jude Grenney.
"I love our relationship, because she wants the best for me and I want the best for the gallery," Duong said. "Jude is so easy to work with. J GO Gallery is one of my favorites and she’s so supportive of me."
Duong will be in Park City for a few weeks to not only participate in the exhibit opening, but also for some other activities, including Passport Magazine’s launch party that will be held on July 7.
"I’m going to come out for a while and hopefully get some inspiration and make some art while I’m out there," she said.
J GO Gallery, 408 Main St., will host an opening reception for Oklahoma-based artist Denise Duong on Friday, June 24, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The exhibit will feature new whimsical work from Duong, who was inspired by her travels to Indonesia and other parts of Asia. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit http://www.jgogallery.com.
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