“TO DEVELOP A COMPLETE MIND: STUDY THE SCIENCE OF ART; STUDY THE ART OF SCIENCE. LEARN HOW TO SEE. REALIZE THAT EVERYTHING CONNECTS TO EVERYTHING ELSE.” THE AUTHOR OF THIS REGULATORY PHRASE WAS LEONARDO DA VINCI, MASTER OF MANY TRADES, WIZARD OF MORE. THE 16TH CENTURY POLYMATH DABBLED IN EVERYTHING FROM ASTRONOMY, PALAEONTOLOGY, ICHNOLOGY AND ANATOMY TO ENGINEERING, PAINTING, SCULPTURE AND LITERATURE. APPROACHING EACH MEDIUM WITH AN INTEGRATED BLEND OF CURIOSITY AND IMAGINATION, HE CULTIVATED UNCONVENTIONAL CONNECTIONS THAT PRECIPITATED INCONCEIVABLE CREATIONS.
Aaron Rose views his own conception method with a similarly allied lens. He considers himself an artist whose creativity expresses itself in visual arts, filmmaking, music, writing, curatorial practices, journalism and more. “Basically, any creative manifestation where I feel like I might have something to say,” he explains. The similarity between the vehicles, he continues, is that all creativity follows the same basic set of structures: “You start with a rough sketch, then you fill in color, shape and substance…then edit, refine, edit, refine, edit, refine. The particular technical crafts might differ from each other, but that’s all stuff that can be learned with practice.” Aaron’s forthcoming articulations include a book of “strange poems” he wrote in the ’90s, a book of interviews and his first narrative feature film.
WHY IS ART IMPORTANT TO SOCIETY?
I struggle with this question all the time. I recently returned from Art Basel in Miami and I must say it was an incredibly disheartening experience. Throughout my life, I have always thought that art was important because artists tell the true history of our time. Unlike writing, film or music, visual art cannot be edited. The artist’s pure vision remains intact and, thus, the historical record remains preserved safely in a collection. However, after recently spending time in the art world, I’m wondering if anyone even pays attention to art anymore? It all seems so rarified and speaking only to itself. I suppose that’s fine, but in 2017 it may be a mistake to believe that contemporary art can have the same kind of influence that it had in the 20th century. I still love that art exists and it’s a pleasure to both create it and enjoy it, yet I feel that it’s perhaps more like being a member of a cool club, rather than anything that has any real social or historical value anymore.
A SONG THAT MAKES YOU NOSTALGIC
A FAVORITE PICTURE OF NEW YORK
A FAVORITE PICTURE OF L.A.
WHAT IS A DECISION THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE?
My life has gone through a few major shifts. Each one was the same, in the fact that my existence was basically thrown up into the air and all the pieces came crashing down. Yet, at the same time, each time it had its own personality. The scariest decision I ever made was probably moving from the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley to New York City in 1989, when I was 19. I showed up there with $100, which I pretty much spent the first day. I ended up moving into a homeless shelter and hanging out with my friend on the Westside Piers, watching kids vogueing while my friend sucked guys' dicks for $20 so we could eat that night. That was a pretty big shift from Calabasas. I would say it changed the course of my life. I find it hilarious whenever I’m in New York now and walk along the Highline. Oh the stories those steel girders could tell…
A FILM THAT MADE YOU WANT TO MAKE FILMS
A PHOTO THAT CAPTURES YOUR ESSENCE
THE LAST THING YOU MADE
YOUR FIRST LOVE
A SONG FROM THE LAST CONCERT YOU ATTENDED
WHAT IS YOUR MOST ADMIRABLE VIRTUE?
Even though I know I can sometimes come off as a snob, I’m actually a very sensitive and caring person. At least the people I really love tell me that, and I’m inclined to believe them. I genuinely care about and believe in people. I’m a huge fan of the world, and I try very hard to help those who I love along on their journey. Also, I cried in Shrek.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST IRRESISTIBLE VICE?
Wow! There are a lot. Cigarettes and pinot grigio, probably? Both of those things tend to get me into trouble for different reasons. Pinot grigio has landed me in the Hollywood jail twice in the last five years. They know me there… I call it the Wilcox Motel. Both times were minor offences, but still. Cigarettes just make me feel sneaky and guilty. Especially living in LA, I always feel like I’m lurking around in the shadows stealing a smoke. I get a lot of dirty looks for it, and that takes its toll.
THE CREATION YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU ON AN EX
OCEAN OR MOUNTAINS?
I’m honestly not that into nature. I’m more of a city kid. Nature doesn’t really hold many surprises for me. I’ve tried to change my mind on this many times, but looking at a forest or an ocean just feels like watching paint dry.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, IS TOO SERIOUS TO BE JOKED ABOUT?
WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING?
My daughter yelling “Papa! Papa!” from her crib at six in the morning.
AN INDIVIDUAL WHO WILL IMPROVE THE WORLD
AN IMPORTANT FILM
A SONG THAT EMBODIES YOUR CURRENT MOOD
YOUR FAVORITE POEM
Oh that’s easy! First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
FIVE ARTWORKS THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE
Charles Ray, All My Clothes, 1973
Margaret Kilgallen, Mural at Bay Area Now, 1997
Balthus, Joan Miro and his daughter Dolores, 1938
Christoper Wool, Untitled (Riot), 1990
Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, 1915-1923
AN UNDERRATED FILM
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Being able to do what you love and prosper modestly, regardless of what it is that you love — to be able to create with reckless abandon.
WHO ELSE SHOULD WE INTERVIEW?
WHAT IS ONE QUESTION WE SHOULD ASK HIM?
Ask him to define “The Drift.”