SARAH WALKO: How do you usually start your day? Do you like routine?
TODD SCHROEDER: I don’t think I am necessarily drawn to routine but I am pulled into routines. I have 3 kids, I teach, and I have 2 dogs – all require a certain routine. During school year, I’m up at 6:30, coffee, wake up kids (my oldest just left home for college, so the routine has just shifted a bit), get showers going, make lunches…get them out the door another coffee and then a 2 mile walk with my wife and the dogs. – In terms of art making, I do set up ritual approaches, not rules so much as procedures/structures to get the ball rolling..what excites me is incident, suddenness, and inspiration.
SW: Favorite medium? How did you start working in the mediums that you work in now?
TS: Lately I have been working with various oil paint mixes and spray paint on Plexiglas. I have worked a great deal with polycarbonate sheeting, translucent films, sheet aluminum, and more “traditional” substrates like stretched linen, cotton, and wood panel. I build and construct and prep almost everything myself..this is a big part of my process. I start playing with the “plastics” from the very beginning..like a guitarist taking out a few strings or playing around with tunings or screwing some pie plates to the front of the guitar or slicing the speaker of the amp…But then again, sometimes I like the idea of the uniform, just pluck it out of the pack and use it as is (though again, I usually construct that “uniformity” from scratch).
SW: Do you listen to music while you work? If so – what music?
TS: Yes, lately in the studio it has been: The National Alligator and Boxer, Sonic Youth Washing Machine and Rather Ripped and Thelonious Monk Monk’s Dream.
Waxing nostalgic for my youth, it has occurred to me that Sonic Youth embodies the art production of my generation, at least the strain that I am most interested in.
I think of my recent paintings like a chord or a tone that gets suspended, taken away from the linear context of a song – that’s the great thing about painting, it isn’t locked into a particular duration.
SW: Is there any geographical place that you had an experience that served as a threshold or breakthrough moment in the evolution of your practice?
TS: The flat and eternal farm fields of northwestern Ohio.
SW: Are any of your pieces self portraits?
TS: Even though I spend a great deal of time trying to get myself out of the way, yes, indirectly and to varying degrees, all of it [could be perceived as a self portrait].
SW: Can you talk a little bit about the Newspaper Project you did?
TS: It is a variable and expanding project that started as collaboration between myself and a former student of mine, William Singer (now an artist based in Detroit). It was conceived as a mediated exchange of ideas related to the breakdown of language and communication resulting in an extrapolation on the aesthetic possibilities of text. The imagery in the Newspaper started from a series of dot matrix text drawings on translucent drafting film that I had made a few years prior. They were based on my own cut up and reassembled stream-of-consciousness writing. We stacked and scanned a number the drawings, and they became the basis for the pages of the paper. Ultimately, we had an edition of 1000, 12 page newspapers commercially printed to the dimensions of the old New York Times (before the current shrunk version). We consider this to be an exhibitory project that remains in a constant state of flux, providing the potential for redevelopment and reorganization indefinitely. We invite other artists to participate by curating/installing/choosing a manner of display for a selection of papers we send/give them to play with. We’ve had two separate exhibitions so far. The first was at William Busta Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio with the artists Tim Callaghan and Royden Watson installing, followed by one at Four Hundred Project Space in Boca Raton, Florida installed by artists: Kalin Allen, Wan Hung Sun, and James Jackman. Also, at this point the paper is being sold at two book stores, Printed Matter in New City and Ditto Ditto in Detroit. A review of the Cleveland exhibition written by Douglas Max Utter is forthcoming in the next issue (no. 20 vol. 5, 2014) of ARTPULSE magazine and Bill Singer maintains an archive of the project at: http://www.wirvs.com/newspaper
SW: What is one current project you are working on that we can look forward to coming up?
TS: I have a solo show of paintings and drawings coming up November 21 through December 27 at the William Busta Gallery in Cleveland.
SW: A sentence from your artist statement states, “I look for solutions that seem simple: the carefully articulated done in a burst.” – what is your relationship with simplicity moreover – what is your relationship with finding solutions?
TS: My paintings usually turn out very simplistic but often they have gone thru hell to get there.
SW: Are you sea or land? Day or night?
TS: I am a plowed flat field in the middle of the day.
SW: One living artist you’d love to have a drink with? One dead one?
TS: Living: Joyce Pensato / Dead: Philip Guston
SW: What kind of bird are you?
TS: Big Bird, definitely.