Friday, November 15, 2013

Interview with an Artist--Stephen Tenorio Jr.

By Tanya Taimanglo
To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.—William Blake

Today, my blog focuses on author and artist, Stephen Tenorio Jr. I’ve known “Steve” for decades, being schoolmates on Guam. But, it wasn’t until a cherished aunt shared a book with me, Stephen’s debut novel, An Ocean in a Cup did I make contact with him again. I was excited to see another Chamorro author, and with the common goal of bringing our literature to the forefront, Steve and I have corresponded on our chosen art forms from time to time.

Stephen’s oil painting graces the cover of his novel. I remember thinking, wow, he’s got a great eye for color and form (that’s the extent of my art critique skills). But, I was glad he was so multitalented.

When Stephen started posting photos of his new works and his current art show on Guam. I, being the cheerleader and support system I am, began sharing his information on Facebook and Twitter, then offered a spot on my blog to go more in depth about the artist behind the art. So, please enjoy this snapshot of Stephen Tenorio Jr. and if you’re on Guam, enjoy his show!

*Stephen and his granddaughter enjoying a day at the beach (Guam).


Stephen’s Day Job: Artist/Attorney/JAG/PBS Board Member

Home: Tamuning, Guam

Title/Location/Date of your ART SHOW: CAHA Gallery, Hagatna, Guam, November 2013


1. When did you start painting?

I dabbled – painting five to six canvases over the last sixteen years, but only in June of this year did I start making an effort to paint. With the exception of one painting, I started painting the seven of eight paintings from this collection in June. I was going to do my Exhibit in April of 2014 but CAHA needed someone to fill a gap in their schedule, and the gallery coordinator knew I had finished several pieces already, so they asked me to fill the gap ---- and I did.

2. What is your favorite medium?

Just oil. Ironically, my first three oil paintings I painted over a decade ago were done with watercolor brushes. I didn’t know the difference between an oil and watercolor brush then. I thought to myself, “I don’t think I should paint, I really can’t control these brushes.” A decade later while living in Seattle, I realized I was using the wrong brushes. That's when I started the painting “Faith and Earthquakes,” still, it would take me nine years before I finished it because I was caught up in law school and had put the painting away.
3. Describe your show in one sentence? (or more)

It’s my first true effort to paint so you will see more vibrancy and strong application than I intended. To the audience in general, they will see a dark burst of colors trying to portray Guam in the early 1900s (not Spanish era which most people think).

4. You are also an author; I think ART is writing, painting, theater, dance and more, as long as it is a creative outlet… But, do you think it is harder to paint a picture with words or with your brush?

Good question, my next collection I hope to emulate some poems I wrote a decade ago. The poems have strong imagery. One poem took me a year to write, I guess when I start painting I’ll hit the clock and see which gets done faster and with less challenges.
5. Do you have a favorite piece? Which one and why?

I don’t. They are like kids, even the ugliest one is just as beautiful as the rest of the children.

6. Are your works up for sale?

I don’t think I could let them go, but I am looking towards keeping them with the local museum or public gallery. I guess I have to practice law for awhile to make ends meet.

7. Where do you get your inspiration?

Like my novel, I have a passion for the Romantic period and in Guam’s case it would be Spanish era and early 1900s before World War 2. I grew up studying this period while in school, so I always thought there was something always poetic about this period that I want to be a part.

8. What time of day are you most creative?

I don’t have a set time.

*Stephen enjoys painting with his granddaughter.


9. Who are your favorite artists?

Chagall is at the top only because he has the most amounts of paintings of one artist that I appreciate. And, now with the recent “find” of lost classic works found in Germany (which contains works not catalogued by Chagall), I am excited. I like William Blake but likely only because he was a Poet and Painter, it’s no insult to say his poems were more prized than his paintings. In some ways, I can understand the essence of his creativity.

10. Any advice for aspiring artists?

You have to believe in the sacrifice you are making because like me all your efforts no matter how genuine and admirable may still have you struggling for your next meal or rent, and the only thing that gets you by is knowing that you know you are doing what you were meant to do.

You can contact Stephen via Facebook (Stephen Tenorio Jr.)






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