[The above image is “Sunshine and Shadow” by Gibbs Rounsavall at 1182 S. Shelby St.]
After seeing one of Gibbs Rounsavall’s circular paintings, you know he is an artist who is precise and patient. And, as luck would have it, his work is easy to see right now, be it in a mural, exhibition or studio (gibbsrounsavall.com).
LEO: What’s your art background?
Gibbs Rounsavall: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember, going back to first grade doodling army stick men [and] fighting dinosaurs on the margins of worksheets. My parents were always very supportive of my interest in art, giving me sketchbooks and art materials for birthdays and Christmas. I started by copying the characters from comic books, which was a good way to learn how to draw. For my undergraduate degree I attended Washington University, where I earned my BFA with a concentration in illustration. Wash U was a great experience because it gave me an opportunity to be exposed to a variety of media and techniques that weren’t available in high school. My studio professors were always asking me to “loosen up,” but it never felt quite right. Eventually one of my illustration professors recommended I work for the U.S. government in the Mint Department designing currency. After college, I dove head first into artmaking and established a pretty regimented work routine and having shows in coffee shops and alternative venues like 953 Clay Street.
LEO: You recently unveiled a mural at Shelby and Oak. What is it about and how did you get the commission?
GR: I had been wanting to work on a mural for some time but was waiting for the right opportunity. A friend of mine and local artist, Amanda Bishop, mentioned an acquaintance, Ben Terry, who was doing all these creative things such as commissioning artists for original murals and organizing guest lecture events called Creative Mornings. I reached out to Ben, and we discussed how he and Access Ventures were working to revitalize the Shelby Park neighborhood. They had been renovating buildings in the area for new businesses to occupy with the idea of freshening up the neighborhood and helping it to flourish. One business in particular was Scarlet’s Bakery, which would be offering jobs to women that were previously employed in exploitive jobs. I took this idea of movement and progress and this idea of interconnectivity, where you have people working with others to better themselves and their surroundings and developed a sketch for what would be “Sunshine and Shadow.”
LEO: You have a show up now at Revelry Boutique and Gallery. What can we expect to see in the exhibition?
GR: I am really excited about this exhibit at Revelry. The show will consist of mostly smaller works on paper and wood and will focus on light, movement and the development of a visual language from smaller studies to more complex structures, eventually leading to the mock painting for the mural. The work is more musically-influenced with a bit of randomness added to the process, which has resulted in pleasant surprises.
LEO: Open Studio Weekend recently happened. Why did you decide to take part?
GR: I had such a good experience last year when I participated. I love sharing and talking about my work with the public, which is something that I actively took part in on a regular basis while working on the mural. I also think it is educational for the general public to see behind the scenes of the artmaking process, to see the spaces and routines artists employ to make their work. This can help foster an appreciation for the passion that each artist pours into their practice.
LEO: Sounds like you have been very busy. What do you plan to do next, besides rest?
GR: Take my unbelievably patient wife Sara out for a date because she is amazing!
A few pieces by Rounsavall: