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Artist Snapshot: Nicholas Evans-Cato

Exploring the mind and habits of an artist in twenty-five questions

by Stephanie Cassidy | July 21, 2020

Nicholas Evans-Cato[1]
Nicholas Evans-Cato teaching his Art Students League class, Painting the City. Photo: Peter Selwen

At what age did you decide to become an artist?

I don’t think there was ever a time when I wasn’t compelled to draw and paint.

How did your parents react when you told them you wanted to be an artist?

It wasn’t surprising!

Who are your favorite artists?

David Hockney, Filippo Brunelleschi, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.

Who is your favorite artist whose work is unlike your own?

Same as above: David Hockney, Filippo Brunelleschi, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre.

Art book you cannot live without?

Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography[2], Peter Galassi, MoMA, 1981.

What is the quality you most admire in an artist?

Tenacity.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

No.

What’s your favorite museum in all the world?

Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien[3].

What’s the best exhibition you have ever attended?

Pearls of the Parrot of India: The Emperor Akbar’s Illustrated Khamsa 1597–98[4] at the  Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005-6. 

If you were not an artist, what would you be?

A gardener.

Did you have an artistic cohort that influenced your early creative development? 

No.

What is one thing you didn’t learn in art school that you wish you had?

The importance of writing well.

What work of art have you looked at most and why?

This is terrific question. I used to devote days on end to a Velázquez, Houdon, Vermeer, or Corot. I couldn’t say which I looked at the most. Yet for the last twenty years, I find myself more captivated by the natural world as well as by the built environment. Light, shadows, plants, and vernacular spaces, neglected urban lots, crowded corners, and worn structures become obsessions. I think I am less invested in, less inspired by, artists than I am captivated by places. I make paintings as flat places which I inhabit.

What is your secret visual pleasure outside of art?

Moss and ferns.

Do you listen to music in your studio?

No.

What is the last gallery you visited?

I honestly cannot remember!

Who is an underrated artist people should be looking at?

Chris McCaw[5], photographer.

What art materials can you not live without?

A pencil and paper.

Do you paint/sculpt/create art every day?

No.

What is the longest time you went without creating art?

Two years.

What do you do when you are feeling uninspired?

Take a walk.

What are the questions that drive your work?

What is this light? What is this color? What is this shape?

What is the most important quality in an artist?

Confidence.

What is something you haven’t yet achieved in art?

Confidence.

What is the best thing about art in the era of social media?

Haven’t found it; I’m not on social media.

Endnotes:
  1. [Image]: https://asllinea.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Evans-Cato.jpg
  2. Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography: https://assets.moma.org/documents/moma_catalogue_2267_300296442.pdf
  3. Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien: https://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/jart/prj3/nhm-resp/main.jart?rel=de&content-id=1278490683851&reserve-mode=reserve
  4. Pearls of the Parrot of India: The Emperor Akbar’s Illustrated Khamsa 1597–98: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2005/illustrated-khamsa
  5. Chris McCaw: https://www.chrismccaw.com