Fostering a creative community
One artist in Seoul has a mission: to create a community where expats and Koreans can express themselves through visual art.
The avenue is Jankura Artspace and the artist is Mike Stewart. Since it opened in January, the multipurpose studio and workspace hasn’t seen a dull day. “Jankura’s mission is to offer a place where expats can come and learn something or fine tune their skills. It’s a little hard to find information on where to find these services, so I’m trying to bring as many services as possible to make it a community hub for Seoul’s creative development,” said Stewart.
Jankura looks to serve the neighboring art community in four ways. For one, it is a shared studio where artists can rent space to create artwork. Second, classes in drawing, painting, illustration, printmaking and other genres are offered for those wanting to learn the trades. Next, sessions with models are held regularly for those interested in practicing with living subjects. Finally, Jankura is a workshop center for the community, with guest artists and artisans holding workshops and lessons.
Jankura Artspace is a creative community; it is not limited to visual arts, but is open to any type of artistic expression.
Mike Stewart’s story
Mike Stewart knew from the first grade that art would dominate his life. “I drew a picture of a dog and somebody in my class bought it for 25 cents. I re-produced that dog (for) other students in class and sold them,” said Stewart. From that day on, art would be at the forefront in his studies and life.
“I have never been interested in sports, music or any other subject. It has always been art. Even when out and about in Seoul, I want to sketch people, similar to capturing images with a camera,” said Stewart. “I particularly enjoy live action drawing.” There was a period of time in his life, though, where Stewart lost his way in a seven-year absence from art.
“One day, I found a box easel on the side of the road and had to have it. I went to art school, so (I thought) I should go back to my life when I was in art school. I got a canvas and acrylic paints, and made my first piece of art in seven years.” He has been producing and teaching art ever since. While teaching art at an academy near Hongik University, he started painting, drawing and printmaking regularly on weekends. After creating works, a show was scheduled.
He has since participated in about 30 exhibitions in the more than six years he has been in Seoul.
Printmaking is the core of his works, but in the last year and a half he has shifted to drawing and fine-tuning his technical drawing skills.
“I felt my drawing (ability) was weak before, so I wanted to improve. In addition, I have dabbled in watercolor and cityscapes to make my work, and talents, better-rounded,” he said.
For this artist, a unique trait is his avoidance of an eraser. He does not erase the beginning pencil lines like most sketch artists, but works rapidly with pen. The finished product gives the piece another dimension and energy that lacks in other artists’ sketches.
“My work is energetic with a sort of chaos trying to be controlled slowly through the production of the piece,” he said. “I start with extreme energy and bring it around, forming an image leaving the original attack I began with.”
For more information on Jankura Artspace, visit its website, mstewartprintmaker.com/jankura.htm.
Directions: To get to Jankura Artspace, leave Itaewon Station (Line 6) at Exit 3 and make a U-turn. Turn left at Quiznos and walk past Taco Bell for 5-7 minutes. Turn left at the 3-way intersection. Jankura Artspace is on the 4th floor of the corner building.