can_serrat_1989_ca ufo montserrat

 

THE CAN SERRAT YEARS
 


 Are strong enough to look past the greed of the art world and the mediocrity and ego of the artist, we may discover that the "Artist's Journey" is far more important than the art that comes from an artist's hands.


An Artist's Journey, 1990-2001

Having finished an art education in California, the artist returned to Europe with the intention of travelling and working with art. Enrolling in a private art school in Oslo would be destiny-changing for this young artist. The art school had been planning a 3-month stay in Spain to create art and live the easy Mediterranean life. This 3-month stay would turn into a 10-year artistic and humn voyage for the artist. Jeff remained at the "farmhouse" after the school departed to help the young group of Norwegian artist build, create, establish and run the burgeoning art center-slash-art school. Throughout the 1990s, the young man developed as an artist and became a vital member of the art center as it grew to become an international residency for the arts. Art was a daily part of life at the farmhouse-vinyard-art-center, as was interacting with the thousands of artists, writers, poets, students, bohemians and euro-trash that drifted through the house during that decade.

The house had to be managed, spanish language learned, shopping, materials, art products were needed. Meals had to be made, and the ruins had to slowly be built ground-up within this 1000-year old haunted mansion. Wine, dance, song: croquis, group paintings, absurdity-festivals and garden parties. Then back to the art studio, more drawing, more painting searching for one self and one's expression. Personal artwork is the starting point, satisfying the soul, out of need. Doing what God does, creating ex nihilo - from there all else is freedom. Endless flow of visitors from art schools and academies around northern europe: tourists, musicians, poets and euro-trash hippies. Gather around the table for food, wine and conversation. Head to "The Cave" for a late-nighter. Naked in the moonlight perhaps. They came, and they went - boys and girls. Men and women. Friends and not-so-friends. I must have participated in more than 40 different workshops on various techniques from photography to stained-glass, esgraffiato to fresco, welding - moulding - stone-carving and authentic hand-made oil paints. Trips to Barcelona to explore Picasso, Dali, Tapies, Miro: ancient fresco painting and Gaudi. Rambling down La Rambla again, into Bar Boadas or Pastis, absihthe at Bar Marsella. Pilgrimages to the Black Madonna atop Montserrat Mountain. Forming loving bonds that will last a lifetime.

 

Bohemia as the ultimate goal
Truth, Beauty, Freedom and ... above all things ... Love. As an artist, fulfilled with one's work and little need for urban falsehoods, the true artist needs little more than his work. The only quests higher than art are those four tenants of the Bohemians of Paris at the turn of the century 1900 - Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love.

 

garden patio construct 1991 garden patio construct 2 studio / bodega 1991

 

Strykejernet Art School

If not for this small private art school in Oslo, led by Thorleif Gjedebo, I would never have made the journey. Thorleif, "jack of all trades, master of none", fugitive of the former "Friedrichshof Commune" - an Austrian far-left commune that combatted materialsims and sexual repression, trying to break down social habits and beliefs. "Homo Ludens", the man who would live at play...

 

"Send a student into the world, far from home, with no money; just some art supplies and an open mind. That was Gjedebo's pedagagic and I bought it. Running away from the wasteland of Amerika, little cash in pocket and a desire for art in foreign lands, Thorleif understood me and brought me into the loco fold. Off to Spain I went with my then-maestro to live, learn, work and love. In those years, he had much to teach me and much to offer in the little village of El Bruc, Spain. Lost in the wine fields and almond groves at the foot of the magic mountain of Montserrat we built our paradise of art, love and freedom. My association with Can Serrat and Strykejernet went from pupil to caretaker, assistant to instructror, and to administrator and vice rektor of Strykejernet on my way to maturity and adulthood.

 



puppets halloween 2000

Arrival 1991

Proof of Lifejeff bw portrait ca 1991

The Artist as a Young Man, recently arrived in Spain..

kitchen

Kitchen, 1988

white shoes yellow painting

 

office 1989

Upper hallway, 1989

jeff engberg yellow paintings
Al taller.
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bathrooms 1989

Bathrooms, before, 1988

jeff bricklayer 1991 blue balcony room 1991 cap gross green bar 1999

ufo night 11 11

UFO night, 11-11-98