Tuesday, February 3, 2015

THE HIDDEN ARTIST: Kristine Schomaker

CONNECTION TO NOHO: Looked for artist studio in NOHO Arts District 

MEDIUMS: acrylic on canvas, new media, sculptural

WEBSITE: www.kristineschomaker.net

One of the most curious aspects about Kristine Schomaker’s real life is her second life––literally. Known as Gracie Kendal, an avatar she created to represent herself in a virtual world called Second Life, Kristine has been able to blur the line between virtuality and reality. Before we get to that though, we have to start with Kristine’s beginnings and her inherent love for art and community.

As a young girl Kristine was exposed to her uncle’s art collection where her initial love affair began with the arts. But Kristine didn’t want to end up a “starving artist” (which by my own estimations sometimes means going “at it” solo), so she schooled for a MA in Art History. You can’t stop a true artist from emerging though. After viewing the spontaneous and gestic dripping artwork of Sam Francis, she became inspired to paint and was quickly drawn into art “community” instead. Fresh out of CSUN, she and her artist peers fashioned a critique group where they painted and supported each other on a monthly basis and soon after she moved into one the most humming art communities of all in LA’s downtown Brewery where she is now the President of the Brewery Artwalk Association.

But what of Gracie Kendal a.k.a. Kristine Schomaker? Well, with the help of Second Life’s various tools, Kristine was able to create colorful abstract “skins” for her avatar, much like the paintings she did in her real life, and the Second Life community ate them up. Soon Kristine found herself selling digital copies of those skins to real people for real money and not just for virtual currency from their avatars. Yet, Kristine’s success story isn’t as quite as simple as that. There’s always a story beneath the story, you know.

If you’ve ever glanced at the fantasy world of Second Life, you realize instantly that it allows you to create the dream version of yourself––that ultra magazine-styled mannequin-like avatar with perfect body measurements, hair, and clothes. Like most of us, guys and gals alike, Kristine is a just regular kinda person who bumps and grinds through life. But when asked by a teacher to delve deep inside herself to explain why she lived such a colorful second life, Kristine discovered she had an issue with her own self-acceptance and an eating disorder to boot. That’s when her colorful digitally painted Gracie Kendal crossed over into reality and became a series of 3D mannequins. They’ve become a large part of Kristine’s life and have been photographed all over LA––their “skins,” a sculptural representation of her painterly work. And the process is ongoing. Soon her slim-lined mannequins will be a more realistic plus-sized version and an additional credit to her own self-respect and acceptance.

I’d like go back and mention again Kristine’s involvement in community––especially that of the arts. She helps other visual artists become a presence in the art world with her firm, Shoebox PR. Born in the throws of social media, Kristine figured out a way to benefit other artists by mapping out marketing strategies for them, further feeding her passion for "making it happen" and adding balance to her own life. She is also the social media coordinator for the Southern California Women’s Caucus of ArtIt's been a pleasure to know Kristine. It just goes to show that what appears to be colorful on the outside, like that of the skins of Gracie Kendal, is most likely vibrantly interesting and colorful on the inside––like positively-driven Kristine Schomaker.  

You may follow Kristine on Facebook and Twitter