CHARLES GITNICK, ARTIST
Los Angeles artist Charles Gitnick is a 9th grader waging war against gun violence by getting guns off the streets and into art galleries.
The first time I ever sold my art out in public my Dad took me down to Venice Beach on the boardwalk. He set me up with a little table and I brought some landscapes and some big abstracts and a few of these gun pieces. Right away you could tell that the gun pieces were the hot thing. All these kids were like “check it out” “OH tight” and there were adults too who I never met before; not a friend of our family or a neighbor just some guy and I sold a piece of art. It was an amazing exciting day I’ll just never forget.
For the next 2 years I made art and I just kept working on my style and I found different techniques that worked. At the same time I studied different artists; and some I really liked I would try to bring their style into my art.
I really like Jackson Pollack. I know he had a hard time until he found his really successful style and what I like about his art is how great it looks but also how hard he worked to find a way to be original and to me that’s really important. It means everything. I know that being original is really difficult and I really respect Jackson Pollack because He was original.
For a long time I had basically no money to put into making my art so the guns I would buy were just the cheapest I could find. I got frames from the trash at framing shops and painted them up in black to look good. No glass no backing just the frame. Then I’d put it all together with glue. I was like 9 or 10 so these things would just fall apart on the way to wherever I was taking them to sell and I would get really upset. I’d be fixing them up while I’m putting them out on the display table, so the first thing I did when I got some money from selling art is I started to buy great replica guns. I got good framing materials from a framing company and I got a framer to assemble my stuff so it doesn’t fall apart and better acrylic paint that doesn’t wear off. Now it’s a really solid made artwork and I give my buyers something that can last.
When the shooting in Connecticut happened I was 10. I was making art every day. I had been making my gun art for over a year. When I saw what happened it just felt really scary. It felt like it happened right here in Los Angeles; even though I know it was all the way on the other side of the Country. I just didn’t want to make art ever again because I thought people would think I was uncaring about what had happened or that I supported that violence, so I just stopped making art, and that went on for 18 days. No art. I was really sad. I had a lot of feelings. I looked at art differently. I had a lot of questions about these bad things which really happen. It was a hard time. I felt like because I was a kid too and because it changed my art that it affected me. My parents talked to me and what they taught me was that as an artist when something like that happens it’s not the time to back away it’s the time to get out and show your art and get people to see it and talk about it and this way my art could have an affect, and that’s what happened. I started to make my art again and right away like in a few days I started to get media attention, newspapers and T.V., filming and people were stopping and they would look at my art and read my message and they talked to each other about it, and it was because they happened to see my art.
I’ve sold my art a lot in Venice on the Boardwalk and in West Hollywood too but my dream was always to sell art in New York City. For me to sell in New York was the real deal and I wanted to make art in New York, so after a long time waiting my family and I got to go to New York and I made art there in a loft and I thought you know nobody is gonna buy my art in New York. It was cold and the wind would blow down my pieces and break them. I would go inside a store for 5 minutes to warm up. It was hard trying to find a bathroom but I was on West Broadway right in SoHo and all up and down the street there’s all these other artists and I was there. I sold a bunch of art.
In New York I learned a lot about Jean Michel Basquiat. What I like most about him is not just his art but who he was. He was a grown up artist who made art the way I first started to make art and the way I fell in Love with art. Just doing what you want and putting onto the canvas what you’re thinking of right then. You know there is a lot going on in a Basquiat and that’s because there’s a lot he’s thinking and putting into the canvas and for me it’s great that I see that as an adult artist I don’t have to do things in art differently than I do now. I can do whatever in art that I want and I feel Basquiat helped make that possible for me.
So far since that first day in Venice I’ve sold nearly 100 pieces of art and my prices are up to like $2,000 – $5,000 sometimes more. My smallest pieces, my lowest price is $500. I’ve made commissions and sold art all over the U.S. and Canada, Italy, Australia, Monaco, Columbia and Switzerland. I’ve been interviewed and photographed many times. Now I sell indoors and it’s great to have a roof and air conditioning and have light on the art and a bathroom!
2016 – Art Basel Miami – Spectrum
2015 – Solo Exhibition, Ina Dederer Gallery – Zurich, Switzerland
2015 – Art Zurich 2015 Group Show, Dederer Gallery
2015 – Style Fashion Week Art Venue LA 2015: Invitational Group Show
2015 – Desarmarte Invitational Solo Exhibit, ArtBo – Bogota, Colombia
2015 – Art Monaco 2015
2015 – Art! Vancouver 2015
2015 – Shot Show Industry Day at the Range Exhibit
2015 – Santa Monica Museum of Art “Incognito” Art Exhibit and Sale
2015 – Sociale Revolution Featured Artist
2014 – Angeleno Artistry Featured Artist
2014 – 20/Twenty LA Retail Installation of a 30’ Mural
2014 – Art Essex Gallery Summer Invitational, Essex, CT
2014 – Sixth Annual Summerfest Venice Beach Cultural Festival
2014 – Museum of Latino Art, Pomona, CA – Group Show
2014 – Solo Exhibition, Townley Gallery, Laguna Beach
2014 – New York ArtExpo “Solo” Independent Artist Section
2014 – Santa Monica Museum of Art “Incognito” Art Exhibit and Sale
2014 – Project Ethos/Scion Annual Art Exhibit – Avalon Hollywood L.A. Fashion Week
2014 – Becore Party and Art Exhibit
2014 – Thousand Oaks Arts Association Juried Art Exhibition
2013 – Art Basel Miami “Red Dot Art Fair”
2013 – Venice Beach, CA – Venice Boardwalk
2013 – Soho, New York City – West Broadway Artist District
2013 – West Los Angeles – Melrose & Fairfax Art and Antiques Marketplace
2012 – Venice Beach, CA – Venice Boardwalk
2012 – Soho, New York City – West Broadway Artist District
2012 – West Los Angeles – Melrose & Fairfax Art and Antiques Marketplace
2011 – Venice Beach, CA – Venice Boardwalk
2011 – Soho, New York City – West Broadway Artist District
2011 – West Los Angeles – Melrose & Fairfax Art and Antiques Marketplace
City T.V. Bogota, Colombia
Teli-Zuri Zurich Television News
Revista EasyFly – Bogota, Columbia Magazine
Semana – Bogota, Columbia Periodical
Blick – Zurich, Switzerland Magazine
The Vancouver Sun
Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Daily news
Los Angeles Huff Post
New York Daily News
Huffington Post Miami
The Sydney Morning Herald
Blouin Art Info
Lost a E Minor
New This News
NPR KPCC 89.3