I'm not really sure where I first met Douglas Alvarez and Terri Berman. But if you spend any amount of time in the Los Angeles art scene, you are bound to run into them. They are pretty much fixtures. I wanted to do a special Valentine's Day post featuring an art couple. Doug and Terri were the first couple I thought of. I asked them each to paint a Valentine. They both agreed, but Douglas warned "They might be dark." That was curious. Dark, isn't a word I'd usually associate with Doug or Terri. Their work is typically witty and charming, as are they. Doug's Valentine (seen above) ended up being an exploration of oral fixations, while Terri created a little 8 bit heart. I'll let the armchair art psychologist within you dissect that.
I recently dropped by the couple's "tree-house" to chat about how they met, how they work together and what they fight about.
How did you two meet?
Douglas: Art school. CSUN.
Terri: In the computer lab.
Douglas: Yeah, I was the lab tech.
Did you start dating right away?
Terri: No, just friends. We'd go to the museums, get coffee.
Douglas: Real, super-casual.
Terri: We were hanging out, then we'd stop hanging out. But basically we were friends and we just hung out a lot.
Douglas: It was funny, because you know, I had my place and she would show up. But then, it was such a gradual thing. There was that moment where I gave her her own key, so she could come in at any time. That's how gradual it was. Then eventually I moved into another place, and I had keys made, and their were two of them, so I ended up giving her one. So, that was a moment.
Terri: And I moved my stuff in! (laughs)
Were you showing in galleries right out of art school?
Douglas: Mostly group shows, like underground group shows.
Terri: Cannibal Flower. We would show there all the time.
Douglas: At first we were focused on graphic design, and she was focused on web design. Fine art painting wasn't our top priority, when we got our degrees, it was to get a job. The only way to get a job out of an art degree was the web, or print. But we still like to render things by hand. Somebody introduced us, first to L.C. (aka L. Croskey aka Cannibal Flower).
Terri:We met other artists, they'd tell us 'Hey, we're having a show.' and then we met Walt (Hall), and actually on Myspace we met people. Because we'd post our art, and then Walt met Doug. That's how they met, on Myspace. So, they'd see our art, and it was 'hey, do you want to be in this show?'
Douglas: It started very organically. You develop a little art family. We kind of shared our opportunities.
Terri: I think Myspace really helped. Because, remember Myspace was just images. It wasn't like Facebook, where you'd write 'This is what I'm doing today, blah-blah-blah,'
Douglas: You could decorate your page.
Has there been a competitive aspect to your relationship at all?
Douglas: Competitive? Not really. We have different opportunities. It's interesting. I mean, a lot of times we don't get invited to the same show. She has opportunities that I don't have. She has artwork on T.V. shows, like Two Broke Girls. She has an agent that provides artwork for sets, and her stuff works.
Douglas, you probably get approached by a lot of restaurants, right?
Douglas: I used to, not any more
Terri: He has a whole bunch of work in Redondo Beach, at Umami Burger. They bought them.
Do you two ever collaborate on a piece?
Douglas: Rarely. If we're in a show that required it, yeah, but...
Terri: We should do one.
Douglas: Our motivations are different.
Yeah, but both of your work has a sense of humor to it, so I imagine you influence each other.
Terri: I think so.
Douglas: Yeah, that's bound to happen.
Terri: The one good thing is, you know, you're working and you'll say 'Do you like this? What do you think?' You have somebody to ask, versus if you're just working by yourself. Sometimes I just want to know, 'Do you like it?' and he might not answer. Maybe he wants me to figure it out myself.
Douglas: Sometimes I'll be working on a painting and you won't like it, and I'll fight it. Like, 'Well you don't understand what I'm trying to..." She's pretty honest with me. I'll just paint over a piece.
Terri: Or I won't like it, but everybody else will like it.
Douglas: It's good to have that honesty though. Sometimes you'll ask your friends and they'll be super positive about everything. But that's not entirely productive.
Terri: Right, and I want to know. Not everybody likes your art work.
Are there any silly things you fight about?
Douglas: Music, sometimes.Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Terri: Or like I was saying, I'll ask him 'Do you like this?' and he won't answer. He's so in the zone.
Douglas: And she'll wonder why I'm ignoring her, and I just don't have the energy to answer her question. I have my own questions going on in my head. We're both painting.
Teri: Yeah, I'll say 'Can you come over here and look at this?' and he's not listening.
Douglas: Like anything else, you're concentrating. You'll have a flow going, and you know those flows. You can accomplish so much in one hour, that might take a week to accomplish otherwise, and you don't want anything to break it, right? And suddenly she's bombed me with a question.
You can see both Douglas and Terri's work in the upcoming Loteria group show at Cactus Gallery on March 14th. See flyer below.
You can also buy Ali Rossi's childrens book "Gimme Gimme Gimme" illustrated by Terri Berman at the Daniel Rolnik Gallery.
|Terri Berman;s 8 bit Valentine|
|Douglas' take on his High School Yearbook|
|Happy Valentine's Day|