From Cecile Oreste of danceDC
Local artist John Simpkins-Camp experiments with a variety of materials, including paint, stone and metal. Although he was encouraged by professors to choose one medium, he continues to challenge and entertain himself by creating an array of art. Simpkins-Camp admits the life of an artist can be difficult, but it’s a decision he certainly does not regret.
A native of Virginia, Simpkins-Camp knew early on that he would choose a life in the arts. He attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts and also completed part of his Master’s degree at the Smithsonian. Currently, he is a British Council Artist, and his large landscape painting is part of the international organization’s permanent collection.
Despite having success with works that convey a specific message, Simpkins-Camp often struggles with the decision to create subjective versus abstract works.
From Cecile Oreste at danceDC
Fredericksburg native and Dupont Circle resident Ryan Epp can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to do something in the arts. In addition to growing up in a creative household, he was fortunate to have a supportive family who encouraged him to pursue his passion. His wife continues to support him in his artistic endeavors.
Epp attended classes for two years at the Corcoran College of Art and Design and later received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York. After graduation, he moved back to the DC area where he settled in Dupont Circle, which he describes as a colorful neighborhood:
“The look of the buildings, the people and the focus on the arts are all very inspirational,” Epp said. The abundance of galleries in the area and the stimulating environment really keep the creative juices flowing.
When it comes to his art, Epp finds inspiration from the children he teaches at the Edlin School in Reston, Virginia. Although hired as an Arts Specialist, his colleagues describe him as a “Renaissance man,” as he has taught classes in earth science, guitar, physics and computer animation.
“It’s fascinating to see the freedom in which children can express themselves,” Epp said. “It’s brilliant, innocent and naïve, all at the same time. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve stolen an idea or two from them.”
Inspiration from Africa, Mexico
Epp also draws inspiration from global cultures, mainly from Africa and Mexico. The old world craft techniques, folk art and unique textures of these areas are fascinating, he said. On a local level, Epp talked about Trevor Young’s smart take on the mundane in his installation of “Non-places” at Flashpoint Gallery. “I love his take on life and how he doesn’t adhere to reality,” he said. “He took places that are generally not considered beautiful and elevated them to the level of art.”
Despite having a number of identifiable influences, including Picasso, Matisse and other artists of Le Bateau-Lavoir, Epp does not like to categorize his paintings. Currently, his work has been bordering on cubism, but he also has paintings that have a completely different look and feel.
“I chuckle when people consider my work modern,” he said. “I don’t see anything modern about it and that’s fine with me. I paint what I think is beautiful. I paint what inspires me.”
Epp has sold his work at the 17th St. Festival in D.C., as well as at Gallery North’s Outdoor Art Show on Long Island. He has also done several commissions for clients in Boston, New York, North Carolina and Los Angeles.
Epp hopes to eventually work on his art full time. He has an interest in applying to be part of Mid City Artists and has been looking into working with local galleries. For an additional selection of Epp’s work, please visit his website.