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Sketch Pad

Joshua Camozzi Milligan
Art is all
by Kathy Anderson

fter skipping around the Bay Area for a bit, Joshua Camozzi Milligan landed in Portland five years ago. When he’s not creating, the native of Los Gatos, Calif., volunteers at the Wattle’s Club, where he mentors young people in computer graphics and video programs.

Strange magik
Life is art to Joshua Camozzi Milligan, and art is a way to express the energy of life. According to Joshua, artists practice "magik" – which he spells with a "k" to delineate from card tricks and such.

"pee pee?"

"An artist is one who manifests his or her own reality through a deep, inherent communication with the subconscious mind," he said. "It's a very spiritual practice that encompasses existence.

"Art is a complex thing to understand consciously. However an artist perceives art is the degree to which it unfolds itself to the individual. Each letter of each word, each fleck of pigment that extends a line, each image, each sound, every breath constitutes something so minuscule, yet so grandiose."

Happy medium
Joshua manifests his reality with any medium that strikes his fancy.

"Some is pen and ink, some oil, some acrylic, expansion foam, wood, light, alpha wave manipulation, words, installation, my clothing, my face, makeup, music, reality, every little thing I can tap my tendrils into."

When Joshua begins to draw or paint, he may or may not have any idea of the outcome.

"swirly candy yum yum bits"

"It's a matter of letting the energies flow freely," he said. "Perhaps at times there's a root concept lulling in the mind, but the rest comes through conversations and arguments between the unconscious and conscious.

"It's a bit of a ritualistic practice. Preparing the space, both physical and aural and everything in between, is important when applicable and possible. Then it's all a matter of that first mark – it tends to influence everything."

For Joshua, the difference between painting and drawing is not just the medium used, it's also the use of the mind, spirit and body – literally.

"Drawing is a meticulous form of intense focus and tedious introspection," he said. "While painting becomes more of a dance – there is a lot of jumping, twirling, flinging and physical contact with the canvas.

"I become more enthralled with texture and color rather than line and pattern," he said.

Whatever works
Inspiration comes to Joshua in many forms, too – anything from a bright, sunshiny day to sleep deprivation and isolation can "move the spirits" and do the trick.

"tree ... "

"Standing at the coast, staring into the seemingly limitless ocean and watching the waves swirl round and round, almost in slow motion as the wind fills the ears; it's almost as if all physical constraints release and you feel yourself drifting into the ocean as the ocean ... and once the ocean is all gone, there's the middle of the desert with its surplus of strange, illusive energies at play. I'd have to say moments like those work like a charm," he said. "Nature in general is a good reminder and inspirer."

Soul food
Though Joshua doesn't feel directly influenced by other artists, he does enjoy the works of Jim Woodring, Ralph Steadman, Andy Goldsworthy and Earnst Haeckel.

"I am quite aware that as a human being with open eyes and a relatively open mind, I am open to imprinting of all forms," he said. "So whatever I have experienced from 1976 to the present can and will come out in some form or another. Whether it is conscious or not is another issue entirely."

Joshua's art, in the form of greeting cards, can be found in a number of shops around Portland. He's done murals and commissioned pieces for a private party, and had a public show in December at Realm-8 on Southeast Belmont.

"dimetric sunrise on a day like today"

"I would like to get another show together," he said, "but my efforts have been focused toward music these past couple months. I'm involved with a group that's building a massive art-theme camp to bring to Burning Man this year. We're organizing a variety of events to help raise money for building materials, trucks, generators, domes, sculptures and much more.

"But once things die down a bit, I plan on melding back into the visual realm. The realities tend to shift back and forth, nurturing different avenues of the soul."

Form-fitting genes
Joshua has been artistic for as far back as he can remember, and believes his talent is genetic.

"still life horsey"

"I just always did art," he said. "Most of my free time was spent painting, drawing or having my mom draw superheroes for me. Mom did a lot of oil painting in her day, landscapes and still-lifes, and has always had a bit of a knack with the creative side of things. My father was an engineer. He did drawings, but they were more on the practical side than creative – though I'm sure there were times he had to get a bit creative.

"Subsequently, both my brother and myself were able to tap into these realms with relative ease. I feel very fortunate that both my parents have always been very supportive of my interests."

Joshua pursued his talents by taking art classes in high school and junior college. He then attended California College of Arts and Crafts for a year before transferring to Portland's Pacific Northwest College of Art, where he graduated in August with a B.A. in fine arts.

The impossible dream
Joshua's dream: to enable others to experience what he feels and perceives through his reality.


"I know this is impossible," he said, "though I have to continue to try. Humans seem to want to communicate. But communication is one of the most amazing and most frustrating things about being here on this plane of reality.

"The tools we are given don't always seem to get the job done. Speech is quite limiting. The English language is a somewhat abrasive construct that can't really transport the true essence of what one individual is experiencing to the next.

"In fact, quite often, literal translation can have a plethora of different implications. It can imply and hint at certain things, but the human brain is experiencing a horribly frightening amount of sensations every fraction of a second. Art, music, performance, theater, massage, touch, mannerisms – these are all ways we diligently try to get our points across, yet on their own they are also very limiting.

"So essentially," he said, "my goal is to try and share with the world, as best I can, that which I see, hear, feel and be."

E-mail Joshua at thejosh@jps.net, and check out his Web site. You can reach Kathy at kanderson138@attbi.com, and draw on other Sketch Pads.

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