Meet the Mentors | Darren C. Demaree, Janelle Cordero, and Ira Joel Haber

mentor q&a 1.jpg

The COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective is a fellowship program that allows creative writers, visual artists, and musicians to explore, illuminate, and grow through collaborating on interdisciplinary projects.

Fellows participate in a free 4-week collaborative program, connect with talented and passionate peers, have around-the-clock access to highly accomplished mentors, and are eligible for a monetary stipend to help them pursue projects and arts-related initiatives. To apply or for more information, visit here.

Meet Darren C. Demaree (creative writing), Janelle Cordero (visual art), and Ira Joel Haber (visual art), three mentors for the 2019 COUNTERCLOCK Arts Collective.

CAC: What themes have you always aimed to explore with your art? What is a topic you want to explore with your art, but haven’t yet?

DD: Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about addiction and location. What I’m preparing to explore more is landscape and maturation, and how the two of them intersect in our formative years. I‘ve recently started sketching out a narrative sequence called “The Field Party”.

JC: I’m obsessed with the messiness of human nature. My portraits and figure paintings will always be abstract because the human face and body are abstract. I love the curves and angles of us, the movement of us, the beauty and grotesque-ness of us. Something I want to experiment with more in the future is creating a watercolor graphic novel.

IJH: My art for the last 48 years or so have been involved with nature, the natural and unnatural and with how we live. Theme is a difficult word to get a grasp on.  My work is also about scale and architecture. I want to just continue to explore my visions in my head for my remaining time on this earth. Each new piece, whether it be a sculpture, a drawing, a collage or a photograph is new.

CAC: If you have one piece of advice for emerging artists, what would it be?

DD: Find a way to read the works of people who are very different than you are. Read translated works as much as you read works written in your native language. Reading works written by people similar to you can only lend itself to exploring technique, but reading translated works will push your themes, language, and the music of your writing to new places.

JC: Create every single day, no matter how you feel. Even if your shift was terribly long, or you have a cold, or your friends are going out for ice cream at the exact moment you sat down at your desk, create anyway. If your calling is to be an artist, you damn well better fulfill what you were put on this earth to do. Otherwise, what’s the point?

IJH: Just keep working no matter what. This is good advice also for artists who are not emerging.

Take a look at some of Darren, Janelle, and Ira’s works!

CAC: If you were to summarize your latest work/project in less than ten words, what would they be?

DD: Twelve years of twisted tether love poems.

JC: Hybrid watercolor portrait poetry manuscript.

IJH: Miraculous, in the sense that it is miraculous that I am still making art.  

CAC: If you could have dinner with any artistic figure from any time period, what would you eat and with whom?

DD: Eating with Gwendolyn Brooks would be incredible. I would just let her talk forever, and do my best not to chew too loudly.

JC: I would eat curry with Egon Schiele.

IJH: Actually, I have been lucky to have had many dinners with famous and not so famous artists, poets and writers over my 48 years as an artist. The list is long; Alice Neel, Louise Bourgeois, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Smithson, Bill Jensen, Lyndia Benglis, and on and on. In terms of artists from another time period, there are way too many so how about a large banquet where all of my favorite artists from the past can mingle and eat. The conversations between Picasso and DaVinci would be worth eavesdropping on.

CAC: What are you most looking forward to as an Arts Collective mentor?

DD: I’m excited about the dialogue with my mentee. Meeting new people and getting to discuss art with them is always a blast.

JC: I can’t wait to see the work of our emerging artists evolve over the summer! I am also thrilled to simply serve as an encourager and an accountability partner.

IJH: I’m looking forward to seeing the art, hopeful the pieces will be glorious, expansive, joyous colorful and inspiring.

Learn more about the Arts Collective here.

Apply to the Arts Collective here.

About the Mentors

Darren C. Demaree | Columbus, Ohio

Darren is the author of eleven poetry collections, most recently “Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire”, which will be published in June of 2019 by Harpoon Books.  He is the recipient of a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louis Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal.  He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.  

Janelle Cordero | Washington, USA

Janelle is an interdisciplinary artist constantly experimenting with form to create hybrid, genre-less pieces. Her paintings have been featured in venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. Her newest chapbook with Bottlecap Press, which also featured original artwork, was published in January of 2019. Stay connected with Janelle’s work at

Ira Joel Haber | New York, USA

Ira was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum, and more. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Creative Artists Public Service Grant (CAPS) two Pollock-Krasner grants, and more.

patrick cac headshot.jpg

Patrick Tong is the outreach director for the Arts Collective. He is a high school junior from the northern suburbs of Chicago. His work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Poetry Society of the UK, and appears in Eunoia Review and Rising Phoenix Review. Besides reading for COUNTERCLOCK, he currently serves as an Executive Editor for Polyphony H.S. and a copy editor for its affiliated blog, Voices.