Allen Vandever is an emerging artist from Chicago. He has recently exhibited at NEXT, part of Art Chicago and at VERGE at Art Basel in Miami.
When did you first know that you wanted to be a painter?
My first memories are of lying in my crib looking up at a print of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. When I close my eyes I can still see the color and pattern; it’s as though the painting was a landscape I would travel through. The brushstrokes were paths—the fields of colors were lakes and meadows. Thanks to my grandmother, I was creating from my earliest years and have never stopped. So, I guess I have always been an artist; painting is just the medium I have focused on.
What philosophies dominate your view of the art world?
I’m not one to lay claim to following one philosophy, for I try to take parts from all things and absorb them into myself. I do the same with art that I see. I guess you could say my philosophy is Al-ism: the one that I create, and embodies who I am.
How do you use the Internet to publicize your work?
Social networking is a great way for a large audience to see your work and to follow what you are doing. When I came back from my time on the Volcano, I wanted it so that when someone ‘googled’ my name the first page would be about me. Now, the first ten pages are about me. This was part of the foundation for my art career that I planned while living on the volcano—maybe the altitude had something to do with it?
Life is tough for an artist, what makes you strive to move forward on a day-to-day basis?
Life is tough for everyone; especially those who strive to move forward to improve themselves. I feel the only way to move forward is to come to peace with where you are, and once you have conquered the ‘now,’ you are in the present, and finally at a place where you can move forward. Work, work, work.
How do you distinguish your dreams from your creative work?
I try to integrate my dreams into everything that I do, and I try to integrate what I do into my dreams. So my dreams are my creative work and what I paint comes from them.
Do you see challenges as obstacles or opportunities?
Of course I’m going to say opportunities! Whoever does not allow suffering and struggle does not know what life is all about. Seriously, challenges are what are between our present and where we want to be: nothing more, nothing less.
What makes the art community in Chicago unique?
I have not yet found my niche in the many Chicago art communities. And though there are so many, there doesn’t seem to be much interaction between them. I am more interested in the art world. Sure, this beast seems mythical at times, but I know I must keep hunting it that some day I will hang its head over my mantle, then finally sit back with my pipe and whisky, while all is at one in the world.
What’s your view on online galleries?
I haven’t had much experience with online galleries yet, but I think there is great potential for a large international audience to see your work. Finding new ways to sell your work more inexpensively can be a good thing.
You are making your work available to the public for the first time at NEXT 2010, why is this?
This isn’t the first time I have shown my work. For many years, I have displayed my art in different venues, exhibits, galleries, and competitions, but NEXT is a venue at the level I would like my work to be showcased on the international scene. People will be there to see what is coming next to the art world, and I hope that they see my work and embrace it as so many others have.
What separates your work from the next artist?
I use art as my tool to express and fine-tune my vision in my process of Individuation. My vision is what I see when I close my eyes, and this world I see is so beautiful—this is what I am trying to project onto the canvas. This vision is my path towards what some people call enlightenment: it is a search for knowledge, wisdom, and this elusive concept of the ‘self.’
Where would you like to see your work exhibited?
First and foremost, I would like my artwork on the walls of my friend’s homes, which is surprisingly hard to do! It’s funny, I try and give them really good deals or make work that is affordable for them, but most of them do not take advantage of this! I don’t know if they just don’t like my work or if they think I should give it to them for free. Anyway, I would also like my work shown in art museums around the world. Then, eventually, in art history books. Might as well shoot for the stars, right?
Who would you like to collaborate with?
All the people interested in the idea of ‘process,’ change, and struggle—and especially those reading this.Tags: Allen Vandever, Art Basel, Art Chicago, Chicago, NEXT, Verge