i. Who am I?
I am a Vancouver figurative artist, my medium is painting and mixed media collage.
I mostly work with ideas about gender and how we perform our identities.
I work with a lot of used and vintage materials, things that have had a previous life.
Found materials are as vital to my work as paint and brushes.
For example the canvas I use is from a huge old tent which housed workers who were surveying Northern B.C. in the 60s, it’s stained and patched and has great character. It was hard to find and even harder to carry.
ii. A typical day:
Before Covid my studio was a room downtown, it’s now a box at the end of my bed.
My typical day before Covid was full of ritual from the route i walked to the studio, the coffee i bought or the lunch i packed, nothing was elaborate but nevertheless it was my preparation. *I always turned off my phone along the way.
Since Covid all that’s changed: now it’s, News first thing, followed by messages and phone calls – I keep my ringer on and I’m working at home – (box).
It’s been a month I’m now pretty anxious to get back to my studio (the room version).
iii. What are the personal qualities that help me in my work?
Workaholism (a compulsion to turn my thoughts into pictures)
In truth i have a great love of what i do – it’s not just a compulsion – I also hold a tiny hope that I have an effect in the world no matter how small.
I also see it as my job – it’s what I do – it’s also who I am.
I almost always have excitement before i open the door to my studio, excited at what might happen that day.
I make at least three different and distinct bodies of work – some are light and some are dark.
Ideas moods and materials play a big part in this but also the time of the year.
Spring is a great time for working with long daylight hours, warmth, windows-open-weather and lots of light,
– it usually comes with bright colour and energetic splashy oil paintings.
The overcast winter weather urges me to collage –
iv. Creative childhood hobbies:
My childhood hobbies were paper dolls and drawing – (so nothing has really changed ).
v. Other creators who inspire me…
I see lots of people as being creators, writers, artists, even politicians, for example over the last four years Bernie (Sanders) his beliefs and efforts have inspired me.
Of course I look at a lot of art, especially lots of women artists, from Hannah Hoch collages to Marina Abramovic performance and men too, of course.
right now I’m looking at, and loving, Walter Sickert’s Camden Town nudes (prostitutes). I’m trying to decide if i think they are exploitative or sympathetic -( the jury’s out).
vi. The training that has helped me:
My ‘training’ (in art school) was spent working in a group made up of four very ambitious male artists.
it was brutalizing and often really unfair but it has steeled me and showed me how to be aggressively ambitious all the while maintaining my beliefs.
*all four of us are still close friends who act as normatives for me, they are my working landscape… knowing that while i am mixing up a mound of blue paint, that across town there is a friend also mixing up a mound of blue paint is very important to me.
Being part of a group is damn helpful in many ways especially when you run out of varnish on Xmas day.
My advice to young artists, if possible, form a group and stay part of it.
vii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Wanting fame and seeking applause –
neither of these things are in any way nourishing, they can take away focus and waste a lot of time, though they are pretty unavoidable at certain points.
( hopefully, i’ll grow out of them)
viii. The greatest challenges:
The greatest challenges are, and always have been,
making ends meet and buying time – I’m always struggling with one or the other.
Buying time means allowing myself ‘ free’ time to meander and explore without pressure (which is where all the good stuff is).
Alpha Girls. 2006
ix. Some proud career moments:
I think number one for me was putting a show together that i was totally proud of.
that sounds trite but to be honest there have only been about three or four maybe five exhibits that i look back on with pride – the rest have been uneven or premature.
Most artists are never really satisfied, it’s only in retrospect that you might think ‘well that was actually a great body of work.’
Being dissatisfied is part of the job description.
x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest you :
I suggest that you really look at trying to talk yourself out of it immediately.
-if that doesn’t work …
buy lottery tickets.
I love what i do and i feel very privileged to have been able to do it.
But, I really had no idea what a struggle it would present on so many levels.
It’s only for the obsessed – there’s no formula.
xi. A professional goal i have for the future :
My dream is to curate my own big show with everything i want in it.
i’m holding out for that one – though i fear of course that if it happens everything after that might be a let down.
kind of like the greyhounds catching the mechanical bunny at the racetrack.
They may never run again.
xii. Where to see my art/upcoming shows:
Transformations – Melissa Morgan Fine Art
Palm Desert, California – November 2020 ( check gallery for exact date).
XX exhibition at Herringer Kiss Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
-group show was open for two days in March – check gallery website.
Franc Gallery, Vancouver – by appointment
My studio – only by request
instagram … anytime Angela Grossmann Instagram
Header: Big Blue for Art Toronto