Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Artist of the Week

Annelies van Dommelen

Art as personal narrative. It is a very true and real statement. There are words and thoughts attached to each brush stroke, each carved line, each found item or creations. The artist has a story to tell, words and images fill their minds as they create and explore. Yet, unlike literature, the translation or interpretation is much more complex then reading what is written. For an artist to be understood is always the goal, appreciation and then support may come later, but just simply to be understood is the true gift.

Annelies van Dommelen is an artist living in New Jersey. She grateful to be the first American in my family, and has really taken exploring the sights and scenes of this country. She works in several different forms of painting, and constructs intricate "artist book" collections. Her has been seen all over the east coast and she is a regular participant in Art For The Cash Poor, a wonderful annual collective show in PA held by Inliquid.

Recently, Annelies was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Annelies van Dommelen (AD): I was asked by a gallery owner what "ism" I used to describe myself and I chose" unique-ism" kinda on the spur of the moment. But truly, I guess somewhat a contemporary symbolist. I work with spontaneity and expression and a conversation with the medium and what is happening on the substrate at the time. My main focus is to construct a story that others can put their own words to. I know what mine are. Usually tied together by the human experience.

OA: I love the idea of the "Artists Books" that you have created. It is a little unclear through the internet, can you describe a few of the objects found in these books?
AD: My artists books are born within the flat files in my home studio. The room explodes with all the things I have collected or make, mostly from flea markets and collecting personal icons over the years also from box making and paper making, It is a very confusing and complicated motion that happens. There is a lot of recycling and redefining and using up of what was supposed to be thrown out, an archive from my childhood onward . When assembling such a thing as an artist book, I feel scattered and a bit frustrated, like beginning a puzzle with the reward at the end when I have thoughtfully constructed the story and also used up stuff waiting for expression. Must be the Dutch in me. These books are time consuming and is like doing embroidery on a large scale, I hate to say it, but who will buy it? I make them out of necessity for myself from time to time or when invited to be in a specific museum show.

OA: Your Beastiary Alphabet is beautiful and a lot of fun. How did it begin? What inspired you to create an entire alphabet?
AD: I started the bestiary alphabet some years ago and only did a few letters, sold the originals and decided to dedicate last winter to doing them all. Many reference books and fines from the public library [that was far away], I found material for this project. I did them with the thought of producing a book or giclees and making some money. I loved to paint and draw them and construct the letters out of the animals,flora and design. Drawing it out first is also a different way for me to work. Watercolor is the medium.

OA: I first found your work through the great collective show, Art For The Cash Poor. What are your thoughts on the concept of the show? Do you the art scenes in Philly and New Jersey are competitive or supportive?
AD: Well doing AFTCP, is a great idea, however, the general public is not really looking for my work. I have found that the outside art scene in Philadelphia is about the trendy item, A lot of artists do these things well but not my thing. It is a nice way to spend the day and look, you found me there so what do I know? I recently had a show of my work at Rodger Lapelles gallery, one of the longest standing galleries in old city. This was my second show with his gallery and it was comprised of 39 paintings , groupings of series , I had sculptural abstractions and oils over stone lithographs [a very serious group] Monotypes, two series, "Sites" and "Uninvited Visitors", very elegant, detail oriented, and a bit mysterious to most people. Also, watercolors, some with embossing before hand. They are colorful and clean with a lot of motion within them. I say clean because to me, there is nothing more unattractive than a muddy and dirty watercolor. By their inherent nature they should have transparencies and opaqueness but always clean.

OA: You work in several different mediums. Is there one that you feel most at home with? Is there one that is more challenging for you?
AD: I feel that my Monotypes are my most successful medium, however I love doing it all and there is a time and a place for it all. I have to go with the flow........of paint,etching ink or paper.

OA: What's next for Annelies Van Dommelen?
AD: whats next? who knows, hopefully more money, more audience, more time to do it all. Need to give up my night job, but in this town of Barns and fields, I need a more sophisticated audience, I keep looking for it with the help of the Internet and in my travels. I am looking for commitment, need it from the person who takes on my work because it is serious and good and probably needs to be sold to the customer. " Unique-ism" is a tough sell.

Bonus Questions:
We know you create books, but what is the last great book you have read? Where is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
AD: I actually love the books by Wally Lamb, "Shes come undone" is one of my favorites. Also I liked Stones from the River by I forget who, Helga ?. Like to read about artists, mostly. Farley's, in New Hope is by far the best independent bookshop , it is a bike ride away and I have been on my Dutch bike for the last thirty years in my town of Lambertville

OA: What type of music do you listen to? Who are are few of your favorites?
AD: I like, for music, Marvin Gaye, Tom Waits, the middle stuff, Joni Mitchell, St. Germain, Suite 706, Pan American and that sort of beat.,Ella and Louie, Betty Carter, a lot a variety. some rap and hip hop. It must me original and unique, I hate reality shows and music that all sounds the same. I really dislike the mundane and the sameness of people. never shop at walmart , I try to always support the local, better and real vibe, contact is good.

For more information on Annelies van Dommelen please visit her website and at her Artspan page.

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