Interview by Rob Lehr
An Akron born artist, Andy Dreamingwolf, is completely self-taught and has shown in several art exhibitions throughout Ohio. In 2013, he was selected by the infamous Jonathan LeVine Gallery of Manhatten to participate in the Parlor Gallery juried exhibition promoted by Hi-Fructose Magazine. Hand picked by Jonathan LeVine himself from hundreds of candidates, Andy Dreamingwolf is definitely one of Ohio’s rising contemporary artists. Currently, his work is featured at The Box Gallery in Summit Artspace. I thought it was a good time to catch up with Dreamingwolf since his latest work is on view through the end of this month.
RL: When going through your portfolio, select works are more flat and graphic, while other pieces are coated with refined detail. What brought you to these dueling techniques? Do you see one style eventually trumping the other?
AD: Typically, my process begins with the conceptual elements for a piece followed rather quickly with what technique will best suit the work. I enjoy bouncing between the two styles and they both express my personality. Playing with depth keeps me fresh. I’m continually learning and discovering new things in the studio, and it’s this openness, I believe, that affords for me to grow as an artist. Rather than fading one style out, I see myself integrating both within individual works.
RL: Your art seems to affectionately pluck iconography from America’s past. What research goes into finding your subjects and why do these historic figures influence your contemporary painting?
DM: Forms fascinate me tremendously. Early on, and still to this day, I have a great love for black and white imagery/films. Monochromatic visuals are a great equalizer. I paint images that one; I personally want to examine, and two; allow the viewer to create a narrative. Portraits can bring a sense of pride, doubt, or just a simple wonderment. I am frequently inspired by images of my friends and study vintage photography & advertisements. America is a giant market place. Everything is on constant sale. From billboards, broadcasts, and store fronts. It’s a revolving display case of body images, products “we simply can’t live without”, ideal lifestyles, and the American Dream itself. While maybe it’s lost on myself, ironically, I find power and intrigue in the sales pitch. I equate it to being able to appreciate the aesthetic of a propaganda poster without adopting it’s mantra.
RL: More recently, you have meticulously illustrated obsolete technology, ironically from modern times. What draws you to this subject?
AD: Honestly I’m infatuated with the lines and makeup of these outdated assemblages. It seems with past technologies it was more physical: more hands-on, and it represents a sense of touch and movement. Be it a typewriter or an engine, they both equally can take you anywhere you choose. It also goes back to your last question. I feel like these particular paintings are the American Dream lost. It’s a sense that maybe we were somehow lied to. Beyond the items functionality they provided food on generations of tables that are now bare. If you notice in the works, the panels are cut, assembled back together, and painted white. It’s my nod to that “White Picket Fence” idealism.
RL: Are there any rituals you have when you create art in the studio?
AD: When in the studio, I follow the same routine when building all of my panels to paint on. I don’t just have panels prepared until I have a project in mind. All of my builds are custom sized and cut for the work. While cutting, assembling, and finishing, I’m envisioning throughout a particular project, and how it should look/feel. This is an important process for me. When I get down to actually laying paint down in the studio, it’s pretty simple; just me sitting on the floor with the panel leaning up against the wall.
RL: If you could hang out with one person, living or dead, who would that be?
AD: Although, there are numerous artists whom I would love to meet, converse, and collaborate with, but without a question I’d like to spend with my best friend, who I lost tragically five years ago. I don’t believe in saying goodbye, but I would love the chance to tell him I’ll see him again.
Andy Dreamingwolf has three paintings on display in the group exhibit “Black & White” through December 31, 2014 at The Box Gallery (140 East Market Street, 3rd Floor of Summit Artspace). You can contact Andy via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.