Gerald Vaandering’s most recent installation, Pine Clad Hills, is currently a part of the Marion McCain Exhibition of Contemporary Atlantic Art at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in NB. His next installation, this Salty Water, will be exhibited this summer in Bonavista as part of ART BONAVISTA . These exhibits are a continuation of the work he has done for the last 20 years which explores the nature of culture and how dependent it is on the economy that supports it. Both the Ontario Arts Council and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council have provided support for this work by way of project grants. Many corporations, galleries, and individuals in Canada, the US, Bahamas, and the United Kingdom have Vaandering’s pieces in their collections.
Vaandering has juried, curated, and adjudicated several exhibitions. He has participated in executive roles in artist-run centres or many years. He has participated in street level outreach providing meals and art lessons for young people who were homeless.
Vaandering has worked in theatre from time to time over the years and taught visual and theatrical arts to all age groups. He has started art programs in two schools and after teaching for 8 years went back to Western University (University of Western Ontario) to get his BFA graduating in 1991. He has been working as a professional artist ever since and also continues to teach in the community.
Presently Vaandering works from his studio in Pouch Cove where he has lived for just over 6 years now.
Website: http: www.geraldvaandering.com
When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?
Never thought of it until Junior high when I found out there were people called artists. I knew then that being an artist seemed to suit me well. I was always making something.
What mediums do you work in and why?
Lots of things have crossed my path, from the obvious, pencil, brush/paint then to encaustic, steel, wood, epoxy, plastics, dirt … really what ever seems to fit the idea.
How do you get ideas for your artwork?
Sometimes you just start making something and that starts to inform the work but generally the ideas come from looking around, checking out the media, some of my reading, cultural trends in lifestyle, vocation, philosophy. Getting away from everything for a week or so in the wilderness, also generates ideas. I generally feed all of these interests and then … something will present itself. I don’t start by creating an idea for the art.
What other artists influence your artwork?
When I was a young boy (12 years old) Georgia O’Keefe really interested me a lot. Her approach, her life style and commitment. After that the list really is ridiculous. I love minimalists, Don Judd. James Turrell. This type of work informs my thinking and work but I am certainly not a minimalist. Don’t know if I fully believe in it. Conceptual artists, expressionist painters even. I don’t have a pet list.
What are the ‘big’ themes in your artwork?
Culture is largely determined by economy. Even the hunter-gatherer societies would live where it was economically viable for the people. If they didn’t they would starve. Economy can be understood on different levels but in the long run it shapes culture a lot. In NL cod was the currency for a long time and it shaped the way people lived … and now it’s oil and that has shaped the way we live now. Money is often the curator of public art galleries, be that national, provincial or artist run, yes of course the commercial gallery as well. So I consider how economy impacts culture to be a major theme in my thinking.
What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist working in Newfoundland and Labrador?
I find people in NL to be a fairly conservative audience. Isolation is also a big one especially since I am quite introverted, it is too easy to hide and that is not always a good thing. It is a challenge to get the supplies I need when I need them.
What is the best thing about working as an artist in this province?
I do enjoy the generally inclusive community. We all make our work and among artists there is not much that we won’t show each other for consideration. I appreciate that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I can’t do this one … I will be older that’s all I know.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?
I would be an explorer, a hermit for a while, a teacher, social worker, scientist of some sort, Anthropology really intrigues me.
If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?
Okay. If you don’t say world peace are you being a jerk and if you are saying world peace, you are just a beauty queen. So that would be the macro view of things, selfishly I would love to be able to afford to collect art.