10.22.2008

Inside the Artist Studio: Q&A with TOM MCALEER


I had a chance to chat with my friend and fellow artist Tom McAleer (pronounced mac-uh-leer) recently about his artwork, which by the way is still featured in our current Pure/Play exhibition. In fact, Tom's doing a PAINTING DEMO AT THE GALLERY THIS SUNDAY 10/26 FROM 2-5 p.m. This guy is an inspiration to me - completely disciplined in his process, yet playful and carefree in his execution. There are hundreds and hundreds of paintings in his house. I dare say he's an addict. Let's see what he has to say...

YES: What is your first memory around making art?

Tom McAleer: I always made art, but no one ever called it art. Not until high school did anyone call it art. Art always just seemed to be there.

YES: Tell me about your process.

TM: Man, this can be hard to explain. It's like a meditation. I quickly get myself to this place with some help, with music - R&B dance music- and eyes closed. Opening my eyes I see my subject, hear my breathing, my heart beat, the wind, the stillness of it all. Then it becomes like a blast off. Everything flows in rhythm with the music, my breathing, my heart, all of it, the paint landing on the canvas becomes part of all of that. It all becomes a great high.

YES: What is it about oil paint and canvas that draws you in?

TM: It's fast. It's easy. I can do it wherever I am, take it with me. I love the smell of it. I think its makes me look so cool.

YES: How do you choose your subject matter?

TM: That's easy, when I look at something and say with surprise, "Oh my God, look at that." That happens a lot. If I can paint it then I will, if not I return later.

YES: Why is art important to the world?

TM: The power of art is amazing. It changes people, changes communities, helps us understand each other, bridges that gap.

YES: Are you a full-time artist?

TM: What is full-time? The amount of work or the amount of time? Is it what you do for a living? Many people work full-time, but that's not who they are. This painting thing is me full time. I look at everything in relationship to painting.

YES: What else do you do in your spare time?

TM: I love spending time with my family and friends. I need them badly to tell me how great I am. I love to sail and ski. I love being outdoors.

YES: What do you consider your greatest achievement as an artist?

TM: [Founding] The Top Drawer Art Center. It changed my life, my art. Working with artist with disabilities is amazing. There is so much to learn from them.

YES: Any personal philosophy or quotes to live by?

TM: Love this man - Martin Luther King. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

YES: Inspiring interview. Thanks Tom!

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