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Art & Life with Linda Wandt

Today we’d like to introduce you to Linda Wandt.

Linda, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been drawing, sculpting and painting with watercolors and acrylics since I was a kid, but my original career path was going to be emergency medicine, so I was already studying anatomy in high school. I grew up on Long Island and my mother was very creative and really encouraged my desire to make things, she always made sure I had pencils and paints.

I moved to Texas when I was 18 and had recently decided that I was too sensitive to be a good fit in emergency medicine, after all the work I had put into it, and I was struggling with chronic depression at the time and didn’t really know what to do with myself. Art making had always been very therapeutic for me and I decided to put all my energy into that instead after a string of terrible jobs. I got into UT Austin and took oil painting classes. By the second class it was as if my universe had burst open! I’ve never connected so fully with any other medium, it felt like coming home. I felt like I had a purpose, finally, a way to contribute. While in school I also took a lot of literature and philosophy classes. Those subjects really inform my work still. After school I continued through years of intensive self-study, spent some time selling art supplies for a living, discovered a love for teaching people about them, and in the last couple of years started taking classes with the best artists I could find and learn from.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Primarily, I enjoy painting portraits with a touch of magic realism or even surrealism at times. A straightforward figurative practice with art models posing live is crucial as well, but I spend a lot of time preparing for my conceptual pieces. For those paintings I carefully plan a photo shoot with the model and select clothing, jewelry and props and sometimes I will sculpt elements for the model to hold, for example, a bird that I’ve made of paper-clay. I often prep my own surfaces and stretch my own canvas because this step makes me feel more connected to the work, putting the extra love in and building from the bottom up.

I want my portraits to be empowering for the viewer, even if they are puzzling at times. There’s always a positive message behind it, even if it doesn’t appear so at first. I’m exploring the topics of forging identity, the struggles behind that, and celebrating taking chances – pushing boundaries and carving out your own space. I’m really interested in the psychological blind spot – where the conscious and subconscious meet, that’s a magical, mysterious place. The portraits are meant to inspire and encourage growth and reflection, to create a dialog within as each viewer takes in the elements and questions and interprets them through their own filters of perception and experience. Sometimes I take a break from the conceptual pieces and paint critters, honey bees or landscapes. I really enjoy painting a variety of subjects, I definitely have a sense of humor and I also love to make images that just make people smile!

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
While I think the internet has been a huge help for artists today, it’s a double edged sword – brick and mortar galleries are still important I think, and I know they are hurting from it. Meanwhile, it’s still a very challenging and very saturated field to work in. I’ve done several stints over the years as a fully self-employed artist, but things like healthcare are a big issue. Our economic environment is increasingly challenging for most people, but investing in your community by shopping local from artists and small business owners instead of big corporate stores is a huge thing a community can do for itself.

Cities can support artists by helping to provide affordable spaces for them to work in professionally. I prefer to work out of my home in addition to a studio space for meeting clients, showing my work during open studios and having the space to make larger pieces. An external studio is incredibly helpful for any art business to thrive. Austin is having a crisis of affordable space right now. My last studio complex was sold to a developer and the artists booted out. If our society really wanted to value artists and other self-employed business owners, addressing the health care crisis would also be a big step.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I do art fairs regularly and am currently looking for a good fit for a gallery in Dallas. If you’d like to keep up with my shows and news, you can sign up for my newsletter at www.lindawandt.com/contact. I have prints and originals for sale at lindawandt.bigcartel.com. My next event will be the East Austin Studio Tour, the two middle weekends of November and then the Cherrywood Art Fair in December in Austin. I’m available for commissions, and travel to Dallas/Fort Worth to keep up with events there! Reach out if you’d like to!

Contact Info:

    Image Credit:
Matthew Wester

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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