Name: Damon Rowley
Location: Aurora ( Chicagoland area) Illinois
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Why did you leave Minnesota?
I moved to the Chicagoland area just over eight years ago. I've been working in the construction industry for just over twenty years. I was quite the underachieving student from a low income family, so I went right to work out of high school, starting as a laborer and steadily moving upward. I worked for the same company for twelve years in Minnesota but was offered a position with one of the biggest family owned outfits here just outside of Chicago that paid much better and offered much more opportunity to advance.
Tell me about your new city of residence?
My family and I bought our home in Aurora Illinois. Aurora is the second largest city in IL, about 40 miles west of Chicago. It is an older , industrial river town around the downtown area , with newer sub divisions , department stores, chain restaurants ...etc further out . (Imagine Champlain /Anoka as one large city.) I've been involved with several shows , and met several talented artists working here locally, but in terms of an art destination for people other than local artists themselves, most attention is still directed toward Chicago and neighboring suburbs.
How has your art changed since moving from Minnesota?
To answer simply, it has gotten better.
Expanding on that, my biggest downfall art wise was always inconsistency. Throughout much of the time I was living in Minneapolis, I would have periods where I was really inspired and productive, but equally, there were times where I would find myself frustrated artistically. I would go long periods of time without drawing or painting, then when I did eventually get inspired again, I would try to create "masterpieces " that defined me as an artist (or something grand like that) and realize quite quickly that I was out of practice and quite rusty,,,or that I simply lacked the tools and technique to create what I was trying to.
From my house in Northeast Minneapolis, I could literally walk or jog to St Anthony Main, the falls, downtown Minneapolis, the industrial parks and train yards along the river. I was never more than a phone call from being able to spend time close friends and people I grew up with. I moved down here to a subdivision, bordered by a cornfield and another subdivision where the minivans are a slightly different color. I traded close friends for hoping to have coworkers and parents of my kids' friends I may have a little in common with.
Feeling somewhat "out of place " made it much easier to take inventory...to realize that I really enjoy painting , and to dedicate at least a few hours a night for the last several years . I changed my perspective a little,I started working and practicing with the goal being "get better" instead of "Create My Ultimate Defining Masterpiece" I started doing "studies" of still life pieces, wildlife, things that didn't really interest me. I started really working to learn subtle textures , reflections , highlights and shadows just to stay busy and learn to recreate them. I've been able to continue to learn and improve and add tools and techniques, from each piece I do. Most importantly, I can look back not only with a sense of accomplishment, but I can look back over what Ive done and see improvement
I guess that is a long winded way of saying that moving away from Minnesota and all the pass times and people and things I loved about it made me focus much more and dedicate myself much more artistically
If you had to come back to Minnesota for one weekend and you need to see your old favorite places, where would you go to see art?
That is tough. Sadly the chances of all the local art fairs happening on the same weekend are fairly slim. In a perfect world, the Art a whirl in Northeast, with all the local bars and displays, the Bearded Lady in Northeast, the Uptown art fair, the Lowertown art crawl in St Paul. (I am sure I would make time for the Walker , Sculpture Garden , and "traditional" museums the second day.)
Who are some of your favorite artists still living in Minnesota?
Artistbuilt Leather (Jeremy Blankenship/Erin Brennan) http://artistbuilt.net/
Brandon Martin (Glassblower) https://www.
David Witt http://www.dwitt.com/
Jessi Fraser https://www.facebook.com/
If you could transplant one aspect of the Minnesota arts community home with you, what would it be?
Just one? The diversity. There seem to be successful artists in all styles with all subjects. I appreciate quality and technique, but here in suburbia, we seem dominated by "safe" fireplace art.
Do you have any exhibits to promote now or in the near future?
Altered Esthetics Past the Apocalypse show http://www.alteredesthetics.
com/events/123_past_the_ apocalypse in Minneapolis, MN. Reception Friday 2/1 and the show runs through 2/21.