The Peculiar Stimuli of Anthony Shechtman

Artist Anthony Shechtman was born and raised in Grand Rapids and currently spends much of his time at home creating mysterious and beautiful narrative images. A milestone for the painter was when he received his BFA in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design — another was his debut exhibition in 2006 at the Division Avenue Arts Cooperative. Since then he’s kept busy with fine arts, illustrations and a series of exhibitions. Here’s what he had to say.

What themes do you pursue and why?

The bottom of the lake at night. A lantern in the woods. The power, frailty and beauty of the human form. Spectacular secrets.

Where has your work been exhibited?

All over West Michigan as well as being selected to show at the Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee, where my piece Declaration won the 2012 juried Mascot Award. I recently participated in a wonderful ‘80s movie-themed exhibition at the amazing Glitter Milk Gallery on the West Side.

Other than art, what inspires you?

Strange tales. People. Music. Nature.

Do you have a process you like to follow with your oil paintings?

Although I appreciate and enjoy the power and flexibility of working digitally, I typically work in oil. The traditional materials provide a full sensory working experience and many wondrous “happy accidents.”

Aside from painting, what are you up to?

I sometimes teach courses at Kendall. I read and write a lot. I also play mandolin in the Kent County String Band, a traditional old-time string band.

What are the best and worst aspects of being an artist in the Grand Rapids area?

The arts community is wonderfully supportive. There are people doing amazing and inspiring things, like Miranda and Josh at Glitter Milk Gallery. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be as many buyers of unique art here in Grand Rapids compared to many metropolitan areas.

How have your paintings changed over time?

When I first learned to paint realistically there was an allure to creating tightly rendered representations of visual reality. I’ve been working much looser lately, incorporating gesture and atmosphere to create much more subtle, satisfying and personal work.

Lastly, what’s vital for a developing artist to have?

A voice.

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