Georgia Straight                       home    |   work updates/news
Q&A   Nov. 2013
Visual Artist Galen Felde
Journalist Vivian Pencz

- When and how did you start painting?
 
I studied the visual arts intermittently when I was younger, but began painting professionally, around 18 years ago.  My parents, both professional musicians,  convinced me to quit my full-time job to pursue my art.  My mother, Orry warned that I’d regret it otherwise.  She was right.  It was the best choice I could have made.
 
-What draws you to painting more than any other art medium?
 
I’ve participated in various aspects of the arts, but the visual arts have held the most possibilities for me.  I began studying music at an early age, and then contemporary dance.   I’ll never be without music, but I guess throughout everything, I always saw myself standing in front of an easel.  I’m still able to incorporate a certain physicality I enjoy... and often attempt to render my subject matter anthropomorphically, and with movement.  I’ve never felt overly intimidated by the art-making process... more compelled than anything else.  - Then there are the exhibits.  These are the times that I finally am able to communicate my ideas to others.  I hope that the art does most of the talking!  Communication is key for me.
 
-How does your environment influence your work?
 
I’ve spent my time moving back and forth from urban settings to natural ones.  I’ve divided each year this way for a great deal of my adult life.  Elements of both worlds are always negotiating with one another on my canvases.  My process is fairly solitary, and I’m someone who spends a lot of time my head... A LOT!  I often plan things meticulously (it’s my default) but in the end, I think my environment sneaks in the back door and suggests things when I think I have it all lined up!  I guess that’s the truth about the creative process, When you get down to it, you can’t question who or what is in control.  You just have to let it happen
 
 
- What themes and emotions predominantly influence your work? What above all do you hope to convey to your audience?
 
I’ll quote my artist statement, which truly hasn’t changed since I began my first body of work ... 
 
 “...My paintings are a continuing exploration of empathy, impermanence and our difficult relationship with origins, adaptation and alteration of the landscape.”
 
These are the core things that are important to me, and the things that fuel my work.  I try to convey aspects of tension, chaos, forced, explosive or incidental change as well as blurred fugue states and  the negotiation of time.  Many of the pieces try to locate the moment in the center of  a transition.  I’m often compelled by the more somber, difficult things in life, but also try to communicate concepts of alchemy and hope.
 
 
- What do you think of Vancouver's arts community?

Never short of opportunity.  Being that my process is incredibly solitary, - my contact with the Vancouver arts community is less than I’d like, but it seems that anyone with an idea, and the drive to execute it has great opportunity here.  All it requires is a vision, and commitment.  I look at the Culture Crawl this way.  Your space, your ideas, your rules, good press...and an instant audience:  - opportunity.  - It’s up to you.
 
- Why do you think that many young, up-and-coming artists are using a traditional medium like painting, as opposed to more "modern" approaches, like photography or mixed media?
 
There’s a magic in the medium.  There’s a sense of play, all kinds of potential to disregard parameters, and an engaging chaos that is so immediate with paint.  Like everyone, I’ve spent many hours utilizing digital media, (hard to avoid)... but painting is a singular experience.  Creating in this way can be quite transcendent.  As far as this being a contemporary trend, I think that the lure and novelty of new technologies only satisfy a portion of our creative needs.   Sometimes we just need to go directly to the source, engage our senses and get paint on our shoes.
 
- What do you think of the opinion that some contemporary artists hold regarding painting as too traditional or old-fashioned as an art medium?
 
I guess that this is the thing that always baffles me.  Does there really have to be an all-important trend, or a hierarchy in art?  Why stand in judgment of someone else's attempt to communicate or be creative?  I’ve spoken with too many art students who have just come out of an institution, and are frozen, because they feel that the route to self-expression is boxed-in by a series of ‘no’s’.  I always tell them... “When you go in to the studio, say yes to everything, try it all, and try not to worry about potential judgment or the criticism which tells you why your work isn’t relevant, or important.  Having passion and having conviction is inherently powerful.  Resisting all of those ‘no’s makes it more so."  There are so many ways to express yourself artistically... why waste your time cultivating a void?  I don’t pay attention to trends, and I believe there’s room for everyone here. 
 
- How do you make an old medium new again? What makes an artwork "contemporary"?
 
Every time I pick up a paint brush, I experience something surprising, challenging, infuriating and revealing.   I’m having the universal human experience in a condensed form.  As long as there are other humans, having their daily struggles and triumphs, the voice of the medium will belong to everyone, and will always be contemporary.