Thursday, July 26, 2012

Andrew Floberg of the Washington Studios Artist Cooperative

Andrew Floberg (top left) discusses his work.
My usual interview method involves asking questions, getting answers, and sharing sequentially in the typical Q&A form we're all familiar with. Sometimes one encounters a personality of such striking qualities one has to alter the playing field in order to set up the lighting and improve the view.

I met Andrew Floberg for the first time two weeks ago at his Washington Gallery opening here in Duluth. The quality of the reception was exquisite. He'd brought in a sound system that bled the most beautiful streams of classical symphonic sound.

His responses to the questions I put forward proved so fascinating I chose to print the questions as a group, and allow his responses to flow together like the music that is so woven into the fiber of his soul.

1. You have a strong interest in both music and the visual arts. How did this come about?
2. The pictures you show at your current show, what is the medium and what is the inspiration for what you are doing?
3. How did you first become interested in art? Who were your influences?
4. How do you stay in touch with what is happening in the art world at large? What do you read, or websites or whatever?
5. After college here at UMD you went to Montana. What was your motivation there and what did you learn while you were there?
6. What are you currently working on and why?
7. What are your biggest challenges as a professional artist?

Andrew Floberg
I must in fairness mention that my interests both in music and in the visual arts came innately by birth; for I have no other explanation for it really. Ever since being an infant, I can lucidly recall oneiric and magical things all around me. There was a teeny court jester with a dangling cap full of bells that would jingle and sing to me from outside my bedroom window. He taught me how to fly through the air from room to room.

My twin sister and I lost our mother to cancer when we were three, almost four. Our mother was a very talented dancer and actress; an instructor at the Cornish Istitute for the Arts in Seattle. She enabled both of us as toddlers to observe her and listen to sounds and view colors and to smell pleasant things. She once took me by the hand to the front window overlooking lake Washington in the middle of the night when I was two years old. She needed to share with someone, the crepuscular and chimerical transfiguration for the clouds with the silver light of the moon into a scenario of sylphs and sylphids. She chose me. I remember hearing music coming from the moons reflection off the glimmering waves of the water and the caliginous combinations of purple and cream. This has always been embedded in my heart and mind. It was never forgotten; nor was she.

Years later, after being inappropriately reared by an alcoholic/philistine stepmother whom my father finally divorced, I witnessed my father struggling away with learning the fist movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata" (a self therapeutic method I am sure, to help ameliorate the personal anguish accrued from his debauched marriage.) He, for endless months would study this piece with unavailed accomplishment. But it was enough to inspire my own interests in learning to read and understand music at the time. My junior high school choir teacher took a week away from singing lessons to teach the class basic music fundamentals. While the majority of the class was blowing spit wads and falling asleep, I imbibed and absorbed everything he taught, like it was some type of golden pablum from heaven. One evening soon after, my father came home from work and found me playing his Beethoven by memory with all of the forlorn beauty and expression required…C# minor became my friend then. My father rushed me out to find a piano instructor for me. I ended up with Mildred B. Anderson, who taught out of her small accommodated efficiency apartment crammed with two ancient Steinway uprights. She was a 1927 Graduate of Lawrence University and had met Prokofieff in concert there just prior to his return to Russia. How prestigious, I thought.

My intended fervor for sight reading however, began to weaken when my true desire to create and compose music intervened like a predacious wild beast in heat. Mildred B. Anderson was not at all willing to be a mentor to my compositions and finally expelled me from her tutelage. I have regretfully been a lousy piano sight reader ever since.

Throughout my adult life, I have been greatly inspired by my environment and natural surroundings with its colors and sounds. I cherish the mountains and the woods, lakes and streams and the mossy aroma of a forest’s breathe. There is a jocular and harlequinesque behavior together with a terrestrial cruelty that plays and teases with each other in the wilderness like edacious nymphs. It blends both, its piquant and sweet flavors into a steamy caldron of sarcasm, delicately seasoned with a slight sprinkle of sadness…then served into little bowlfuls of wonderment and romance.

I love the music of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Prokofieff, Szyminowsky, Hans Gal, Debussy, Ravel, Satie, Shostakovitch, Puccini and Poulenc. These sounds represent nature with its sarcasm, humor and magic, and have greatly influenced what I do and what I understand.

I relish the works of Maxfield Parish, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth and the English and Russian folklore and French impressionists before them. Their masterful works are truly a manifestation for the curious presumption that there is in actuality, a cadre of tiny enchanted worlds inhabiting the air.

I try to stay in touch with the genre of art and music by studying and being a part of it on a daily basis. I relax by reading Kurt Vonnegut, Thomaso Landolfi, John Updike Mark Twain, Hermann Hesse and the complete anthologies of folklore by Andrew Lang. They offer me ideas for possible illustrations for what I am currently working on.

All of this, however, has instigated a rather fierce challenge for me as a professional artist… How to earn a living.

My own personal favorite in this show.

Washington Gallery is open both Saturday and Sunday from 1 - 5 p.m. for those interested in seeing Floberg's work in person.

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