"This picture is what people see after a night of drinking. You look at the moon and just see this. You don't know if you're coming or going."
- Alan Strum
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New York City
“I recall the meaningful and impressionable moment when I saw others’ responses to my artwork for the first time at The Living Museum in New York, this was the beginning of art taking a central role in my life.”
Alan’s long-term battle with depression brought him from the hospital to a program where art unexpectedly became a part of his life. Feeling unfulfilled and bored of campus programming and endless bingo games, Alan’s social worker recommended he take a visit to the Living Museum, a loft space in Queens, NY brimming with paintings and sculptures. Dr. Marton, Director of the museum handed Alan a canvas with some acrylic paints and encouraged him to “do anything!” This gesture was pivotal, Alan dove into his first drawing of the Eiffel tower “I was into french stuff. I picked up magazines and books and figured that’s it, I can draw that. I went to objects cuz it’s simpler.” Alan continues “ The Eiffel tower bistro setting was the first one, still have it at the museum.” From that moment on, Alan was hooked and went back to the Living Museum. The environment of the museum which he describes as “freedom,” and “otherworldly,” became the place where he could leave his depression behind, something that wasn’t doable before.
As someone who has experienced the point where they don’t want to go on living, finding a self-soothing creative outlet is life-changing. He started out drawing jewelry and women’s shoes from fashion catalogues, finding shapes and objects digestible and easy to re-create and manipulate which has guided him as he ventures into abstract art. When a piece is finished, Alan blends up the colors on the palette, using the new hue as the background of the next. This continuity and willingness to include experimentation in his process allows Alan to find beauty in the unpredictable while he explores and refines his own process.
Alan recalls the impressionable moment when he heard others’ respond to his artwork for the first time. A volunteer at the museum approached Alan enthusiastically and a few days later expressed interest in displaying his work at Situations gallery in Manhattan. As Alan would say, this all happened “by accident.” Suddenly someone who did not self-identify as an artist had his work on display in a gallery in Manhattan.
Interested in what his viewers see in his work, Alan loves to question why someone likes a particular piece, finding the common response to be a visceral reaction to his use of color. When Alan describes his work, it’s clear that instilling positivity and happiness among his onlookers grounds him, “It makes me feel good when people compliment the colors and find happiness in my pieces. There’s always a color out there that someone would like. Maybe one million people would hate that color but there’s one person that absolutely loves it. I’m painting for that one person out there.”
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