Henry Matisse played the violin and Joni Mitchell considered herself first and foremost a painter. Bob Dylan paints and draws (and was thankfully recognized for his contribution to literature). And so some artists clearly have many gifts. In my view, having an array of options for how to realize and communicate your thoughts and feelings is especially important in our current time with all the online access now available for images and sound.
In her early years, Andi Magenheimer played her guitar in Farmington, Connecticut on the green grass by the pagoda while other students trudged along the asphalt path. The unpaved path (or road less traveled) for Andi included acting in theater productions, and painting in the studio.
Mags (aka Andrea Magenheimer) graduated from Miss Porter’s School and went on to New York City to Marymount College to further her theatre studies, to pursue acting, and she later enrolled at NYC’s School of Visual Arts. She continued with her painting and exhibited her work regularly in NY before going on to earn her MA from the Royal College of Art in London in 2012.
Andi came back to visit Farmington, participated in the Alumnae Art Shows in 2006, 2012, and 2018 and exhibited her work in a solo show in the Gilbert Gallery in 2014.
The show included an array of enigmatic paintings on linen, poetic and imaginative works including genre scenes and portraits. These thinly painted works had the feeling of memories or visions, each touched with authenticity, delicacy, and sometimes humor.
Andi Magenheimer has been in six shows in NYC, nine in London, England, nine in California, mostly LA, and one in Berlin, Germany. Her exhibitions include a one-person shows at David David Gallery in London and most recently at Gallery Sensei on Eldridge Street in NYC.
Other venues for Mags have included Facebook, a good venue for sharing art work. Various tribes of artists post each day the works they are seeing and articles they are reading. Among her many and varied posts is:
The work in her show at Sensei Gallery was influenced by James Ensor and particularly by his skeletal works.
Some of Andi’s posts bring to mind some of the happenings artists noted in Linda Nochlin’s Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader. Artists such as John Cage, Yoko Ono, and Ai Weiwei (and particularly in relation to Andi’s photo self portraits )Carolee Schneemann, Valie Export, and perhaps Frida Kahlo seem to be influential to her oeuvre. The work of Martha Rossler 1975 Semiotics of the Kitchen sets a precendent in its Dada-esque attitude for Magenheimer in #8 Rainbow Trout. And I sense some kind of connection with David Wojnarowicz’s recent show at the Whitney Museum.
The array of Mags’ work in various media is comprehensive. Consider the work she does under the name Dusty Miller, her song writing and performing. She has performed in venues where Ed Askew has played with his band, alternative spaces in New York and elsewhere. There is a plant that goes by the same name, Dusty Miller, one that has medicinal qualities.
Andi’s work in 2017 shown in the “Self Absorbed” show at the Hamden Gallery in Amherst, Massachusetts. In the painting above, I am reminded of the shadows on the wall in Plato’s Republic and the Allegory of the Cave.
The realities that flicker on the web and in the galleries are very much her own, ignited by her own creative fire that is distinct, burning-on with a spirit of abandon, of play, and ultimately of some kind of calling. And most of all, she has exploration and ingenuity of the sort trumpeted in Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist, in the sense that the artist is encouraged to follow her bliss (in the tradition of Joseph Campbell and Julia Cameron) in the confidence that each pursuit will ultimately be fulfilling and be making a contribution.
A few of her music videos seen on her Instagram and Facebook posts are worth hearing, and yet I return to the paintings and trust that in their plasticity and humanity there is a link with not only Ensor but too with Basquiat, Guston, a spirit of Romanticism, of expression, of having a voice. With her acting, singing and playing guitar, and mostly with the painting, Andi is “shape a changing world.”
There is a sense of faith in her sustained expression and in her restless quest to find a place and a venue. Her life on the internet and in actual spaces give the sense of a presence that also finds some company in Leon Kossoff, Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, and Damien Hirst, and perhaps even reaches back to James Dean. (She makes hand-painted jean jackets such as he might like to have worn). Perhaps too she is kindred spirits with Judy Pfaff and Louisa Chase, Joan Brown, Gloria Stettheimer, Kyle Staver, and Katherine Bradford in her spirit of exuberance and playfulness. The dynamism of her appearances in video, online, in exhibitions, has an edgey, searching, thrill-of-the-ride aspect, a kind of on-going Day of the Dead parade, especially in the recent images from Sensei Gallery.
This artist, Andi Magenheimer, in her irreverent sense of humor, in her taking chances, in her quest, and in her creativity, is being herself and she insists (in her persistence and in her need to create) on being someone to be heard and seen.
As my students continue to go forth into the world, I am aspiring to be like Dumbledore touching his wand to his chords, like Hagrid, a friend and humble mentor, or like the white owl. May they keep on keeping on in the spirit of great art and in the wisdom of the Ancients.
A drawing that Mags left in the studio after returning for Alumnae Weekend.