An interview with Kelly Vivanco…

An interview with Kelly Vivanco
Kelly Vivanco was born and raised in front of a sketchpad and a box of colors in Southern California. She later received her BFA with honors from LCAD in Laguna Beach. In 2004 Kelly became a Studio artist at Distinction in Escondido and currently maintains a working studio there. Her work has shown in numerous galleries and is held in collections across the U.S. and abroad. Kelly enjoys setting whimsy to work in many mediums and pulls inspiration from the natural and imagined world, vintage photographs, children’s literature and the oddness of her dreams.

Hard at work on the installation for ‘The Conservatory’

“Rather than try to make a statement with my art I paint scenes and characters that draw me in and resonate with something deeper inside. Most of my paintings are inspired from something intangible like the complex feelings knocking around inside of me; or simple like the pose of a child in a vintage photograph or the quizzical tilt of a bird’s head. I enjoy portraiture without parameters and a sliding scale of exaggerated features for the subjects of my paintings. It is not an intention of mine to create a tableau of symbolism or encode some secret meaning in my paintings. They take shape spontaneously and develop organically. I like to paint and see where it goes. I often don’t have answers to questions posed by my finished works. People ask me what a painting is about, I just ask them what they think it’s about. Their answer is as valid as mine, in my opinion. To me, painting is like magic; it’s like in a child’s world where animals can talk and doorways have personality and anything can happen. Through painting I hope to engage the innate sense of wonder I believe is in everyone.” – Kelly Vivanco
“Tender Shoots” / Acrylic on wood panel / 16×16″
Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for ‘The Conservatory’?
A conservatory can be a place where people create music and art, as well as a place where people nurture things to grow. I was compelled by the idea of a place for reflection and creation and it was a wonderful, invented setting for creating pieces for this show. Many of the characters are set in interior spaces but still close to the natural world, with doors or windows to the outside, and a few are seen venturing outdoors to collect or observe things to bring back to the conservatory.

Close up of ‘The Conservatory’ installation element

“Love Note” / Acrylic on wood panel / 6″ in diameter

What’s your earliest memory involving art or creating art?
I remember tracing my hands in preschool to make ‘turkeys’ for Thanksgiving, making circles and drawing little “wailing beans” (alien beings?) figures with crayons and finger-painting with chocolate pudding. Though, that last one may have been from last week.
Working on the “Dollhouse/Dreamhouse” installation
When are you most productive / when do you normally work on art?
I am most productive after 7PM, which means some pretty late nights! It’s a tad inconvenient for dealing with the living/morning people so I have been trying to paint in the afternoon as well. It always seems that I get the most absorbed in creating things after the sun goes down.

“Terrarium” / Acrylic on wood panel / 24×16″
Please tell us a lil’ something about yourself that someone would never guess in their wildest dreams.
I was a teen wolf. Wait, no. I abhor poorly photoshopped dvd covers. I’ve been told I do good impressions, but never do them when asked.

Works from ‘The Conservatory’

“Gone Astray” / Acrylic on wood panel / 16×24″

Do you listen to music while painting/drawing? If so, do you have a current favorite that inspires?
I do, quite a bit actually! I have had Department of Eagles, Yppah, Grizzly Bear, Quantic, Sigur Rós, Boards of Canada, Jel and Pinback among many others circling through my ears recently.

“Dollhouse/Dreamhouse” installed… this has to be seen in person.
If you could stand by and watch the creation of any piece of artwork from over the years, which would it be and why?
I would want to watch someone work in a medium I am unfamiliar with. It would be interesting in the respect that I would be watching a talented individual in their creative environment and learn about the process at the same time. Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures and Ron Mueck’s giant hyperreal figures come to mind.

“Handfuls” / Acrylic on wood panel / 10.5×21″
What do you consider your biggest overall influence?
My curious mind and love of color!

Putting some finishing touches on the install

You recently curated the show ‘Infinity Squared’ this past winter at Distinction Gallery in Escondido, CA. Any plans to curate again in the future following the success of this show?
It was great to connect with so many artists and to facilitate exposure of their work to a new audience. One of the hardest things about the curating experience was limiting how many artists I asked; I admire so many of them. I wanted to bring them all in, but it would have become unmanageable. I would love to do it again, I learned a lot from ‘Infinity Squared’. I have my eyes on lots of different artists I would like to invite as well as some I would have back again.

“The Conservatory” / Acrylic on wood panel / 16×16″

What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your solo show with us? We are already looking forward to having you back in some high profile group shows next year and for a big follow up in early 2011.
Coming up at the end of July I have the opportunity to show with the talented Jason Limón at Subtext in San Diego. I will have a few pieces for the ‘Kokeshi Show’ at the Japanese American National Museum and then the ‘Crazy for Cult’ show at Gallery 1988. Then I have a solo show in October up in Seattle at Halogen Gallery. Busy times, but then I get some time to start gathering new ideas and inspiration for next year and beyond!

“Vapors” / Acrylic on wood panel / 16×32″

The good folks over at Hi-Fructose recently posted a great interview with Kelly Vivanco as well – check it out here. Conducted by CommandaX of Erratic Phenomena, it’s a nice compliment to the interview above.
In additon to that, Jack from Dailydujour came through for a visit last night during the installation process and just posted a nice lil’ recap here.
The preview for her debut Los Angeles solo show is now live. Click here. We’re now in pre-sales, so please be sure to shoot a mail over to with any works that may catch your eye.
Kelly will be up from the San Diego area for the evening’s festivities. So please come on out and say hi.
Kelly Vivanco
‘The Conservatory’
Opening Reception: Fri, June 12th 7-11PM
4210 Santa Monica Blvd (Silver Lake area of Los Angeles)

Leave a Comment Below:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.