Beyond the Bio is a series that takes you past the canvas, and into the minds of the artists and curators who build the contemporary arts community.
Names: Drew Liverman
Primary Medium: Oil paint & Markers
First off, tell us about your upcoming exhibition.
The show at DEN consists of a bunch of my drawings and paintings from the past few years, 2015 through a month ago. Miguel was really excited to show drawings from sketchbooks which I haven’t done before. I was really happy with how these worked alongside the oil paintings. We also ended up deciding to do a video of me flipping through a bunch of sketchbooks which I think worked out really well. The show is like a mini-retrospective which is kinda strange in a way, but I’m grateful to Miguel and everyone at DEN who helped for their enthusiasm and for making it possible. This show really helped me to take stock of a large body of work and get ideas for future projects.
What motivates your work?
Family, friends, music, other artists, looking at books, walking around, self-doubt, despair, and the constant feeling that I need to make more and prove to myself that I’m ok!
What draws you to your medium?
Oil paint because I like the vibrancy and opacity of the colors and markers because they are easy to work with and transportable.
How long have you been an artist and how has your practice changed over time?
I have been an artist since I was in elementary school. I don’t remember what age or which year. Whenever I became conscious of the idea that a person needed to define themselves as a thing they’re most interested in. My practice has changed over time so many times that I don’t even think it should be called practice, instead an evolution of attitude towards the general idea of that thing that I was supposed to be interested in. How it’s changed over time… Hard to summarize. I think in short, I would say that I went from someone who was obsessed with achieving things others had mastered to one where I was trying to throw all that out and master knowing myself and how I prefer to work.
What are you working on right now?
Mainly marker drawings on paper which I then paint as oil paintings on a variety of substrates. I make marker drawings because the are fast and easy and I feel this speed of production reflects the fleeting nature of memory and my clinging to, but inability to fully participate in daily life due to ADD, news notifications, and the myriad of other distractions. The drawings make a great jumping off point for oil paintings because the content is already there, so I can quickly leave it behind and then engross myself primarily in the act of painting. And why paint? I guess in an attempt to memorialize these attempts at capturing the ephemeral and feel as though I’m going through the process of real art production. I also just enjoy painting and want to get more into the alchemical processes of the medium.
What does the Austin arts community need most as the city continues to grow?
Immediately we need more affordable spaces. At least 8 galleries/spaces that I can think of off the top of my head are slated to close in the next few months. So affordable real estate, but in general Austin needs more people to support ‘the arts’ in meaningful ways like going to shows, buying art, and investing in arts organizations. Basically more people caring about art. This would be something of a miracle as I don’t think you can develop toward or educate people to care about art. That said I do respect those that are willing to try and there are some talented gallerists and arts org minds that are trying and occasionally succeeding.
The appeal of Austin is largely built on the backs of a lot of weirdos that flocked here as a progressive oasis in a extremely conservative state. To preserve this in any meaningful way, the city, the real estate developers, the tech sector, the landed gentry at large need to make a concerted effort to maintain that oasis otherwise all the artists will just move to NYC and LA, where they’ll still pay sky high rent, but might be able to actually sell work and hang out with other artists. This creative flight crisis diagnosis and potential remedy has been a truism in Austin civic arts policy before I moved here in the mid 2000s, but it’s just getting more dire all the time. If things stay status quo we’ll be the next San Francisco, which is cool for developers and people who are into jogging, just means way less artists/art spaces and we won’t be in California.
Drew Liverman is an artist and designer living in Austin, Texas. Drew received his B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002. Drew’s drawing, painting, and installation work has been featured in BOMB Magazine and shown in The Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, Scotland; Atelier als Supermedium Artists Space for Contemporary Art Den Haag/Rijswijk, The Netherlands; and the Lawndale Art Center in Houston, Texas. In addition to his personal work, Drew contributes to the Austin, Texas based art collective, Boozefox and has been an active MASS member since 2007.
Beyond the Bio is curated by Art Alliance Austin. If you’re interested in being featured, email Ashlee at firstname.lastname@example.org.