Gage Opdenbrouw

Location: San Francisco, California

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How did you become a designer/artist?

I’ve always drawn alot, and always been fascinated with painting and sculpture, but it wasn’t until I was about 19 that I made a commitment to study art, to earn a BFA. I studied illustration for a couple years, realized I had no interest, and threw myself into painting. I realized that painting to me was all about mystery, and that pre-verbal evocative quality that painting has; just the opposite of spelling everything out, telling a clear story, which is what illustration is all about. I haven’t looked back, except to laugh. Painting’s been the center of my life for probably six or seven years now. I’ve been lucky; I am doing exactly the work I want to do at any given time, and people have been responding to it.

Where are you from originally?

I’m a Bay Area native, born and raised in San Jose, CA, and I’ve lived here in San Francisco for the last nine years. All my family is on the East Coast, so I feel a connection to New England and North Carolina. My ancestry is Dutch, and I’d like to spend more time in Holland in the future; I was just there over the summer.

What are you doing now?

Right now I am painting full time, and trying to both deepen and expand existing bodies of work. More medium to large scale minimal landscapes, trying to bring several bodies of work closer together, and distill what’s important from the images I keep revisiting. Working slowly, and deliberately, with many layers. I’m working on a diptych, a painting of my family that I am excited about. Teaching a little bit.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to paint, and perhaps to teach at the college level. That’s a little more long term, though. I am finishing up work for a solo exhibit here at San Francisco’s 66 Balmy Gallery, entitled “Small Fires in the Distance”. That will be in November of 2005. Also I’ll be having a solo show, likely a sort of survey of various works, at Boston’s MPG Contemporary, in March 2006. I’d like to make a book or two of my work; that’s a more lasting way of showing the work to people than a three-week exhibit, and more broadly affordable. I intend to get back into doing some more figurative works. I’ll probably focus on that in about a month. I’ll be doing a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, which is pretty exciting. Beyond that, I can’t see the future so it can be hard to talk about.

What American artist inspires you most?

To pick only one is hard but it has to Andrew Wyeth. His work is just incredible, totally suffused with patience and feeling. Some of my other favorite contemporary painters are Sophie Jodoin, Alex Kanevsky, Stuart Shils, and Antonio Lopez Garcia. And of course all my friends here in the Bay Area, too many to mention.

What unlocks your creativity?

Nature, first and foremost. Light and space. Keeping my eyes open. Music.