Hometown: New York, NY
Current town: Mechanicsburg, PA
Job description: Artist and Gallery Director at Metropolis Collective
Bio: Danielle Charette is a Contemporary Expressionist Artist and Gallerist.
Describe your work.
My work is a highly symbolic form of modern story telling that conveys and documents my life experiences. The content of my work is more a feeling rather than a physical reality that is intended to evoke an emotional response in the viewer as they interpret the work through their eyes.
What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?
I generally tend to paint in series. I paint very personal tales of love, life, death, dreams, heartache, heartbreak, loss, whimsy and eternity. My work begins in my mind and simmers there until I visualize the imagery I will use to convey the emotion of the story being told in the scenes I create. Once it is clear in my minds eye I go right to work at a prolific pace working on every piece in the series at the same time. I utilize repetitions of theme, elements, color and design to create cohesion throughout a series of works with each piece telling a portion of a story, always dramatic, until the story or my emotion is complete. Several sub-cultures as well as my French heritage, the Pennsylvania Dutch and the German Expressionist movement heavily influence my work. It is an evolution of my love of love, iconic shapes, folk art, dias los muertos, religious iconography, poetry, playing cards, symmetry, vintage deco and art nouveau design, old horror films, the sea, tattoos, gothic and punk rock music and clowns. I will often continue with a theme many times over until I have worked through it. The main theme I see throughout my body of work is being haunted. Haunted by the past, the present, the future and by memories and dreams. I want the viewer to leave feeling haunted by my dramatic iconic imagery. If they cry, which happens often, that is even better.
What materials do you work with?
I work with any number of materials and always have my eyes open searching for the next new materials to experiment with that will add to the layering of the feel of my work. The base of my works begins with gesso, stains, charcoal, india ink, acrylic paint and finally oil paint, most often on masonite board or wood. Depending on the direction of a series of works I have been known to create imagery by building textures in the works utilizing my personal photography manipulated for usage in collage, hand cut stenciling, found objects, meaningful objects, woodcut blocks, glitter, baubles and all sorts of non-traditional art implements.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I am not certain I have any creative routines, rituals or patterns. I am pretty haphazard, however I do find myself driving to the gym and instead of going in to workout, I sit in the warm car in the sunny parking lot doodling ideas for hours and perhaps the fact I paint recurring themes, figures, scenes or personal symbols over and over and over again would be a creative pattern. My family probably says my creative pattern, routine or rituals are when I’m at work on a series and the world is my studio where no square inch of any part of our home is off limits to becoming additional studio space with the cyclonic mess that ensues. A mess, that remains for as long as it takes for a series of works to be completed and no one had better touch or try to clean anything. Once completed, I eventually clean up the aftermath and get organized only to do it all over again.
What’s your art background / when did you begin really focusing on art?
I have always made art. I began painting when I was a very small child, took art classes throughout my formative schooling years including attending a High School for the Arts. I went on to attend Savannah College of Art and Design and St. John’s University majoring in Fine Art/ Painting only to decide that the world of the academic art institution was ruining my personal vision as at this time my vision was not widely accepted by scholars even at art institutions. I continued creating and showing my work for many years until my apartment building in New York City burnt to the ground in 1997 taking with it everything I owned including my lifetime of work. After this heartbreaking loss, a deep depression ensued and I couldn’t bring myself to start over again so to speak, so I decided it was time to let the demands of work and living life in the big city take precedence over my art until September 11th, 2001. Witnessing the events of this day proved too much for me to overcome and was the catalyst to the return to my artwork. I immediately began to try to paint away the emotions I was feeling from this day forward. Several years later I moved to Pennsylvania to raise my daughter Wolfie in a big house in the woods with a large art studio. Since moving to Pennsylvania I have been creating, showing and selling my work full time at a feverish pitch. Work that includes series that began on 9-11 and were finally completed 8 years later.
What’s been happening in your life/ what¹s next for you?
My plate has been incredibly full as of late. In addition to the continued creation of my own Charette artwork and working with galleries in exhibiting them, my husband and I built and opened a large gallery and performance space called Metropolis Collective in Mechanicsburg, PA in which I am the Gallery Director and handle all facets in the operations of our galleries with shows changing each month. Within we have the Trash Art Gallery, the Hole In The Wall Art Gallery, Rick-o-Chet Records and Recording Studio, The Stage Noir and of course Danielle Charette Art studios. It is a very ambitious venture featuring the contemporary eclectic fine art, music and performance of those locally residing, nationally emerging and internationally acclaimed. There is still so much more to complete this DIY project and with the upcoming closing of purchase of our building the sky is the limit for us. As for my art, I look forward to continuing to create at a prolific pace so long as the inspiration keeps flowing. I hope to make the time to get back to exhibiting my art more extensively geographically, with the right galleries, here in PA and beyond our “backyard.”
Do you have any exhibits coming up/ past exhibits you’d like to mention?
2012 was incredibly busy but I managed to exhibit my work in numerous galleries. A highlight was the inclusion of two of my art series into the National September 11th Memorial Museum. In addition, I had 3 large solo exhibitions one, which recently closed at Gallery at Second in Harrisburg, PA. I hung in many galleries in intimate group exhibitions with some prominent and emerging figures in the art world including the likes of Mark Kostabi, Paul Kostabi, Rick Prol, Jeremiah Johnson, Matthew Rose, Mike Cockrill, Bruce New, Sophie Lo and Joseph Arthur to name a few, as well as had my art taken on the road by a curator. A favorite representing gallery of mine is the fabulous Converge Gallery who has been a big supporter of my art over the last couple of years. As for 2013, the recent addition of my studio space at Metropolis Collective is a major highlight, as my work will have a more permanent home for my personal collector base to view year round and for new clients to stumble upon. I also enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to work with new galleries in representing and exhibiting my work. Big things are in the works, so stay tuned.
How has the meaning of your work changed over time?
It hasn’t. The meaning behind my work has always remained the same. My work is cathartic, in essence it is all self-portraiture and since I haven’t drastically changed since childhood neither has my art.
What do you dislike about your work?
I dislike when I get stuck on a theme for too long, sometimes years, and can’t paint my way out of it and move onto the next tale. I don’t make art to be an artist or really even because I choose to, it is something that I must do from within and at times I dislike that as it can be all consuming.
Are you involved with any organizations/ do you collaborate with other artists?
At this time I haven’t collaborated on artwork. I tend to be a loner and reclusive worker. In fact, I know I should be ashamed, but I have spent my life trying to avoid art history and the viewing of too much artwork by others so as to not influence the direction of my work and to keep it as pure from my heart and intellect as possible. Opening a gallery has now made this difficult, so it will be interesting to see what comes from this visual influence around me. I do collaborate often intellectually with an entire network of other artists and peers where we talk shop and I have recently been approached by several artists who’s work I admire hoping to do some collaborative work with me. I’m leaning towards giving it a go sounds like it could be great fun and full of inspiration.
What are a few of your favorite spots in your area?
Anywhere by water or in water, I enjoy the rain.
Favorite artists and why/ people in your field whom you most admire:
My favorite artists are those who create expressive art. I also enjoy conceptual art. In my view art is to be an expression, not duplication, of an object or scene. To me, it should make you think or feel. There is such a long list of living artists I admire, too many to name but I’d put Rick Prol at the top of my favorites. I am also greatly influenced by all of the art, film and culture that came out of the German Expressionist movement.
What are you reading?
Manufactured Dissent of course.
What are you listening to these days?
The Victims (NYC), the DAMN KIDS (being mixed in the recording studio in the back by my husband) and my kid singing Broadway tunes badly.
What was the last show you attended?
DAMN KIDS, Ducky Duke and Buzzchopper.
What was the last exhibit you attended?
Switch! Pop! Boom! Box! at Trash Art Gallery at Metropolis Collective featuring the art of Paul Kostabi and Scott Mitchell Putesky.
What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork? We always say being artists and owning an art gallery is like being a drug dealer that uses drugs! We do buy a lot of art.
Your website: http://www.charetteart.com