Revealing the Behind the Scenes Artist

By , May 6, 2009 4:12 pm

Vanessa poses for Peter McCain

Vanessa poses for Peter McCain

Vanessa Conway is somewhat of an artist extraordinaire who lives in Lincoln Park. When WE sat down to chat with her at the Nobletree Café, she pretty much created a modern sculpture out of napkins that were lying on the table. Vanessa started her art career when she created her first abstract painting at age 3, formalized it at The Theatre of DePaul University, and is finally living it in the art/casting department of various films and plays, including Batman’s The Dark Night, As Told by the Vivian Girls, and Rock n Roll. Outside of the art world, she reads lots of blogs – apparently, Nutrionista is her favorite (we are trying to convince her to read ours!). If you see a purple bike with a helmet painted like crazy, it’s probably Vanessa – honk or say hi.

We have always been curious about the way an artist’s mind works…so we asked her to complete a few sentences for us.
Growing up around Chicago was like being a kid in a brilliantly designed candy store, except with salt, sugar, and some soy sauce.

The best part of being involved in the art world is that you never know where the wind will take you, and you get inspired easily and by pretty much everyone in your life.

Art is my passion, but sometimes the real world comes a callin’ and wish I could get a steady paycheck sort of like back in the days of the WPA‘s Federal Art Project, which supported artists like Jackson Pollock.

My job takes me all over the city and the two places I think everyone should visit at least once are “Textile Discount Outlet” and American Science and Surplus because you just never know when you will need a sequined platypus appliqué or a box of glow-in-the-dark bones.

This one time, in art camp, I dressed up as a hippie for a themed day and a picture was snapped and published in the local paper. However, the other three people were not dressed as hippies and I looked like a major doofus!

I am currently working on a music video, and the coolest thing about it is seeing how insanely kind and hardcore the girls from the Chicago Outfit Roller Derby League are and/or I got to work with somebody named Queefer Sutherland.

The easiest thing I created was a twenty five foot cherry blossom tree essentially constructed out of cardboard and coffee filters, but it took me years to perfect cutting/painting/drawing a truly straight line.

Vanessa’s favorite things in Chicago…
If brunch lines weren’t so long, I would go to Orange for frushi, Hot Chocolate, and Victory‘s Banner. I would live only on brunch.

When I want to venture out with my bike, I take the lakefront path to Millennium Park or Grant Park for a free concert, if I am on CTA mode, I check out the Garfield Park Conservatory.

My favorite galleries at the Art Institute are Thorne Miniature Rooms and the Modern Wing. If you find a flavorful untitled installation by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, your admission would pay for itself many times over.

If the Art Institute were closed for a week, I would cry my way to the Mexican Fine Arts Center, the MCA, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Columbia College Image Library, or the Newberry Library.

On a snowy/rainy day, I must see double features at Landmark Cinema, Pipers Alley, the Music Box or the Siskel Film Center and go see the NeoFuturist’s Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind at least once a year.

If Alinea weren’t so expensive, I’d be there everyday and eat everything and anything they offer, instead I just go to Cafe Iberico.

I enjoy going to Nobletree Café and the Hideout because their music playlist is magical.

My New Year’s resolution was to give up cupcakes, so I go to these places for my sweet fix: Peet‘s for an almond croissant and the best vanilla latte in Chicago, and Margie’s for the Royal George (with a slew of friends of course)!

I was really sad when the art store closed down, but happy that Dick Blick opened up instead.

When it is sunny, I try to do nothing but bask in it and get all my friends to do the same, preferably in somebody’s backyard/deck/patio/boat/rooftop with a barbecue and maybe a frisbee.

Photo courtesy of Peter McCain

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