ALAN SWARTZ: ART IS MY LIFE!
The Progress Gallery is thrilled to interview Alan Swartz, an inter-displinary artist who provides an unique perspective of contemporary art!
Alan Swartz started drawing and painting in his early years of High School, studied art with
Know artist’s of the time.
In 1963, after many part time jobs in and out of the art field, he obtained a position as an art
specialist with the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Dept. In the sixteen years he
worked for the department, he traveled all over Los Angeles County teaching art’s and crafts
to recreation personnel as well as working with art educators in other departments in
schools, Boy and Girl scouts, gifted children and other community organizations. As director
of the Arts and Craft Center and three full time employees and several part time specialist’s
set up programs doing art exhibits, demonstrations and training in Art Centers, museum’s
and community collages.
During those many of experience in teaching and training in the arts, travel had brought him
to the Inland Empire where he was enchanted with Claremont Village. As chance would have
it he and wife and daughter opened “ Art Showcases” art supply and custom framing shop. During those twenty years of being a business man, as time permitted he continued with his art, entering art shows and exhibiting his work in painting, sculpture and ceramic design.
Alan retired from his business in 1999 and has since been spending his time promoting his art showing his paintings and drawings throughout the Inland Empire, winning many awards and looking forward to sharing more of his art with all of you.
The Progress Gallery: What inspires you?
Alan: I am fascinated by old mechanical devices and parts. I love browsing through thrift shops and garage sales to find interesting ‘found objects.’ Before the pandemic I would get inspired by going to art showings, but now I go online tostudy what other artists are doing.
The Progress Gallery: Which artist influences you the most?
Alan: So many artists have influenced me that I find it difficult to choose just one, but Picasso has certainly inspired my intuitive self-expression. When I was a small child and was time to take my nap, my mother would give me a choice of books to read. I would almost always pick the same book, *Modern American Paintings.Today this tattered book continues to have a special place on the shelf in my studio. It still inspires me. This frayed book launched my interest in art.
The Progress Gallery: Talk about your sculpture garden and your ideas of building it.
Alan: I have always enjoyed working in the garden and started out putting sculpture outdoors when I completely ran out of room for displaying my artwork indoors or storing it in the garage. So, a long as I was putting artwork outside, why not make it fun!
In my front yard there is a large long weathered wooden four by four with various found objects nailed and welded onto it. There are also two tall wooden totem poles designed with paint and found objects. One piece I made was intended todiscourage the predators from my vegetables. I added an Asian-type lantern and constructed a wooden foot bridge. The garden has two ceramic dogs I made. One is a small, fluffy, white dog that resembles a Shih Tzu I used to have, and the other is bigger about thirty-five pounds—I call him Chester (he protects my fruit trees in the front yard). I made a large torso of a Chinese warrior resemblingthose in the Terracotta Army found in tombs in China and he overlooks my pool.
I made a tiny pond in the back yard filled with water and rocks that needed some fish, but the real ones died. So, I made several big colorful ceramic fish and mounted them on metal support rods to preside over it. I also installed a Tiki God, and three horses (once rocking). One of the horses is now a magical unicorn and the other is a medieval armored horse. I also installed a ceramic Iguana, several ceramic wall hangings, and various smaller sculptures among the plants. I am continually adding to this strange wonderland.
The Progress Gallery: How does art influence your life?
Alan: Art is my life! Just about every waking moment of every day I am thinking about or making some form of art. I don’t know what I would do if I were not creating art.
The Progress Gallery: Has teaching impacted your own creation?
Alan: I think teaching art has been an important learning experience for me. Novice student struggles and mistakes are remembrances of my own struggles and mistakes, so that keeps me on my toes. Also, questions asked by students keep me thinking about and understanding my own work better.
The Progress Gallery: Are there mutual aspects between your sculpture and your painting?
Alan: One shared aspect is the all-important thinking processes, prior to painting orsculpting, are exactly the same for me. Sculpture is a special kind of constructiveprocess that strengthens my painting by helping me think in multiple dimensions.
The Progress Gallery: How do I start making sculpture?
Alan: It takes me several days to conjure up mentaly of what I want to create.
I don’t do sketching prior to sculpting. With the first forming of the clay I will procede with an idea. As the form begains to shape I may change my direction and follow another course yet keeping the basic idea.
I think if one sketches an idea that is to detailed the piece will not have the livelness of the end result.
The Progress Gallery: Briefly talk about the artwork you are making right now.
Alan: I currently just finishing a 24” x 38” ceramic wall hanging dealing with the long period of quarantine due to the current pandemic. Also, I am working on several small assemblages made of found objects.
* Boswell Jr., P. (Ed.) (1940). Modern American Painting. Dodd, Mead & Company: NY.
Presented by the Progress Gallery in Nov. 2020