October is in full swing and I loved having a chit-chat with my Next Blog Feature. Our time together made my heart pop with joy❤️
Meet Anya Spielman – Entrepreneur + Visual Artist and the daughter to Sheila Ballantyne, a well known writer and poet and author of the iconic feminist book, Norma Jean the Termite Queen.
Critics have called Anya a “painter’s painter,” “a superb colorist,” and “a macho painter.”
Per The Project For Women: “As an artist (and a mother of 2) this path has never been easy, but having an iconic mom as a role model and compass, allowed Anya to be inspired, encouraged and focused on developing important work of her own”.
“Whereby her mom upheld her ideals through the stroke of her pen as a writer, Anya has been recognized worldwide for her own prolific voice and the brushstrokes of unparalleled hand.”
Anya tells a story through her art and we discuss how it was born, where it’s been and where it’s going🌸💋❤️🎨👩🏻🎨
Let’s dive in, shall we🎬🎙🌼💛✍🏽
Entrepreneur + Visual Artist
Featured Entrepreneur: Meet Anya Spielman – Entrepreneur + Visual Artist
Interviewed by: Anna Svetlik De La Rosa
Episode: # 75
MY INTERVIEW WITH ANYA SPIELMAN
Q1. What did you want to be growing up?
An artist, a doctor and an architect. It was pretty clear that I was an artist as I was absorbed by color from an early age and started creating when I was two. I went through a period of denying it as a teenager and went into college as a psychology major, however, I fell in love with the art department at UC Davis and there was no turning back.
Q2. Tell us all about you and the story of how you have gotten to this point in your life?
I was raised in Berkeley, CA surrounded by artists, writers, intellectuals and hippies, and I was lucky to grow up in such a diverse and progressive environment. Since I was four, I always dreamed of going to Africa, and one day in my junior year of college, I decided to take a year off and travel around the world solo. I worked in construction to pay for my ticket around the world and couldn’t wait to backpack across the globe. It was very important to me to immersed myself in each culture. I had to see the world and wanted to explore it without being constrained. I have a nomadic streak for sure.
Many adventures and close calls later, I returned and forged my path as a professional artist. I met my husband in SF and we moved to NYC where I painted in my studio on the Bowery in Chinatown. At that time, I also worked a day job at an Investment Banking firm in Rockefeller Center.
It was there, where I witnessed the 9/11 attacks and while fleeing, had the epiphany, “shit, I didn’t have children!” Our children were born soon after, and back on the west coast, there were many years of child rearing, making art, exhibiting and caring for my beloved parents who died within a week of each other after long, agonizing illnesses.
Throughout it all, there is love and resilience that continues to shape and inform my work. My life is my art, my art is my life.
Q3. What is one of your most treasured accomplishments?
My kids who are now 16 and 18. They truly are my greatest works of art.
Q4. Tell how you process work load stress or personal stress or just too much coming at you at one time? Ex: Workout/Exercise, Meditation, Journal or all the above.
I used to be a competitive swimmer in high school, so I still swim laps and also swim in the ocean. I do yoga and I take long walks/hikes with my rescue boxer Duke.
Q5. Do you have any secrets or strategy that has worked for you as an artist?
Being authentic and having integrity.
Q6. What is your definition of being successful, you are killing it?
Living a life that is true, deep and real. Adventures with my family and friends. Selling my work, exhibiting nationally and internationally, recognition in my field, making a living from my art, activism, mentoring, being kind and generous.
Q7. If you could speak to one woman from history, who would it be? It can be anyone….
The explorer Isabelle Eberhardt.
- Favorite book: “Imaginary Crimes,” by my mother Sheila Ballantyne
- Favorite fashion designer: Alexander McQueen. Dior
- Favorite fabric: Cashmere. Vintage Satin
- Favorite color: Red. Cream. Pink
- Favorite artist: Hieronymus Bosch. Egon Schiele. Louise Bourgeois. Kerry James Marshall. Cy Twombly. Joan Mitchell. Yayoi Kusama. Matisse. De Kooning…
- Favorite podcast: The Kitchen Sisters
- Favorite quote: My mother, the writer and poet, Sheila Ballantyne:
“If you have enough fantasies, you’re ready, in the event that something happens.”
Q9. What is your ideal atmosphere to paint in?
A studio with high ceilings, tall windows that bring in fresh air and light, white walls so the color pops. In a city where the pulse of life permeates and inspires. An artist residency in the country where there are no real-world interruptions.
Where can we find you:
Linktree Work Portfolio: HERE
LinkedIn: Anya Spielman – HERE
More About Anya: HERE
Critics have called Anya Spielman a “painter’s painter,” “a superb colorist,” and “a macho painter.”
Ted Mooney, Senior Editor of Art in America says of Spielman’s work: “Anya Spielman’s mastery of her invariably appealing palette can be deceptive: she knows the depths of human motive and does not hesitate to take the viewer to places both more ambiguous and darker than may at first seem evident.
What’s more, it may take you some time to figure out how you got there, let alone how to get back. But that, after all, is what serious painting is all about.”
As Mooney states, there exists a complex duality to Spielman’s work: it is both intensely physical with elements of violence while hyperconscious of the beauty and evanescence of life.
The result is work that is expressionistic and yet operates within a framework of restraint. The saturated color of the canvases and works on paper are juicy and sensual, yet there is something disturbing in their beauty. Spielman’s surfaces are extraordinary, gorgeously layered, yet upon close study, rough nail marks scar the paint and deconstruct the work. Above all, there is a strong sense of mystery in Spielman’s work – she reminds viewers who are brave enough to keep looking of the tenuous balance between knowing and not knowing.
Spielman’s most recent work continues to explore the constellation of these binary forces and forms, presenting reoccurring two fold images: pathology beside beauty; ejaculation beside petals; gunshot beside blossom. The work “Disease” reflects two vague head-like silhouettes in the upper center of painting – a red cluster hovers above (conjuring both blossoms and clotted blood), while a black band and dark streaks reminiscent of arteries intimate something more gruesome. “Lust,” can be seen as images of engorged blossoms or breasts bleeding milk. “Crush,” plays with the tension between light and color, weightlessness and gravity. In “Powder,” a figure bleeds “tears” of yellow, green and pale blue – a scalloped bottom edge tries to anchor the confectionary white tower which is slowly seeping. Each piece draws the viewer in with dueling fragility and brute strength.
Similarly, much of the work is sexual– some of it veiled, some explicit, but, as with all of Spielman’s work, her paintings bear a dual meaning. In the painting “Sugar Bush,” for example, the shower of white smudges can look like falling petals, a first snowfall, or ejaculation. And the main object in “Things to Suck,” resembles a lollipop, however, suspended testicles loom overhead. The juxtaposition hints at two separate realms of experience, while also displaying Spielman’s bold and mischievous sense of humor.
Spielman graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1989 with a major in Art Studio and a minor in Anthropology. She was a student of Wayne Thiebaud, and has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally.
Most recently, in 2019 she was awarded the Denis Diderot Fellowship at the Chateau d’Orquevaux, France. In 2013, she was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant Award. Also, in 2013, her large-scale painting, “Weightless” was purchased by the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies Program (AIE) for their permanent collection in the U.S. Embassy in Monterrey, Mexico. In 2010, she was included in the New Museum’s Bowery Artists Tribute in New York City.
In 2007, she was awarded the American Artist Abroad Program by the AIE U.S. Department of State, to serve as an Art-Ambassador in Uruguay, teaching and lecturing. Spielman has shown at: LSH CoLab, Los Angeles, CA; Le Pave D’Orsay, Paris, France; Biennale of International Reductive and Non Objective Art, Sydney, Australia; Aqua Art Miami, Miami, FL; Kustera Projects Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY; Michael Rosenthal Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA; The Window Project, PDX Contemporary Gallery, Portland, OR; Art Fair 21, Cologne, Germany; White Box Gallery, New York, NY; Deitch Projects, New York, NY; Terrain Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Artists Space, New York, NY, and The Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA.
Her paintings have also appeared on the reality shows “The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “The Bachelorette,” and in several motion pictures. Her work is in numerous private and public collections.
Anya’s Work on Paper: