James André says he's one of the twelve or thirteen people in the entire world who haven't seen the movie Waking Life -- which seems a little odd, since much of the work he's showcasing at The MacSpa through mid-October was conceptualized during lucid dreams. The painter begins most pieces by laying canvas on the floor, squeezing different color paints over it, and smearing everything together. He then puts the messy canvas in his bedroom so he can look at it while he's dreaming. "My mind creates something I wouldn't normally see, and I wake up and paint that," André explains.
André comes from a family of artists, and spent his last two years of high school living at a residential arts and humanities school in South Carolina. "It was the greatest two years of my life," André recalls. During that time, he decided to make art the center of his life, and he went on to study at the Ringling College of Art and Design and, later, the Art Institute of Charleston. At school, André took classes in photography, but that never resonated as deeply as painting. Photography is a different process and more of a hobby, says André;, adding that painting is "a lifestyle."
André has been experimenting with lucid dreaming for about seven years. His interest in it was sparked during "a very depressed state of life," he says. André spent a lot of time in bed back then, trying to sleep when he wasn't always sleepy. "Eventually, I could control a lot of what was going on when I was sleeping," he explains.
Over time, André has reached a much better state -- "I'm happy now," he says -- but he still likes being able to control his dreams and even has some eerie stories about prearranged dream meetings with friends.
André's show at the MacSpa, a service-based computer boutique, opened Saturday with a reception where the artist performed live, painting alongside DJ Glassy. Live painting, André says, is another way of triggering the part of the brain that does lucid dreaming. He never knows what he'll paint before a live show and is a big fan of "moving with the music," he says. "I zone out, forget people are there half the time."
André's been to plenty of art shows, and thinks standing around with a glass of wine, looking at art in a semi-quiet space, can get a little stuffy. That's why he likes to entertain guests with live music and offer them an opportunity to experience the art-making process first-hand.
The artist's passion, spirit, and undeniable talent have quickly earned him a spot in the local art community; he's only been here three months, but is one of Denver's hottest newcomers, according to MacSpa artist/curator Eric Matelski. In addition to André's current show, his work has already been displayed in four other venues, including Wine & Whey and the Cartel Studio, where he painted a live show last month, during which folks ended up joining him on stage with their canvases and paint -- much to André's delight.
Continue reading for more on André's background and strange dream experiments. "I've lived in thirteen different cities in ten years, and I wanted to go somewhere I could start an art career," says André of his recent move. His marketing manager was the one who ultimately sold him on Denver and this city's growing art scene. By day, André manages a restaurant. After putting in nine or ten hours there, he rushes home to paint and dream and paint again. "As soon as I get home I paint until I fall asleep; I don't have time for anything else right now," he explains.
André's company, L.U.C.i.i.D., formed with two other friends, can be summed up with six words: Loving, unique, creations, intelligently, interactively and designed. The artist, his business manager and his marketing manager work together to get André's stuff into the public eye. DJ Glassy -- "A great guy you want to be around creatively," says André -- has recently teamed up with the L.U.C.i.i.D. trio, and André says his team is looking for "very, very, very unique artists" with the goal of "building a small and creative group."
You can see André's work at the MacSpa, which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and by appointment Saturday. For more information, go to André's website or Facebook page.
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