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Check out Anna Schachte’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Schachte.

Anna, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
As a kid, I wanted to be an architect, which led me to art school for college. I loved drawing fantasy spaces and creating my own worlds. When I started to learn about modern architecture, I became obsessed. After my freshman year at Rhode Island School of Design, I was too in love with drawing and painting to focus on the practical nuts and bolts of making buildings and I immediately changed my major to Printmaking, which was known as the department to let you do whatever you wanted. After graduating in ‘98, I moved to Brooklyn with all my best friends from school, and that was the year I realized I am really a painter. Outside of the bubble of art school and its wealth of resources, I figured I could focus solely on making paintings and never exhaust the possibilities or challenges therein and would not need a lot of special equipment or facilities to do it. Twenty years later, this is still true, and I’m still obsessed with making paintings. Except for my two years at grad school in Chicago, I spent my 20s and 30s in NYC, met my husband, Aaron, there, and our two kids were born there. Gradually, the booming real estate market has made it nearly impossible for artists to thrive in that city. We moved to LA in the summer of 2015, which was a return for Aaron. I had never lived here but had long held a romantic flame for the LA I came to know through Aaron’s stories and the books, movies and other artists’ works that I loved. For years, my paintings included a lot of California imagery and much later, when we first moved here, I was constantly experiencing surreal moments of feeling like I’d walked into one of my own paintings.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I like to say my work plays in the space between abstraction and symbolism, but actually “surreal” is probably a good word to use. I am interested in the ambiguous area between pure abstraction and legible symbol and I love it when something can appear to be two things at once. When it comes to color, I’m going for emotion rather than naturalism. All of my paintings are personal, political, and goofball. After I had my first kid, my work turned inward, more emotional and visceral, and eventually more abstract. But I always see imagery and ideas from earlier periods of work filtering back into my new work in a different way. In a recent body of work, I used letters of the alphabet as a compositional starting point, but each painting evolved to include a face or eye or other body part, a slice of pizza, or the interior of a car. Landscape, which was the prevailing idiom in my work 10-15 years ago, is starting to show up again in my newest work.

I don’t think my paintings tell the viewer anything other than “Stand here, LOOK AT ME,” and hopefully pose some unsettling questions. I don’t have a singular read or “right” or “wrong” interpretation that I’m hoping to elicit from the viewer. I tend to be skeptical of didacticism and traditional representations of beauty in painting. I’m more excited by work that pushes the edges of what is considered good or bad painting, rather than re-stating already accepted ideals of beauty and sublime. I think the best paintings make you feel a bit uneasy and leave you asking “what is it?” That being said, my work is quite personal and honestly emotional. The titles don’t necessarily say it all but can give the viewer a clue to some of what I was thinking about when making the painting.

What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
My advice to other artists is find your people and band together to start a gallery or a publication or podcast or (fill in the blank). In 2010, when my first daughter was a newborn and the world was still reeling from the economic ripple effect of the sub-prime housing market crash, a bunch of my pals from grad school and I started a gallery called Regina Rex, in an ex-factory turned studio-building in Ridgewood, Queens. There was always about a dozen of us, and while that was often an unwieldy number for coming to consensus, it was a magical number when it came to dividing the labor, responsibilities, and expense of running a space. We agreed to a trial basis of six months and ended up doing it for about seven years. I bowed out after five when my family and I moved to Los Angeles. But those five years were an incredible time of growth and a wonderful antidote to the feeling of becoming invisible in the art world upon becoming a mom and parting ways with the gallery that had been showing and selling my work prior to the economic crisis. Aaron, my husband, has always been in bands, and I’d always envied that kind of collaborative structure and shared creative work-load. When we started doing Regina Rex, I realized I’d finally found my band. Doing the gallery allowed me to be more extroverted, to meet artists of all career stages and ask to visit their studios. It gave me a sense agency in the art world — that I belonged there and I wasn’t asking a dealer or collector for permission to be there. Artists have to create the art world they want to be part of. Most of us have to work other jobs, too, to make it all possible. I guess that’s my other bit of advice: don’t quit your “day job,” but do find one that complements your artist-being and does not crush all the idealism and art-making energy out of you. Don’t go into huge debt to go to grad school. Try to go to a State University program that will pay you. Or skip it and get a job assisting a really good, smart artist and learn from them. Then move to a city where space is cheap and plentiful and start your own scene. Buy a building.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Come find me in my Eagle Rock garage/studio or on Instagram. Studio visits and social media are the main venues for showing work right now. Of course, I’d like to have more exhibition opportunities at this time in my life but the avenues to showing and selling work are still pretty narrow and controlled by a rarified few—collectors, dealers, and curators. Artists are getting more emphatic about having a say in the valuation of art and who gets to show, and we are seeing more artist-run galleries and curatorial collectives that are not solely about self-promotion but creating lateral networks and opportunities among colleagues whose work isn’t getting seen otherwise. I was very glad to be included in two group exhibitions this summer organized by The Binder of Women, which is exactly that type of artist-run organization, based here in LA, and last year I had a two-person show at the excellent Safe Gallery in Brooklyn, run by the artist, Pali Kashi.

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Image Credit:
All paintings are by Anna Schachte

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