Visual Arts

CLEAN, SOBER AND STANGE

Page 4 of 4

Drugs and drink eventually took their toll; at some point, drugs caused the loss of most of his teeth. "However," Andrew says, "I was very prolific even when I was high; I did almost 2,000 paintings in one year at one point." Trouble with the law finally forced him to abandon addictive substances. Andrew credits AA with turning him around. "In Pennsylvania, I had AA meetings in my living room downstairs every day, three meetings a day."

At the urging of friend Claire Burnes, Andrew moved to Cottonwood after both of his parents died. Burnes is a fellow AA member from Pennsylvania and the manager of Cottonwood's Serenity hotel. After visiting the town for a week, Andrew was taken by the friendliness of its people, who would spontaneously greet him on the street.

"I had sent Sallie Lou out to Cottonwood to be with a sick aunt, because Claire lived here," Andrew recalls. "On the back of all her paintings from then on, it said that she lived in Cottonwood, Arizona." Little did he know that this would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Andrew's work has taken different directions since he moved to Arizona. He's finished his African-American series and is on to other things reflecting his new Southwestern home.

Cactus crops up in the paintings now. There are convoluted dreamscapes and portraits of friends and people just passing through. There's a scene of Claire hanging lacy underwear and serapes on a clothesline in front of the Serenity hotel, and one titled "The Greater Sedona Area All-Girl Filharmonic." It's filled with buxom, beaming girls, white, black, brown and red, playing a motley assortment of instruments.

And there are the erotic pieces, with priapic males and alluring females, often on the bottom of some yard-sale find that Andrew has transmuted into an objet d'art.

He still pursues some of his favorite themes, however.
"I still do variations of my watermelon, which everyone loves. Like the watermelon fish, with slices of watermelon for scales. And I'm still doing Adam and Eve and the Immaculate Conception.

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Kathleen Vanesian