With an eye for design and a love for the outdoors, mixed media artist, Alison Galvan redefines the world of art. Her sculpture-like, three dimensional pieces embody the wild yet, peaceful spirit within Galvan. She has worked to create a safe haven in her lavish landscape pieces for her viewers; a place to rest a weary mind and to restore peace and a sense of calm. Galvan’s creative journey started in fashion design and after a bit of self discovery, her career flourished into the epic, awe inspiring pieces of work she creates today.
Born and raised among a very conservative family in Vancouver, BC, Alison Galvan seemingly stuck out with her free spirited nature. At a young age, Galvan loved sports and the outdoors, preferring to play soccer and baseball over joining Girl Scouts. She furthers, “I was always a bit of square peg trying to fit in a round hole and while my brother was very academically inclined, I excelled in sports, creative writing, drama and home economics. When I was little I was always trying to build or construct wild inventions.”
Although very attracted to bright colors, and often getting in trouble after experimenting with her mother’s makeup, Galvan wasn’t immediately interested in drawing or painting. Instead, she loved playing with clothes; figuring out how to engineer her own patterns and sewing her own designs. “I fear I embarrassed my ultra conservative parents with many of my rather avant garde designs!” She recalls. As a teen, Galvan indulged in many outdoor adventures where a lot of her creative inspiration was born. “I biked from Banff to
Jasper in Alberta,” she explains, “I even cross country skied around Mt. Robinson in Alberta and was in the group that was the first to bike the Dempster Highway from Dawson City to Inuvik. My father and I also shared some wonderful times together biking the Gulf Islands, hiking and sleeping under the stars.” After high school ended, Galvan quickly recognized that a traditional university education would not feel right. Luckily, a new independent school known as the Helen LeFeaux School of Fashion Design opened in her area
and she plunged ahead into their one year program. She had hands on experience with pattern making, tailoring, draping, fashion illustration, storyboarding, etc. Through much of her time and research into the backgrounds of some of her favorite designers, she soon learned that many of them attended Parsons
School of Design in New York. “I was working on the assumption that if my fashion heroes attended Parsons and achieved success,” explains Galvan, “then it was obviously the place to be. I created a portfolio and mailed it off with confidence, naive and ignorant of the prestigious nature of Parsons in the art world.
Two weeks later I received my acceptance letter, much to my family’s chagrin. I was 19 years old, blond, and bursting with rebellion!” Art school was just the place for Galvan and her highly creative mind. Al-
though she went to Parsons with the intention of studying fashion design, she soon found herself gravitating towards different areas of artistic study. One of her favorite classes was Form and Space: Introduction into 3D Work, and Color Theory. As her time at school progressed, she soon had to choose a specific concentration of study.
She recalls, “Ever the practical person and heavily influence by my family background, in the end I stuck with fashion, thinking of the future employment opportunities within that industry in comparison to the ‘starving artist.’”
After a pleasurable education and a life changing year studying abroad in Paris, she graduated from Parsons in 1993 with a Bachelors in Fine Art with a major in fashion design. What followed was years of traveling, exploring and eventually creating her own children’s wear company called, “Alioops.” Although her time working in fashion provided her with a fruitful career, she decided to take time to reflect on the next step of her artistic journey. She decided on a trip to New Orleans where she met her future husband. After two months of traveling together, they decided to get married in the Philippines. She and her new husband spent the next 15 months living and traveling through the Asian continent.
Galvan became a mother to two children who showed her a side to her creativity that she hadn’t recognized before. “Ten years ago while homeschooling my children,” she explains. “I began experimenting with a paper and gypsum sculpting compound to create school projects. As we progressed, sculpting and painting, more and more it was me that was having the most fun and getting lost in the creative process. I would often forget the time and the fact that history lessons were supposed to be happening.”
This process of sculpting with sculptamold, the use of acrylic paints, and her love of nature became the right combination to set Galvan off into her own creative world. She loved the way the material emulated the bark of trees and how it created unusual textures and shapes; each time allowing for “happy accidents” and spontaneity within each piece. Therefore, each piece contains unique qualities that are true originals.
“I am on a quest,” furthers Galvan, “to capture a sense of light and depth when I paint. The way light filters through the trees is so very elusive. It gives the woods such a magical feel that I’ve often said, that although I’m all grown up and ever so pragmatic, there are moments when during a hike, the light shines in just such a way that I swear if there really were fairies, elves and gnomes, they would be there flitting amongst the ferns.”
Besides the great outdoors, these magical works of art are inspired by many people in Galvan’s life. Her father is at the top of her list as a huge supporter of her, “crazy ideas, dreams, and even gallivanting all over the world.” Her husband and children have been very encouraging as well throughout her art career. Artist Jack White, mentor for Galvan, has also remained a steady influence in her life. Galvan elaborates, “I admire Jack White because very much like myself, he was not ‘born to be an artist’ and yet he and his wife decided upon this career path and have worked hard and smart to achieve tremendous personal and financial success.”
Galvan has had success of her own through much hard work and dedication. In 2012, she was runner up for her piece, Endurance, in the “Inspired Art,” group show for Studio 1219, Port Huron, MI. She was also a part of group show, “Ka-Pow!” At the Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO where she won second place for her piece, The Chaperones. In addition, Galvan has been nominated by the city of St. Catharines for the St. Catharines Arts Award in the category, “Making a Difference” for her business, The Art Gym and the concept of making art; its appreciation, creation, and accessibility to everyone.
The Art Gym is a new creation for Galvan and has been encouraging many new, aspiring artists. It’s a place where people can drop in and experiment with all sorts of art supplies, have lessons in a particular medium, and celebrate birthdays with art. It essentially serves as a place to explore creativity in many forms.
Galvan continues involvement with Art Gym while also toiling away on her own body of work where she now resides in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Each piece truly pulls the viewer in for a peaceful, cherishable moment among the landscape and trees she so expertly depicts. The combination of her 3D designs and the mysticism of her subject matter create a very interactive effect that offer up a brief adventure or even a brief vacation.
“I want to create beauty,” Galvan describes. “I want to create mystery and wonder. I want to share with those that look upon my work, my sense of calm, and peace that I find in a craggy tree trunk as the sunlight caresses it early in the morning. In the woods is the place where I do my best thinking and have made some of my most momentous decisions. If by having one of my paintings perhaps across from someone’s desk, or in a den and it relaxes them and helps them to regain their focus, then I have successfully shared my vision and achieved my goal.”
I create landscapes that are a fusion of sculpture, and colour. Hung as a traditional painting, my work breaks from the norm , incorporating three dimensional bas-relief that projects beyond the boundaries of the canvas. They are immediate, tactile. Your are there, not just observing but becoming part of the scene. I chose perspectives that take you right inside the natural world to the level of a blade of grass or a pathway through the trees. I create art that is all about the quiet magic I feel in the woods. It is about those moments when I feel as though if I listen carefully I can hear the trees breathing.
It is my peace.
ALISON GALVAN, BFA
29 Cherie Rd. St. Catharines, ON L2M 6L5
905 931-3561 Cell, 905 346-2863 Home
Art Mode - Chelsea, Quebec
Loft Gallery - Clarksburg, Ontario
The Gallery Upstairs - Milton, Ontario
Eclipse Art & Design Gallery - Huntsville, Ontario
Xanadu Studio Gallery - Scottsdale, AZ
The Art Gym - St. Catharines, ON
2013 - Group Show - The St. Catharines Art Association Art in The Park Show, ON
2012 – Group Show – Ka-Pow! The Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO
2012 - Group Show – Art on Water, Welland, ON
2012 - Group Show - LucSculpture School & Studios, Toronto, ON
2012 - Group Show – Inspired Art 2012, Studio 1219 Port Huron, MI
2011 - Solo Show - The Studio Basement Folk Art Show & Sale, St. Catharines, ON
2011 - Group Show – The St. Catharines Art Association Penn Centre Show, ON
2011 - Group Show – The St. Catharines Art Association Art in The Park Show, ON
2010 - Group Show – The St. Catharines Art Association Library Show, ON
2010 - Group Show – Harvest Festival, Niagara Falls, ON
2013 Completed several commissions for clients in both California and Arizona.
April 2012 Commissioned by Dirty Runner Productions to create four 6 foot tall x 4 foot wide scenery displays for their running race entitled “The Chocolate Race”.
Summer 2011 Commissioned by the St. Catharines Art Association to create a life size sculpture of a young person painting to be displayed at the Association’s 60thAnniversary “Art in The Park” Show.
Artwork held in private collections in Canada, The United States, The United Kingdom, & Finland.
EDUCATION / ARTISTIC TRAINING
The Art Gym - Current
Bi-weekly life drawing classes and group critiques.
Bachelor of Fine Arts 1993
Parsons School of Design, New York, NY / Paris, France
Written by Angela Scappatura, “Weighty Art”, The St. Catharines Standard, Thursday November 24, 2011, Today Section C, Page 1
Owner of The Art Gym
Canadian Sculpture Society
The St. Catharines Art Association
Niagara Artists Centre
The Niagara Pumphouse Art Centre
Community Artists Niagara