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Andrew Criss - Artist On The Beach

by Phil Hall
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Monday Oct 16, 2006
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For Rehoboth Beach-based artist Andrew Criss, his latest gallery show is both a milestone and a trip back down memory lane. Criss will feature his latest paintings at Gallery Plan B in Washington, D.C., from October 25 through November 26, and it marks his return to the city where he resided during the mid-1990s.

As one of Delaware’s most prominent artists, the 36-year-old Criss has seen his works picked up by museums and deep-pocketed private collectors. It was hardly an overnight journey: Criss earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1992 from The University of Texas. He initially divided his career among gigs as an art director, illustrator, designer and actor. He moved from Austin, Texas, to Washington D.C. in 1994, then relocated briefly to New York in 1998 to pursue full-time painting. In 1999, he relocated to Delaware and focused on figurative and landscape painting.

His work has been displayed in exhibitions throughout the mid-Atlantic region and New York City. EDGE Philadelphia caught up with Criss to discuss his latest show and the course of his career.

EDGE: What is the focus of your upcoming Washington exhibition?

Andrew Criss: I am focusing on cityscapes, all views of places I lived in or frequented my twenties, when I first moved to Washington and the east coast. That was an exciting time, and urban life had a romantic fascination for me. The cites seemed to be ever evolving and changing, just like myself. I was very aware of my surroundings then, and I wanted pay attention in these paintings, pay attention to images of everyday life that can still be beautiful or interesting.

EDGE: How does it feel to be returning to Washington after...how many years?

Andrew Criss: It’s been 12 years, and I’m very excited! A lot has happened for me since I moved to DC on New Year’s Day, 1994. In many ways I’ve become who and what I wanted to be, or at least gotten closer to it, and I’m excited to be showing my work there.

EDGE: What factors have inspired your most recent paintings?

I chose subjects that many people might overlook, ignore or grow numb to (a grocery store parking lot, for example) and tried to find something each view it to make me appreciate that moment, be it the sky, the busy clutter of wires and poles and signs, o

Andrew Criss: As I get older I try to appreciate life more, and make the most of it, even when it does not go the way I want. I chose subjects that many people might overlook, ignore or grow numb to (a grocery store parking lot, for example) and tried to find something each view it to make me appreciate that moment, be it the sky, the busy clutter of wires and poles and signs, or the composition of the place.

EDGE: You received an Individual Artist Fellowship from by the Delaware Division of the Arts in 2006. How did that come about and how does it feel to be recognized by the state?

Andrew Criss: I had applied for the grant a few times before receiving it in 2006. I think what made a difference the last time was showing consistent work I was proud of, not what I thought the judges wanted to see. It’s been great being recognized--the support of the Division and the exhibition opportunities have been very helpful and encouraging.

EDGE: What is your opinion of the art scene in the Delaware-Philadelphia region, and how does it compare to the rest of the country?

Andrew Criss: It’s a smaller area than one might think, and that has its advantages. I think if people are working and focused, word gets out. I cross paths with people I might not get to meet in a more dense area.

EDGE: What are your gallery shows for 2007?

Andrew Criss: I will be exhibiting in my home state at Peninsula Gallery, Lewes (Delaware) in November. I change my focus every year so I can learn and don’t get bored. Next year’s show will be pochades--small impressionistic paintings of the region.

Andrew Criss can be visited online at his website.

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time

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