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the eyes have it

July 13, 2009

[NYTimes]  Three years ago Gregory Van Maanen knew it was time to move out of his longtime home in Paterson, N.J. He just didn’t know how he was going to do it. A Vietnam veteran, Mr. Van Maanen had been obsessively painting skulls and floating eyeballs on stones, animal bones, boards and canvases since his return from the war, in what he describes as a kind of exorcism. He used his apartment as a studio, and as he finished the works, he often turned them against the walls so as not to be haunted by their “spirits.” After so many years, they took up almost every square inch.

“Let’s just say the place was not set up for comfort,” said Leslie Umberger, the senior curator at the Kohler Arts Center here, who visited Mr. Van Maanen in 2006. “The only furniture I saw was the chair he sat in to work on small drawings. Artwork had taken over every surface, like this living, growing altar — this organic thing.” To put it another way, she said, Mr. Van Maanen’s home had become his canvas. (read)

Kohler Arts Center website

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