International artist donates sculpture for local auction
KEYSTONE – John DeAndrea may be an internationally renowned sculptor, but he’s not above relating to everyday people – especially those with disabilities.DeAndrea suffered from polio when he was a child, which he said affected him psychologically and physically, in turn affecting his entire life and allowing him more empathy for people with disabilities.”The polio withered his right arm, so he’s a person with special needs, and obviously he’s done well,” said Mike Smith, co-founder of Wine in the Pines, which benefits Cerebral Palsy of Colorado.Smith has known DeAndrea since their childhood in Denver, when he graduated high school with DeAndrea’s sister. He last saw DeAndrea in 1958, but oddly, DeAndrea’s mother dates Smith’s 87-year-old father-in-law. So, when they asked DeAndrea to donate one of his sculptures, DeAndrea happily obliged.
The patinated bronze head titled “Lisa” has a retail value of $8,000, and bidding will begin at $3,000.DeAndrea is best known in Colorado for “Linda,” an ultra-realistic sculpture of a sleeping woman that ranks as one of the Denver Art Museum’s most popular pieces, according to the Denver Post.DeAndrea creates lifecast figures and busts in polyvinyl or bronze polychromed in oil. His lifelike nudes of young women have taken him through different phases of evolution, including portrayal of art history, social realism, black-and-white pieces and, lately, dancers.”I’ve always been interested in the human figure. It’s my passion,” DeAndrea said. “It’s my life. It’s everything. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. It’s beyond an idea or a dream. It’s all those things.”He based “Lisa” on a model he used in the 1980s, which led to his first full-body bronze. About three or four years ago, he recast her face in the patina bronze.When people view his art, “everybody brings a little bit of themselves, and they take away what they need,” he said. “It’s very rich.DeAndrea earned his bachelor’s in fine art at the University of Colorado in Boulder and later studied at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque.
His success began when he displayed his work in New York as part of the photo-realist movement, which led to invitations to exhibit in the Whitney Annual in 1970, the 1971 Paris Biennial in France and in Germany.To achieve life-like pieces, he usually works with professional models and casts rubber molds of their bodies that each take less than 20 minutes.He usually cuts the model out of the mold from the back, then he strengthens the rubber shell with coats of plaster.He creates the final piece from vinyl acetate – heated to more than 220 degrees – poured into the stiff mold.Plastic eyes he makes himself point to stare at the floor so people looking at the work don’t feel threatened (though occasionally, he creates a form that looks off to the side so viewers can step into its focus). He uses hair from acrylic wigs – which he inserts into the vinyl strand by strand – using six different colors to get the natural effect he desires.Then he sprays a base coat of oil paint on the entire figure and hand paints the usually 14-square-foot area. Sometimes he uses 25 layers of paint – adding red and blue veins underneath – to create the perfect effect.
“It’s all an illusion of paint,” DeAndrea said in an interview with Martin H. Bush, posted on DeAndrea’s Web site. “Everything. The fingernails, the toes, the eyes. I’ve studied skin colors and complexion differences, and I like to paint those differences. I control what I want to shine and what I don’t want to shine.”Though DeAndrea’s pieces are amazingly life-like, he continues to toil, working at his art every day, as he has for at least the past 20 years.DeAndrea, a Morrison resident, will be out of town Saturday, but his mother and sister will attend Wine in the Pines.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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