Abby Lynes for the Missoulian
Andrea Joyce Heimer’s work asks you to remember a skill often overlooked in the hubbub of adult life.
âAs a kid we would go days without thinking about it,â she said.
Heimer’s exhibition âPastime,â on display at the Missoula Art Museum, explores seemingly mundane experiences of childhood and adolescence. As life stopped at the start of the pandemic, she wondered “what we do when we do nothing.”
Much of Heimer’s work focuses on the day-to-day experiences she had growing up in Great Falls, such as tossing a coin into a fountain or shoplifting in the mall. Each of her long headlines reads like a diary entry, she said, and her job has allowed her to deal with some of the loneliness and isolation she felt growing up as a child. of a closed adoption in a rural state.
While Heimer’s work explores the mundane as a theme, his style is anything but. His paintings feature bright, matte colors with exaggerated, angular, and vivid figures in often action-packed scenes.
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MAM’s senior curator Brandon Reintjes described it as a story within a story, with a narrative that comes and goes.
âThere’s something really compelling about them because they’re narrative,â he said. âIt’s a different kind of storytelling. “
This is the first time that Heimer’s work has been shown in Montana. An accomplished artist based in Bellingham, Washington, she was primarily self-taught early in her career, before earning a Masters of Fine Arts from the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She is pursuing a doctorate in art education and her work is mainly exhibited in galleries in Los Angeles and New York as well as around the world.
She didn’t earn an undergraduate art degree, and the last art class she took in high school was her sophomore year – she was kicked out for arguing with the teacher, he said. she declared. She wasn’t introduced to the art world until her mid-twenties, when she started therapy. Her therapist suggested that she resume painting and drawing, something she enjoyed doing when she was younger in order to deal with some of her more difficult feelings about life experiences.
When she started painting she tried to paint very realistically, she said, because she “thought that was what you were supposed to do.” However, she got frustrated very quickly and decided to start painting again like she did when she was younger.
She grew up doing a lot of crafts, something she bonded with her grandmother and mother. Her family had an oven and they were working on all kinds of projects growing up. MAM associate curator John Calsbeek said when Heimer’s father saw the exhibit he said she would use all the family’s masking tape when she was a child, which she always does. , as well as other craft techniques like the sponge.
Heimer works on her art at least 40 hours a week, and she says she is very meticulous. Her painting process is long, and she likes to come back to a specific moment and spend a moment there, until that moment becomes like a “convivial object” in a painting.
âSomewhere in there healing is happening,â she said.
Heimer still uses the same type of paint she used as a child – Delta Ceramcoat. She has tried all kinds of fancy acrylics, but said she always comes back to the paint commonly found in craft stores and recommends it to her fellow painters all the time.
This paint is layered in matte to come together to create a paint that covers the entire canvas, Reintjes said. Shadows work primarily to highlight figures, his style borrowing from textiles, he said.
âHis work is almost anti-depth,â he said.
His titles and method of storytelling are straightforward – Heimer doesn’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes and hide no secrets, he said. At the same time, there is so much going on in each painting that the viewer can come back again and again and always see something new and remarkable.
“It allows you to question yourself,” he said. “And I think that’s the fun part.”
âPasse-tempsâ will be on display at MAM until January 29. MAM is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free entry.