My short career as an artist has been rewarding, transformative and demanding. I attended art schools that prepared me for the challenges of producing bodies of creative art work in meaningful ways. I've been lucky to have my wife Anna Joyce, also an artist, a community of family, friends and colleagues along the way that inspire and sustain my creative spirit.
Early in 2002 I moved to Portland, Oregon from Oakland, California, where I lived for six years. When we moved there I started working for the Augen Gallery where Kacey Joyce, my mother-in-law is represented. At first I just helped install shows and pack up work that had and hadn't sold. Eventually I was working at the gallery regularly helping out with many of the tasks involved in running and maintaining a commercial gallery.
It was in my role as an art worker that I saw what it took the artists in the gallery to get their work to us. What it took to meet the expectations of being an exhibiting artist: slides, artist statements, and résumés. Each artist brought their own insight about contemporary art and their survival skills for creating, documenting, shipping and storing their work. It didn't always go smoothly, so I also learned how to trouble shoot and improvise with what there is.
By working behind the scenes in an art gallery, I was exposed to the processes necessary to engage my community professionally as a contemporary artist. Real life experiences and committed visions inspired much of what the gallery exhibited to the public and sold to interested collectors. I also took every opportunity to engage the people that visited the gallery whenever I could. I always learned something either about the person I spoke to or about the art I had installed.
As an art gallery worker I gained insight into how to use the conventions of my profession to facilitate my creative development. I met emerging and mid-career artists that gave me advice and served as a professional internship.
Having learned a little about the art industry, much of the fear and pressure of exhibiting had been removed and I gained the confidence to exhibit my work locally at the Froelick Gallery.
Local shows introduced my artistic vision to a larger audience. And in 2003, through the exposure and experience I had gained, I received an unexpected public art commission from Tri Met, Portland's light rail system, helped me translate my studio practice into the public sphere in a new way. Then in 2004, I began work on the largest public art project I have ever undertaken as the project coordinator for Scottsdale-Across Generations, a community wide self-portraiture project that will be permanently displayed at a senior center in Scottsdale, AZ.
I know that without the professional momentum I gained early on it would have been impossible to take advantage of a national stage for my practice. Now I look forward to the challenges of expanding my definition of art and community.
Victor Maldonado is a Mexican-American artist who works from his personal heritage and culture. Maldonado creates images that delicately balance the humorous with pointed commentary on our culture and his contemporary aesthetic.