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Andrea Pramuk | Painter

Artmuse welcomes artist, Andrea Pramuk. Born in the city of Baton Rouge in the great state of Louisiana, Andrea had the good fortune to be surrounded by creative family members. She attended the Kansas City Art Institute where she earned her BFA and later earned her MFA at the University of Texas at Austin. Her delicate work, inspired by personally pivotal events, is translucent, fluid, and in some instances seems to emit light. She has traditionally worked in a smaller scale but is embarking on making larger pieces after her recent show at E.A.S.T.

Fortified with her fave food of chips and salsa (welcome to Austin!), informed by her creative upbringing, and influenced by a bevy of iconic artists, Andrea’s art is about understanding this complex and beautiful world we inhabit.














CC: What five words best describe you?

AP: Patient, compassionate, peace-loving, methodical, calm.

CC: Where did you grow up? Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Baton Rouge, LA in the early 1970s. My father was an LSU art professor (emeritus) at the time (now retired) so I spent a lot of time at art openings, slide lectures and hanging out with graduate students in their studios and at parties. Now and then, I would sit in on my Dad’s figure drawing and still-life classes. When I was really little, he would keep me occupied while he was painting by handing me a brush and paint with paper taped to a board on an easel.

My mother was a commercial artist at a library in Ohio before she and my dad got married in 1959. She stopped working in order to raise my sister Clare and me, giving us her full attention. Then, after we were old enough to fend for ourselves, she went back to work as a museum curator. Today, she volunteers (at the age of 80) at a local doll museum.

Baton Rouge was going through desegregation in the early 70s, so the public schools were reorganized to equalize the balance of white to black students. This was an interesting time where I learned that people of different races and cultures are more alike than different and why it’s so important to treat people from other cultures with respect. LSU is a big draw for professors and students from other countries especially the Middle East, so my classmates came from all over the world – it was a real gris-gris of cultures.

Baton Rouge is a very colorful place in more ways than one. I loved growing up in a festival atmosphere with the Beaux Arts balls and Mardi Gras parades, all set amidst a very lush tropical environment. Putting on a costume was a pretty regular thing for me.

CC: What did you want to do or be when you grew up?
 I was drawn to being a biologist, physicist or a musician. My mother really wanted me to be a musician because of my long fingers, so I took piano, violin, blues and classical guitar lessons. I never thought that art was something you do for a living because it was just something I always did. Also, I cannot add or subtract, but have developed a private numerology of sorts. Numbers are important.

CC: Were you always drawn to art? What is it that drives you to create?
 I’ve always been drawn to art because of my background; it’s in my blood. I create art because it’s the only thing that “scratches that itch” if you know what I mean? Part of making the work that I do now requires looking for that mental space I refer to as “runner’s high” that one might only experience making pictures.

CC: Who are a few of your favorite artists?
 Pat SteirCy TwomblyAlice NeelHelen FrankenthalerJoan MitchellBasquiat.

CC: What is your current medium and what other mediums do you work in?
 I currently work in mixed media:  Watercolor, alcohol inks, oil, encaustic and cold wax on Ampersand Claybord™. I am trained in ceramics, metals, wood shop and also printmaking, but have not done any of those mediums in years. I would like to experiment more with photography and video, both things I’ve just never gotten a good handle on.



CC: What makes a piece successful in your eyes?
 I know I’ve made a successful piece if I find meaning beyond the materials while creating, viewing and experiencing it. Also, it helps if others are moved by it so I’m not making work in a vacuum.

CC: What inspires your work?
 My current body of work called After-life is inspired by a collective of experiences I recently experienced in a very short period of time. My father had a catastrophic stroke, a close friend of mine passed away and the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico creating one of the largest human-made environmental disasters in history. Top that with the biggest tsunami ever to hit Japan and hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, both causing human and natural suffering beyond comprehension.

The only way for me to deal with these issues and my disappointment with our government and society as a whole was to work through it, digest it and represent it in a way I’ve found otherwise verbally impossible, and, it takes more than one kind of paint to do that. I also wanted to figure out a way I could help support my (now) personal causes by making and sharing art about these things.














CC: What is your process in creating a piece? They look quite intricate.

AP: I developed my process out of the need to create art, but within the constraints of having very little time. I start with many layers of watercolor. I use puddles of water that I drop pigment into and swirl around. I leave all the splashy accidents that can happen which is my small way of being punk rock. Each layer has to dry overnight allowing the water, gravity and the unlevel nature of my studio to work their own magic in the painting.

I never know how the painting will look the next day, which brings an element of playfulness into the images. Then, I add a variety of layers using other materials and to finish, I rub on cold wax medium and then buff it out with a soft cloth to enhance the veins, dips and valleys in the paint film and to unify the surface. Each painting takes several months to complete so I work on several at once.














CC: What are your thoughts on the growing accessibility and affordability of art on the Internet?
 I think it’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it’s awesome that artists can promote themselves online at very little cost, me, being a good example. I have benefited greatly from sales to networking opportunities between my website, blog, online store, etc. On the other hand, with the rise of sites that show, sell and print work for any artist, without curatorial input, lessen the art collecting experience for others. Like a free for all, everyone can be an artist online.

I do also believe in seeing and experiencing art in person versus only online. There should be balance between both showing and selling online and in a physical space. Today, I think artists need both.

Making art affordable can certainly help an artist’s career if it gets the right exposure. I think everyone should be presented the opportunity to buy a good piece of art regardless of one’s economic status. If they can buy art in a well-curated and carefully thought out environment…even better.

CC: Why do you think art is important?
 I think art is important because nothing else challenges you in the same way to question things and solve problems. I do also believe that art has the power to change the social and political landscapes of the world, naïve as that may be.

CC: What piece of art would you most love to own?
 If we are talking about any piece of art in existence, then I might have an unexpected answer to this question. I have so much love and respect for the institutions that house great art, I would rather be able to go and visit the art where it lives, like an old friend. Also, I prefer to look at bodies of work as opposed to individual pieces and in a quiet uncluttered, non-distracting environment.

I like to preserve that longing to see a great work of art, so it’s not just about seeing the art, but also about the experience getting to and being with it, making each encounter that much more special and unique. Seeing my favorite artwork every day might not provide me with the same satisfaction.

Having said all of that, I do have a friend, who will remain nameless, who had a girlfriend that owned a very large original Magritte painting. He told me that there was absolutely nothing better than making love under Magritte. Not an image I will soon forget.

CC: Favorite museum or gallery?
 I would have to say the MetMOMA or the Frick or the Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel both in Houston. Too many to choose just one. I would like to travel to France and London — haven’t done that yet. I spent a summer in Florence in another lifetime studying art via the SACI program and was able to witness some of the most incredible art I’ve ever experienced just by walking down the street.



CC: Who are your favorite artists and what do you like about their work?
 Jennifer Chenoweth is my favorite artist on She and I went to college together at the Kansas City Art Institute in the mid 80s. Recently, we reconnected here in Austin and I’ve been working with her as a Generous Artist.

I love her work particularly because it has a certain freedom and dangerousness about it that makes me feel uninhibited and simultaneously uncomfortable while in the same room with it, very much like work by the abstract expressionists or the Ramones.

Not every artist can pull that off, only good ones.

CC: What advice do you have for someone just starting their art collection?
 You should collect what you like or what grabs you, not what goes with your décor; number one. Collecting art is like being a filter for your own personal taste, style and interests. Filter out what you like and allow the art collection to define you. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and the art in the process. You can always change your décor to suit the art later.

CC: What is your favorite piece in your art collection?
 I do have a pretty sizable collection of art. I mostly collect small pieces since I have an affinity for miniatures and objects that are easy to move. I would have to say my favorite work is by my father, Edward Pramuk. He painted pictures of pianos for many years. I have the first collage he did in the piano series and the last in the series.

CC: What is Living Artfully to you?
 Living artfully to me is being able to make and look at art everyday and to connect with other artists doing the same. If I can make the world a better place by making art…even better.



CC: Do you have any shows or projects you are currently working on?
 I am currently in a show at Pump Project’s Flex Space in East Austin called Group Hug!! The show was curated by Jaime Salvador Castillo. The work was selected from contestants from his annual Eyes Got It competition and will be up through February 24, 2012. One of the pieces on called My Mother’s Sweater is on display and available for sale.

I am a member of the group Artists Changing Tomorrow whose goal it is to use art to improve arts education in rural areas. Our bi-annual auction is coming up February 18, 2012  in Round Top, Texas. One of my pieces called Tree of Life #1 is featured in the exhibition and will be sold at silent auction. All proceeds go to ARTS (Arts for Rural Texas).

I also have a few paintings in this show. Austin Art Connections in collaboration with Lytle Pressley Contemporary presents “The Goldilocks Show”. The exhibit will be on display from March 3 – 11, 2012 at Lytle Pressley Contemporary, 1214 W. 6th St, Austin, TX 78703.

Also, I am planning a 2-person show with my friend Judith Simonds, venue to be determined.

CC: What are your plans for your art in the future?
 I plan on making larger work. I have started a new group of paintings called Trees of Life that I’m kind of in love with right now. These trees connect all the dots I’ve been grappling with between life, death and the environment. I’m excited to see the new work on a larger scale.

CC: Do you have any hobbies?
 I like to cook and pretend I don’t over water plants. I am currently delving into vegetarian gluten-free cooking due to some problems with chemical and food allergies. I find difficult cuisine a worthy challenge. Also, I am learning a lot about wine that I find fascinating. I foster Mexican ruby-throated hummingbirds in my yard. Did you know they fly solo, non-stop back to Mexico each year?

CC: What are you most proud of?
 I am most proud of mastering the things in life I thought I had no control over. You can accomplish most anything and free yourself if you really want it bad enough.



CC: Favorite food?
 That’s easy. Chips and salsa = the perfect food. Next would be fried chicken with pickled jalapenos from the Gold’n Crisp in LaGrange, Texas. Everyone must go there, eat in the car like everyone else.

CC: Favorite books/music?
 I’m currently reading books about other artists for inspiration to see how they manage(d) to survive in the world. The latest one is on Matisse. I listen to jazz, rock, funk, blues. I really like anything funky. My boyfriend, John Orr Franklin, is an amazing musician and a vinyl collector so I am constantly surrounded with music, thus completing the circle.

CC: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
 I’ve always been an artist, so that’s a tough question. I was on the fence about either becoming a professional classical guitarist or a visual artist at about the age of 18 – I chose to be an artist because I suffer from severe performance anxiety. Little did I know how much performance there was in art! I currently hold a second career in marketing and graphic design for Ampersand, an art materials manufacturer here in Austin, so I feel I would not stray very far from the arts if I did have to choose another career.

CC: If you could have one super power–what would it be and why?
 Not sure if this is a super power, but if I could magically cure cancer and diabetes, I would totally do it. Wait. That’s Jesus, was he a super hero?

CC: What is your personal credo or motto?
This one might be overused, but “Life is short”, something I tell myself every day. What’s the point of living life if you don’t make each day count? Today could very well be your last. Do something for yourself however small, art or otherwise, every day…you will be a happier person and you will be that much closer to where you want to be in life. If it means sleeping just a bit less, so be it.


Written by Colleen Cassady | contributor


















Andrea Pramuk | Fire Moon

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Framed: $135 / $220 / $395+
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Andrea Pramuk | Rain Blossoms no. 8

Print: $25 / $75 / $200+
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Andrea Pramuk | My Mother’s Sweater

Print: $25 / $75 / $200+
Framed: $135 / $220 / $395+
Free U.S. shipping for all framed prints!



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