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York artist's work to be featured at DNC
When Alex Dwyer got the call from one of her artist friends in Los Angeles telling her he was tasked with curating an art exhibit during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, she was not surprised.
She describes Warren Brand as an amazing curator.
But when Brand, whose company Branded Arts is renowned for connecting artists with commercial industry, asked if she knew of any artists from central or southern Pennsylvania whose work might fit the convention exhibit's theme of social issues, Dwyer began racking her brain. She thought back to a piece her organization — The Parliament Arts Organization, a non-profit she founded in 2010 to help revitalize downtown York using art — had commissioned earlier in the year for a local law firm.
"I immediately thought of Andi," Dwyer said.
Andi Simpson, of York, will have her work shown during the DNC's convention at the Rock the Vote: Truth to Power gallery alongside the likes of Banksy and Shepard Fairey, artists known the world over for their thought-inspiring and visually stunning art.
Dwyer said it is exciting to have one of her own, a friend, an artist and a Yorker, exhibited on such a large stage. She said Simpson has been a friend and supporter of Parliament almost since the beginning. Her studio was housed in Parliament's first gallery for several years.
"A Yorker's work is going to be on display at one of the largest conventions the U.S. has to offer," Dwyer said. "I'm glad our talent is being shown to the world."
In her own words: Andi Simpson hails from a little farm in southern York County. The 36-year-old artist endures, like many of her ilk, a constant ebb-and-flow relationship with creativity.
"It is totally an ebb and flow. I am truly a creative person, so when I am not painting, I am working on arts and crafts, I am sculpting something, I am creating," Simpson said.
After studying art at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, Simpson moved back to York in 2006 and began a small graphic design business, Andita Design House, in downtown York. Since then she has held numerous exhibits of her own and has been commissioned privately for work. She transitioned from oils and realism to acrylic and abstract painting after taking a class at the York Art Association. People seemed to love her new medium so much she stuck with it, she said.
So when she got the call for her work to be featured in Philadelphia, she was ecstatic. She said she was introduced to Brand through Dwyer in a text exchange that can only be described as, well, brief.
"It was like, 'Andi, meet Warren. Warren, meet Andi,' and the rest was just us talking," Simpson said.
Brand and another artist talked to Simpson about her work and about what she might bring to the convention.
"It was just so cool. They were telling me how much they liked my work. It was really surreal." she said. "It all happened really fast."
Simpson will attend some of the festivities surrounding the gallery in Philadelphia. There are a few artists and speaker panels she hopes to see and listen to.
'Themis': The piece on display at the Rock the Vote gallery, which is at the Union Transfer, 990 Spring Garden St. in Philadelphia, is called "Themis." It is a large, abstract acrylic painting of the blindfolded Lady Justice and is displayed positioned behind two desks covered in law books representing both the prosecution and the defense.
Simpson said the premise behind "Themis," besides being commissioned by a law firm, was the notion of justice being blind.
"I was attracted to the whole 'blind justice' thing; that is something that really resonated with me," Simpson said.
Given the current climate in the country and abroad, the work is something she hopes will resonate with the crowd coming to Philadelphia.
"Art is such a cool thing," she said. "You can look at a painting and ... you will have a certain reaction, you will walk away with something personal."
"Themis" has been delivered and will be in place when the Rock the Vote: Truth to Power gallery opens. For a glimpse at some of Simpson's other works, she has a blog, a website and a Facebook page, each of which can be found by Googling her name.
"This is just an example of the work Parliament wants to do with its artists," Dwyer said. "I'm really happy that (Simpson) was kind of the first one we were able to get something big."