Though she works by day at Kavi Gupta Gallery, don't brush Kristen VanDeventer off as a gallery assistant. When she's not mixing with some of the most talented artists in Chicago—like Danielle Gustafson-Sundell and Melanie Schiff—she's working on paintings at her West Side studio. Most interested in creating dialogues through the visual, VanDeventer uses a varied color palette to create mostly representational images inspired by everything, including daily life, the internet, images from books or even pictures that come to her while she's in the shower or lulling through a dream. In a nutshell, her paintings seem to act as subconscious realizations or reactions to things that we encounter everyday. On April 20, she opens a show at Roots & Culture Gallery with Carmen Price (it runs through May 17). We caught her via phone and chatted her up about her new, not-yet-finished body of work.
Tell me about your work and the upcoming show at Roots & Culture.
The show is going to be all painting, and the paintings that I'm making right now are pretty modest-sized work. They're all singular images that relate to each other and are sort of starting this subtle narrative, I think, like there'll be a silhouette of someone's face looking out, and another painting, for instance, is of an empty bedroom and the sheets are sort of ruffled up. So they're sort of all these images that, together, start a narrative, but then the way that they're painted is usually different depending on the image. Each has different colors, and the colors also relate to each other visually. Not that this is an installation, but everything is quite deliberate.
How do you think this works with Carmen's stuff?
There are definitely some relationships, but I think our work is very...his work does have a lot of narrative space, but I actually haven't seen his newest stuff so it's hard to say. But I know that Eric, the owner of the gallery, he's the one that cast the show together, so I'm sure he saw some sort of connections. We know each other and talk art together, but it's hard to say what the relationship is besides that; our work is really different, so I don't think it will be speaking to each other in a specific way.
So by day you work at Kavi Gupta. How do you think that may or may not influence your work?
I think it helps. At this point I've been working there so long, so it's just extremely helpful. My job requires me to look at images, tons of different artists, and think about how and why people make different objects and images. For me, it's pretty much a privilege to have a job like that—if you have to have a job. You have to work in a situation where you learn more about the commercial side of the business, but it's not a bad thing to know when you're an artist.
So if I were to come to your neighborhood, Ukrainian Village, where would you insist I visit?
It's strange because I just moved here. I lived on Logan Square in this one apartment for a really long time. Now I live on a main street, on Augusta, so it doesn't really feel like a neighborhood. I guess I would take you to Stella's because it's the closest bar. This Polish woman Stella owns the bar and she's really feisty. And she probably pours the stiffest drink in Chicago. She'll fill the glass up entirely with vodka, and then add a splash of tonic on top. It's ridiculous. If you order vodka and cranberry juice, it barely has a color.