We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Flanagan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
My artistic and creative career came through a rapid series of opportunity that I did not feel adequate or worthy of but I said yes to those opportunities. I had dedicated 8 years of my life to the study and practice of Hula & the Hawaiian Arts under the tutelage of Hula Master Leiola Galla in Tucson, AZ. I had taken time off to care for my super amazing grandmother who was suffering from dementia. I needed a creative outlet that did not demand strict practice or a ton of time. A friend and I started a fun arts & crafts group. Each member would share a different art form or craft each session. I really took to paper mache taught by local artist Chris Bishop. While shopping with a friend downtown she told the shop owner that I was an artist. It was the first time someone called me that. I’d been crafting/creating for maybe 3 months. The shop owner asked to see photos of my work and offered me wall space! I felt like a fraud but I took her up on her offer and started selling my work at the Gypsy Emporium in Old Town Artisans by the Tucson Museum of Art. I did my first Open Studio Tour for The Heart of Tucson Art guild a month later and I sold art! I decided to start taking painting classes and the following Open Studio Tour I was showing my paintings. At the same time I was volunteering to run art classes at the Boys & Girls Club. Within a year they asked me to apply for the Creative Arts Director Position and I got the job. All along I did not feel adequate and I was wondering, what do they know that I don’t know?! I also know that these opportunities don’t come along, like ever. So why not go for it. If I fail, perhaps I will learn something from it. If I succeed, then I will surprise myself and learn something from it! Currently I am still learning acrylic painting under the instruction under the Master Artist Guadalupe de la Torre in Menlo Park and selling my art at art markets. I am organizing my first pop-up art market with 40 vendors. This will be the first of many outdoor markets being planned. So much has happened in 2 years. I never saw it coming. It’s been a wild, amazing, gracious, beautiful ride.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My medium is acrylics and I paint on canvas. I have been painting from photographs that I’ve taken on hikes in Sabino Canyon at the base of the Catalina Mountain range in the Sonoran Desert. I also painted a historic home in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood and am currently working on a commission piece of a home surrounded by a date and citrus grove on Tucson’s northside. I make no illusions to the fact that I am only able to do this because of the amazing tutelage of Guadalupe de la Torre I feel like I a still learning and will be for many years to come. I’ve come a long way in a short space of time, but her depth of knowledge is vast and I’m so grateful that she is willing to share with me. What isn’t easy for me is to overcome my need for order and lines and roundness and symmetry. This does not always occur in nature. There is often times chaos and there can be beauty in that. So mentally I’m still trying to overcome that in my painting. I want to highlight the beauty I took for granted being born and raised in this wonderful unique Sonoran Desert. I’ve grown to cherish my birthplace and I want you to feel that when you look at my work. I want people to know that if you have always had a desire to be an artist that it is never too late to try. You may not think you have talent, but the right person could help you discover that you do. Try drawing lessons, or paintings lessons or pottery lessons. You’ll know soon enough if you have the ability to learn that skill. I always wanted to be a painter. My grandmother was a beatnik and her friends were painters and photographers and I thought they were so cool. High school art class crushed my spirit! I thought I had no talent. I didn’t know that there were skills I could learn and that I had something in me. So go for it! It’s never too late!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Okay so my best friend is British, born and raised and loves animals, so we would start at The Desert Museum! We would make an entire day of it because you have to see the place at night as well. Mt Lemmon would be next on our list because we have to have a nice nature hike and explore what animal we can see in the wild! Maybe some coati! And lots of photos would be taken. We’d search for mushrooms and ferns and and different types of moss and climb on logs and go to the ski lift which I will not be going on because I’m terrified of heights but he can have a go, and hopefully it will be the season when all of the ladybugs are up there (he’ll call them ladybirds, because, you know, the British). Then we have to hit the art scene downtown and go to Old Town Artisans and wander to the Tucson Museum of Art and Casa Cordova and eat at Cafe a la c’Art and walk around and see The Presidio Museum and then go to 4th Ave and stop in the Chocolate Iguana for an Italian Soda and hit up PopCycle. Is this all one day? I’m feeling ambitious! Okay, a new day and we have to go up A Mountain (I’m feeling brave aren’t I?) and see the view and then down and visit the studio where I paint, and to La Chaiteria for lunch and down to the Mercado and MSA Annex and perhaps the Loop to see the estuary and see if we can spot any wildlife! For a real ‘Western’ experience we would go to Traildust Town at night and see the gunfight show and eat at Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse (since he’s a carnivore…I’ll eat cornbread) and walk around the little faux old western town.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to thank my Kumu Hula Leiola Galla, and my Painting Mentor Guadalupe de la Torre. Thank you Casa Kira for encouraging me to do my first Heart of Tucson Art open studio tour and encouraging me to take over their social media. Thank you to my mom, Nancy Kirkpatrick who funds my painting lessons and cheers me on in painting and in life.