Gloria Vanderbilt 'thrilled' for first solo art show in Canada
TORONTO - She's well known for having her name emblazoned on designer jeans and writing numerous memoirs and works of fiction, but through it all, Gloria Vanderbilt has also pursued a passion for creating visual art.
With paintings and collages exhibited everywhere from galleries to "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson over five decades, Vanderbilt has been prolific both in the output of her creations and her presence in the art world — works she's now sharing with Canadians.
Continuing until June 22, the De Luca Fine Art Gallery in Toronto is staging what's being billed as the first solo art show in Canada for the famed New York artist and heiress, who is the mother of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.
Vanderbilt said gallery owner Corrado De Luca had seen a calendar featuring her paintings and expressed an interest in having her stage a show here.
"That's really how it happened, quite by accident, and I'm delighted," said the 89-year-old, elegantly adorned in a mix of neutral hues and draped in a shimmering scarf as mid-afternoon sunlight streamed through the gallery.
"I'm thrilled with the way the show is hung and the way (the paintings) are spaced out and the way they're lit, so I'm really thrilled to be here in this wonderful gallery."
The pieces set to be featured in the Toronto show comprise richly hued and layered acrylic works depicting a vast range of scenes, including nuptials in "Double Wedding," familial togetherness in "Red Balloon," a portrait of a guardian angel and various vibrantly coloured landscapes.
De Luca said for those who look at Vanderbilt's works and don't think about who she is, they "really see the artist in her."
"At first when you look at the paintings, you think even towards naive, in a way, and happy and colourful. But the more you look at them, the more you see that there's a mystery behind them, there's a little dark feel even to them, a melancholic feeling," he said.
"It's really her dreams mixed with reality in her life."
Vanderbilt also draws on notable women as muses, including the late actress and author Carol Matthau and actress Aurelia Thierree, the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin.
While she has never met Angelina Jolie, Vanderbilt said she was inspired to create a mixed media "fantasy portrait" of the Oscar winner after being inspired by emerald earrings the actress had worn to the Academy Awards.
"It's really like channelling," Vanderbilt said of her artistic process. "I often start a painting and I don't know what is going to go fall on the canvas. It comes from my imagination and my dreams and fantasies."
Vanderbilt said she adopts a similar approach of channelling when it comes to her writing, but finds painting to be "a lot more joyful."
"For one thing, there it is — you can see it. Whereas writing, it doesn't seem to have any reality unless somebody's reading it or it's up on a shelf somewhere, you know? It's a whole different process."
Yet with titles like "It Seemed Important at the Time: A Romance Memoir," "Obsession: An Erotic Tale" and "The Things We Fear The Most: Stories" published in recent years, Vanderbilt continues to thrive as both a fiction writer and memoirist, sharing candid stories of her famous loves and deeply personal loss.
She wrote of her son Carter's suicide in "A Mother's Story" published in 1997. Vanderbilt said this is her third year coming to Toronto for literary prizes created in his memory for emerging and established writers, sponsored by Exile Quarterly.
Vanderbilt has also been a regular fixture on her son Anderson's daytime talk show over the past several years. And while the chatfest wasn't renewed for a third season, the mother-son duo could soon be returning to the airwaves on a collaborative venture.
"I think we're going to do an HBO documentary together," said Vanderbilt.
And the focus of the prospective doc?
"Well, the subject is me," Vanderbilt said with a laugh.
"He's just sort of wonderful to work with," she added. "I just feel very easy with him and we have a lot of fun together. I think it's going to be fun to do."