Not everyone moves to the Valley from elsewhere. Stanley Casselman, an internationally renowned painter now based in New York City, was born in Phoenix in 1963. “I was conceived in Amarillo, Texas,” he says, explaining his love of the Dallas Cowboys.
Casselman’s desert origins certainly inform his work. He says he is influenced by the “light and color” of our Valley sunrises. He was a stand-out ceramist at Phoenix Country Day School in his teen years, but says he never thought of himself as an artist until halfway through his studies at Pitzer College in Southern California. He started developing rear-illuminated paintings that emit light, and his work only got more high-tech over time. About 10 years ago, “things shifted” yet again, he says. Those “things” included a new silk-screen process in which he painted on polyester fabric. These days, Casselman paints on the back side of the screen “toward the viewer,” creating novel and evocative effects. “If I want to raise the bar visually, I have to make something nobody’s made before,” he says.
Casselman creates in a flurry: Not until he climbs out of “the blender,” as he calls it, does he critique what he’s done. He’s a harsh critic of his own work, saying only about a third of his pieces pass muster as “really good,” with maybe one in 10 pieces ranking as “off the chain” (i.e. great). He doesn’t want anything less than that leaving his studio. Casselman’s aspirations are also lofty. He strives to someday be regarded as on par with the great abstract painters like Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock.
Casselman is being honored as 2017’s alum of the year at Phoenix Country Day School. His work can be found at stanleycasselman.com.
— Deborah Lewis
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