One glance at the large eyed women that fill the murals and paintings of South Florida artist Amanda Valdes and it’s no surprise who her earliest artistic influence was. “Tim Burton is a huge source of inspiration,” she says of the movie director of Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and (of course) Big Eyes. “So many of the cartoons that came out when I was a kid were bright, super saturated colors. I was five when Nightmare Before Christmas came out and the subdued colors and juxtaposition got me.”
The Miami born Valdes had her artistic side nurtured by three generations of women in her family. “At two years old my Mom gave me finger paints and I’d cover myself from head to toe in the paint. My great-grandma would do art projects with me like make paper dolls. My grandmother would point out murals on the street to me.”
Valdes always saw art as a hobby. It wasn’t until co-workers gave her a nudge that she decided to make “artist” her job title. Art has been her full time job for a decade now as she finds herself bi-coastal residing in both Jupiter, Florida and Portland, Oregon.
Amanda Valdes Exhibition
I was first exposed to Amanda Valdes’ art when her Sirena de la Muerte mural was selected as the artwork for the cover of my novel The End of the Century. Her (big) eye catching design brought intrigue and beauty I can only hope the text inside lived up to.
There is a mural of this character on 501 Fern Street in West Palm Beach and also one in Des Moines, Iowa of all places.
While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, you can judge the artist from this fantastic image. Valdes will be showing off her paintings at a solo exhibition this Saturday night, June 8 from 5-9 p.m. at WYN 317 Gallery, 4320 NW 2nd Ave., MIami. The event is free of charge, will feature drinks and music, an Ecuadorian food truck, and will quite probably give you a chance to witness Valdes compose a live painting.
The exhibition of about 25 or her works is titled Chiaroscuro, translated from Italian that means light dark. These series of works all painted within the last year attempt to find beauty in the light and shadow.
Getting her art ready for the exhibition has been an all consuming job for Valdes these last weeks. She’s fighting through nerve pain that will require neck surgery in the summer. There was also a fire she had to fight. “We had these string lights set up that overheated. I smelled plastic burning at 1 am when I would have normally been sleeping. Good thing I wasn’t. I unplugged everything before it got too bad. But a blanket is a goner and it burned a huge hole in my vintage couch.”
Fortunately both she and the art survived fully intact.