March 8, 2012

I heart art: Andrew Saftel


I’ve been a huge fan of artist Andy Saftel ever since I first saw one of his paintings hanging over the bar in my neighborhood Ruby Tuesday. His thick use of encaustic-like paint and the way he attaches found objects to the canvas reminds me of another favorite artist (and southerner), Jasper Johns. Saftel is from Massachusetts, studied art in San Francisco, but has called East Tennessee home since 1985. His work is highly collected and I often stumble upon pieces of it on display.

Chosen as this year’s Dogwood Arts Limited Edition Print, his work Scenic Road (shown above) was inspired by a postcard written in 1951 by someone who had taken a trip to the Smoky Mountains. It depicts a small ramshackle cabin in Saftel’s signature style, with whimsical shapes and patterns surrounding it. The postmark, taken from the original piece of mail that inspired the work, overlaps the words “Mama said let’s go home,” also from the card.

I love it because it reminds me of my people, where I come from, and what feels familiar to me.

In describing Scenic Road, the artist mentions the theme of “how people move through time together; how they interact and communicate with each other; how important the hand written word is; how handwriting communicates more than what is being said; what is lost between humans as time moves on; what replaces older methods and materials in our modern world; and how people find hope in different ways in the face of a complicated world.

I know museums are filled to the brim with art, and as a student of art history, I was taught to look at all different sorts of works and see something to appreciate. It’s just that there aren’t nearly as many pieces out there that I’d want to hang on my wall and look at every day. Andrew Saftel’s work is that for me. It just makes me happy.

You can purchase a copy of the work here for $100, printed in a limited run of 750. I know I plan to. To read more about Andrew Saftel or to see more of his amazing work, visit