We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Levy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking has always been an important part of my journey as an artist. Experience and knowledge help create interesting and informed art. When I graduated from Emerson College the US was involved in yet another war and I could not tolerate it. I decided to move to Paris, France. I spent the summer trying to learn to speak French (!), sold all my belongings and bought a one way ticket to Paris. I remember sitting in the middle of Charles De Gaulle Airport thinking what have I done! I can’t even read the signs! I sat on that bench for a couple of hours. Then I told myself I can’t spend the rest of my life in this aeroport (as nice as it is) I had a reservation at a youth hostel for that first night so I had a mission to find it! I made my way into the city and found my hostel. I was really lucky and had a single room my first night. When I turned the light on I saw a beautiful mural of NYC on the wall. Being a New Yorker, I felt right at home! I spent a lot of time at the Pere Lachaise cemetery where Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin, Oscar Wilde and many other famous artists are buried. I befriended some local fellow artists where we drank a lot wine and lived in a squat of a small abandoned house where you had to climb on a garbage can to a rusted out old refrigerator to a low lying eave to enter. The walls were covered in poems and paintings. One evening the squat police came and took a few of us in the paddy wagon. The police were extremely kind and understanding and once they checked everyone’s id they let us go. The squat was torn down the following week. In Paris you need a ticket to enter and exit the metro station but it is (or used to be) easy to slip under if necessary. As a young and unemployed artist money was tight so I occasionally would take a free trip on Le Metro. That happened to be the case this particular day I was waiting on the metro. 2 Metro Police came up to me and asked me for my ticket S’il Vous Plait. I knew full well I had no ticket but was pretending to look for one in my bag. As I am searching my bag looking for something I know does not exist and super scared at what might happen to me, I started to take out my paints, my brushes, my paper, my small jug of water for painting with. The police are smiling as I remove my art supplies, ” You are an artist”? Yes, I say smiling! “Let us see some of your work!” So I shared some of my paintings that I was working on and they loved them! They noticed my small tattoo, complimented it and started showing me their tattoos! It was awe- some! They forgot about my ticket, and told me to have a great day! I love Paris so much!!! In the summer of 2001, my boyfriend invited me to move from NYC to a small town in Wisconsin. I spoke to my mom about it. She said that is crazy. Why would you move to Minnesota. I talked to my Dad about it. He said we live in NY for a reason. It is the best place on earth. We have the mountains, the ocean, 4 seasons, everything you need. What’s in Minnesota? Both my parents thought it was a bad idea so I said yes! We left Manhattan September 11th, 2001. It was intense. The Twin Towers were literally burning in our rear view mirror. I am so grateful for the risks I’ve been able to make and take.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been a professional artist for 20 years now. Early on in my career I heard some great advice… enjoy the journey…these words have carried me through good and bad times! I am neuro-diverse and while in most aspects of my life this is a burden, it enhances my art…I strive to tantalize, amuse, and occasionally enlighten my audience…I keep my standards high and continuously work harder…It is fulfilling to see the progress of my work from 20 years ago…I look forward to see what I’ll be creating in the next 20 years!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When my friends come to town I like to take them to the awesome vegetarian restaurants in town… Kalachandji’s, Spiral Diner, Cosmic Cafe or V Eats…. we would check out some art at the Nasher, DMA, The Crow Museum of Asian Art, and RO2 art gallery… we would visit the beautiful Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and play chess if the pieces are out! We would visit the zoo and walk around white rock lake…Fun trip!!!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to my husband and son who encourage and inspire me. Also , so much gratitude to anyone who has collected my Art or paid me a compliment… that is what really keeps me going!Love you!!!