Artist Amanda Valdes and her Goth Darling Dolls

View from the Harvey is a Weekly column by Sandra Schulman, arts writer, music and film producer.

Amanda Valdes mural at WIne Scene in West Palm Beach
Amanda Valdes mural at WIne Scene in West Palm Beach

Artist Amanda Valdes could be one of her doe eyed, goth painted dolls, but she isn’t. The raven haired, porcelain skinned beauty says they are not self portraits in that sense, but are instead a result of her visual fascination with dolls as a child, her love of travel and how makeup and costuming transforms and defines female identity.

The West Palm Beach artist is having, as they say in the art world, a major “moment” with her art of creepy darling Goth girls, all heavy eyelashed doe eyes and angles and cartoon like allure. Her art, from large murals at Wine Scene and Howley’s Diner to smaller pen and ink drawings and paintings at ArtHouse 429 lasers in on the fun, freaky festooned GIRL. Waitresses, Mermaids, Day of the Dead Dames and other Coquettes parade and pose in her distinctly Alpha Female world. Sometimes they float in a sea of pills, a symbol she says of “how society tends to medicate everything.”

Amanda Valdes Scissorhands
Amanda Valdes Scissorhands

After attending Dwyer High School, she attended Florida Atlantic University for a semester before transferring to the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute. At the same time, she was a fulltime product specialist at MAC Cosmetics, where she learned about the transformative power of paints and powders. She is now a full time artist and has never looked back, expanding her art into textiles and possible animation and with two high profile art events in the coming weeks.

The distinctive look of filmmaker Tim Burton is a big influence, as well as horror movies, Frida Kahlo, Vermeer, and Saturday morning cartoons. She has been taking the paintings into a more sculptural realm, a new mermaid painting has 3D sculpted barnacles –with gleaming gold interiors around the edges, while other pieces have thickly applied paint that bring the painted object – hair, tentacles – into sharper relief.

Amanda Valdes caught the attention of rapper Vanilla Ice who featured her paintings on his DIY Network Show, “The Vanilla Ice Project.” Valdes has also appeared in a number of publications including West Palm Beach Magazine, Jupiter Magazine, The Palm Beach Post, and the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Valdes along with six local artists was selected to paint outdoor murals on seven bay doors on an active warehouse in Northwood Village. The competition, conceived by ArtHouse429 in collaboration with CANVAS and the Community Redevelopment Agency, took place directly across the street from the ArtHouse429 gallery on 25th Street. The event was open to the public and art lovers could cast a vote for their favorite using the CANVAS app. Amanda was the winner of CANVAS Local Showdown as announced at the CANVAS Closing Brunch event on Sunday, November 22, 2015.

“I’ve already done several murals,” Amanda Valdes says “and really enjoy them as they take you out of the comfort zone of your studio and force you to work bigger and harder. My whole house has already turned into my studio. The first one I did was for the big wall outside of Respectable Street Café. It was searingly hot and difficult, but very gratifying when it was done. My new project of designing my work to be printed on textiles is another challenge that has me rethinking how I make my work. If I don’t get creative every day I really start to get restless. I just crave that outlet and constantly think of new directions I can take my art in.”

A new series of small pen, ink and acrylic drawings line the walls of ArtHouse 429, delicate filigree renderings of her damsels. A particular fascination is with Mexico and Frida Kahlo, the skulls and flowers and decoration that the pioneering Kahlo and the country drape themselves in.

With her high profile murals, new show and designs, Artist Amanda Valdes is this city’s well-deserved It Girl having a big art moment in the dark, tropic sun.

Learn More How West Palm Beach Artist Amanda Valdes is Having, as they Say in the Art World, a Major “Moment” with her Art of Creepy Darling Goth Girls.

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