Dan Addington adds texture to campus with art exhibit

Allison Wordes–Staff Writer

He thought he would end up teaching or working with students; because that’s the only thing you can do with a major in theater and art, right?

Chicago gallery owner, Dan Addington, whose work is on display in Dordt’s art gallery, made his way into the art business after gaining experience in college and graduate school.

“It’s a tough biz; it’s not always easy,” Addington said about owning a gallery business. Getting his work out before the public eye and receiving feedback is what keeps him going.

Addington studied art and theater at Northwestern College in Orange City. Being an outgoing person, he preferred theater to painting. Theater, he said, is the more collaborative art form. After moving on to graduate school, however, he devoted himself to his first love – painting.

“I knew that down deep, it would be art that would sustain me,” said Addington.

While he missed acting, and the music that went with it, he found satisfaction in the solitary act of painting. Addington achieved his MA in painting at Illinois State University. Where would he go after that?


“I was doomed to the impracticability,” Addington said.

Yet, he is convicted that there are tons of jobs available in the field of art, if you only do your research. It’s a matter of working your way up, he said. For example?


“Just think of how many people are employed by a large museum or a film production crew or a community arts organization or a theater,” Addington said.

Design, he said, has a connection to engineering – and everything that is man-made has the art aesthetic. Fine arts are only one option.


Addington first began dabbling in encaustic (wax) art after a life-changing trip to Ireland.

“The ancient quality of the land made me want to do work that seemed ancient in a way,” Addington said, “Even timeless, yet still be contemporary.”

Tar, beeswax, oil paint and tree resin – all raw products of the earth – are his materials of choice. His tools are torches, heat guns, small irons and other dangerous equipment.

“They make a painting look like it might have just been dug up,” Addington said.

He began to travel around Europe more frequently, and was awed by the historical power in the monuments, stonework and parks.

His work is built on the idea of memory and how history affects memories. The red ribbon element in his work is his way of bringing vibrant, necessary color into a piece. It also keeps a viewer’s interest by decorating, wrapping, adorning, binding.

Art professor Matt Drissell got up-close and interactive with Addington’s work. He had permission to repair an area that had been damaged in handling, specifically, Splendor of Desire. Art restoration is another career that requires precision, and a knowledge of history.

Students this semester taking Ancient Medieval Art History, which Drissell teaches, will be learning about the origins of encaustics, beginning with the Egyptians.

These older methods “demand physical participation,” per Drissell. Paint can be thick and full of layers, but wax takes it to the next level. An artists’ goal, said Drissell, is to engage the viewer for more than five seconds. Addington’s imagery and dimensionality does that. It’s nothing like the photo.

When asked to describe his studio, Addington spoke of a basement with lots of books and photos, guitars and paint and brushes, the cliché old leather chair. To him, there’s nothing better than when just beginning a new series, when there’s a lot going on at once.

Addington still reaches out to students with his artwork. With his time on campus, he visited the Design Foundations class, as well as held a workshop for Painting I. He recalls being a college student and all the events that influenced him to be an artist.

“Imagine being at the end of your life,” Addington said, “Knowing you ignored that call, and didn’t take the chance.”

Today, Addington owns his own gallery, and on the side performs guitar with other bands to fulfill his desire for musical collaboration.

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