San Francisco. Let’s start there.
Not because that's where Kristen van Diggelin was born and raised; she was. Not because it’s where she enjoyed her first success as a painter; she did. Nor, later on, because that’s where she would start her exquisite vanIvey line of handcrafted ceramics and enjoy success with that too; and still does.
No, we begin with San Francisco – or more specifically, an old four story apartment building located at 2322 Fillmore St. where until recently Kristen lived – because that is where the drumbeat of creativity that courses through her veins were aided and abetted by a cadre of benevolent ghosts who lived under the very same roof in the 1950s-60s:
Seminal Beat artists & poets like Craig Kauffman, Ed Moses, Jim Newman, Les and Mary Ker, and Jay DeFeo, among others.
In fact, while checking out the apartment for the very first time, Kristen's soon to be new landlord asked her 'Have you ever heard of Jay DeFeo?'
Nodding, dumfounded and in disbelief, she listened as he pointed to the window ten feet above their heads explaining how this famous artist lived in his building and how they had to break down the wall to get her big painting out.
"I could actually see under the window where the wall had been repaired", Kristen told us. "So you can imagine my shock upon this discovery!"
DeFeo, especially -- she of the legendary story of 'The Rose' -- has always played a central role in Kristen’s development as an artist. Bill Berkson’s 1996 Art in America essay entitled “In the Heat of the Rose”, in fact, left “such an impact on my understanding of the practice of painting, what painting could be. I was so impressed to learn about Jay’s work, and proud that she was from the Bay Area too.”
To this day, every time Kristen teaches a beginning painting class, her students start with that article.
A recent move to North Carolina may have changed the view… but not Kristen's viewpoint.
“Whether it’s painting or ceramics, I’m always interested in the Baroque: beauty and distortion. With ceramics, I love the rustic, earthy quality of the materials; the gritty clay, uneven surface of the glaze, juxtaposed with refined lines & ornate details.”
“I find the two practices to be very different ways of thinking and making. I’m never perfectly satisfied with my work an any given moment… but I’m always excited about what’s next.”
All we can say to that is: Agreed