Exploring the many forms of art
Eric Alleman wanted to forge his own way ...
YOUNGSTOWN — For artist Eric Alleman, the true essence of creativity isn’t about being tied down to one outlet of expression, but instead exploring multiple avenues.
He writes poetry, plays and short stories between making small collages and large-scale paintings. In the past, he was a spoken word performance artist, and a rave DJ in the Columbus and Cleveland scenes. For Alleman, his efforts are all products of the same creative outlet.
“In the past, I was a DJ performing under the name Beating Eric, and that was pretty experimental. I incorporated a lot of table loops, locking record grooves by tying down the tone arms or putting weights on records.
“I haven’t played music in a while, but now I am back into art and writing. I am also currently getting into film-making.
“For a long time, I felt like I needed to define myself as a painter or a writer only. I finally came to the point in my life where I am no longer attached to those distinctions. Now I feel lucky I can make these pieces and express myself,” Alleman said.
Over the years, Alleman has done primarily acrylic paintings, but loves collage as a medium. He said he loves collage in visual art and in music-making as well, whether it’s sampling or DJing.
When it comes to creating, Alleman is influenced by the literary works of author William Burrows and musicians such as David Bowie, who incorporated the cutup technique in music. Alleman creates collages from a very meditative approach in which he tries his hardest not to have an agenda, statement or a desire, but instead he wants the art to present itself.
“I’m also influenced by the films of David Lynch, Jean Luc Goddard and the music of Tom Waits. The COVID-19 times had a big impact on my perspective. I stopped making art at that time and I just did not feel like I had anything to say.
“So when I decided I was going to start making things again, I was able to do it from a place where I was not trying to make a statement. I would find images that I like from old art books and I would cut the individual images with an X-acto knife and then I would just move them around until I feel that shock or buzz that lets me know the piece is done.
“I love being able to interpret the piece as well,” Alleman said.
Alleman is a self-taught artist, but he said he is lucky to have a number of artistic mentors. He lives on the West Side of Youngstown with his wife, Michelle, and daughters, Sophia and Stella.
Alleman has relapsing, remitting multiple sclerosis and said that he creates art in spurts. He said there are times that he is not able to create as much. Therefore, when Alleman has the chance, he strives to make the most of it.
Alleman said that it’s through the support of his family and his wife that he is able to be an artist. Balancing parenthood and the artist lifestyle has been a growth experience for Alleman.
“Parenthood has significantly influenced, I would say all aspects of myself, including art. I think for a long time, my art and my life was very ego-driven and self-focused. So getting married and having children made me realize that I wasn’t the center of it.
“When I was 11 years old in 1986, my family and I moved out to California. My parents were Scientologists, and I joined the Sea Org (Scientology organization) when I was 13 years old. So I have been on my own for awhile,” Alleman said.
” I am no longer affiliated with Scientology. ”
In the Alleman family, music and art run through the bloodlines. Eric’s older brother, John Carrozzino, is a guitarist who resides in Florida. Alleman’s grandfather, John Alleman, was a Doctor of Music at Youngstown State University and taught at the Dana School of Music.
“My dad, Steve Alleman, and my uncle, Brian Alleman, were both jazz musicians who went to school at YSU. So half of my family were blue-collar steelworkers and the other half were artists and musicians. Because of my father, grandfather and uncle, jazz music was a big early influence on me. I loved Charlie Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Cannonball Adderley, Wynton Marsalis, Ornette Coleman and Pharaoh Sanders.
“I grew up wanting to forge my own way, so I got more into writing, which was my first artistic expression,” Alleman said.
“When we moved out to California, I was homeschooled. I never went back to conventional schooling until I went to college at Columbus State Community College.
“When I was a kid, I wrote stories and plays. In my great-grandmother’s basement, we would put on pirate acts and turn off the lights and tell scary stories,” Alleman said.
Alleman attended college at Columbus University, but said he never connected with the higher education scene. He started focusing on his writing during his late teens and early 20s.
“I then got married to my wife, Michelle, while living in Columbus. We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this August.
“A few years after we got married, we moved to Cleveland, where I got involved in the rave scene in the ’90s,” he said.
In addition to traveling to see various rave shows, Alleman also started getting into performing. His musical influences at the time were bands such as The Fall, Devo, Negativeland and Evolution Control Committee (ECC). In fact, the Columbus act Evolution Control Committee, was founded by one of Alleman’s music and art mentors, Mark Gunderson, (aka TradeMark Gunderson).
“Gunderson was my huge art influence. He encouraged me that art could be unique, do-it-yourself, individualistic and personal. Another artistic mentor of mine was Raymond Bobgan, executive director of the Cleveland Public Theater. He really supported me as a playwright and helped me produce a number of plays,” Alleman said.
Alleman is now interested in making narrative films using the collage process with stop motion animation and live action.