Art The Heck displays and sells the artwork of self-taught artist Thomas Van Housen, whose paintings are created on reclaimed and recycled surfaces (lauan plywood, flooring samples, yardsticks, upholstery samples) with with recycled materials (secondhand paint using textures from kitchen and office gadgets, bottle caps, strainers, shelf liners, items run over in the street, and other found objects). Nothing is wasted, even a stray pencil or the smallest strip of trimmed wood finds its way into his pieces.
Van Housen will also combine laser toner transfers (typically images drawn from the sciences, the collective unconscious, personal inspiration and pop culture) in his work, often seen in the results of painting commissions from clients.
Van Housen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics, with emphasis in Actuarial Science and Accounting from the University of Nebraska. After a career as an actuary and headhunter, he left corporate culture in 1990 to concentrate on painting and computer consulting to families and small businesses. In 1996 Van Housen sold 41 paintings to RJ Reynolds based on the Moonlight Tobacco Company logo and pack designs (the series toured the country for a year), and in 1997 he was selected by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to create a series of paintings on the Hale-Bopp Comet for the departing Chairman of the Grants Committee. For many years his art was displayed at Gordon, a famed Chicago restaurant, and sold to prominent Chicagoans and travelers from around the world. Among his patron, a former Chairman of the Board of Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Over nearly three decades, Van Housen has created and sold over 1,400 paintings, many of which are now being re-sold for thousands of dollars.