Erik Mcallister can recall some of his earliest moments that he spent thinking about art. As a young child, he had a predilection towards artistic fields and a natural curiosity to fuel it. So while he didn't know it at the time, it was almost a given that he would become involved with the arts in a working capacity at some point in his life. It would just take a few twists and turns to get their first.
“I would always find myself drawing dragons and other stuff in grade school, but I grew out of it, but I would still think about it all the time,” Mcallister recalled. As he made his way out of high school, he soon found himself on a United States Navy vessel. Despite the new settings, art still hadn't quite left his mind, but there was much more on his plate now. “There’s not exactly any room in the military for art,” Mcallister stated. “Everything is about precision, and so there no room for finesse. It has already been thought out.”
After finishing his stint in the Navy though, Mcallister found himself at a new chapter in his life. “I got out of the military and needed to figure out what I need to do with my life,” he noted. His first civilian job was with a pool company, and after making his way through that position he quickly found himself wanting more. He opened the doors to his own pool cleaning business and set to work again. “Then my buddy was going to move out of state but he needed to first make sure he had someone he trusted on hand to fill his position at the Merced Arts Center,” said Mcallister. “I quit my pool cleaning job and made the Arts Center my only source of income, and it turned out to be a god sent opportunity."
Mcallister immediately fell in love with his job at the Arts Center as a Facility Supervisorv. After three years with the non-profit though, he quickly found himself taking on new responsibilities with the organization. The new opportunities served as a wake-up call for him and he quickly realized he needed to head back to school.
“I fell in love with the job and realized I wanted to be on the professional side of the arts,” said Mcallister. “I was taking classes at Merced College, and I switched my major to fine arts, and at the point it became very clear what it was that I wanted to do with my life and I began creating art again.” Among the many new responsibilities that he is responsible for now, one of his most enjoyed is hanging artwork for each exhibit. It seems his time spent in the military, where attention to detail was critical to ensure everyone's safety, may have given him an advantage as well in the art world. Between taking everything from floor slants and shadows into account, this attention to the minutia helps ensure each piece looks its best when viewed either by itself or as part of a group. When asked about what he views as some of the most important factors in ensuring an exhibit flows well, Mcallister responded, “It's the aesthetics, it’s if the frame is light or dark, its taking the demographics into account when determining height, its ensuring that the right kind of light is on the piece.”
As of recent, Mcallister is taking steps to ensure that he can use the arts as a way to support a family lifestyle. In between hanging exhibits at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center, including the current Merced College Faculty Show, he continues to pursue higher education as a way to achieve his goal of eventually becoming one of the decision makers of a gallery, with his dream job cited as becoming the Executive Director of the Smithsonian Museum.