Allan Ostermann went from being a graphic designer at a publishing company in New York City to living in a homeless shelter in San Diego. He says his mental illnesses – bipolar disorder, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder – eventually made it too hard for him to hold a steady job.
Ostermann’s on disability now, but the $850 monthly Social Security payment he gets isn’t enough to afford rent in San Diego. So he’s found himself living in the St. Vincent de Paul Village homeless shelter downtown, waiting until there’s room for him to move into permanent subsidized housing, of which the region’s in short supply.
Ostermann is an artist, and he says painting and drawing is the only thing that makes him happy these days.
“It’s like a zen thing for me, it gets me out of my mind,” he said. “When I do my art, I enter a whole different space and I lose track of time. My mind stops racing, and it’s wonderful.”
Ostermann specializes in expressionistic portraits, and depicts both famous people like Iggy Pop and President Donald Trump, as well as some of the people he sees struggling on the streets alongside him.
At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ostermann will show some of his work at Digital Gym Cinema, at an event organized by the homeless service provider Father Joe’s Villages. Artists Neil Shigley and Steve Breen will also show and talk about their work.