Corinne Creel featured at Stronghouse Studios, part of First Thursday Art Walk

Corinne Creel featured at Stronghouse Studios, part of First Thursday Art Walk

“Every work of art is the child of its time; often it is the mother of our emotions,” Wassily Kandinsky in “Concerning the Spiritual in Art”

Img_6600Corinne Creel’s changing landscapes are little corners of creation, seen through the polished lens of her imagination and evolving temperament. Darkness brightens. Chaos organizes itself into landscapes, still abstract, but increasingly coherent and recognizable. What’s it all about? The intensely private, autobiographical element inherent in these images is instead of what actually happened in recent years.

This show of Creel’s latest work, which opened on September 4, 2008, was the centerpiece of Telluride’s traditional First Thursday Art Walk, a daylong showcase of the town’s fine art scene, including galleries and studios, which stay open late until 8 p.m. The event, the brainchild of Rene Marr, executive director of the Telluride Council on Arts & Humanities, was designed to deepen ties between Telluride’s business and cultural economies by exposing locals and visitors to emerging and established artists and the town’s retail scene

Creel’s skies are not the billowing soapsuds or skeins of cotton of the 17th century Dutch landscape painters such as Ruisdael and Hobbema. Nor are they sublime portals the face of the Divine shines through as in the work of the French maestro Claude Lorrain. The work most closely resembles the later paintings of the English genius J.M.W. Turner, in which the artist became increasingly loose and free, details subordinated to the general effects of color and light. And Creel does describe Turner as a major influence.

In the earliest of her images, disaster appears imminent. The work dances at the edges of Stephen Hawking’s universe, filled with black holes that chew reality to bits. However threatening the emotional storm, Creel hints at solid ground, a place to rest. Maybe land is just a line. Regardless, the artist puts it there to orient her viewers. And herself?

There is also a light hidden in the midst of roiling cascades of clouds, which emerges as full sun in the later work.

Img_6656The palette in the later work changes too, from cold to hot. Dark greens, browns, and blue-blacks, somber earth tones, give way to variations on a theme of red. Red serves to mitigate the darkness. 

The color might suggest the release of anger. It could also be a reference to spilled blood, a bleeding heart, the dawning of passion – or all of the above.

There are clues to the meaning of this body of work. One lies in the title of the show: Series #9: Creel has been a student and practitioner of jin shin jyutsu for 11 years. The physio-philosophy and ancient art of harmonizing the life energy is based on mathematics. The teachings say the number “9” breaks a cycle, marking a new beginning. After # 9, we return to #1, ourselves.

Local artist and teacher Robert Weatherford, an artist with an international following, is on the staff of the Ah Haa School for the Arts. Creel is his devoted student. “Robert Weatherford could teach a class in painting floors and I would take it,” said the artist.

On the subject of why make art, Weatherford is unequivocal: not merely to create something pretty to hang on a wall. His objective is to subvert the status quo. He paints the energy that comes from a thing, not the thing itself.

Like teacher. Like student.

“Robert has always encouraged me to paint what it is about a subject that moves my soul, my visceral response before words come.”

“There is really something quite special and highly sophisticated in Corinne’s work,” commented Weatherford. “She paints the way most accomplished artists paint after 50 years. Rarest of all, however, is that she manages to tell her own special story in her own special way. Her voice is clear and resonant. Her strength, clarity, and passion are all right there on the surface.”

As is the acrylic paint, applied thickly like icing. “I love the way paint drips and the feel of one color on top of another. The word that comes to mind as I work is ‘delicious.’”

Creel did her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont in education.  After college, she studied at the Corcoran Institute in Washington, D.C. with Leon Berkowitz, one of the founders in the late 1960s of the Washington Color School.

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