Wright on: Michelle featured at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Wright on: Michelle featured at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

The Telluride Gallery of Fine Art opens for the winter season with its traditional Thanksgiving locals show. The featured artist is Michelle Curry Wright.

Yes, the very same inscrutable Michelle who sits behind the desk of the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, smiling like the Mona Lisa.

The very same Michelle, who rides her bike or roller-blades in the summertime on the bike path, tuned into her iPod, tuning out the world.

The very same Michelle who has done everything from hotel clerking to newspaper reporting, from picture framing to yards and yards of restaurant work, including waitressing. The same Michelle who once considered soap-making as a profession – not  – "more cheeringly productive (more profitable, too), but then you can't get characters out of commodities."

The very same Michelle who wrote very funny, very poignant "Wait and See Annie Lee," a novel about a waitress, who works in a local restaurant in a small ski town and is having trouble getting pregnant, which leads to more trouble. In that story Annie Lee's mother is a painter. Just like Michelle.

Artists always paint themselves onto their canvases. Michelle is a colorful, complex jigsaw puzzle: at first, the disparate parts don't seem to add up. However, the bits and pieces come together slowly and with a good deal of patience and effort, but in the end, what a prize.

Michelle's newest mixed media work is the result of unlike elements coming together: vintage/antique papers, acrylic and latex paints, graphic interpretations of symbols, simple things, and evidence of everyday life. The work is about recycling and connections:

To Michelle's past: “My parents collected old books when we lived in France in the 60s. This got me started on beautiful papers, saturated colors, and decorative elements from other times. I love old handwriting, too – it’s disappearing so fast.”

To the accumulated language of modern art: the autobiographical work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg comes to mind.

To fellow artists: "Today I am in awe of what artists do, the worlds they inhabit, and the freedom with which they explore. In my own experience, exploring also includes loving the mediums, their textures, smells, and the messes and statements they make.

Ours to ourselves through our memories of the many discrete scraps and marks that make up the collage we call our lives.

Michelle Curry Wright's visual diary, this new body of work, like most diaries, tells a nonlinear story based on unlikely bedfellows placed in odd juxtaposition. The work makes sense only in the vast firmament of the unconscious mind: "These current paintings reflect my continued fascination with old papers, found papers, handwriting, symbols, decorative elements, and the everyday life that surrounds it all. I don’t have an explanation for the recurrence of fish, bugs, birds, vessels, and pyramids except to say that they mean more to me than I can make of them."

However, uniting found objects from daily life with images from history books as Michelle does bridges the gap between past and present, art and life. And their homemade feel of these canvases – the loose, graphic interpretations of symbols and simple things is her signature – is immediately comforting. While the unsolved meaning of her idiosyncratic language compels. It is up to the viewer to connect the dots. The artist will never tell.

"I told Robert Weatherford: 'Ask me to write about a stick of butter and I'm fine. About my paintings? Ew.'"

"Michelle has such a distinct style. You see a Michelle Curry Wright and you know it's a Michelle Curry Wright," says her friend, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art director Baerbel Hacke.

The paradox wrapped inside an enigma opens the door into her world no more than the width of a matchbook.

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