A show of new works by painter Susan Sales opens at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art on Thursday, December 20 and runs through Sunday, January 20, 2013. The artist’s opening reception is 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

For the most part, “new” rhymes with “recent.” Though Sales has added some new materials to her bag of tricks, the end result remains familiar. And that’s a very good thing: the artist’s quirky, complex, abstract “landscapes” continue to snap, crackle and pop with color and convulsive spatial drama. Her special flair is still there.

Over a career that spans 30+ years – including a three-year sabbatical just proceeding this show – we are still talking about a person crazy in love with paint, color, surface, texture and gesture, like her antecedents, the rough and tumble Abstract Expressionists of post World War II America.

In general, AbExers preferred the focus to be on the medium, not any message.Those artists just went for it, attacking their canvases with large brushes, sometimes dripping, even throwing their paint. What you see is what you get and that’s good enough. Why ask questions?

But Sales does.

So yes, her images are physical expressions of her zest for the creative process. But there also metaphors for the never-ending march of time and its corollary, mortality. On a very personal level, the signature, glossy veneers both contain and protect the raw and deeply felt emotions that compel the artist to create. On the flip side, perhaps the new velvety matte surfaces, though no less intriguing and inviting, signal less of a need to cover up.

Sales openly and constantly questions herself, her work, the world. Self-described as “tentative,” “frightened,” “insecure,” and “depressed” by the headlines, her often upbeat, sometimes deeply contemplative surfaces function as antidotes.

How does Sales build her paeans to time, her wonderful mindscapes?

The artist has become a virtuosic in her ability to make something complex (her process) look easy as pie.

The process starts with raw canvas, in this case ready made. The ground is numerous layers of high-quality gesso, sanded between coats. From there, things get really interesting, decisions about what colors, what method – knife, rag or brush. What feelings does she want to arouse: wild or calm?

“Abstraction is impossible to duplicate,” explains Sales. “And that’s my biggest reasons for declining most requests for commissioned works. So much is about what happens along the way, in the process. Trying to replicate or pre-plan too much is a recipe for disappointment.”

Though Sales rarely disappoints. She does however evolve:

“Many artists become recognized for a particular style or method even though they do far more than is often realized or noted,” she explains. “I am no exception. I developed and mastered a recognized process for creating paintings., but with this exhibition, I further develop the means by which I make art. Different time, different place, different methods, different motives.”

For a preview of Susan Sales show, watch Clint Viebrock’s video.

One Response

  1. Ernst Aebi says:

    You’re cool. Was good to meet. Didn’t know you also paint.
    Sort of jealous about your winter and skiing in Telluride but my lot isn’t too bad either — won’t shovel snow. Soon I’m off to Borneo, mentioned in .
    All best,