The James Ratliff Gallery in Hillside Sedona presents a new exhibition of interpretive abstract acrylic art by multimedia artist Christine DeSpain Schroeder.
Abstract art is defined as the type of art that emphasizes the use of non-representational forms to create meaning and reality – that it does not necessarily depict objects in the physical environment such as the sun, trees or people.
Famed abstract artist Arshile Gorkey said the art of abstraction “enables man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes.”
DeSpain’s abstract interpretative paintings embody this definition perfectly as she follows in the footsteps of Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.
Each of her abstract paintings takes the viewer on a subjective journey into depth of field, while her conscious and subconscious art evokes an experience unique only to the viewer.
Colourful, whimsical, moving and flowing, her works breathe as if they were alive, arouse emotions and awaken long-forgotten memories.
For DeSpain, stepping into the world of abstract art was a godsend, as her deteriorating eyesight reached a point where she could no longer create art in the realm of traditional painting or sculpture as she had previously done.
She had felt she had to give up her passion and her world had darkened until she met gallerist James Ratliff, who reversed her artistic path into the realm of abstract art.
Ratliff had heard of DeSpain’s dilemma and after meeting her he suggested that she try a new approach to her art.
“I knew she was feeling down,” he said. “I suggested that she try abstract acrylic painting, which allows the artist to create art by pouring paint onto a canvas. I explained the pouring process to her. She said she would try. It clicked.”
He went to her house and saw the small abstract paintings she had previously experimented with. He saw her potential. He suggested that she work on much larger canvases, around 38 x 46 inches, and that got her creative wheels turning.
“I gave her a little challenge and she rose to it,” he said. “And I’m hard to impress.”
For DeSpain, Ratliff’s encouragement and advice has reignited her passion for art and given her renewed hope.
“He’s my mentor,” she said. “He taught me so much. I am so grateful. Some paint to live. i live to paint Thanks to him, I came back to life.
She was so motivated by Ratliff that the art once again became an integral part of her daily experience.
“I woke up at 1:30 a.m. one night after waking up from a dream,” she said. “I went to my studio and started watering and before I knew it the sun was up.”
She said that in creating her abstract compositions she harnesses the natural forces and flow and grace of Mother Nature, using the natural processes of wind, current, gravity and erosion to create abstractions of the Sedona geography, in which she lives.
She said the result is that the viewer is drawn into the canvas, which is a living landscape reminiscent of looking down a canyon or flying over waves.
She said she allows paint to move naturally across the canvas and uses wind and currents as her brush.
“One of my favorite things to do is watch the paint dry on my canvas,” she said with a wink.
Over the centuries, adversity befell some of the world’s most beloved artists, such as Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson and Beethoven, yet created the magnificent works we admire today.
For DeSpain, overcoming her impaired vision and finding a new medium to express herself breathed new passion and meaning into her life.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” DeSpain said. “Thank you James Ratliff for teaching me how to do it.”
James Ratliff has years of experience selling the art of many of today’s famous artists such as Calder, O’Keefe, Gorman, Zuniga, Tamayo and Scholder to name a few. He does not settle for inferior or mass-produced works. He is always concerned with looking for both the art lover and the artist.
James Ratliff Gallery is located at 671 SR 179, Suite A – 1 & 2, Sedona.