Cogswell Gallery in Vail hosts an exhibit of artist Jean Richardson's works Wednesday through Sunday. Richardson is an abstract expressionist from Oklahoma City. She uses horses to convey movement and emotion in acrylic. Richardson is well-known for her vibrant colors and abstract-expressionist style of horses in motion. The artist will not attend the exhibit.
"I have always been interested in the relationship between visual art and music, poetry and dance," Richardson said.
She feels that an essential harmony exists between the visible and the spiritual realms. Richardson often describes her artistic objectives in musical terms, drawing a parallel to program music, in which music tells a story without the benefit of words. Abstract painting, like music, communicates nonverbally; form, line and color may be said to perform the same function as melody. Music speaks most directly to the emotions, and Richardson equates abstraction with emotion. Her goal is an art of feeling rather than intellect; her objective is to create a mood and resonance.
Born in 1940, Richardson started painting at age 8, when she took her first class, and it became her passion in life. At age 10, she had her first show at the Richland County Public Library in Columbia, S.C., consisting of 16 tempera paintings depicting the legend of Robin Hood. Painting throughout her school years, Richardson received a scholarship to attend Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, an all-female school with a conservatory-style program of instruction of art and music. She graduated with a B.A. in painting in 1962.
As her work matured, Richardson gained recognition as a regional artist. She was selected for the State Collection of Oklahoma Artists and was included in the Oklahoma Annual at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa. She began to show in galleries and has had numerous one-woman exhibitions.
Richardson belongs to a modernist tradition that fuses the spiritual with the abstract. Some of her predecessors in this quest were the early 20th century painters Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, who were followed by the American abstract expressionists Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock. Although these artists varied in the degree of their abstraction and in the sources of their inspiration - from mystical religion to Jungian psychology to American Indian mythology - they shared a similar goal, which Maurice Tuchman has described as the expression of "spiritual, utopian, or metaphysical ideals that cannot be expressed in traditional pictorial terms."