Art talks back
Editor’s note: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Red Cliff Studio Tour. In the 10 days leading up to the Aug. 25 and 26 event, we’ll profile each of the 10 artists participating in this year’s tour.Artists often work within a certain set of rules; these rules or ideas help them define their style. For Edwards artist Caroline Blaker, these rules don’t exist.”I don’t have that set of rules because I don’t know how to make them,” she says from her studio in the old high school in Red Cliff. “I just make. It’s maybe not the best way to create – I wish I had (rules). But I’ve never been that person – I need it to talk back. If I don’t allow the art to talk back to me, it doesn’t feel complete.”
The road to completion can be a long one for Blaker. Her latex paintings can take as little as a few hours to complete, but her oil paintings can take as many as five years to finish. She points to a seemingly complete painting entitled “Eve,” where the biblical figure is rendered in ornate spirals under the tree of forbidden fruit and flanked by free-form prose.”In the same way that I look at this whole image, I need to be able to see little tiny features within every inch of this work,” she says. “It should be thick with stuff – it’s not good enough until there are stories within the stories and identities within identities.”Blaker overcame a bout with breast cancer last year, and her triumph informs her art – but not in the ways you might expect.”People see (an organic element), and I can’t deny that it’s there, but that hasn’t been my aim,” she says. “I was into exploration pre-cancer, and I’m still into complete exploration and expression after. I see myself exploring digital themes and pixellation within my work, because people have really responded to it and I’ve gotten lots of feedback.”Blaker’s work is tremendously varied; abstract bursts of thick latex in primary colors sit next to realistic renderings of a nighttime bar scene in urban St. Louis.
“I saw that in a church in Rome – I can’t really explain why it happened,” Blaker says of the abstract piece.”Each of these people have two or three identities,” she says of the revelers in the bar scene. “Here’s a guy taking a shot, there’s the girl talking to the cute guy. I’m right there. If you’ve been to this bar, you’ve been every one of these people.”Blaker’s studio is littered with works in progress – large, epic paintings all waiting their turn to speak to their creator on their march toward completion and artistic release. But what happens if she encounters an impatient patron?”I haven’t had to face that yet, but I’ll let you know what happens if I do,” she says. “These epic-style paintings can take years, but I don’t set out to take years to do them. It takes a long time to make a decision. But eventually, the paintings will always talk back.”
Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado