Susan Heiderer Show at Karats Gallery Saturday
This weekend, the painter’s one-woman show at Karats Gallery at the Village Center Shops in Vail will give visitors a chance to see old-world fine art through a contemporary prism. The show opens Saturday, with the artist in attendance from 5 to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be added to the festivities.
The art features landscapes and miniature interior scenes as well as Heiderer’s figure works. Her studies of female nudes have an air of mystery that draws the eye. Subtle coloring combined with the pensive poses make them seem both dynamic and tranquil. Who are these graceful women and what are they thinking?
“I want you to be pulled in,” said Heiderer. “I want the work to be strong enough so you get absorbed into it and discover it as you go along. I’d like to think that the longer people look at it, the more new things they discover, so that over the years they like the piece more.”
The process of discovery compels the artist, too. At a Degas show, she found the master often composed his multi-figure paintings by tracing forms from a number of his drawings onto the new work.
“So you’ll see different paintings of dancers that will have the same figures,” said Heiderer. “Maybe reversed, or with an arm or leg changed.”
It was a revelation to Heiderer, who suddenly saw a way to use her figure drawings in imaginative new ways. Melding the inspiration of the old master with whiz-bang modern technology, she began to scan her own images into her computer. The method yielded a nearly-infinite interplay of subjects and a new freedom for her talent. Once the drawing is printed on paper or canvas, she finishes the work by painting in oils.
“This show really displays the evolution of my work,” she noted. “Starting with landscapes I painted directly from the subject, to now, when I am experimenting with my drawings and the computer.”
Shying away from describing her work in the typical impressionistic/expressionistic stylistic terms, the artist would rather muse about the life-force she is attempting to capture on canvas.
“I’m concerned with the light and the space, and what I would call the air, the “nothing’ that’s between the mountain and the trees, the metaphysical element that gives life to the object.”
Heiderer explained that the object or the figure she’s painting is not what lends meaning to the work, but rather an ineffable, transcendent quality that brings it all to life.
“Some people can paint peaches on a plate with great realism, but it has no life to it,” she said. “And then you see Vermeer, and he takes your breath away. I can’t really tell you what it is, but that’s what I’m after.”
Though she’s lived in the valley for about 15 years, Heiderer’s work has been featured in shows all over the country, as well as the International School of Art near Rome, Italy. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Arts Club of Washington, D.C.. and she is featured in an annual show at the Albuquerque Art Museum, as well as being profiled in the current issue of Vail Valley Magazine.
For more information about the artist or the show, contact Karats at 476-4760.