1101 Williamson St.  Madison, WI
"Making America Great Since 1995"

Art Archive - 2010

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Show Dates: 2010-12-01 - 2010-12-31
Title: Landscapes of Wonder
Artist: Richard Ely
Artist's Statement

I arrived late to the visual arts. As a child, I hated art class, and for most of my adult life, I only "made art" when scribbling with kids. Then, about five years ago, I was introduced to torn tissue-paper collage and found myself drawn to the pleasure of tearing brightly colored paper.

From the start, I worked without expectation or instruction, stumbling upon my own process. It helped that the medium demands imperfection. Because it's impossible to tear a straight line or a perfect circle, my collages are necessarily impressionistic. The medium is also forgiving of "mistakes," which tend to give rise to unexpected transformations.

In general, my collages have no meaning to impart. I am drawn to elements of the natural world—landscape, sky, water, trees. Often I begin with either a simple image in mind—a silver tree, a straw-colored nest—or merely an impulse toward color or mood. In the early stages of each collage, my process tends to be intuitive, even random. But as I progress and a "picture" begins to reveal itself, my choices become more measured. By the end, I am often working with painstaking precision to achieve specific effects. I deeply enjoy the process of not knowing what I'm doing, of allowing intuition, accident, and surprise to guide me. I'm happiest when my creations turn out to be "successful"—beautiful and joyous - but I also accept my interesting "failures." -- Richard Ely

Artist Biography

Richard Ely grew up in Pittsburgh and came to Madison in the late '60s, where he fell into the counterculture and never fell out. Of course, he dropped out of the university, but eventually returned and earned himself one of those useful English degrees—which actually helped him find work in a variety of jobs assisting people with disabilities. From 1989 to 1991, he had the good fortune to study Creative Writing at San Francisco State and, since that time, has worked off and on at various jobs while also doing freelance writing, editing, and tutoring. In 1999 he moved to Providence, RI and spent 2 1/2 years caring for his mother who had Alzheimer's. You're My Mom is the memoir he completed about that experience. In 2007 he co-authored Dreaming in Color: Charles Munch Paintings 1971-2006. He is also a songwriter and has recorded three CDs of original songs.

Entering his sixth decade on the planet, Richard counts himself lucky to have discovered a passion for the visual arts. His torn tissue-paper collages were recently recognized by the Edenfred Arts Residency, which named him a Day Fellow for Fall 2010. Richard no longer sees himself as a writer, but simply as a creative person. As long as he is creating something, he will probably be all right.

This is the first public showing of his work.

There will be a reception for the artist on Sunday, Dec 12 from 4 to 6 pm.

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