By Ben Olson
If you’ve ever gazed down from an airplane and appreciated the abstract quality that a birds-eye view can give to the world, you’ll probably like Tricia Florence’s work.
Florence’s latest art show, titled “Art as Life” opened last weekend at Studio 524 (the main room at Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters) and will be hanging until the middle of December.
“The reason I chose that title was because this show is autobiographical,” said Florence.
Florence’s exhibit showcases three different series, all painted from an abstracted aerial view. The work, in Studio 524 curator Woods Wheatcroft’s words, “is a unique blend of memory, perspective and an autobiographical process that is beautifully representational of where we live and beyond.”
“The first series is the Bike Path series,” said Florence. “I worked at the health district and walked the bike path every day before work. I was interested in painting the bike path in a way that wasn’t representational, because that would’ve been boring for me. That was my challenge.”
For Florence, who works out of her Rapid Lighting Creek Road studio, the paintings are just one step in a multi-faceted painting that includes smells, sounds and other non-visual elements.
“I wrote little notes in there,” she said. “One of the bike paintings has the smell of cottonwood, the sound of a train in the distance. I wanted it to be my experience, not just me standing there looking at something in the distance. I had to come up with a different way of painting.”
For Florence, who uses acrylic paint on wood, it’s all about doing something different.
“I play around with a lot of untraditional materials,” she said. “I like to experiment and play with different techniques.”
A perfect example of this is in a piece title “Irrigation Day” where she poured resin over the surface of the painting to give it a “wet” look.
In another series featured at Studio 524, Florence tackled childhood memories, painting a bird’s eye view of her backyard when she was a kid. Another series deals with a five-day backpacking trip she took to Berg Lake in Canada.
Florence relies on several aids to help her achieve the unique aerial perspective in her work.
“For the backpacking trip series, I relied on Forest Service maps, my memory, my journal and Google Earth,” she said. “The challenge is to put it all together in my brain. I do sketches and I might do a quick watercolor sketch to get design and composition.”
Wheatcroft identified with Florence’s work immediately when he first saw it.
“Her work completely resonates with me as it is abstract at first glace but they are in fact stories of her life,” said Wheatcroft. “The longer you look, the more clear the story becomes.”
For Wheatcroft, deciding whose art to feature in Studio 524 is a hands-on process.
“I make it a point to visit artist’s studios when curating a show for the gallery,” he said. “I made an appointment to see her work and when I saw the entire body of work it just came alive and immediately her stories became apparent and drew me in.”
“Woods was wonderful to work with,” said Florence. “He has so much energy, and he’s such a nice guy. This has been a wonderful process.”
Tricia Florence’s work will be hanging at Studio 524 at the Evans Brothers Coffee Roasters until the middle of December. It is free and open to all ages.
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