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Meet Gloria Gaddis, GG

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gloria Gaddis, GG.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
It’s true that I have been an artist all my life. Back in grade school, I would win all the poster contests; I spent hours making chalk drawings on the sidewalks in front of my home; and I would spend hours with my coloring books and crayons. In high school, my work was juried into the Best 100 citywide competition. In college, I got my undergraduate degree in art education. And over the next 25 years, I got married, raised a family, taught art in junior high, worked for an art gallery, worked for an art publishing company and worked for an art magazine.

Following this busy period of time in my life (between family and education and work), there were two future turning points that greatly impacted my art career.

#1 – The year was 1993 and my husband and I were traveling in Italy – celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Venice, Rome and Florence are magical places with intense colors and intense art history. The Renaissance artists were speaking directly to me. What was I waiting for? I’m an artist and I should be creating art full time vs. working for an art magazine.

So, when I got back home, I decided to return to school to get my MFA in drawing and painting and a second masters degree in adult education from the U of Minnesota. I was building a portfolio, I was creating art.

Turning point #2: In 1998 we moved from cold and snowy St. Paul, MN to the hot and sunny desert landscapes of Scottsdale, AZ I got a teaching job at Scottsdale Community College and had gallery representation for my work in AZ and CA. Eventually, I gave up teaching art and devoted full time to my work in the studio. The move from the midwest to the southwest impacted my color palette and my view of the landscape. The difference between the lush green landscapes of MN and endless blue skies of AZ gave me a great deal of inspiration and focus. I saw connections between my Ukrainian heritage and the Native American artists. I saw similar patterns, palettes and stories between these two cultures. This was a very creative place and I have spent the last 20 years exploring what it has to offer me and my work.

Painting is about problem-solving. It’s a process of becoming. Painting involves risk-taking and rewards. I have no way of predicting the final look of my work because it changes on a daily basis. So, how do I know when a painting is finished? When I am empty and it is full; when one more move or color will change the entire meaning or mood of the work.

Please tell us about your art.
My oil paintings and monotypes (original one-of-a-kind, hand pulled works on paper) are about mark making. It’s about the color and texture, about the gesture of each movement and the painting process itself. Colors, shapes and marks dance across the canvas. In fact, I view my work like a giant dance – it has a rhythm of back and forth, sometimes I’m leading the dance and sometimes I’m following.

I’m usually working on at least three paintings at the same time. I like working in a series (diptychs and triptychs) so that they relate and talk to one another when completed. I move from large canvases to small canvases and back and forth. Large work is usually between 60″x60″ to 48″x48″ and small work refers to something between 20″x20″ to 12″x12″.

I see some of my Ukrainian heritage is reflected in the mark making with little signs and symbols similar to the pysanky (Easter eggs) that my relatives use to make when I was a youngster living in Michigan. These memories, these colors all play a role in my work. Plus, the move from cold MN to the hot AZ desert is evident in my changing color palette and a sense of place. Currently, I am working on a series of white/ neutral paintings with a softer, calmer palette, reflecting my sense of space and time.

As with all artists, my work is a culmination of past experiences, travel, history and my own cultural heritage. My large abstract paintings and abstract figures reflect a sense of place and combine the past and present into a new perspective. My figures represent universal figures (combining the past and the present into one essential figure). Everything changes and yet everything remains the same (or it is recycled, re-visited and re-imagined through our own lens.). This is why I feel artists need to know about what has come before them and search for connections. I like to think of a triangle when I talk about my work. At one point of the triangle is the artwork, at another point is the artist who created the work, and the 3rd point is the viewer. If the viewer connects with the art, then I feel like they have had some type of shared experience or vision that they can relate to, If the viewer does not connect with the art, it simply means there has not been a shared experience. Matisse once said, “to be an artist, you must first cut out your tongue”. Meaning, let the artwork speak for itself.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
Be authentic, be aware of your surroundings and explore your own history as well as art history. Visit museums and galleries. Don’t wait for inspiration. Go into the studio every day and make things happen. Don’t be afraid to play with materials and see what they can do. Don’t focus on the end product, rather, focus on the process of painting (or printmaking, etc.). Practice, practice, practice (just like a musician or an athlete). Combine the head, the heart and the hand (cognitive, affective and behavioral). There’s that triangle again. Love what you do. I paint from a need to express myself beyond words – into the realm of imagination. To combine the known with the unknown and create something new is what drives me into the studio. I enjoy the elements of surprise and discovery as I work; the transitions between colors and the mixing of paint, the drips, the possibilities that arise as you work.

If you are stuck, pick up a new brush or try a new color to give you a jolt. In the end, we can only paint what we know and in the process, we may see something new in ourselves.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I am currently working on some large commission pieces for (2) new hotels in California ( through The Art Makery). Some of my figurative work is represented at the Sue Greenwood Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA. and a few of my abstracts with Mikel Hunter in Hudson NY as well as Martha’s Vineyard. Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale represented my work from 2002-2018 But, currently, you can visit my website: gloriagaddis.com to see more images. I am also on Instagram.

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