Gayle Crites: Ancient Colors

Gayle CritesAncient Colors

July 8 – August 7, 2016

Opening Reception:  Friday, July 8, 5-7 pm, 558 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM – Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art is pleased to present an exhibition of new mixed media paintings by Gayle Crites, July 8 – August 7. The public is invited to attend the opening reception Friday, July 8 from 5-7pm with the artist in attendance.

Gayle Crites’ new body of work, Ancient Colors, builds upon her previous solo exhibitions at Chiaroscuro by drawing connections between the ancient and contemporary. The contemporary artwork in Ancient Colors symbolically connects ancient philosophy with values of the modern world and explores the shared wisdom through abstract imagery of indigenous cultures from the Maori, Ainu, Aboriginal, Bagandan, Incan, Tongan, Mayan and Native American people. Her use of unique and hand made materials; paper, bark, natural pigments, mordents and insect dyes allows Crites to realize her aesthetic vision with flowing interconnected lines over washes of subtle color which absorb into the flowing fibers of the handmade paper.

Recently Crites spent several months in Mexico with Zapotec weavers and dyers learning techniques for the use of cochineal for reds, and a number of native plants for blues (indigo) and yellows (pericon).  Having also studied in Japan (2006), she used an ancient Japanese formula with various earth oxides to make natural “paint” from soymilk and gum tragacanth.  Consequently, the works in Ancient Colors employ these “made from source” pigments on hand-made cotton and mulberry papers (Mexico and Japan) and hand-pounded bark – a pre-textile indigenous “cloth”.  Though historically made from a variety of trees in different countries, the hand-pounded bark is known as llanchama (Peru), tapa (Tonga), siapo (Samoa), bugu (Africa) and tunu (Nicaragua).

Crites is committed to these exceptionally time consuming ancient processes because unlike commercially available media the resulting color is multi-dimensional, which results in a visually rich surface on the hand-pounded bark. Also, the ancient techniques contribute to the meaning of the works, consistent with indigenous tradition.  Crites’ imagery and the titles of her work revolve around two primary messages shared by indigenous societies: the concept of reciprocity or balanced exchange, and a deep regard for nature and the land.

With further regard to cochineal red in particular – beginning in 2015, one of Crites’ major works titled, “Then Now/Now Then”, was included in the traveling museum exhibition, The Red That Colored the World, organized by the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, NM.  This exhibition included historic work by cultures and artists worldwide and recently traveled to the Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA.  The show was accompanied by a hardback reference volume, A Red Like No Other, which includes more than three hundred images and essays by a team of international experts.  Crites’ piece, Then Now/Now Then, illustrated in A Red Like No Other, represents her contemporary practice of incorporating the ancient natural tints and tones of cochineal into her abstractions on tapa paper.