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ARTIST OF THE MONTH - April 2002

Louise Seiler: Between the Wild and the Tame
by Sydney Francis

In the fall of 2001,1 went on search through shops and galleries in Moab to seek out new artists for the “Artist of the Month” article. In my travels, I discovered these very dramatic and energized painted gourds, at the Overlook Gallery, which showed wild horses, lizards and coyotes. So I tracked down the creator of these fine gourds, who turned out to be Louise Seiler.

In the course of our interview, Seiler did not share much detail about her artwork, except that she is a painter. However, we had an intimate conversation about art and family, the rhythm and flow of creativity, and the joys and sorrows of being an artist.

I desperately wanted to know what compelled her to the mustang and coyote imagery, such as on her gourds. What was it that moved her to create these images? But she said she wanted keep the muse and inspiration a mystery; and thus, I am left to infer what I may about her art for the sake of the article.

Most of Seiler’s paintings that I have seen are of horses, which I find to be some of her most compelling figures. In spending considerable time with horses, she has the ability to intimately render the details, anatomy, and characteristics of a horse. There is a secret element, however, rendered in her horse images, which wordlessly expresses the love, fascination, mystery and power that “the horse” brings to her world. This secret element is especially obvious her “cupboard panel”. In “the cupboard panel” the exaggerated movement and line quality of the horses and their surroundings are true to the dramatic shape and sensual reality of this red-rock and horse image. The vibrant colors, associated with the southwestern palette, also lend themselves to the special magic that is evident in this image.

On an interpersonal level, Seiler struck me as warm, friendly, brave, engaging, and a touch eccentric in the most wonderful way. She draws upon an internal source of strength, which has allowed her to cope gracefully with family tragedy. In 1996, her 21 year-old son was in an accident that rendered him a paraplegic. But strong and fearless like his mother, he has continued to be quite physically active and was involved the 2002 Paralympics.

Louise lives here alone in Moab from March to September and then returns to her family for the winter months in Salt Lake City. Her Moab life constitutes her artistic productivity. Seiler claimed that Moab is her muse, as the environment, outdoors, vistas, and energy are her sources of inspiration. She finds the community of Moab equally stimulating, as there is a considerable community of artists, who are accessible and come from a wide range of artistic disciplines.

Seiler is steeped in color by environment and surroundings. The walls of her studio/living room express a palette of warm reds and oranges. The East view of her studio window faces the long mesa, which meets Spanish Valley below the La Sals. Her Moab residence is both studio and barn, a very extraordinary living space with a great deal of emphasis on the garden. The actual home is somewhat of a segway or intermediary space between the garden and the horse stable. Her art immediately reflects this unique atmosphere. The division between tamed garden and wild horses is synthesized in the studio, which is physically, psychically and spiritually at center of the Seiler universe.

At the end of the interview, Seiler did tell me that orange is her favorite color and she likes her horses wild. In addition, I came away with a greater appreciation of her artistic process, a reverence for the vibrancy, richness, and simplicity of her life, and a rekindled gratitude for the wealth of creative talent we have here in Moab.

Seiler will be having a show of her work in April with local painter Becky Stengel at the Moonflower Market located at 39 East 100 North.

The artist’s reception will be on Saturday, April 13th, from 6 to 9 p.m. in coordination with the April ArtWalk (see “ArtWalk Happenings” for further details). Seiler also has hand-painted, home grown gourds (from her garden) at the Overlook Gallery at 83 E. Center St.

 
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