Sunday, January 18, 2009

Theresa Cates, sojourner with a paintbrush

On February 5, 2009 Theresa Cates will have a solo exhibition at the Red Door Gallery, 3715 JFK Blvd
North, Little Rock, Arkansas 72116. What is the big deal about Theresa Cates , who is she and why should I be interested you may be asking? Well since you are wondering... we are currently mourning the loss of a great American painter, Andrew Wyeth, a man who seemed to capture the essence of the mystery of life on canvas and paper in a simple and evocative way. Just as I was mourning the loss of the visual richness of this man, I stumbled across an article about thirty nine year old African American artist, Theresa, who began her "art career by doodling on the backs of bills. Her work is reminiscent to me of Harlem Rennaisance painter Jacob Lawrence, whom I greatly admire for his ability to use color and shape boldly while telling a story on canvas.Theresa was commissioned to paint switch boxes and bus stops in her native Arkansas and painted what she knew and loved best, people in church worshipping the Lord. She shows all the passion of the African American worship tradition in her work. Having just come from a staid and proper formal worship event at my church, I found her paintings stirred in my heart a longing for more passionate expressions of spirituality. Her her church paintings evoke the type of imagrey and passion that I imagine of the scene in which a woman poured expensive ointment on Jesus's feet and then wiped them with her tears while the rest of the folk sat upright and all proper in their chairs. Here are a few images from the Cates' exhibition. This is an artist whose work I hope to be able to see someday, other than in internet thumbnails. I think she has a lot to say if we will pay attention.