Review of December 2008 Exhibition,  Crossgate Gallery,  Lexington, KY


For those who have read but never quite grasped the color theory espoused in Joseph Albers’ book, “Interaction of Color”, Ellen Skidmore has explained it for us in the 22 paintings on display at Cross Gate Gallery through December 26th.

After having gone to the opening last night, I had to venture downtown again this morning to see her work in the light of day. I was curious if the colors that I had seen were as luminous, mysterious and magical in sunlight as they seemed at night in Cross Gate’s well lit gallery. In Albers’ tome he explores the subtle differences of color that affect one’s perception of opacity and occlusion. Skidmore aptly demonstrates her skills with color creating pale transparencies and lilting fabrics flowing through the space.

Skidmore’s delicate, fragile figures swim buoyantly through the canvasses; the frames barely limiting the worlds that she creates with colors that come directly out of her imagination. Her work is a testament for a definition of talent as opposed to ability.

At first glance “whimsy” comes to mind, although whimsy is far too superficial a term for the emotional connection that these works evoke. Through a tapestry of patterned fields, Skidmore’s work shows both grand sweeping movement and the small gesture of a child’s tiny hand stroking a horse. While the effect of the gardens of color seem spontaneous and fresh, it’s hard to imagine that Skidmore could lay in the myriad of textures, lines and shapes and still create an overall image so powerful without careful planning- but that’s where her genius lies. Her colors are musical tones with the keyboard of a piano imitating a fine lace.

I couldn’t drag myself away from each work without a bit of sadness that I would probably never see these pieces again. Permanent museum collections provide a certain security that one can relive the experience reliably. Not so with a group of treasures like this. You’ll only have a couple of weeks to relish these, unless you are fortunate to capture one for yourself.

- Sally Philips

Lexington, KY