A SHARED PASSION FOR ART ON DISPLAY by Bill Tiedje

Reprinted from an article in the Ouray County Plaindealer, Jan 1-7

Two artists with different styles at different times in their lives will display their artwork together during the Legacy exhibit at Ridgway Public Library starting Jan 10. (through March 13.)

What artists Cheri Isgreen and Sabrena Soong share is a deep passion for art.

The duo met in an Oak Grove School first grade classroom in Montrose in 1987.

Isgreen was a student teacher and Soong was a budding first grade artist.”I noticed (Soong) had an unusual talent even as a six-year old,” Isgreen said.

“Even when I was really little, I wanted to be an artist,” recalled Soong.  “She took me under her wing.”  Soong said Isgreen took her on field trips to art galleries, but her encouragement that art was a worthwhile pursuit was the most important part of their relationship.

The two artists stayed in contact through the years, despite Soong moving out of state.

Isgreen, who taught art in Montrose schools for over two decades before retiring to focus on her watercolors, said she feels art is a means to “express humanity and connect us.”  Isgreen said many of her works highlight the power, grace, and beauty of the horse; an animal she noted which has been painted throughout history, from the cave paintings in France to petroglyphs in southwest Colorado.

Dream Horse #2 "Walk Like an Egyptian"  14"x10"  $350
Dream Horse #2 “Walk Like an Egyptian” 14″x10″ $350

Soong now owns a combination coffee shop and art gallery in Colorado Springs.  Working with acrylics on canvas and wood, Soong’s abstract art is layered and defies simple description.

copyright Sabrena Soong
copyright Sabrena Soong

“This show is sort of a retrospective of both our works,” said Soong.  Both artists will be present for the opening reception at the library on Jan 10 from 4 pm to 7 pm.  Refreshments will be offered.  The show will be on display until March 13.

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“LEGACY” Jan 10, 2015

SAVE THE DATE:  “LEGACY” opens at the Ridgway Library Jan. 10. 2015.

Legacy is a collaboration between artists Sabrena Soong and Cheri Isgreen, celebrating the continuing traditions in art.

I first met Sabrena in 1987.  She was a “cute-as-a-bug” tiny, but mighty first grader.  I was student teaching in her classroom.  We clicked the very first time that she read to me.  Though quiet, I saw that Sabrena was an independent spirit, full of surprises.  Instead of bringing a normal-sized book to our reading nook, she chose the class-sized big book, “Mrs. Wishy Washy.”  Measuring over 3′ tall, the book was nearly as big as she.  It was early in the school year, yet she was actually reading, not just reciting memorized words from the predictable text.  Later during a social studies lesson, students were asked to draw flags.  Normally, a first grader draws a rectangle, then adds geometric design into that shape.  Instead Sabrena drew an accurately rendered flag draped with folds on a flag pole.  At that point, I realized Sabrena was not only special, she was a talented artist.  Later, after I received my teaching license and became her art teacher, I watched as her talent unfolded.  She became one of the highlights of my teaching week.

When Sabrena’s family moved from Montrose, we lost touch for awhile.  It was lucky for me that she had a large extended family in Montrose.  For her high school graduation, she returned for a big celebration for her and her cousins.  I was invited.  She brought several pieces of her artwork.  Just as I suspected, she was developing into a skillful artist.  With time and maturity, her art has continued to develop.  Today, as an accomplished artist, Sabrena’s abstract compositions focus on pure design: shape, color, placement, movement, etc.

copyright Sabrena Soong
copyright Sabrena Soong

True to her freethinking, individualistic style, Sabrena continues to follow her unique path.  She has opened an art gallery-coffeehouse in Colorado Springs that specializes in distinctive pies that become works of edible art.  When I retired from art education in 2010, it was Sabrena that gave me my first one-woman show.  That led to my watercolor pursuits today, and the yearlong art tour I just completed with Barbara Haynie.

I am choosing artworks that will complement Sabrena’s work, including my newest geometric Dream Horses, as well as some abstract landscapes.  The show will be held at the Ridgway Public Library from Jan. 10 – March 13, 2015.  Opening reception is scheduled for Jan. 10, 4-7 PM.  Refreshments will be served.

"Aurora Butte" copyright Cheri Isgreen
“Aurora Butte” copyright Cheri Isgreen

HOME for the HOLIDAYS opens this FRIDAY, DEC. 5TH

I am back in Montrose after showing my artwork across Colorado with artist, Barb Haynie.   Home for the Holidays is my second solo show of 2014, highlighting my newest equine paintings in watercolor.  The show opens Friday, Dec. 5th at A&Y Design Gallery during the Montrose First Friday Art Walk.  The Opening Reception runs from 5:30- 8:00 PM.  A&Y Design Gallery is located at 513 Main Street, Montrose.   Home for the Holidays  runs through Dec. 31st.  For information, contact Yesenia Duncan at A&Y Gallery, (970) 240-7914

I see my artwork as an unbridled passion for the horse’s noble spirit, grace, and atheleticism.  “Unbridled” is perhaps a pun, yet the bulk of my work celebrates the horse without tack.  It does not portray a specific style of riding.

Horse Painting
“Holly” copyright
Watercolor; size 12″ X 15″

My artistic style conveys a contemporary Western aesthetic, fitting a range of decor, including Colorado casual, rustic chic, log homes,  and equine enthusiasts.  This style has evolved from the bulk of my life lived in rural, western Colorado blended with a BA in art, many years teaching art, my study of classical riding, and all the wonderful horsewomen and men I’ve known in all riding/driving disciplines who have enriched my life.

For this show with the holidays quickly approaching, I have also created gift items based on my artwork and several lines of cards, including equine-themed Christmas cards.  For equestrians and writers, I have a new line of writing journals and training journals.

High-Point Featured in the Montrose Mirror

High-Point’s opening in Montrose, CO was recently featured in the Montrose Mirror, a news-blast based out of the Western Slope. You can view the original story here.

 

Successful Equine-Themed Art Opening Shows Through End of June 

By Marissa Isgreen

MONTROSE“High-Point,” a 12-month traveling art show featuring equine art, is showing at the A+Y Design Gallery in Montrose for the entire month of June. The show aims to celebrate the Year of the Horse, engage the community in a discussion about art and benefit Colorado’s wild horses. Local artist Cheri Isgreen and Fort Collins-based artist Barb Haynie created the show because of their shared passion for horses and fine art.

“I want these shows to celebrate the horse and raise awareness for equine art by engaging the community in a dialog about it,” Isgreen said. “The way these shows are designed there is a lot of community participation from the causes they benefit, to the workshops and the art itself.”

An Event-filled opening

“High-Point” debuted the first weekend in June with a variety of events that immersed the community in the art.

A little girl sits on Monarch's backDuring Main-in-Motion, Isgreen’s Lipizzaner horse Monarch, a frequent subject of her paintings, stood for people to paint handprints and designs on his white coat. Adults, kids and babies were all drawn to novelty of a painted white horse in the middle of main street. Even those with a fear of horses, overcame them to at least pet him.

“I wanted to create a horse event that would be really people friendly because not everyone rides horses, but most people are attracted to them,” Isgreen explained. “I personally think Monarch was a highlight for Main-in-Motion because he was not only surround by people for 2 hours straight, but he seemed to really engage them.”

The show officially opened June 6 and will run through June 30. It features 36 works of equine art in watercolor, acrylic and mixed media by both Isgreen and Haynie.

The opening allowed patrons to tap their creativity with interactive community art activities including Chinese brush painting, zen painting and Year of the Horse origami which will stay up with the art through the end of the month. As patrons viewed and discussed the art, they munched on barn-themed hors d’oeuvres and listened to live music from Karen Mercer, Margaret Freeman and Kurt Isgreen.

The following day, Isgreen held an origami workshop where participants learned how to fold a paper horse and animate it with special bends and pinches.

“Origami can be challenging with the correct paper folds, but it’s a really unique artwork,” said workshop participant Nancy Kelso. “I think we should engage in more art opportunities in our town. It’s important to have something new and different here.”

Final Workshop, Learn to sculpt

Isgreen will be hosting a second workshop, June 26 during Main-in-Motion, that arises from both Isgreen and Haynie’s love for creating horse sculptures from found objects. The $40 workshop will teach participants to create their own horse from found objects and includes materials, instruction, a tutorial on how to jump-start your own creativity and a free drink or gelato. Pre-register for the workshop by either stopping by the gallery or by calling (970) 240- 7914.

“I find that the found object workshop is very liberating for people who like art but are intimidated by drawing,” Isgreen said. “With found objects you’re only suggesting an idea or a form and don’t have to recreate an exact replica, so I recommend this workshop to artists and non-artists alike.”

A Benefit Art Show

"Don't Fence Me In" silent auction mixed media to benefit Colorado's Wild Horses
“Don’t Fence Me In” silent auction mixed media to benefit Colorado’s Wild Horses

As with previous openings, June’s show will also benefit a cause. This month, the show will benefit James Kleinert’s efforts to protect Colorado’s wild horses with a silent auction. Items include Haynie’s acrylic painting “Head, Heart, Hands, and Health,” Isgreen’s mixed media composition, “Don’t Fence Me In” and one of Montrose photographer Barb Young’s pictures.

Isgreen and A+Y Design Gallery screened Kleinert’s film, “Wild Horses and Renegades,” the weekend of the opening to raise awareness for the plight of America’s wild horses.

“Before seeing this film, I was unaware of the BLM’s inhumane practices and deceit to the public, so I wasn’t really that concerned about the mustangs. But they’re facing extinction, and we as Americans are faced with losing an American treasure,” Isgreen said.

Isgreen encourages anyone who was unable to attend to watch the movie and educate themselves about the treatment of America’s and Colorado’s wild horses.

"Head, Heart, Hands, and Health"  Copyright Barb Haynie
“Head, Heart, Hands, and Health” Copyright Barb Haynie

“The horses in the Little Bookcliffs Range, Colorado are protected, safe and thriving, but unfortunately, the horses in Disappointment Valley, Colorado are endangered by the BLM’s policies of gathering and removing them from their range,” Isgreen explained. “Many horses have been euthanized, but that euthanization is really just sending them to slaughter in Mexico.”

The silent auction officially opened June 5 and runs through June 30. To bid remotely, call Yesenia at the A+Y Design Gallery  (970) 240-7914.

About the Artists

Isgreen was an elementary and art education teacher for 30 years. She curated, “Art at the Apex” an exhibition showcasing Colorado artists in grades kindergarten through 12th grade that premiered in May 2010 in Washington DC. She also coauthored Colorado art education standards, now part of the Common Core. Concurrent with her teaching career, Isgreen pursued her interests in weaving and textile design for 40 years. Her work has been showcased in museums, galleries, and publications both in the United States and Europe. Retiring from public education in 2010, Isgreen changed focus to develop her personal vision in watercolor. Stir Gallery in Colorado Springs gave Isgreen her first one woman show in 2012, pointing her on the path she follows today.

Haynie earned her fine art degree at Colorado State University with a concentration in drawing at age 50. Previous to earning her BA, she travelled extensively throughout Europe, South America, Central America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, and Egypt. She has also authored two published novels. She owns a nursery in Fort Collins where she has lived since 1954.