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  • Writer's pictureLucy

Live Long and Prosper

This weekend I was overjoyed to meet a Vulcan! Or at least someone who is as close to being a Vulcan as I can imagine. 🖖

Meet Max Cole--an accomplished and singular artist known for her neutral toned, linear acrylic paintings. Born in 1937 in Hodgeman County, KS, she received her BFA from Fort Hays State University in Kansas and her MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her work held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Her paintings are for sale at the Charlotte Jackson Fine Art gallery in Santa Fe (no prices listed which tells you they sell for a LOT of money) and she lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico just a few blocks away from me.

For some time I've been hearing about her but I had not met her, that is until the Contemporary Art Society of New Mexico (who came to Las Vegas in Oct for studio tours) invited me to attend SITE Santa Fe where Max is having a retrospective show called "Max Cole: Endless Journey". She agreed to meet with CAS members and discuss her work.

I had no idea what to expect. As I discovered, Max's work is inspired by traveling across the West by car as a child and seeing endless horizons punctuated only by fence posts. From a distance her works appear to be simple--horizontal lines in blacks and grays on a neutral background.

Blue Point, 1999

Upon closer inspection you notice that each line is made up of tiny and perfectly identical vertical lines. In some paintings those tiny lines are angled to the right and in others they are angled to the left. But mostly they are upright. And usually there is a horizontal line hand painted down the center of the row. Each stroke simultaneously identical and unique. And all are undeniably handmade.

The singularity of focus and mental clarity to create such a painting is impressive.

Max spoke a little about her work and talked about how she doesn't like emotion or and has no room in her art for ego. Instead she is interested more in the interior of the mind and often works in silence. Each work becomes a sort of meditation and she often works nonstop until a painting is finished so that there is no change in the rhythm, spacing or intention of each stroke.

When seen in person they have a calm energy and feel spiritual.

About art she says:

There is nothing to say without first knowing yourself.

Art is something that must be lived. It is long and there are no shortcuts.

The motivation for making art is art and its insights into that which transcends the material. Nothing else. There can be no compromise.

Solitude and silence are a necessary condition for the making of art. It cannot easily occur amidst the turmoil and unfocused energy of everyday life.

There are no happy accidents in art and clarity does not present itself through chance.

I really like Max, her philosophy about life and art, and her paintings. If you get a chance to see one of her paintings in person do it!

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