by Todd Camplin
This week I traveled out to Shreveport Louisiana to visit Ellen Soffer’s studio. I went out there to
see one of the artists in R02’s Chaos show. The gallery has 100 or so small works by artists from
all over. The show is Dallas heavy, but I thought I would visit an artist that was not from Dallas,
although still within the city’s sphere of influence. Soffer travels to the DFW area several times
a year and I get the impression she gets refreshed by the culture the area provides.
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|Besides RO2, Soffer also has a show at the Longview Museum of Fine Art. She is part of their regional
art show. She has several nice size paintings that populate their own corner of the museum. Of
course the Longview show would give you a better feel for her work, but if you can’t make it out
East then the R02 exhibition is this Saturday. You can see a small piece by her and at least get a
taste of her work. Her Longview show will be up until September 26th.
|Soffer is an abstract painter that uses colorful marks of paint that seem to flow from the outer
edges of her canvas toward the center. Some of her works evoke playful organic objects that
harken back to dreamy surrealist shapes of the past. Her paintings keep my eyes moving
around the work and entices me to move in and out of the painting. Her dashes of paint
remind me of Van Gogh’s Star Night painting. Soffer is nonobjective, but like Van Gogh
she is conjuring an emotional response from her work. Much of her work uses playful,
nervous energy that feels optimistic and cheerful. Like the Pixar movie, Inside Out, there
are several emotions at play in her work, but clearly Joy leads the mix. We talked a little
about formalist abstract painting. Her statement implies that she sees herself as part of
the continuing development of AbEx aesthetics. But I haven’t come to the conclusion
that all Soffer is doing is more of the same formalist work. I think the work is more than just
art for art sake.
|Ellen Soffer had to move into her house and work after a tree recently damaged her studio
behind her house. Thankfully she was not in the space when the tree came down and most
of her work was saved, but now her house has become her place of creation and she seems
to be taking it in stride. I enjoyed flipping through her paintings and works on paper. She is
working on a really large piece, and I was glad to get a glimpse into an ambitious scaled
work. We talked a little about art and the history of the Shreveport art scene, but really, she
talked about her life, which gave me more insight into what inspires her work.