Thursday, June 28, 2012

'Still Crazy': Warren Criswell

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Out of the mind of Warren Criswell: Psyche
  • Out of the mind of Warren Criswell: "Psyche" (click to enlarge)

"For an artist, the trick is to preserve one’s insanity. Sometimes I think I’ve been cured and doomed to repeat myself until I catch up to that damned hitchhiker. But then the Muse shows me something I have seen but never observed, and I realize I’m still crazy after all.”

Warren Criswell's craziness goes on exhibit at Cantrell Gallery Friday, June 29, for all the world to see. "Still Crazy" features Criswellian oils, watercolors, prints, drawings and sculpture, exploring his themes of nudes, nighttime, naughtiness, mythology and the amazing emotions that a finely drawn line can bring to the surface.

The gallery, 8206 Cantrell Road, hosts a reception for Criswell from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. The show runs through Aug. 18. You'd be nuts to miss it.

The prelude to Criswell's artist statement:


“Quite so, Watson. You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. (Sherlock Holmes)

Time flows faster when we’re younger because new experiences are coming at us all the time. The unknown lays ahead of us, waiting to be discovered, inspiration not a problem. When we get older the world has gotten older too. Fewer things surprise us. We start repeating ourselves without realizing it. This is the time the artist and the mathematician dread. We see our creativity going down the drain. We have been there and done that. Time seems to speed up and we can see Death down the road, trying to thumb a ride.

But wait a minute…. That too is inspiring! That may be one of the “future” images this show promises. Recently I sat in on a life modeling class at UALR and did some terracotta sculptures. I thought of it as just an exercise, since all of us were working from the same poses and I already knew what a naked woman looks like—or so I thought. But nobody else’s sculptures looked like mine, and it was as if I had never seen a woman before! Death, in the form of an angry bird, appeared out of nowhere. Art had somehow emerged from the exercise. Going home late one night from one of those classes, I got out of my car and was ambushed by the universe. A sky full of menacing constellations, with Venus and Jupiter drawing a bead on this planet I was standing on! It was as if I had never seen the sky before. I’m still trying to paint it.

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