Spring 2010

Local Alumni: Creating a New Future

By Chloe Nash

For most studio art majors, the rst year out of college is a blank canvas – a time for serious consideration, planning, and often crises. Liz Wilson and Patrick Phelan are an exception. The couple graduated from Skidmore in the spring of 2009 and have remained in Saratoga Springs to work and make art. Their decision to stay was a good one; both artists now feature work at a new gallery in town, House of Creative Soul on Van Dam.

Owned and directed by Jessica Golden, the gallery is a fresh addition to the Saratoga Art District. Wilson and Phelan, both painters, feature work in a show called Creative Mediums. The show consists of a wide array of local artists, of which Phelen and Wilson are the youngest. Their age, however, is not visible in their art. Their paintings seamlessly blend into the sophisticated and innovative energy that the gallery houses.

Although both artists use oil paint, their pieces are drastically dierent in form and concept. Wilson’s three paintings at the gallery are all abstract, dominated by bright colors and bold shapes. “My paintings are about the connections between humans,” she claims. “Communication precedes and surpasses language, and this is portrayed in my paintings.” Her use of color is extraordinary, which she explains was a result of her studying in Ghana, where her color palette was brightened. She believes her aesthetic change had to do with the brightly colored textiles that were prominent in the region.

For Phelen, the most striking aspect of his paintings is not his colors, but his materials. Patrick paints landscape and sunrise/sunset paintings on full-length mirrors, sporadically leaving areas blank to reect a gleam. From across the gallery, his paintings looked like a series of three rectangular pieces, horizontally hung. But up close, one can perceive the splotches of bright reection, as well as the traditional boarder that jets across full-length mirrors. Phelen expresses a desire to take stronger notice of his constantly changing environment. “This means seeing ourselves in this habitat at all times,” he explains. “Even when we are at the mirror in the bathroom, we are not hidden from the spectacle that is this world.”

For artists of any age, Wilson and Phelen’s current circumstance is important to note for a couple of reasons. To begin with, their prompt success ought to inspire studio arts majors and discourage them from fretting about their future! This creative couple is only one example of many Skidmore alumni that has continued pursuing art in their post- college life. Even more importantly, Wilson and Phelen’s presences in House of Creative Soul strongly suggest that Saratoga Springs is bubbling with artistic resources to explore and embrace.