New Color in the Times of Slow Coffee

Sometime in early January, a dear sister-from-another-mister called with a proposition.

“Do you wanna maybe write about some art?”

Kristin is the type who firmly knew what she was going to do with her heart and hands — and that’s to use them to make art — when we were 6 years old, in Mrs. Moran’s elementary-school “studio.” (At this stage, I could barely tie my smock.)

It’s a gift to grow into adulthood being the very thing you said you wanted to be when you grow up. It’s a greater gift to bear witness to and collaborate with a best friend living out their childhood dream sequence with such grace, humility, and success.

Kristin, who is now New York-based and paints memories in oil-based colors, has been engrossed in a pandemic project with two other artists who are located cross-country. The trio’s year of asynchronous work recently crescendoed with the publishing of a book and accompanying exhibition in Portland, Oregon.

This book needed an artists’ statement, Kristin said during our January catch-up. And I was thrilled and humbled to write it.

Below, you’ll find how I attempted to encapsulate the dynamic, emotive, and transcendent work of Kristin Texeira, Kelsey McClellan, and Michelle Maguire.

Michelle Maguire is a visual artist, a gatherer of things, and an observer of how the shapes and textures of certain objects — bars of soap and chocolate, brushes and sandpapers, a map, a dodgeball — complement one another within a space.

Kelsey McClellan is a photographer whose images are made of bright, intentional light, stirring prisms capable of instantly clearly cobwebbed minds.

When painter Kristin Texeira puts oil paint to canvas, all at once she warmly summons the abstract and oft-elusive shapes of nostalgia, music, feeling.

Photo by Kelsey McClellan

Color is the magnetic force that bonds this trio, asserting their collective vision. New Color in the Times of Slow Coffee is the result of the asynchronous exploration they shared in a year otherwise defined by insularity and isolation.

As ordinary patterns and familiar ways of living continued to upend amid the onset of coronavirus, Kelsey, Kristin, and Michelle found themselves working together in a sort of artists’ residence. Despite the suspension of traditional “work,” they chose to work together — a continuous exercise in inspiration. They found common studio space between lines of snail mail, text messages, video chats, and volleys of emails.

Kelsey — living and working in San Francisco, California — and Michelle — in Columbus, Ohio — first offered a series of ten photographs inspired by the shapes and palettes of Kristin’s paintings.

Photo by Kelsey McClellan

Under stay-at-home orders and reliant on using items already in their respective possessions. Michelle and Kelsey worked together to assemble props and materials to create sets that replicated Kristin’s paintings. From a cabin in upstate New York, Kristin answered each of the curated compositions with paintings that closely — but not exactly — resembled Kesley and Michelle’s images.

Months blurred by, and Kristin developed five new works, flipping the challenge back to Kelsey and Michelle to manipulate and interpret. Using domestic and utilitarian objects, five similar-but-different dimensional renditions emerged.

Photo by Kelsey McClellan

The way it all unfolded was slow, careful, precise. Loose but structured. A daydream with a deadline.

Photo by Kelsey McClellan

This tempered pace, and separation of time and space, carried these three and their work through the year. Each artist’s respective medium blended to expose a colorfully cyclical conversation.

The work suggests a revelation: newness and slowness can truly exist in symbiosis. Unexpected combinations can be born and thrive when we pause to bask in creativity and connection. And that can be the prize.

→ If you’re Oregon-based, you can schedule a private appointment (in accordance with CDC safety guidelines) to view this exhibition starting Saturday, April 3, 2021.

→ Books are available for purchase here.

I like quick wit, short stories, and old movies.

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