Yocum Institute for Arts Education
Over the course of her lifelong career as an artist Elaine Soltis has consistently implemented a systematic practice of applying fluid paint poured freely over a canvas or board. This method, combined with gemstones found on the beach of Lake Erie, loose strings, beads, mirrors and other ephemera, works to create a tactile and sparkling surface brimming with vibrant marbleized color.
Balancing her artistic activities between family in Ohio and her home in Reading PA, she spends her private time at the huge lake and at her GoggleWorks Center for the Arts' studio. Esoteric and spiritually minded, she invests each of her works with personal value intended not only for her own edification but that of her viewers, hoping to create an exchange of experience while developing a friendship through art.
The three dozen pieces currently showing at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education in Sinking Spring PA, aside from the abstract method, are mostly landscapes, beaches and a few trees, each infused with poetic metaphor. A title like “Tangerine Dream” implies a state of consciousness or meditative thought while others, like “On the Beach” or “Pink Sand” refer directly to a singularly identifying trait.
Notwithstanding, where these works really shine is in their skillful handling as the paint slides and congeals in her patently controlled mixing and manipulation of complimentary color. Her technique involves little actual brushwork in the terms or manner of traditional process. She tilts and angles the liquid acrylics, ala Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, in multiple wet-on-wet layers to manifest areas of swirled, stippled pigments that emboss the painting and give the compositions a physical presence. Brushes or other tools are used merely to direct the flow of color.
The clouds represented in “Shallow,” for instance, raise an eighth inch above the flat white sky, the various warm grays jelling into a thick coagulated stream. Some of the pieces contain collage items or a free-hanging string that suggest a divisional or spacial line to further bring the compositions into three dimension.
A common element in many of the paintings, the solid white sky operates as a space of purity for these amorphous phenomena to exist, no matter what they represent or attempt to represent, and place the viewer at a safe and contemplative vantage point. She remarks in her statement about “trusting in what you cannot see” and “lovely energy, random(ly) coming out of nowhere” as a way of intuiting and evolving the work's organic facture.
As a final point of departure and acknowledgment toward traditional Chinese painting, she signs her paintings lower right with an ordinary zinc washer, using it like an I Ching coin, or a chop, while angling her signature straight up.
Soltis is a singular voice and creative influence for the area and is heartily active within the local artworld. She has at times been a stage and voice-over actor, a model, a promotional trainer/colorist for French Designer Beauté, an interview host for a cable TV show on Berks Community Television, a 20 year member of the Screen Actors Guild in Seattle WA as well as a 25 year Reiki Master.
“Elaine Soltis” is on view from September 14 through October 19 at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education, 3000 Penn Avenue, Sinking Spring PA - www.institute-of-art.org for more information.
Ron Schira September 16, 2019.