Casting a contemporary eye
This story was featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
When Elsa Sroka was growing up, her father had a passion for art and architecture. A language professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO, he frequently ordered huge rubber molds of figures such as the VENUS DE MILO from his native Italy. In his spare time, he poured concrete into the molds to create sculpture. Before he tried to sell the pieces, his children first painted the figures in the backyard. Sroka describes her father as a romantic and a dreamer who also enjoyed conjuring up ideas for the dream home he would build one day.
Sroka remembers being a little bit embarrassed as a child because the family was known around town as the one with statues all over their house. But today the Denver artist carries on the legacy of her father’s passions. In her painting LIGHTS ON, for example, she brings together both art and architecture. For as long as Sroka can remember she has been intrigued by houses with lights on in the window at night. “They sometimes look cozy, warm, and mysterious, and I’m curious about what’s inside,” Sroka says. “I like to imagine the design, furniture, and lighting inside from an aesthetic point of view rather than creating a story about who lives inside.”
As this story was going to press, Sroka was working on paintings for a three-person show at Abend Gallery. Her works depict not only structures but also landscapes, flowers, and cows. Sroka says she stumbled upon bovines as subject matter one day during a class at the Art Students League of Denver. When she wasn’t satisfied with her painting of a cow, she began scraping away the paint to get a more abstract quality, skewing reality until she was pleased aesthetically. “I had the painting in my home and had so many people encourage me to do more cows,” she recalls. “I slowly listened and then poured myself into the subject. Now I have fallen in love with them.” For Sroka, the cows have nothing to do with themes of western life and everything to do with putting her own contemporary artistic stamp on the subject. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download
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