BIOGRAPHY / RESUMÉ
Barbara Strelke was raised in Wisconsin, spent many years in New Mexico, and now lives and works in Tucson, Arizona and San Carlos, Mexico. For the past several years Strelke
had combined work in landscape architecture, planning and urban design with painting. Now she is painting full-time and establishing a style as a colorist with a keen sense of
landscape form and composition. She paints in oil, watercolor, and pastel. Her subjects
range from Southwest desert and canyon landscapes to Sea of Cortez seascapes. Galeria
del Desierto is the showcase for her paintings with a focus on the Sonoran Desert, the Sea of Cortez, and San Carlos, Mexico.
While completing her doctorate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico, she studied photography. Her photographic work, especially abstracted still lifes and multiple exposure studies, has influenced her responses in painting.
Strelke's visual vocabulary is also influenced by her prior career as a landscape planner,
and her studies in landscape architecture, cartography, and aerial interpretation. Her non-representational work often begins with plan views or obliques of land forms—mesas,
mountains, and canyons of the American Southwest.
Strelke's art education includes photography and architectural drawing at the University of
New Mexico, landscape architecture and graphics at the University of Washington, and painting at Pima Community College and The Drawing Studio in Tucson, Arizona. She holds degrees in English (B.S. and M.S.), American Studies (Ph.D.), and Landscape Architecture (M.L.A.), Signature Member.
My paintings start with the physical world, but it is a world abstracted, remembered, and imagined. My goal is not to represent so much as to transform the observed moment and extend a new sense of reality to the viewer. My abstract or non-representational work also evolves from the known world of shapes, gestures, and textures, but distances itself from
recognizable objects and concentrates on color and movement to bring an emotional response from the viewer.
I see the landscape of the Southwest as overlapping planes of color and form: the contrasts of angles, curves, domes, ridges, and valleys. Although I don't "read" the landscape for the stratigraphy of geologic epochs or catastrophic events, I
want my paintings to suggest a geologic past that might be described as monumental, mysterious, and fantastic.
ignites an experience that will be quite different for each person who views it. In some ways I want to do on canvas what
Walt Whitman, the great 19th century American poet, did with words---to celebrate the fullness and diversity of experience, to capture the sense of emotional ripeness, to sing in a very expressive, even romantic way, but to control the cadence, the form, the structure in a way that is of my own time and place.
My earlier representational work reflects desert landforms such as mountains and mesas, desert vegetation and, at times, the urban environment of the Southwest. Recently I began a series of paintings that interprets my sense of the Sea of
Cortez, and the meeting of land and water in the Sonoran Desert. Some of these paintings are abstract interpretations of tide pools, sunsets, and the movement of water.
"Retrospective", CataVinos, Tucson, April 16-May 22, 2011.
"New Works", two-person show with Judy DeVincentis Morgan, Galeria Bellas Artes, San Carlos, Mexico, March 2011.
"Crème de la Crème", SAWG Signature Members' Show, February 5 through March 4, 2011.
"The Artist's Eye", the 43rd Annual SAWG Show, January 7 through February 4, 2011; juror Robert Burridge.
Fiesta Sonora 2008, 12th Annual Juried Exhibition Presented by the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild and the Art Institute at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, July 19 through September 7, 2008.
In and Around Tucson: Plein Air Works in Watercolor, Invitational group show at The Drawing Studio, Tucson, AZ, April 2-26, 2008. Curated by Ellen Fountain.
Fiesta Sonora 2007, 11th Annual Juried Exhibition Presented by the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild and the Art Institute at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, November 17 through December 30, 2007.
Annual Juried Exhibition, "Dazzling Days and Neon Nights", Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild, Stone Avenue Gallery, Tucson, AZ, October 20 through November 17, 2007. Juror: Timothy Clark.
Sea of Cortez: A Desert Sea, May 24 to August 19, 2007, Tohono Chul Park Exhibit Hall, Tucson Arizona.
"Home Again Times Three", a three person show featuring the work of Nancy Worzalla Abel, Barbara Okray Hall, and
The 38th Annual Juried Exhibition, Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild, First Light Creative Center, Tucson, January 16, 2006 through February 17, 2006.
Fiesta Sonora 2005, 9th Annual Juried Exhibition Presented by the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild and the Art Institute at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, October 14, 2005 through January 2, 2006.
"Tucson Rocks," a group show featuring the work of Fred Borcherdt, Charlotte Bender, Alice Walter, Barbara Strelke, and Rand Carlson, The Gallery at Tucson International Airport, October 2004 through January 2005.
I also want to suggest the inherent energy of the observed moment when the viewer meets the painting, and the painting
Barbara Strelke, Riverfront Arts Center, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, July 28 through September 10, 2006.