Today, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
announced that Ellen O'Brien
, a prominent local artist, and the subject of its upcoming exhibit, Ellen O'Brien: The Prevalence of Line
, has died.
The Indy interviewed
O'Brien back in 2008, in advance of her retrospective at Cucuru Gallery Café
, the first major show she'd had since she showed at the FAC in 1974. The nearly-120-work exhibit featured works from throughout her career — some were nearly 70 years old.
O'Brien was born in 1922 and educated at Cornell University
and the Cranbrook Academy of Art
. She spent four years in Europe after marrying, and worked in the studio of French artist and filmmaker Fernand Léger
. O'Brien recalled attending a party with Pablo Picasso
, who didn't want to talk to anyone.
She said she admired Picasso and Matisse, but wasn't directly influenced by them.
"I suppose somebody had some influence," she said, "But I never really looked at paintings that way. I always felt really independent about what I wanted to do."
O'Brien returned to the Springs in 1951 (she and her husband had lived a short time here before relocating to Europe), where O'Brien worked with master printmaker Lawrence Barrett
and taught art for adults for the next 30 years at Colorado College
, Pikes Peak Community College
and the FAC. She never showed students her own work.
"I don't want them to see it or be influenced by it. I want them to figure out their own way."
In a statement released by the FAC, museum director Blake Milteer
"Ellen's art truly captures the spirit of adventure, skill, mystery and experimentation that drove art forward from the mid-20th century-on. She was among the artists who gave strength and significance to our culture in the Pikes Peak region. I was privileged to include her art in the FAC's 2009 exhibition Colorado Springs Abstract, and I enjoyed her seriousness as an artist and her amazing sense of humor as we planned for her upcoming show. I will deeply miss working with Ellen."
The Prevalence of Line
opens Dec. 14.