The artist’s signature approach creates brilliant and alluring paintings.
Native Coloradan Sushe Felix understands the complexities of landscape painting, a genre involving light, color, and, above all, atmosphere. Yet she is not bound by any formal reality. Her vision, always distinctly her own, is influenced in part by American art movements of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s that sought to abstract the natural world. In particular, she’s drawn to the landscapes of the Four Corners region, where the subject matter and her approach to it evoke mystery, charm, and an unmistakable sense of place.
“I feel my work is all about the brilliant color, dramatic forms and shapes, and the intense lights and darks of the American Southwest,” Felix says. “I wish to instill a sense of joy, along with a feeling of mystery and playfulness, and hope they resonate with my viewers.”
Sushe (a name derived from Susan) was raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, once a flourishing art center in the early 1900s. She met her husband, Tracy Felix, also a successful painter, in high school. After college, they married and opened a gallery, capitalizing on the brisk trade in available works by the esteemed Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center artists from the 1930s, legends like Eric Bransby, Charles Bunnell, and Mary Chenoweth, among many others. These were some of the pioneers in American regionalism, a movement that gave way to modernism and abstract expressionism.
“I feel like we’re another chapter in the book,” Felix says. “In many ways, we’re both a part of modernism’s evolution, depicting a subjective view of the region’s landscape and its people through applied abstraction, using repetition of form, direction, and line.” Both artists’ works can be found in the permanent collections of the Denver Art Museum, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, and many private collections.
Sushe’s studio, located in the couple’s modernist home near Denver, feels like a museum of American painting. In her long career, she has explored a variety of styles, some reminiscent of Thomas Hart Benton, Raymond Jonson, and even Vance Kirkland. She’s particularly influenced by Jonson, who, along with the Transcendental Painting Group he led in Santa Fe, sought to find fresh approaches to space, color, light, and design to push painting beyond the appearance of the physical world toward something transcendent.
Her current signature approach focuses on lyrical content and the use of acrylic glazes to create a sense of brilliant illumination that emanates alluringly from the painting. Her vaguely cubist vocabulary of forms representing clouds, trees, and structures suggests the use of stencils in their perfect symmetry. But this artist, a woman both understated and focused, is a master of precision and renders every element by hand.
Sushe and Tracy Felix are represented by the William Havu Gallery, a contemporary dealer in midtown Denver. Their work is currently also carried by Bill Hester Fine Art in Santa Fe and a number of other galleries in the West. Visit the Felixes’ website.
From the April 2017 issue.