Painting a conversation at the National Abstract Art Exhibition 

The National Abstract Art exhibit opens October 1

click to enlarge National Abstract Art Exhibition participant Madeleine Wories
  • National Abstract Art Exhibition participant Madeleine Wories

As the daughter of a petroleum geologist, Madeleine Wories had the privilege of living all over the world, from Australia to Canada to Costa Rica. Now years later, the 66-year-old is letting those travels inspire her work as an abstract painter.

"In Australia, we often went out into the bush," recalls Wories. "Australia has a very, very interesting environment, ranging from rain forests to Outback desert. I was influenced by that. I've always liked open spaces and horizons."

After working a high-pressure architecture job in Montreal for 20 years, Wories moved to Southern California, where she currently resides. Since moving there, she's redirected her creative energy to abstract art.

click to enlarge Work by Madeleine Wories
  • Work by Madeleine Wories

"It was only about three years ago that I started painting, and I absolutely love it. Now, that's what I want to do," she says. With her current pursuit, she admits that her architectural background has come in handy.

"Some of my work, especially the paper work, is quite structural," Wories says. "I look for balance and how shapes fit together. So there is some architectural feeling in some of the work."

Unlike her architecture work, however, Wories' paintings often formulate on the fly.

"The work is very intuitive," says Wories. "It's kind of like a dialogue with the painting. It speaks to me, and it tells me what to do."

click to enlarge A Madeleine Wories' painting
  • A Madeleine Wories' painting

In all cases, authenticity is what's at the heart of her paintings, though.

"It's not something where I'm like, 'Okay, I want to sell this and people will like it,'" says Wories. "I don't care about that. What I care about mostly is how I feel about a piece, and that I've actually achieved something in that painting."

Despite having this mindset, Wories' work has been featured in galleries all over the world. In fact, two of her pieces will be included in the Southside Art League's twelfth running of the National Abstract Art Exhibition at the Garfield Park Arts Center. The exhibition will feature a juried selection of works by 60-plus artists from all over the country.

Michael King, hailing from Louisville, will be featured as well. A longtime lover of abstract art, King remembers discovering Franz Kline's work while attending college in New York City during the early '60s.

"They were such big canvases and such bold statements," says King.

During his time in New York, the arts movement that was happening around King had a big influence on him.

"Jazz and abstract expressionist painting grew up together, right there on the Lower East Side," he says. "It was there along with the beat poets, the literature of the day and the modern dance. It was kind of the beginning of counterculture."

click to enlarge Madeleine Wories
  • Madeleine Wories

Although many years removed from his time in New York, King admits that jazz music still has quite an impact on his abstract work today. And after pursuing a career in graphic design for several decades, King decided to try his hand at abstract art about five years ago.

"Finally, I retired from the [graphic design] business, and I was able to get back to my roots and back to what I had always wanted to do all my life — abstract art," says King.

Like Wories, he also treats each painting like a conversation. "I put some paint on the canvas and make a stroke or a palette knife smear," says King. "And then, it talks back to me. It's a give and take, back and forth."

In addition to King and Wories, several Central Indiana artists will also have work featured in the Southside Art League's exhibition. By presenting work from artists from both near and far, event organizer Robert Aichele hopes to continue to draw attention to the arts on the Southside.

"It's good for the community, but we're also trying to reach out of Central Indiana and make a name for ourselves," concludes Aichele, who's an abstract artist in his own right. "I've had a lot of artists say that they really look forward to this show every year."

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