Two abstract landscape artists will be hosting a gallery reception this Saturday from 4-6pm and 8-10pm at Basil Thai in the Short North. Artists Chris Rankin and Betsy DeFusco will be exhibiting new works that are inspired by summer. Betsy’s work has been showcased in Columbus for over two decades at numerous shows, and her work has evolved to encompass multiple phases and series. She’s an MFA grad of OSU, and one of the founding members of the Creative Arts of Women (CAW).
We recently spoke to Betsy for a Q&A session about her work.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your artistic background?
A: My first degree was in art education, but at the end of my senior year I was pretty sure I did not really want to teach. So instead I worked at Pogue’s Department Store in Cincinnati in the art department. Over time I learned fashion illustration, especially working with pen and ink. I free lanced a little when my children were young, but soon photography took over the fashion world so I began doing house portraits and commissions – drawings of all kinds of things, still incorporating pen and ink. I found I could work at home in my attic which was great with two small children. From there I went on to produce a calendar of Columbus scenes for three years (“Columbus Collections”), a line of notecards, and a line of pen and ink prints that were mechanically reproduced and hand colored with colored pencil, marketed under the name “Attic Arts”. In 1988 I began to paint and have had a studio at Spring Street Studios since then. In 1994 I received my MFA in painting from The Ohio State University.
Q: According to your website, you’ve got several series of paintings, some of them having begun years ago. Can you tell us a bit about the process behind dividing your work up into these different series?
A: I don’t always plan to start a new series, sometimes it just happens. For example, when my brother passed away in 2006 I couldn’t face doing the same work I was doing so I just decided to play, and the result is the ‘Esprit Series’, which is really about the randomness of our world. Working in one style and using the same subject matter all the time can get boring, and it is usually invigorating to try something new. Last summer, when I went to Provincetown for a three month residency, I fully intended to do what I was doing at home, but when I got there, everything changed, and I found myself working from nature in a way I hadn’t in a long time. It was so freeing! In the big picture, I think there are connections with all my series. They are usually somehow about nature, especially sky and water, and strive to be comforting and hopeful, even the abstract pieces. Also my color palette stays pretty consistent.
Q: Your work being featured at Basil Thai with Chris Rankin is called “Inspired by Summer”. What specifically inspires you about the warmer months, and where do you go in Central Ohio to draw inspiration from?
A: Winter and Summer both have their own special beauty, but I think the colors of summer are what draw me in. Last summer I looked to my own back yard in German Village and painted the fish in my pond. I have another series called ‘Pine Creek’ that I painted from photos taken at Alum Creek. Also, my friend has a house on Indian Lake and I draw inspiration from being on the water there.
Q: Can you tell us about your working relationship with Chris Rankin?
A: Chris and I have been friends for awhile. I admire how he can be a graphic designer all day and change gears to paint at home. He was supposed to have the Basil exhibit with another friend who needed to be away for the summer, so he asked me to have the show with him.
Q: Aside from the show at Basil, are there any other ongoing or upcoming opportunities for our readers to see your work?
A: In November I will be showing with the Creative Arts of Women (CAW) at Ray’s Living Room in the Short North. I will have a painting in the Ohio State Fair, also an auction piece at Art for Life in September, and one at The Art of Recovery in November. Also, I am still represented by Keny Galleries in German Village, and you can see work there.
More information can be found online at www.betsydefusco.com.