Even though Shelley Horton-Trippe’s show “High Brow Low Ride” features paintings created since the November 2016 election, the works are not political.
Horton-Trippe met the president of the Española Low Rider Club, whom she describes as “a young woman with foot high hair and eyeliner winged to the moon,” in the summer of 2017. This powerful female figure became the impetus for a new body of work that’s lighthearted, but not in a superficial way.
“High Brow Low Ride” opens at Phil Space on February 23 and runs through April 27.
“These paintings express a longing for pure joy,” says Horton-Trippe, who has been living and working in Santa Fe since 1979. Joy is easy to come by when Horton-Trippe’s six-year-old granddaughter stops by the studio to work side-by-side with her grandmother and watch her paint.
“She’s been coming to my studio since before she could walk, and she takes studio time seriously,” explains Horton-Trippe. “She talks about my art with me. If I ask her about the colors I’m using, she’ll let me know what she thinks. I sometimes let her paint on my canvases.”
A native of Oklahoma and former art instructor at many educational institutions in the area including the University of New Mexico and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Horton-Trippe leaves the academic world behind when she’s in the studio.
While she may read and write about a subject of interest and have certain thoughts in mind when she starts a new piece, paintings are never planned. There are no sketches.
“For me, painting is beyond time and allows space between time,” she says. “I don’t like to think about it but rather just do it. I don’t plan my colors but certain colors do represent certain emotions to me.”
Lately, Horton-Trippe feels she’s been coming closer to answering some of the visual questions she’s been posing to herself for many years. To get to her answers, she allows herself to paint in whatever way she wants to at any given moment in time.
“Taking this approach is a giant relief,” she adds. “It’s incredibly exciting.”