A Lifetime of Inspiration

By Chapman, Audrey S. | Art Business News, November 2000 | Go to article overview

A Lifetime of Inspiration


Chapman, Audrey S., Art Business News


Artist Patricia Nix started creating art before she could talk, a talent that has taken her from Texas to New York and into the company of masters

She doesn't know whether it from God, or from a past life. But she's certain of this: It came with me. And it's the reason I'm here."

Artist Patricia Nix is talking about the origins of her talent--talent that's taken her to the top of the contemporary art world.

When Nix created her first painting at age 11, she didn't know that one day she'd exhibit her work alongside such contemporary masters as David Hockney, Willem DeKooning, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. She didn't know when she finished that painting that her work would one day sit in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.

But she did know this: "It wasn't bad, I tell you," she said of her first painting, a copy of a rose that she saw on a greeting card that belonged to her mother. "I was astonished that I could do it. But darling," she added, in her native Texas drawl, "it's just what I am. I was making art before I could speak. It's never anything that I had to try to be. I just kind of was."

That natural talent took NIX from her El Paso, Texas, roots to her New York City home, studio and 50-year career. Though she's known among critics as the founder of the American Baroque movement, she's known among fans as an artist with an eye for color ("God gave me this wonderful color sense," she said) whose unique view of life is stamped on each piece.

That view of life is evident in everything Nix does--whether it be a flower study, a box assemblage, or a piece in her "Handkerchief Series," where Nix used real handkerchiefs, paint, paper, cloth and found objects to create this sculptural work. Her inventive approach is what Dick Kleinman, owner of Cleveland's Dick Kleinman Fine Art and one of Nix's top dealers, said draws people to her work. "They like her colors, the boldness of her work, and the fact that it's very different from anything else that they've seen," he said.

Different? Consider "Elizabeth I Variation," a painting in which Nix covered a depiction of Queen Elizabeth in, well, beetles. …

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