Sunday, January 14, 2007

Interview for the Asheville Citizen Times

PORTFOLIO: Fleta Monaghan
published January 14, 2007 12:15 am

Fleta Monaghan used young painter Carlee Freeman as the model for “St. Lucy” (acrylic on birch panel, 16 by 16 inches, $950). All subjects for Monaghan’s historical/allegorical paintings are local artists, some involved in dance and performance and some in music. Prices at Monaghan’s show range at North End Gallery range from $245 to $8,000.
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Name: Fleta Monaghan.Business: Visual artist, teacher.Studio/gallery: River’s Edge Studio at Riverview Station, 191 Lyman St., Asheville.Media: Acrylic, oil and mixed media painting.Contact: 776-2716,

How do you describe your art?
“I am concerned with the need to continue to improve technically and to explore ideas that carry a message beyond the immediate visual experience. I usually begin with some idea and intention. It is like starting out on a treasure hunt — I know I am looking for something, I have some clues, I just don’t know where I will end up or what I will find. For me, this is stimulating and exciting.”
What are you doing that no one else is?
“About a year ago, I began exploring the sculptural aspects of the painting as an object that will fit into a space. Now I am taking this idea further, using both color and compositional perspective concepts with the actual size of the canvases to create paintings that fill space in different ways.”
What influences your work?
“Paying attention to the small things is very important. A visual experience that is studied and remembered, a spoken word, a poignant poem, a joke and a laugh, a stunning performance, a dream — all these things can go into a big mix of ‘clues’ that can set me off on a new path. I have found that if I try too hard, I miss some simple thing that I can draw or paint that will open a new door.”
When is your most creative time?
“I like to get up early, plan my day over coffee, go the studio and work undisturbed until about 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Morning hours are the most productive. I reserve time for business tasks and personal interaction on days that I will not be painting.”
How did you get started in your art?
“I was drawing, using ‘learn to draw’ books, by the time I was 6 or 7. By 12 years old, I was copying Botticelli paintings with pastels, and I began painting in oils as a young teen. It has always been a natural inclination, the only profession that seemed natural and right.”
What or who is your favorite muse?
“I am indebted to the women artists I know who have devoted their lives to art and shared their knowledge, thoughts and encouragement with me and many others. Finding the muse is the easy part — the muse is everywhere. Taking the risk to live the life of an artist is another matter. So, thank you Susan Collard, Elma Johnson, Connie Bostic and all the other wonderful women artists I know.”
Who is the artist you most admire?
“I most admire artists who continue to experiment and grow, are intellectuals as well as practicing artists, who constantly step outside their comfort zones, take big risks in their art and live quixotic lives. I love seeing art so much that it is impossible to choose a favorite. I do love Kahlo, Gauguin, Monet, Dali, Krasner, Nerdrum — the list goes on.”

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