The color pencil medium is ideally suited to her work. She has an intimacy with the subject which achieves an artistic reality showing an underlying comprehension.
Gretchen Van Atta Loro
Gretchen VAN ATTA LORO
Gretchen Van Atta Loro was born and raised outside of New York City.
She earned her B.A. at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1968. During the next four years she continued her studies on a small German island in the North Sea.
In 1977 she moved to Texas where she met her future husband, Dr. Antonio Loro. Opening St. Mark Fine Art Restoration in 1982, she began working side by side with her husband learning first-hand the skills of fine art restoration. But it was here own artistic skills which Antonio encouraged. Choosing color pencil, an unusual medium, she worked to fully develop its potential.
Gretchen’s pencils (colored or graphite) make use of what she knows intimately, giving her art work the dignity of exemplary “pencil -ness”. Significant pencil work can make use of specific images such as the grand motifs of Venice that have inspired artists for centuries, as well as the most humble quiet corners of a city who shares its secrets only with those who actively seek them out. The subject in question becomes art; it achieves a relationship to drawing by becoming a catalyst for which the process of drawing can occur. Clearly, Gretchen has been touched by the magic that is Venice and has been inspired to help preserve its significance so that it can be experienced through line and color. The mastery of composition appears effortless. The effort is devoted to clarity not replication. The color pencil medium, fully developed, lends itself ideally to this end. It works against the banal. The clarity is not imposed, but rather emerges through her deep-seated subjectivity that confronts the routine and the unnoticed with a structuring comprehension.
The “portraits” of Venice differ most significantly from her human portraits in that they are an expression of her increasingly intimate and personal relationship with the subject. When commissioned to do a portrait of an individual, it is necessary to create an “instant intimacy” with her subject. She tries out different facial expressions, observes light conditions and its variations effecting physiognomic studies. She feels that artist must master the face like an actor; to be able to observe the external reflection of feelings and thoughts. For instance, she feels one can only depict an expression of contemplative reserve if the artist can copy the emotion of this given situation and translate oneself into that emotional state.
Her series of drawings regarding the Tango in Buenos Aires in the ’30s and ’40s came from a place even she is hard-pressed to locate. Perhaps its “foreignness” to her allowed her to slip into it and try it on as an innocent. A trip to that city, emersion into the music and the use of a model with imagination, cinematic experience and a forceful figure helped her to visit a new place inside her soul. For most Argentines, the Tango is a metaphor to communicate expressions of great sadness, melancholy and intense feelings that are situated not so far beneath cool exterior. Gretchen’s drawings, usually detailed and reality-based take on this drama. They are sometimes beautiful, sometimes haunting but always intriguing. A brief moment of life captured to seduce the viewer.
It was with great pleasure and pride that Nolan-Rankin Galleries presented her first on-woman to Houston and in particular as part of the traditional INTRODUCTIONS ’96 PROGRAM. Her first exposure in Houston was in 1994 with her participation in the Italian Cultural and Community Center’s presentation at Nations Bank. She has received numerous portrait commissions which she always approaches with her boundless energy and wit while pursuing new subjects and themes for her drawings. The Ballet was the subject of her second show at Nolan-Rankin Galleries, December 1997, where she focused not only on the beauty of the dance but the hard work behind the curtain.