When she first took up art as a grade-schooler, Katie Korotzer enjoyed all forms of visual art: photography, painting, drawing, sculpture. But by high school she settled on photography. Being behind a camera allowed her to be creative and part of the action, she recalls, while still one step removed. She gravitated to organic subjects and closeups that resulted in abstract images. “It was a way to keep control of the situation and the images,” she says. “I took pictures of people, animals, close-ups of nature, but not many structures.”
After raising her two children and working as a corporate event planner and professional home organizer, Korotzer returned to painting full time. On April 12-14 she will join fellow Bay Area artists Valerie Corvin and Dee Tivenan for a group show titled “Personal Truth” at Piedmont Center for the Arts.
Several of Korotzer’s paintings that will be on display are from a highly personal project she calls Sacred Spaces,(see above), an examination of her inner state, and her continuing process of self-discovery. Her painting falls into the non-representational, or abstract genre. As she describes it, this style allows her brush strokes to move freed of the expectations to “line things up exactly or paint a tree everyone knows is a tree.”
“Honestly, the reason I’m doing abstract work is that I’m working something out for myself,” explains Korotzer. “I grew up in the South, with prim and proper guidelines. You’re supposed to be in the lines and make people happy. But I’m 56 years old and it’s time: It’s time for being at a place of acceptance in yourself and in your work.”
Among Korotzer’s artistic signifiers is a bold use of color. A large painting of hers might for example require copious amounts of paint to achieve the maroon hues that vibrate, purple shades that pulse with authenticity and greens and blues that shade and shape cooler expression.
Often, before putting down the first layers of paint, Korotzer writes a poem, thought or story on the canvas, paper or other surface. It is a foundation—sometimes visible, more often obscured—that provides courage. “It takes a lot of guts to paint in an abstract format because it’s deeply personal,” she says.
Korotzer’s influences are decidedly modern. “Among the masters, Mark Rothko is my North Star,” she says. “Among women artists, Helen Frankenthaler is my favorite. She started with figurative and representational art but at the end of her long career, ended up taking big cans of paint and pouring it on the canvas.”
Korotzer, a former Piedmont resident who now lives in Orinda, says she enjoys the Bay Area art scene for the inspiration and community it offers women artists — workshops, collaborations or opportunities to exhibit, no matter whether an artist is returning to creative activities or continuing without interruption. She recalls a picture of an off-kilter chair she once painted in a workshop that caused the male artists to question why a leg was attached in an unusual way and the chair was not proportionate. Says Korotzer; “One of the great things about being a female artist is that you can do a lot of play, be personally expressive. The women all talked about the color and the chair: they connected to it in an emotional way.”
View Korotzer’s art on her website: www.katiekorotzer.net.