William Blake (1757-1827)

This is Santa Fe Artist Alexandra Eldridge taking a moment in her studio.

And this is Alexandra in a portrait painted by her Mother. "My father was also an artist," explains Alexandra. "He and my mother published 27 children's books; my mother writing the story and my father illustrating it." This talented couple also created a syndicated cartoon strip, says Alexander, based on their family of seven kids and their two poodles - rag mop and poppy. 

Courtesy of the artist.

And this is Alexandra displaying a BLAKEAN skull that she painted while living in a community based on the teachings of the English poet, painter and mystic, William Blake. She moved to Santa Fe in 1987 with her two children, but after they went off to college, she began to travel in Europe and had studios in both New York and Paris. 

While in Paris she had a gallery show with the body of work that she did there; and was invited to paint a mural in the Place des Vosges - the oldest planned square in Paris, located in the Marais district. " It was a three-week piece of heaven," she recalls. "The windows were open onto the Place and the beautiful voices of  opera singers would waft through the air."

But now she plies her art in Santa Fe in a gorgeous studio chock-a-block full of her paintings which have evolved from her "SEARCH FOR THE INHERENT RADIANCE IN ALL THINGS...THE EXTRAORDINARY IN THE ORDINARY."  The walls, the floor, just about every surface is graced with one of her mixed-media paintings. The center of the studio is dominated by large work tables where the magic happens.

She used to work in Venetian plaster, but now her
 materials are more simple - brushes, squeegees,  common house paint, and assorted ephemera. 

An inviting spot to sit and talk...

There are wonderful objects everywhere...each with their own story.

A William Blake death mask.

A tiny back room showcases her collection of Victorian dresses worn in her Blakean days...

I met Alexandra at a recent show at JUX and was enthralled by her Scroll Paintings, created from
5x8, original glass plate negatives of children from a circa 1900 portrait studio in Texas, that a friend had given her. Alexandra's re-imagining took flight. 

The plates were meticulously cleaned and the images enlarged, printed and transferred to her collection of antique Chinese scrolls, culled from e-bay and other sources. Sometimes she uses the front of the scroll, incorporating the shadow of the original painting; otherwise the photograph is applied to the back of the scroll, and the layering begins. 

Five years ago these magical scrolls were displayed in Slovenia in an exhibition  of women's work that had been happening for the past twenty-five years. "They were displayed in a large room," explains Alexandra, " with a candle burning below each scroll, incense in the air, and a beautiful children's choir  singing ancient songs."

Her paintings have wended their way onto the covers of twenty poetry books. 

And her latest project - in collaboration with a poetry professor from Whittier College - is called RADIANT TAROT - Pathway to Creativity. The idea, explains Alexandra,  is to use the deck of cards as 'prompts' for creativity in different fields. They have an agent and the project is now in the hands of a publisher...

"My paintings emerge from a place where contradictions are allowed, paradox reigns
 and reason is abandoned."

Alexandra Eldridge

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