Sunday, June 29, 2014

Let there be Art

Signed Elsa Kells Skinner 1952

Signed Elsa Kells 1936

Sunday, June 29, 2014. Yesterday I happened on a garage sale in northeast Albuquerque and bought about 35 unframed works by Elsa Kells Skinner, including watercolors, paintings (portraits and abstracts), even a couple of large scale nude studies. One piece, possibly a harbor scene in upstate New York, is signed "Elsa Kells 1936". Kells Skinner received a BFA from Syracuse University, where she had first studied as a child. The person holding the garage sale had rescued this work from the trash somewhere in her part of the city.

At first, I bought only one framed piece, a watercolor of Laguna Beach, but then came home and Googled information on Kells Skinner. I found two postings, one of a watercolor for sale, a landscape of the Village of Cerrillos, New Mexico, and another, an abstract that had sold. Excited, I went back to the garage sale, hoping that the treasure trove was still there.

I am blown away by the variety in Kells Skinner's work. From one of the postings on the Internet, I found reference to an article in the archives of the Albuquerque Journal from August 23,1964. I have "cleaned up" the OCR scan of the original text of that article, which contained a number of undecipherable letter combinations typical of scanned text, and saved it as a document on my laptop because it reveals Elsa Kells Skinner's impressive credentials, going back to the '30s in NYC, where she worked as an illustrator and designer, and some of the recognition and many awards she received here in Albuquerque.

Kells Skinner moved to ABQ in 1951, and while doing graduate studies at UNM, studied painting under the likes of Randall Davey and Kenneth Adams (the last member of the Taos Society of Artists). Because of her diverse interests, she also studied jewelry making, ceramics, sculpture and photography. She studied pottery with Carl Paak at UNM and sculpture with John Tatschl, Paul Wright and Herbert Goldman. The dumpster gods smile. Wow!