The Kaleidoscopic, Mystical-Surrealist Work of Artist Barbara Gothard

03/06/2017 06:38 pm ET

Looking into a kaleidoscope doesn’t tell the viewer a story of any kind. It doesn’t set the scene, or survey the details of a subject. But it offers the person on the looking end a twisted, beautiful perception of color, shape and light. Sometimes surrealist art can feel like you are looking into a kaleidoscope, but in this case, the viewer is offered a story. Barbara Gothard is a California based mystical-surrealist artist whose work is a kaleidoscope of desert scenes, organic subjects, vast perspective and a thread of personal history. Her paintings themselves are phantasmagorical, shattered images clearly reflective of her own Palm Springs’ desert surroundings. It is not just the sandy color that works its way into many paintings, but it’s this incredibly boundless visual aspect that immediately instills optimism and a sense of release in its viewers.

But that doesn’t mean the force behind Gothard’s work is consistently worry-free and unencumbered. Gothard’s passion for visual language manifests in her paintings and collective works.

“Not unlike a lot of women, I was faced with a family decision and my career as a practicing artist was put on hold. Although I continued as an art educator, which was admittedly for my children at the time and definitely the right decision, but it was a stifling period. I’ve had many obstacles in my life that I found were dealt with and overcame by creating art. Organically, these elements worked themselves into my art. They began to appear as dark, very rigid man-made forms that tended to dominate the frame but were contrasted by the open windows of some kind. I found myself shifting from realistic figures in my work to flowers, willingly letting organic elements symbolize structure. Most recently, these hurdles are being broken apart and expose more of what lay behind them. This is representative of the options we have.”

Gothard’s career doesn’t just start and end at the canvas– she is a significant force in her community, serving as a former president, now board member of the Palm Springs Art Museum Artist’s Council, and participating in shows all over California (and Paris).

Inspired by the works of Hieronymus Bosch, Gustav Klimt and Georgia O’Keefe, Gothard channels the greats with her brazen architectural elements, navigable POV and skill for creating a world of her own, but letting others experience it. These kaleidoscopic features repurpose what we know of feeling our feet on the ground, looking forward– but that’s what’s so wonderful about surrealism.

“I’m up at sunrise in the morning to capture my surroundings. There is one section of the mountains that I can see from one of my windows that is as close to the orange that you can see in my work. It’s what I see every morning when the sun is out, and the light is absolutely magnificent. I mean, so pure. I’ve never had a hard time connecting with my environment– and maybe it’s because there were no mountains in the midwest while I was growing up– but they have always represented stability to me. They are majestic while radiating with permanence.”

As for recent and upcoming endeavors, Gothard participated in the ART Palm Springs 2017 fair with Jorge Mendez Gallery, she will be part of PATHWAYS, highlighting international women artists at Jorge Mendez from March 18th to April 20th, as well as the Palm Springs Art Museum Artists Council at the University of California Riverside-Palm Desert from March 2nd to May 2nd, 2017.

You can keep up with Barbara Gothard by visiting her website

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