Annalee and I meet at her new studio at Ironton. The space is located in a new building in their RINO "campus". Annalee's space is pristine, organized, and inviting.
May I ask your age?
74! Annalee pronounces with a beaming smile.
How long have you lived in Denver?
Can you tell me about your earlier years?
I grew up in Pueblo. My parents were schoolteachers. My mother taught 2nd grade in a school a few blocks from our house, my father was a principal. Pueblo was a bit stifling. I had a large family and it seemed like everyone I knew was a relative of some sort. Periodically my family would visit Colorado Springs. My sisters and I would visit the Fine Arts Center. These were magical moments. The building was special, very grand; and my reaction to the art was almost visceral. It was breathtaking. There were great collections of Native American and Spanish Colonial Art.
[Annalee mentions the "Eye Dazzlers", textiles created by Native Americans characterized by bold colors and geometries]
Annalee attended St. Mary's College in Leavenworth, Kansas where she studied English Literature. Wag Schorr was a private in the US Army, stationed at Fort Leavenworth. They met, and married in 1960. In Denver, Wag was studying medicine at the University of Colorado. Annalee worked there in the child psychiatry department.
When did art, and art making, become a part of your life?
In kindergarten I had a traumatic experience. There I was at my easel, enthusiastically throwing paint with the best of them when my teacher came by, saw what I was doing, ripped my art from the easel and threw it away. 'That's not art, that's nothing!', she exclaimed. I still remember that ripping sound... Really, since that moment I did not pick up a brush with any real artistic intent until I was maybe 30.
When my children were young and I was living in Denver, a neighbor suggested that we enroll in an art class at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School. The class was taught by a fantastic instructor, Ms. Edith Niblo. [Ms. Niblo was also mentioned by Spark artist Joyce Coco as a primary influence] She taught painting, design and color theory. I studied with her for perhaps 4 years.
My husband Wag grew up on a ranch in Arizona. He wanted to return to some aspect of that life so we moved to Parker, Colo. when it was still quite rural. I was very isolated there. To keep myself centered I painted. I kept a very formal schedule and would work on my art at least 20 hours per week. We were not horse people and our politics were not of the mainstream - still, we lived there for 14 years before returning to Denver.
I had the great fortune to spend time in England, first for a year early in my married life. We lived in Northumberland. Much later, in 1990, we lived for six months in London. I spent my days going to museums and attending lectures given by academics and artists. It was an incredibly stimulating time. Our experience in England was formative.
This was a wonderful way to see the world and learn about art...
Whenever Wag and I travel, and we travel quite a bit, we always explore the local museums and galleries. We make pilgrimages. We have been to Marfa several times to see Donald Judd's work. We spent 24 hours at Walter de Maria's Lightning Fields. The textiles I saw on trips to Peru and Guatemala are important influences in my art.
Can you describe your artistic process?
When I complete a work of art, or a body of work, there are always questions that arise. Addressing these questions lays the foundation for new art to come into being. Sometimes my art is inspired in part by materials that are lying around - a sheet of plexiglas, a roll of duct tape...
Do you have any expectations of the viewer?
Probably not. This work is what I do. My work is about geometry and it is about pattern and it is about color. In the current work I consciously endeavor to make the viewer uncomfortable through my choices of form and color. My color is pure and I push the color relationships in the paintings to the point of dissonance. I want the color to produce a jarring effect, with energy that fills the entire visual field so that even our peripheral vision is fully engaged with the art. I don't necessarily want the viewers to be comfortable, I want them to have a palpable visual experience.
What do you want now?
To be able to keep doing what I am doing.