Sally and I meet at the Interstate Cafe, one block from Spark gallery. We sit on the corner cushions and order wine and deviled eggs.
May I ask your age?
My numerical age is not known, my spirit is ageless.
Can you tell us a bit about your early years?
I was born in Denver. I attended East High School and then the University of CO. I was married in Denver, where I had three children. I left in the sixties. First I moved to Washington State and then to the Washington D.C. area. I taught art in a high school in Fairfax, Virginia. I loved teaching however the work was exhausting. In Fairfax I was a single mother [Sally and her husband had divorced], teaching art and raising three children. My parents lived in the San Diego area and every summer we would visit. We would drive across the country and spend the summer.
Although I loved teaching high school and the students were great, in important ways I felt I was giving so much of myself as a teacher. There was little left for myself. I knew I wanted to be an artist and I knew I wanted to teach at the college level. There would be a different caliber of student and I would have time to work on my art. [Sally stopped teaching in Fairfax however she maintained contact with a number of her former students for many years afterwards.]
What did you do to bring your life closer to art?
When I was 35 I decided to attend graduate school in Boulder. Graduate school gave me the opportunity to be immersed in art and to think I would have a life as an artist. While in school I studied sculpture, drawing, and painting, with a primary focus on drawing. I fell in love with the work of Eva Hesse. In graduate school I met my future husband, Stan Mullen. Stan worked as a doctor at Wardenburg Student Health Center. After my receiving my MFA at CU he accepted work in Pennsylvania, near Scranton, and I found work as an art instructor at Misericordia College. Being relatively close to New York, I had the chance to visit the city periodically to look at art and see friends.
Even when I was younger and living in Virginia, on my summer visits to California I would enroll in art classes. I had the opportunity to study with John Baldessari. In the 80’s I attended a tempera painting workshop at the Esalen Institute in CA. It was after that I discovered gouache.
Can you describe your artistic process?
I have a dream journal and keep a sketchbook. I collect things; memorabilia and natural objects. In my studio there is stuff everywhere. It surrounds me. However there is no chaos - everything has meaning. I love gouache and mixed media assemblage. My color is strong and flat, and it is fragile because gouache is a delicate medium. Line quality and color are very important. I keep the mixed gouache in tiny sealable containers with a little water so it does not dry out.
My work is influenced by dreams, Mexican Art, Asian Art and Tibetan paintings and ties into my stream of consciousness. I do not necessarily know what the painting will be until I approach the paper. I like losing control and being surprised at what the painting becomes.
Is content important?
Absolutely! The images I choose have meaning. They form a story. This is important to me. Yet a painting can have images and still have no content. You can see and feel when there is no content. A work of art has to have meaning. An abstract painting can have meaning and emotional content and a realistic painting can be devoid of meaning and be beautifully executed.
Do you have any expectations of the viewer?
I don't paint for the viewer, I paint for myself. It is nice when the viewer gets something. My work can be frightening to some people because of the imagery.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Stan (Sally's husband) doesn't always know what I am doing and that is OK. He is supportive. To let your partner be who they are and do what they do without being judgmental - that is everything.