My friend Liz Vaughn is much like her paintings: elegant, charming, witty, colorful, and both her and her work would—I imagine —be equally at home on London’s Carnaby Street in the Swinging Sixties, or in a chic club in Los Angeles today.
A solo exhibition of new oil on canvas works, entitled “Closer To The Heart,” opened Sunday in the Little Gallery at DeGrazia’s Gallery in the Sun at 6300 North Swan. Not surprisingly, the popular painter attracted a non-stop flow of art aficionados including Bohemia Artisans Emporium owner Tana Kelch, Rocking J Leather owner Ronald James, while Tucson’s own The Tryst turned up to play a live music set. When I left at 1:30 pm, four of the new works had already sold (one of them to me) and that’s not bad for the first half of the first day. What recession?
Liz’s work focuses on whimsical female portraits that remind me, in the best possible way, of a slightly more cubist Marie Laurencin and a more playful Georges Braque—those being two of my all-time favorite painters, so it is not a bit surprising that I always find Liz’s work alluring.
After a year or so of experimenting with larger, expressionist figures, Liz has recently returned to the cleaner, more colorful style of her earlier work, but with added elements of collage, including partially hidden instructions on how to operate toasters and other appliances. These mechanical elements that seem to comment on the drudgery of day-to-day chores contrast strongly with her brightly-colored and somewhat wistful female subjects.
I first met Liz some years ago, when she was part of an outdoor arts and crafts show at a garden center on Tucson’s east side. I was on my way to visit another friend and artist, silversmith Lisa Marie Morrison of Sirocco Design, who was exhibiting at the same event. On the way over I called to see if Lisa needed anything. “I’m set up next to the fabulous Liz Vaughn,” Lisa replied. “Bring champagne!” I did, along with four plastic champagne flutes, and after popping the cork and toasting the warm and perfect day, I thought it the ideal way in which to begin a happy relationship with Liz’s work.
The intimate Little Gallery is the perfect place in which to view these new paintings as its blue and ochre walls gently complement Liz’s palette, and the gallery itself is a quiet and contemplate venue, far from the bustle of downtown Tucson. Follow your viewing with a walk around the beautiful grounds and buildings which were the life’s work of famed artist Ettore DeGrazia. He constructed his first adobe studio there in 1944 and continued to refine and expand the site until his death in 1982. Gallery in the Sun is a marvelous oasis of art, history, and introspection.
Text and photographs © by Geoffrey Notkin. Paintings © by Liz Vaughn.
All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission.