Tracy and Sushe Felix have a lot in common. They've been married for 30 years and have built successful careers painting stylized landscapes of the Southwest. They both are heavily influenced by American regionalist and modernist art movements from the 1930s and '40s, and both have works in the permanent collections of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art, and the Denver Art Museum.
Also, they both grew up in Colorado Springs and lived in Manitou Springs for 15 years before moving to Denver in 2004. And yet, while both are well-known in their hometown, neither has shown here for quite some time.
That will change with the pair's Common Ground show at the Tracy Miller Gallery, which will include new paintings from both artists and a selection of pencil drawings that Sushe created as preparatory sketches for her acrylics.
"They are widely known down here, and it's been a long time since people have seen how their work has progressed," says gallery owner Miller.
While similar in their accomplishments, Sushe and Tracy each have developed different approaches to modernist ideas. Sushe is inspired by the colors and shapes of the landscape, often simplifying and repeating their forms to create rich imagery. The varied edges and planes in her landscapes are reminiscent of the work of the transcendentalists of Taos, New Mexico, Miller says.
Tracy's palette and technique are distinct from his wife's. "The clear air here creates incredible color," he says, and his oil-painted canvases are filled with brilliant blue skies, snow-covered mountains, and a sense of the panoramic vastness of Western lands.
Many of their works were inspired by the Pikes Peak region, and the land will be recognizable in a characteristically abstract form. Sushe's "Childhood Memory" piece, for one, is based on the view she remembers from her house near Austin Bluffs. It depicts a small city framed by vibrant reddish-orange rocks in front of a large mountain painted with dark greens and blues and illuminated by rays of sunlight.