Art walk 2018 creative spotlight: Terry Straus 

I was raised in Ridgewood, NY, five miles from midtown, New York City.  It was a blue color neighborhood then. Great people, but talking and viewing art was not really a neighborhood thing.  In my teens, I would take the M train into Manhattan and go to the MET or the MOMA. I would look at everything, see the world, and time travel from one art movement to another, all for the price of a subway ride. 
I remember that I won a school-wide art contest in sixth grade. In seventh grade, my uncle gave me drawing  supplies, and a ‘how to draw’ book. I remember working on a drawing all day, starting it in the daylight and losing track of time. After that, I drew all the time. I’d take the stuff out from under the sink and draw the pipes, draw old shoes, and  anyone napping was fair game.
    When I was very young, I spent a lot of time with a Time Life book series about art and culture. I think that is why, even as a youngster I’ve been comfortable thinking and talking about Art History.  In high school, I was given a scholarship at THE COOPER UNION Saturday High School program. I drew from the figure every Saturday, all day.  We also went to galleries and exhibitions. 
As a teen, I wanted to draw like George Grotz, Max Ernst, and Egon Shiele, and later like Diebenkorn.  Painters--- I have fallen in love with so many, especially the Spanish ones: Goya, Zubaran and Picasso.  My American inspirations are Jasper Johns and Willem de Kooning. 
In my twenties, I squirreled away my money and vacation time. I traveled to Europe on the cheap. I enjoyed viewing art where it was commissioned to be installed. I read a lot of art criticism, too.  I went to the Art Students League, and SVA at night. Eventually I earned a Master’s degree.  
While teaching High School, I realized that everything I was interested in influenced my lessons, and the students sparked new questions about art.  Many of my students in NY were from non-western art traditions. They enriched my work. 
I draw with pencil and charcoal, and I paint with oils, and pigments with walnut oil.  I experiment with mixed media, especially laying lean washes of paint over thick strokes of oil pastels. (I do the opposite when painting with oils.) Computers have changed so much for me.  I photograph for reference and collage. I work mostly in series. The work explores a common theme, material, or size. 
The more I work- the more ideas I get.
I am usually trying to understand something; how it looks, or what I am seeing here.  Other times it’s play, sparked by materials or images, or it’s a muse, such as, "if my Dad were living, would this image be meaningful?"
The NYACK FLOWER POWER series, is about strong women, who look different from one another. It’s about the surface of the drawing.  I wanted to build a surface that would be more sexy/tactile when viewed in person.  I was thinking about the place of handmade drawings in a digital world.  
Life experience and exposure creates new places for my work to explore. As I grow, so does my work. 
I definitely have a vibrant interior life. I spend a lot of time questioning, thinking, and wondering. 
Sometimes it connects me to people I don’t know, or who are gone from my life. I imagine  the work as ideas that can be passed through time and space. 
Sometimes the work is play, prayer, explanations or pointing something out.  I talk to myself, and sometimes to people who are gone. I think my work is like that. 
Art embodies ideas, viewpoints, and questions about individuals and cultures. Today, art is shared using technology, from person to person, culture to culture.  It’s like worldwide graffiti! I love it.  I believe there will always be a desire for handmade objects. And I think cultures will continue to commission artworks that they relate too. 
I hope women will empower other women in the art world: curators, collectors, artists and educators.  American art has been very male-dominated.  Woman’s voices are heard a bit more in American literature and music. I don’t think ‘the person on the street’ could name a female artist as easily as they could name a female author, songwriter, actress, athlete, or comedian. 

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