Mill Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Aspen Art Gallery, Aspen, Colorado
Gallery 8 Arts, Avon, Colorado
Element, Denver, Colorado
The work in my recent series is bolder in color, often linear in underlying structure and yet soft focused in its objectivity, resonating an interpretive experience of landscape and non-representation combined. Developing each painting into conveying more than just what I have seen around me all my life, seeking further interpretive elements through paint and process. I may begin each work with a reference to something I have photographed or seen, but once line, shapes and colors are applied, each painting unfolds in personal discovery.
Often I incorporate India ink, oil stick and carbon and use various tools to apply paint to create shapes and textures. Experimentation allows spontaneous responsive possibilities and conveys my painterly conversations on canvas.
I’ve been studying the Abstract Expressionist Movement that began in the 40’s and 50’s, both the New York School as well as the San Francisco School Painters. Willem deKooning, Philip Guston, Franz Klein, Robert Motherwell, and in San Francisco Richard Diebenkorn are all huge influencers to contemporary explorations in paint and process. The Second Generation Abstractionists including Perle Fine, Mary Abbott, Helen Frankenthaler, and Joan Mitchell, as women painters that were not fully recognized during the initial Abstract movement.
I’m interested in the historical context that drove their work and inspired their collective yet individual styles. I love learning about their lives and artistic philosophies, seeing their work through each artist’s individual interpretive conveyance, their energies in gesture and passion for color and artist mark-making as well as their unique reaction to the times they lived. This movement left its communicative mark for current abstractive painters, myself included. Finding one’s own unique voice as a painter is a constant quest and an exhilarating process…
…Conversations started, influences abound, materials being combined and explored, pushed, pulled, as gestural paint delivery and medium explorations…Each day in the studio I ask, “What if I try…” as I begin anew, and am excited for the possibilities and challenges of the days’ work ahead.
Cheri Vilona’s artistic training began in Rockland, NY with an Associate’s degree in Graphic Arts and Advertising. She has continued working artistically over the last 30 years while moving from the Hudson River area of Marlboro New York State to California, Oregon, Florida, and finally Colorado. “Looking out the car window for hours as a small child while driving across the country, through New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, towards Colorado, Oregon and Washington, I studied the colors and patterns of the riverscapes, skies, farmlands, mountains and oceans. I have spent years photographing and developing back in the black and white film developing studio days, and refer to these images as inspiration while painting.”
“I am interested in using strokes of paint that resonate recognition and at the same time abstraction, conveying a sense of interpreted place through atmosphere and personal viewpoints of perspective in my work. My artistic goal is to create an abstracted view and feeling of place both visited and imagined within my paintings."
“I begin with a visual reference, and choose a color plan that excites me. Once I have the entire canvas covered with a thin sketch followed by a complimentary wash, I begin laying exciting colors and establish my values and shapes with them. Sometimes I scrape it all back, and let the piece dry, which gives an under painting texture and color dynamics that really add layers of interest. I may let some of this under painting peek through in each final piece. Oil paints combined with various mediums allow such a wonderful painterly freedom of expression, the colors are vibrant and blend so well on the canvas, allowing happy surprises to appear and refresh my palette and give way to new and exciting directions.”
“Once the canvas is through this stage, colors and shapes take precedence and the fun/work begins! Sometimes paintings take many passes, changing and re-directing, that’s the fun of working with oils! My continuous color corrections and intuitions push me out of my comfort area, away from my initial reference photographs, away from details, towards more exciting abstract color relationships, towards my very unique and personal interpreted sense of place.”
Cheri, while primarily self-taught, has also attended oil painting workshops at the Arts Students League in Denver, working with notable artists Don Sahli, Jane Jones, Jill Soukup and Jordan Wolfson as well as oil workshops with Larissa Aukon of Santa Fe New Mexico, Mitch Alballa of Seatle Washington, Ken Elliott of Castle Rock, Colorado, Krista Harris of Durango Colorado, Casey Klahn of Washington, and Judy Greenan of Boulder, Colorado. Her artistic touch lends itself to broad strokes, gestural marks with an intuitive color placement, capturing the essence and drama of the land and the sea and skies through open color choices, harmonies and contrasts.
In 2013 and 2016 she was juried into the Artist in Residence Program in Breckenridge, Colorado. Her artwork has been exhibited at Parkside Gallery in Park City, Utah, Thornwood Gallery in Houston, TX, Dolce Gallery in Telluride CO, Smith-Klein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado, Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Mousai Gallery in Carbondale CO.
She currently shows her work at Mill Contemporary in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Aspen Art Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, Element in Denver, Colorado, and Gallery 8 Arts in Avon, Colorado. Cheri resides in Northern Colorado with her sculptor husband James Vilona. Together they have created art and family for over 35 years.
Vilona Studios, located in Berthoud, Colorado, includes a sculpture park, both Cheri and James Vilona's working artist studios, and we welcome visitors by appointment.