Painter Deborah White at Berlin

By Michael J. Phillips

Chicago painter Deborah White celebrates one year of permanent residency in San Migueln de Allende with a show of her paintings at Berlin.

Art: Paints by Deborah White. Fri, Jan 27, 5pm. Berlin, Umarán 19. Until Wed, Feb 29

This abstract expressionist painter has had over 30 years of experience in composition, starting first as a graphic designer in several art studios, and then as an advertising Art Director/Creative Director for 22 years, primarily at one of the world’s largest ad agencies, Leo Burnett in Chicago. These years of creating ad layouts were the perfect background for White’s layered abstract expressionist style.

Perhaps because of this training, White starts with some kind of an “idea.” For example, the painting called “Can’t Say No” is, for White, about the process of leaving familiar ground (literally) and moving to Mexico. All of the questions and contemplation that went into that decision were poured into the painting.

She has had several solo shows since starting to paint seriously in 2003 – the first at Galerie in Castrop-Rauxel, Germany, followed by many shows in Chicago, including the annual international show at the Merchandise Mart, “Art Chicago,” the Hotel Belmont, Urban Style Emporium, and Logsdon 1909 Gallery. Her work has been featured in group shows through the Chicago Artist’s Coalition and the Chicago Gallery District.

During this first year in San Miguel, White has been showing her work at BoBo, “The art of fine Living”, at Cuna de Allende 11(where some of her pieces will remain.) Through this connection she was asked if she’d do a painting demonstration for ABC TV’s Travel Program “Travel Now – How to Vacations.” The episode “Re-energize in San Miguel” aired on US national TV last summer – shot on the Hotel Matilda’s rooftop.

Deborah’s decision to become a serious painter hit her while on a trip to Spain in 1994. Fate stepped in when she stood in awe surrounded by enormous paintings by Antoni Tàpies, in his Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona. She says that this was the moment that inspired the direction for the rest of her life. An early retirement from advertising, a lot of soul searching, and San Miguel was chosen as the place to pursue her real life’s purpose.

The medium of acrylic was chosen for her paintings because of its layering properties. She often uses text from newspapers or other materials gathered through her travels to add authenticity and texture to her paintings. Sometimes collage is a major element in a work, sometimes a smaller touch.

White’s painting titles are often inspired by little-known Rolling Stones lyrics. The title of a song or part of a lyric can also inspire an entire piece. The art itself, however, is not about the band, and certainly not portraiture of it, but is about depicting the essence of a place or event with color, form and texture, and connecting to this place in a personal way, which she has now done in San Miguel.

To see more of White’s work, visit her website,, or “BoBo”, Cuna de Allende 11, or call her studio at 415-152-0873. (US number 312-642-7554)

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