Change of plans: Joan Columbus show of oils

By Carol Wheeler

The light-filled oil paintings of Joan Columbus will be on [slightly-delayed] exhibit at the Ra Luz Gallery, starting Tuesday, September 18. Through no fault of her own, Columbus’ show (which was supposed to open on Tuesday, the 6th) was prevented from opening at the very last minute by a dispute over ownership of the Posada San Francisco, where the RaLuz Gallery was at that time. She wishes to apologize to those who may have arrived that evening to find nothing there to see and furniture out on the street. Luckily, everything has been rescheduled and the gallery found a space just around the corner, where the new opening will take place.

Works by Joan Columbus
Sun, Sep 16, 4-6 pm
RaLuz Gallery
Hidalgo 1

Columbus, a San Miguel resident, has been an artist all her life, in New York and in San Miguel and environs, where she has lived for more than 15 years. The theme of the show, she says, is “the earth and our relationship with her.” The theme is beautifully embodied in the painting she’s chosen to represent the show… its rich colors depict a woman holding the whole planet in her arms.

Other painting subjects include Columbus’ Spanish teacher, Patricia Ledesma, as “Guardian of the Feminine Mysteries” and her gardener, Juan Gabriel Monson, admiring an orange on a tree, his expression and the tree embodying the painting’s title, “Abundance and Gratitude.” At least a dozen paintings make up the show, including finely honed still lifes as well as Columbus’ very vivid larger oils, which include apocryphal scenes as well as large paintings that are really life-size portraits. One large, smoldering work, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” fulfills a dream for Columbus, who imagined the scene in a book by Vincent Blasco Ibanez when she was in her twenties. She was so impressed by the book that she made a drawing of the Four Horsemen. “I carried that drawing around with me for 50 years before finding an opportunity to paint it,” she says. That opportunity arrived after she moved to San Miguel. And so, at last, she completed the monumental work she had dreamed of doing, in a dramatic and memorable way.

In the States, Columbus was a professional portraitist. When she got here, she wanted to see “what kind of paintings I would make if they weren’t commissioned portraits. These are they,” she says. One of the paintings in the show is a maquette for a stained glass window in a church in Goshen, New York, where one of her windows is already installed. (She does still have the painting the window was based on.)

This one is just “waiting for a sponsor to make the stained glass window a reality,” she says.

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