Charu Colorado

Charu Colorado knows she was born to be an artist. The nearly 92-year old visual artist says that from earliest childhood she never wanted to do anything else.

"I've always had an intense interest in the way everything looked to me. I knew even as a small child, I wanted to create," she said.

Colorado's interest in art and performance led her from her home state of Colorado to travels around the world and to California where she kept a painting studio and worked with several theater groups in Los Angeles. Later, she said, she chose to devote her time and energy to visual art. She came to Ashland 20 years ago, and takes great joy in the town's supportive environment.

"I love the community of artists here in Ashland. I have such supportive friends, and I am inspired by so many here," she said.

Colorado, who is preparing a showing of her work this weekend, spoke with the Tidings about art and the beauty she finds in the world around her.

DT: What brought you to Ashland?

CC: I came to be closer to my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren who live in Talent. They are The Hat People, Jim and Carol Saturensky Young.

DT: How do you describe your art?

CC: My art is expressive of my vision of the world as I feel and observe it, and of my emotional reactions to what I see.

DT: Talk about the work you are doing now.

CC: Currently, I am most interested in using found industrial materials with mixed media to construct three-dimensional assemblages. I also always draw and play around with paints and color. I love to draw.

DT: Art is often seen as a luxury. What motivates you to keep working?

CC: It seems a necessity, not a luxury, for me. Even when I am not in the studio working on a piece, I am always painting or putting things together in my mind as I observe nature or textures in the parking lot or under and around the trees or wherever I am looking. It is always fascinating and exhilarating to me.

DT: What is most satisfying to you in regard to your work?

CC: Seeing it emerge from nothing, just my inspiration. I don't plan it out in advance. I just use what is at hand and the feelings I am experiencing. It seems like magic.

DT: What is most challenging?

CC: Color, light and then form.

DT: Who are your creative influences?

CC: I would have to say when I was younger, the Impressionists and my first experiences with my art teacher who taught me to see true color.

DT: Did your family encourage your interests?

CC: My father was always encouraging me to explore and follow my passion for doing and thinking. Both parents supported creative activity, art and dance, which was my second love, and theater. My parents also encouraged another interest which I have been working with in the past five years or so, writing stories and poetry. A few of my poems have been published and I want to eventually do a chapbook of my poems.

DT: Are there other artists in your family?

CC: Yes. My older brother was a crafts person and designed and ran his own handmade jewelry business. My younger brother was a gifted poet. My daughter designs hats for her business, and her husband is an artist and musician. Both of my grandchildren are artists.

DT: Talk about someone you admire.

CC: I admire the Dalai Llama for his acceptance and compassion, Eleanor Roosevelt for her courage and love of people. I admire my mother for her courage and practical ability to hold our family together. I admire my friends for their clear artistic visions and honesty.

DT: Do you also teach art?

CC: Teaching has been my main work, how I supported myself for a long time. I don't do it as much now, but I love to teach. I learn so much and get inspired by the way others use the materials at hand.

DT: Do you have any advice for young artists today?

CC: Yes, follow your vision and inner voice. Don't think your art is you, it's only what you do.

DT: Any advice for older artists who are just starting out?

CC: There are so many artists who don't even get into their art until their 50s or 60s. It's never too late, and there is always more to learn. I have always felt, and I still do, that I have so much to learn.

Colorado's open studio is Dec. 3-4 at 1026 Henry St., No. 6, from 2 to 6 p.m. For more information call 541-482-6319.

Angela Decker is a freelance writer in Ashland and can be reached at

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