Monday, August 11, 2008

Clyde Connell: a Song from Bistineau reaches galleries and art patrons

Clyde Connell: Swamp Song Series
Originally uploaded by trudeau
In 1959 Clyde Connell and husband, Thomas Dixon Connell (called TD), suffered an enormous dislocation. The peace and security enjoyed by the Connells in the previous 10 years of residence at the Caddo Parish Penal Farm - TD was superintendent - came to a disappointing end as TD was asked to leave his position. He was 2 years short of retirement.

At the Penal Farm Clyde had her own painting studio. With their departure she gave up the first studio she'd known.

The Connells moved to a small camp house on the edge of Lake Bistineau. It was an ignominious retreat. TD attempted to sell real estate. Clyde found herself without the space to store her papers, furniture and art. The papers she'd accumulated in her previous life, one dominated by volunteer work in the Southern Presbyterian Church and attendance at many conferences - were destroyed by her hand.

Three years would pass in the isolation of Bistineau before Clyde felt a sense of confidence about her place in artistic work. During that period she developed her Sun Path series. She found an abstraction of her life on the lake: the wavy lines and circular sun spots in the Sun Paths spoke optimistically of a new day. Her initial desire was to create Sun Paths in sheet metal. Alas, she found that she could not afford the fabrication.

A donation of colored paper enabled her to return to making her accustomed flow of art. She told interviewers, "I wanted to work." She was a prodigious producer. Subsequently she developed a collage series called the Lake Verticals.

For many years she continued to make art from brown paper and mulberry paper. Her fame was based on pieces constructed with wood, found metal, rattan vine, stones and papier mache.

Clyde was able to make several Sun Path series in metal. By the early 1980's she was getting considerable sums for her art. She was represented in galleries in Houston and Dallas. Her Swamp Song series had proven popular. At that point her husband's attitude toward her art took a dramatic upturn.

Mrs. Connell's retreat to Lake Bistineau had been transformed into a triumph.

No comments: