SOHA Gallery Celebrates Third Anniversary with Julie Malone's 'June'

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Fourteen years ago, the Charlie Houska gallery in the Central West End began exhibiting the work of artist Julie Malone, and art has been her life and career ever since. She has always painted, for longer than she can remember. Even though Malone opened SOHA Studio and Gallery, she continues to show at Houska Gallery. “He was sort of my ‘discoverer,’ I guess,” Malone says. “He found me. I have great respect for him. I have five pieces over there right now.” It’s that sort of loyalty that drives her in the operation of SOHA. She’s giving back to the art community that has given so much to her.

Red Still Courtesy of the Julie Malone

Red Still
Julie Malone
Courtesy of the artist

Now as SOHA celebrates their third anniversary, Malone will show in her own gallery for the first time with her exhibit, “June,” a show featuring Malone’s newest works of colorful, vibrant art that also conveys a sense of warmth and tranquility. The show kicks off with a celebration beginning at 6pm on Friday, June 13.

Tree In Storm Cloud Julie Malone

“Tree In Storm Cloud:
Julie Malone
Courtesy of the artist

Alive caught up with Malone in SOHA Studio and Gallery to talk about her art, her inspiration and the gallery itself.

ALIVE: You’ve been painting professionally for 14 years. How has your work evolved?

Malone: I’m formally trained, so all the work that I’ve done in the past has a root to realism. I can draw human form; I can paint a landscape. So with that said, over time, I evolved into this really abstract work, and what I was showing in early 2000 was very abstract. There was nothing representational at all. So slowly, over time, I would say 2007, -8, -9, I starting bringing in horizon lines into my work and falling back into a landscape ideal. Now they’re becoming more realistic, however, still implying with this hard edge, this colorful striping and portraying movement and activity. But they are becoming more realistic.

ALIVE: You use a lot of dripping technique in your work. Where does that come from?

Malone: I think it’s because my original painting media was watercolor. Now I’m an oil painter. I think I’m just falling back into that watery liquid paint, and then throwing on top of it thick impasto.

ALIVE: What artists have influenced you?

Malone: Definitely Richard Diebenkorn—he was one of the California painters, his color work was amazing; definitely Rothko, you know, most contemporary painters. I do a lot of pixelated brush strokes, which kind of takes on an impressionism feeling. I’m very moved by the impressionist movement and post-impressionists as well. That very loose painting style. It’s very relevant even today. You can really see my brush strokes, and see individual color changes in each.

ALIVE: Have you always worked in landscapes?

Malone: Now I am. The representational aspect of my work is typically the sky, or simulated sky. Not always do they look sky-like, but the dripping is the soil, the earth. So yes, the landscape has been in me for a long time, a big influence. Earlier in my career I was imagining landscapes from above from a different perspective, and now I’m back looking at them straight on.

ALIVE: What is influencing your work right now?

Malone: I’ve been traveling a lot. I’ve gone to Hawaii, Berlin, down South for a driving tour, and now I’m going over to Illinois a lot and looking at farmscapes and such, and right now I’m very… oh, and we flew over Paris and I was completely moved by it. We also flew over Greenland and these ice caps were unreal. It looked so surreal to me. I did a painting about that.

ALIVE: Tell me about your use of color.

Malone: Color is a big influence on me. When I look at a garden, I’m not just looking at the green, but the purple and the orange in the green. Artists, I think, typically see things in a richer way. Most artists find all the colors in everything.

ALIVE: If your work is coming back toward realism now, do you think five years from now you will have moved even further in that direction?

Malone: I can’t say. It’s evolving. It’s evolution. Artists go back, go forward; we go in all these directions all the time. I like just exploring and doing what’s fun for me. I probably see myself more as an abstract painter in the future. I think I needed this to teach myself more about color. I was getting to the point where, I guess it’s just more controlled now. And maybe I will. I’ll probably do a whole series of abstract paintings when I finally think I’ve finished this. Who knows? It’s undetermined, but I’m not going to stop painting, I know that.

ALIVE: Can you see yourself working in any new media?

Malone: I’m definitely an oil painter. I probably won’t take on a new media, or anything of that nature. I am using oil pastels now, which are like oil-based crayons. They’re really fun, because I’m getting some blending that I enjoy with the paint. It’s a little more limited because it’s not as fast.

ALIVE: Does the work that you bring in here as a gallery owner affect you as an artist?

Malone: Yes, it does. I think we all are feeding off of each other whether we want to or not. Some people recognize it more than others. I recognize it in retrospect. It’s like, “Oh, wow, look what they’re working on,” or “that’s a color that so-and-so uses,” or whatever. I can see it afterward. But I’m not consciously doing it. I’m not aware of it until later. I don’t think any of us are aware we’re doing it, but it’s interesting to see how each artist is inspired.

ALIVE: Is the work you’ll be showing new work?

Malone: Oh yeah. I’ve saved it for the show. It will be for sale at the gallery, and hopefully it will sell. I’m humbled by it when people buy my work, to be honest. It helps pay the bills here. I think it’s a trend—artist-run galleries—because, man, I don’t know how you do it otherwise, at least at the level I’m at. It’s a tough gig—for everybody.

ALIVE: What are you trying to convey through your work?

Malone: With this new work, I want people to see what I’m seeing. I want people to say, “Wow, that looks like trees but they’re not; they’re drips of paint,” or “they look like landscapes but they’re not.” I want people to be excited about them and have pleasure, and have the work be detailed enough that they can look at it for their entire life. I want them to have their own experience.

ALIVE: SOHA Gallery has really grown in its three years.

Malone: Yes, I’m really honored with ALIVE magazine naming us the best place to buy local art because there’s so much talent in this city, and I just want to give them an opportunity. Somebody gave me an opportunity; I’m giving it back. I don’t make anybody sign a contract. I don’t have any rules except when you’re showing with me, if I sell it there’s a percentage, but take it home and sell. Do something with it and grow. We have a great community of artists and I want to support that. It’s definitely a labor of love. I’m not making beaucoup bucks, but we’re able to pay the bills. We are growing rapidly.

ALIVE: What artists do you have lined up in the coming months?

Malone: We’ve got some great artists coming in. I’m super stoked. The talent is unbelievable. We’ve got Cbabi Bayoc. He did the “365 Days With Dad” series, and now he’s coming here. And then an artist we did last year is coming back this year, Peter Manion. He actually lives in the neighborhood. Most of the artists we show are south-side artists. I think most of the artists live on the south side because it’s affordable, but yeah, we have some amazing work coming in.

The opening of “June” and the third anniversary celebration for SOHA Studio and Gallery takes place Friday, June 13 from 6pm to 10pm. An artist’s talk by Julie Malone will take place on Thursday evening, June 19, from 7pm to 9 pm.

For more information, visit the SOHA Gallery website.

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