Michelle Soule’ Leaps of Faith, Surviving the Economic Crash, Creativity & Place

by Laura Cowperwaithe at Live Work Denver, on October 29, 2013 in Art District, Business of Art, Creative Economy, Creative Industres, Live/Work,Live/Work Space, Making Art, Thriving Artist Alliance, Working from home

The universe brings the most interesting people into my sphere! Michelle Soule’ & I met at the Santa Fe First Night art crawl in Sept. I was working at the910 Arts building chatting with people about the 4 live/work lofts available for sale soon. During a break I walked the open studios and from the moment I entered Michelle’s beautiful Live/Work loft I was in love with her & her art! LA: Tell me, how did you come to live in Denver?

MICHELLE: It was really quite the leap of faith. I’d been in gallery management in Palm Beach, Santa Fe and Carmel selling contemporary art. I loved being surrounded by an ever changing array of art and artists. But I was feeling the need for change and I really wanted to buy a house. Prices were crazy in the Carmel area. Then in 2007 I came to Boulder to visit some friends. Denver seemed like it would be a good next step. Property was more affordable here so when we came to see the 910 Arts building I decided to take the leap. I loved the idea of being part of a larger interactive creative community. November of 2007 I moved in. Then the economic crash happened. That really threw a wrench into my vision. No one was hiring. It was a very hard time.

LA: Yes, the crash hit everyone in one way or another. What did you do? How has you creative process progressed since being here? MICHELLE: I hunkered down, dove deep into painting – I even went so far as to adjust the price of my art work to make it more affordable and encourage continued sales. I’d been making jewelry for almost 25 years which was great but when I began working with clay an amazing thing happened – angels appeared. I’m a huge fan of Alex Grey’s work. I agree with his feeling that artists have a council of spirit guides. The angels would appear, I would render them in clay and embellish them withgem stones that had complimentary metaphysical properties. Over time the angels opened up to include meditating monks.

LA: Yes, the first time I visited your studio one of your angels was sitting on the entry table. For me it was love at first sight. Your monks & angels seemed to reach out (energetically) and draw me into their peaceful worlds. But when my eyes roamed up to your walls and caught a glimpse of your paintings that peaceful energy exploded into a riot of color and frolic. Jewelry, sculpture, AND painting! When did you start painting?

MICHELLE: Back in Carmel I’d started painting with a group of women and I’ve been painting ever since. My paintings have evolved. At first they were more about archetypal images, many inspired by Rumi’s poems. My space here is very urban and I’d begun to miss the life and color of gardens so most recently I’v been creating Abstract Botanicals by tapping into my spirit guides. I go into a meditative state to invite my guides to help me in creation and then I just start painting letting the process unfold. When I begin to feel the piece is close to completion I add the energy. You know when a piece is almost finished it would be safest to make more obvious choices? That’s when I seek to take a risk by adding energy & movement. It keeps things interesting for me and makes for a better finished product.

LA: I see that you have some beautiful chain and jewelry making things out on one of your work tables. Are you getting back into jewelry again?

MICHELLE: Yes! I recently took a part-time job (mostly to get out of the house more) at Kioti in Cherry Creek North and they are carrying my jewelry. Now that the economy is on the rebound people seem to be buying again. I visited the Gem Show a while back and found some lovely materials that are inspiring me. This piece I’m wearing is one of my newer items (see photo). I love the organic shape of the links and you can wear it long, like I am now, or shorten it into a double chain. LA: Beautiful! Thanks much for taking the time to chat. Readers – you can visit Michelle’s studio onFrist Friday’s or visit her at Kioti Mon/Weds 10:00-5:30 & Saturdays 1:00-5:00.


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